Ukraine's Pro-Russian Opposition Ends Parliament Protest

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's pro-Russian opposition on Thursday ended a 10-day parliament protest that had paralyzed the legislature's work and prevented the incoming coalition from forming a government.

President Viktor Yushchenko

"Almost all the demands of the Party of the Regions are satisfied ... today there are no reasons to block parliamentary work," said the party's leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

The Party of the Regions began blocking the parliamentary podium last Tuesday as the new coalition was planning to call a vote on naming Yulia Tymoshenko prime minister.

The party, led by President Viktor Yushchenko's 2004 election rival Yanukovych, won the most votes in the March parliamentary election, but has been shut out of power after the three parties that led the 2004 Orange Revolution formed a new coalition last month.

Under the agreement between the three "Orange" parties, Yushchenko's estranged ally Tymoshenko gets her premier's job back, while his top aide, Petro Poroshenko, receives the speaker's job.

The Party of Regions objected to a coalition proposal to hold the votes on the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker on a single ballot _ in violation of parliamentary rules. Such a ballot would have benefited the Orange allies because it increased the likelihood of Poroshenko _ a controversial figure because of his big business background _ winning approval.

It also demanded chairmanships of key parliamentary committees and first deputy speaker post, sparking Orange coalition accusations of blackmail. Parliamentary leaders launched consultations on Monday to find a way out of the political crisis.

It was not immediately clear what the exact division of parliamentary committees would be but the opposition, at a minimum, appeared likely to get chairmanships of just under half of all committees. There was no information on who would get the first deputy speaker's job.

"Today we have a really historical moment. We have changed the division of the committees between the opposition and the coalition in a totally new way," said Tymoshenko, noting that the opposition got a mechanism to control the governing coalition.

Defusing the conflict over the votes on the prime minister and parliamentary speaker, the two sides agreed to hold them separately but elect the speaker in a secret vote.

Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko, his former ally, as prime minister last year after an acrimonious split among the one-time allies in the Orange Revolution.

Source: The China Post