In Ukraine Revolution, Colors Shift

MOSCOW, Russia -- With parliamentary debate in Ukraine reduced to insults and fistfights, supporters of President Yushchenko on Tuesday called on him to dissolve Parliament and hold a new election in a desperate effort to block the election of his opposition rival as the country's new PM.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko talks to the media in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. Ukraine's new pro-Russian parliamentary majority formally nominated President Viktor Yushchenko's Orange Revolution foe as premier Tuesday after a chaotic session in which the president's frustrated allies brawled and blared sirens

The request came more than three months after elections in March resulted in a splintered Parliament, with no one party controlling a majority of seats, and it raised the chances that the political turmoil that has followed will deepen, threatening Yushchenko's vision of a democratic Ukraine more deeply entwined with Europe.

By law, the Parliament has only two more weeks to elect a prime minister to form a government, one who will wield new powers over the economy and domestic policy. After that, Yushchenko has the authority to disband the body, though calling new elections would run the risk that his party might do even more poorly than it did in March, when it finished a distant third.

"We are democrats," said David Zhvaniya, a member of Yushechnko's party, Our Ukraine, saying that a new election would be likely to reunite the bloc of supporters of the Orange Revolution, who swept the president to power after a fraudulent vote in 2004. "And they unite one day before the execution."

The execution he apparently had in mind was the nomination of Viktor Yanukovich, whom Yushchenko defeated in a repeat of that 2004 vote, as the country's new prime minister. Yanukovich, a burly former prime minister who represents Ukraine's Russian- speaking regions, emerged as the leader of a new majority in Parliament, with 238 out of 450 seats, after the collapse last week of a coalition that had, for a few days at least, aligned itself with the president and his West-looking foreign and economic policies.

Yanukovich, once maligned and abandoned even by supporters, appeared on the brink of an extraordinary comeback, as the new coalition formally submitted his nomination on Tuesday.

But Yushchenko's supporters and those of Yulia Tymoshenko, also a former prime minister, made every effort to thwart that. They stormed the Parliament floor during the session Tuesday, scuffling with deputies from the new majority and disrupting what passed for deliberations with shouts and sirens.

Yanukovich's supporters had employed similar tactics to disrupt Parliament for two weeks when it seemed that Tymoshenko would be chosen as prime minister. At least two deputies were slightly wounded during the debate Tuesday.

Tymoshenko also called for new elections, saying, "We have only one way out."

Yushchenko's party also threatened to challenge the new majority in court, based on what party leaders called procedural violations by the Socialist Party, which had supported the "Orange" coalition until its leader, Oleksandr Moroz, switched sides last week and was elected speaker of Parliament with Yanukovich's support.

Yushchenko himself, appearing increasingly isolated and indecisive, did not directly address the calls for a new vote. In a statement he urged all parties to adhere to the country's laws and demanded that the Parliament approve the appointment of judges for the Constitutional Court, which lacks a quorum and thus has been paralyzed by the political impasse for months.

His statement suggested that he envisioned a court ruling as the ultimate conclusion to the turmoil, not unlike the Supreme Court's decision in the disputed American presidential election in 2000.

"Only the Constitutional Court is capable of assessing the constitutionality of the actions of all branches of power," he said. "It is a necessary condition for the legitimacy of perspective decisions and measures."

Source: The New York Times