Ukrainian Leader Disbands Parliament
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: April 3, 2007
MOSCOW, April 2 — A fragile power-sharing deal in
Ukraine collapsed Monday when President Viktor A.
Yushchenko ordered the dissolution of Parliament,
the base of support for his rival, Prime Minister
Viktor F. Yanukovich, whom the president accused of
usurping power. Mr. Yushchenko ordered new elections
for May 27, less than eight weeks away.
Mr. Yanukovich’s supporters in Parliament responded
by calling an emergency session and passing a
resolution declaring Mr. Yushchenko’s decree to
disband Parliament unconstitutional. The deputies
also voted against allocating money for the new
The maneuvers pushed Ukraine into its worst
political crisis since the Orange Revolution in
2004, when Mr. Yushchenko defeated Mr. Yanukovich
after street protests led to the reversal of a
fraudulent election. The rivalry between Mr.
Yushchenko, a pro-Western leader, and Mr. Yanukovich,
who is supported by Russia, has been simmering in
Ukrainian politics since then, reflecting a divide
in Ukrainian society between a Russian-speaking
eastern area and the Ukrainian-speaking west.
In another worrisome sign of the deepening rift,
small groups supporting both camps gathered on the
streets on Monday evening.
Yulia V. Tymoshenko, a fierce partisan in Ukrainian
politics and former prime minister in Mr.
Yushchenko’s government, joined protesters on
Independence Square in Kiev late Monday. In an echo
of the 2004 events, meanwhile, Mr. Yanukovich’s
supporters erected tents in a park near the
Inside, deputies from the Socialist, Communist and
Party of Regions factions appealed to the prosecutor
general’s office, demanding that they be allowed to
remain in session.
Earlier, in a meeting with party leaders, Mr.
Yushchenko accused the Party of Regions led by Mr.
Yanukovich of consolidating power. The coalition led
by Mr. Yanukovich had been recruiting Mr.
Yushchenko’s allies and boasting that it would
achieve a veto-proof two-thirds majority of 300
votes, further undermining Mr. Yushchenko’s
Just last month, some of Mr. Yushchenko’s supporters
in Parliament defected to Mr. Yanukovich’s
coalition, most prominently Anatoly K. Kinakh, the
president’s former national security adviser.
Mr. Yushchenko, in his address, said his dissolving
of Parliament was motivated by “an acute necessity
to preserve the nation, its sovereignty and
All but written off after Mr. Yushchenko defeated
him, Mr. Yanukovich staged an improbable comeback in
parliamentary elections in March 2006, and formed
enough of a coalition to become prime minister in
August, leading to the power-sharing deal that ended
Mr. Yushchenko’s press service said the decree
dissolving the Rada, as the Parliament is known,
would take effect on Tuesday morning, when it was to
be published in a government newspaper.
“Early elections to the Rada will take place in full
compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine and
democratic, national and international standards,”
he said in his speech. Mr. Yushchenko, whose face
was disfigured from dioxin poisoning before the 2004
election in a mystery that has never been solved,
has generally preferred compromise in his two years
in power, to the point that critics and supporters
alike have labeled him indecisive.
He has declared his role to be ensuring democracy in
Ukraine, even if that means his political opponents
win at the polls, as happened in the March 2006
elections that led to the impasse on Monday. Polls,
meanwhile, suggest new elections may not resolve the
divisions; they give Mr. Yanukovich’s party a slight
lead over Ms. Tymoshenko’s bloc, followed by the Our
Ukraine Party of Mr. Yanukovich in third place.