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Ukraine Parliament votes to sack Government

By Vladimir Radyuhin



BATTLELINES DRAWN: Supporters of the Ukrainian Opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, face soldiers at the Parliament building in Kiev on Wednesday. — AP

MOSCOW, DEC. 1. The Ukrainian Parliament backed an Opposition motion to dismiss the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich, embroiled in a dispute over a controversial presidential poll.

Third attempt

At a third attempt, Parliament approved a no-confidence motion today by a slim majority of 229 votes, just three votes above the required minimum. Of the 450 MPs, only 240 were present. As deputies debated the proposal, tens of thousands of supporters of the Opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who lost the November 21 runoff vote against Mr. Yanukovich, surrounded the Parliament building waving orange flags and shouting anti-government slogans.

The President, Leonid Kuchma, described the vote as a reaction to the election crisis gripping the country for 10 days. He said he would act "strictly according to the Constitution."

Following a no-confidence vote, the President under the Constitution dismisses the Prime Minister after he has tendered his resignation. Mr. Yanukovich was taken ill on Tuesday, which allows him to delay sending his resignation letter. He can also head a caretaker government for up to 60 days after dismissal.

Deputies also voted to create an interim coalition "government of national trust."

As the Supreme Court sat for a third day on Wednesday to hear an Opposition complaint against alleged vote rigging in south-eastern constituencies that backed Mr. Yanukovich, the latter filed his own appeal against election fraud in western regions which voted for Mr. Yushchenko.

Solana arrives

The European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, the Lithuanian President, Valdas Adamkus, and the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Jan Kubis, arrived in Kiev for a second time in a week to help defuse the standoff.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, today criticised what he called "excessive involvement of European representatives" in the Ukrainian crisis, saying this "fuelled tension." He said Moscow would help mediate if asked by Ukraine.

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