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Yushchenko Dissolves Parliament

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved the parliament and ordered new elections late Monday night.

Yushchenko, addressing the country live on television, said it was his duty to dissolve the legislature because of actions that he said had violated the constitution.

He said all affairs in the country were under control.

"My actions are dictated by the strict necessity to save the state's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It's not only my right, it's my obligation," Yushchenko said.

As he spoke, the parliament met in a special session. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and top government officials sat in the hall looking glum as Speaker Oleksandr Moroz said Yushchenko had no basis to make such a decision.

Yushchenko said elections would be held May 27.

He made the decision after holding talks with Moroz and party leaders.

"In essence, the country is in the grip of a constitutional imbalance," Yushchenko told participants as the talks opened earlier in the evening.

"We are losing the balance between the different branches of power. We are creeping toward a clear usurpation of power in a single pair of hands," he said.

Yushchenko, swept to power by mass upheavals, has since had his powers cut and has repeatedly clashed with Yanukovych since appointing him last August.

Yanukovych, defeated in the 2004 poll, made a comeback last year on the strength of a 239-strong coalition in the 450-seat assembly. Defections from the "orange" team, including a top presidential ally, have since swelled its ranks to about 260. With 300 deputies, Yanukovych would be able to overturn presidential vetoes and oversee new constitutional changes.

Yushchenko also Monday postponed a meeting Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin, citing the political crisis at home.

It is the third time he has pushed back the trip to Moscow. He was first scheduled to visit at the end of February and again in March.

Putin met with Yushchenko in Kiev in December, and the two agreed to draw up a plan to resolve pressing issues via an interstate commission called Putin-Yushchenko.

They were to approve the plan at their next meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday.
Ukraine's then-acting foreign minister, Volodymyr Ohryzko, said Feb. 28 that the two sides still had slight differences over the plan.

(The Moscow Times 03.iv.07)

 
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