Ukraine's Yushchenko Meets With Parliamentary Leaders

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko met with leaders of parliamentary factions on Tuesday to solve a political crisis caused by an eight-day opposition blockade of parliament which has prevented the formation of a new government.

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

The party, led by Yushchenko's 2004 election rival Viktor Yanukovych, won the most votes in March parliamentary elections, but fell short of a majority.

Three parties - including those of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko - agreed last month to form a majority coalition. Yanukovych's Party of the Regions has demanded chairmanships of key parliamentary committees and the first deputy speaker post, sparking coalition accusations of blackmail.

"I am sure that today we are very close to solve all the problems," Yushchenko told the politicians on Tuesday, according to his office.

The majority coalition brings together the key political players in the Orange Revolution, the massive protests that erupted in 2004 after Yanukovych was declared to have received the most votes in presidential elections; the election eventually was declared invalid and Yushchenko won a rerun.

The parties later fell into disputes and Tymoshenko was dismissed as prime minister last September. Her return to the post was a key element in the new coalition formation. Petro Poroshenko, who resigned as security chief amid the infighting last year, is to be nominated as parliament speaker.

The Party of Regions objects 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 benefit the Orange allies because it increases the likelihood of the controversial Poroshenko winning approval.

The Party of Regions has also demanded the chairmanships of key parliamentary committees and the appointment of its members as governors in the eastern and southern regions it dominates, sparking Orange coalition accusations of blackmail.

The coalition is considering giving the Party of Regions mostly deputy chairmanships.

Source: AP