Ukraine stalemate unbroken


Summary

They tried to overcome key obstacles at talks on Friday aimed at ending their constitutional feud.

The president told journalists that the two had agreed on a number of issues but not the crucial one of his April 2 decision to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

“The prime minister’s side is in agreement on all questions” necessary for a compromise, “with the exception of early elections,” Mr Yushchenko said.

The president has justified his attempt to dissolve parliament by saying that Mr Yanukovych’s pro-Russian coalition violated the constitution by luring pro-Yushchenko deputies into switching sides.

The crisis is being closely watched by outside powers anxious about the political course of this country of 47 million people, located between the European Union and NATO to the west and Russia to the east.

Mr Yanukovych has resisted Mr Yushchenko’s order to dissolve parliament and both sides’ supporters have held demonstrations in the capital nearly every day this month.

Mr Yushchenko said he remained ready to suspend his dissolution decree if the government agreed to legal changes including a ban on deputies switching sides.

Mr Yanukovych was more upbeat on the chances of agreement, as he addressed thousands of flag-waving supporters on Kiev’s central square, scene of the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought his rival to power.

“We agreed to overcome all the contradictions rapidly next week,” Mr Yanukovych said.

“The president said he was almost ready to suspend his decree and that we would find political and juridical answers to all our disputes and sign an amicable agreement.”

The pair has held several meetings since the start of the crisis, with little apparent progress.

On Tuesday the constitutional court stepped in at the prime minister’s request and began examining Mr Yushchenko’s decision.

The 18 judges have yet to make a ruling, amid sometimes stormy scenes outside the court.

On the fourth day of deliberations on Friday, thousands of demonstrators thronged around the building, with rival sides separated by police and a metal fence.

Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko was due to address an anti-Yanukovych rally later Friday under the slogan: “Yes to elections, No to the coup,” according to a television commercial advertising the event.

While both sides have held protests over the past three weeks, none have matched the size of the 2004 Orange Revolution rallies that propelled Mr Yushchenko to power on a wave of public goodwill.

That uprising was sparked by a presidential poll judged by Western observers to have been rigged in Mr Yanukovych’s favor, a conclusion the constitutional court supported.

But since Mr Yushchenko won a new round of elections in December 2004, his popularity has plummeted. Mr Yanukovych made a come-back as prime minister at parliamentary polls last year.

Mr Yushchenko has made joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a priority for Ukraine while Mr Yanukovych favours retaining ties with Russia.


They tried to overcome key obstacles at talks on Friday aimed at ending their constitutional feud.

The president told journalists that the two had agreed on a number of issues but not the crucial one of his April 2 decision to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

“The prime minister’s side is in agreement on all questions” necessary for a compromise, “with the exception of early elections,” Mr Yushchenko said.

The president has justified his attempt to dissolve parliament by saying that Mr Yanukovych’s pro-Russian coalition violated the constitution by luring pro-Yushchenko deputies into switching sides.

The crisis is being closely watched by outside powers anxious about the political course of this country of 47 million people, located between the European Union and NATO to the west and Russia to the east.

Mr Yanukovych has resisted Mr Yushchenko’s order to dissolve parliament and both sides’ supporters have held demonstrations in the capital nearly every day this month.

Mr Yushchenko said he remained ready to suspend his dissolution decree if the government agreed to legal changes including a ban on deputies switching sides.

Mr Yanukovych was more upbeat on the chances of agreement, as he addressed thousands of flag-waving supporters on Kiev’s central square, scene of the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought his rival to power.

“We agreed to overcome all the contradictions rapidly next week,” Mr Yanukovych said.

“The president said he was almost ready to suspend his decree and that we would find political and juridical answers to all our disputes and sign an amicable agreement.”

The pair has held several meetings since the start of the crisis, with little apparent progress.

On Tuesday the constitutional court stepped in at the prime minister’s request and began examining Mr Yushchenko’s decision.

The 18 judges have yet to make a ruling, amid sometimes stormy scenes outside the court.

On the fourth day of deliberations on Friday, thousands of demonstrators thronged around the building, with rival sides separated by police and a metal fence.

Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko was due to address an anti-Yanukovych rally later Friday under the slogan: “Yes to elections, No to the coup,” according to a television commercial advertising the event.

While both sides have held protests over the past three weeks, none have matched the size of the 2004 Orange Revolution rallies that propelled Mr Yushchenko to power on a wave of public goodwill.

That uprising was sparked by a presidential poll judged by Western observers to have been rigged in Mr Yanukovych’s favor, a conclusion the constitutional court supported.

But since Mr Yushchenko won a new round of elections in December 2004, his popularity has plummeted. Mr Yanukovych made a come-back as prime minister at parliamentary polls last year.

Mr Yushchenko has made joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a priority for Ukraine while Mr Yanukovych favours retaining ties with Russia.