Ukraine's prime minister apologizes for crackdown on protests

Hundreds of Ukrainian protesters gather for an opposition rally in Mykhayllivska Square in Kiev after police dispersed protesters in Independence Square on Nov. 30, 2013.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov apologized on Tuesday for a brutal police crackdown on Kyiv protests over the weekend that drew firm Western condemnation and sparked even bigger rallies.

"On behalf of our government, I would like to apologize for the actions of our law enforcement authorities on Maidan (Independence Square)," Azarov told an emergency parliament session to chants of "resignation" from pro-EU opposition lawmakers.

The protests were sparked by the Ukrainian government's decision to abandon a historic political and trade agreement with the EU. They are the largest Ukraine has seen since the pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004.

More from GlobalPost: Kyiv protesters occupy central sites, despite riot police using force (VIDEO)

On Monday, Azarov said the rallies had "all the signs of a coup," while meeting with ambassadors of European Union countries, Canada and the United States.

Azarov's government dodged a no-confidence vote Tuesday, when Ukrainian parliament rejected the motion after the ruling party abstained from the vote.

The measure gathered 186 out of the required 226 votes in parliament with support from the three main opposition parties that sought Azarov's resignation over the bungled EU deal.

Demonstrators have called for President Viktor Yanukovych and his government to resign over the matter as well.