Ukraine's Parliament Returns To Work After Long Hiatus

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's parliament will return to work Tuesday after the summer recess and the months of paralysis that preceded it as rival groups fought to take control of the government and senior parliamentary posts.

Oleksandr Moroz, the Supreme Rada's speaker, said members would discuss drafts in committees and factions and then open a plenary session in the first week.

Moroz said a total of 245 issues had been put on the agenda and called for laws on the Cabinet and opposition to be approved as soon as possible because a constitutional reform that came into effect January 1 transferred some of the president's powers to parliament.

The president's press secretary said earlier that President Viktor Yushchenko had prioritized bills on corruption, judicial reform and regulating the Cabinet's work.

Leonid Kuchma, the president in 2002, initiated the reform to make a transition toward a parliamentary democracy along European lines.

But March elections to the Rada failed to produce an overwhelming majority. The 450-seat chamber was divided between the pro-Russian Party of Regions with 186 seats, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc with 129 seats, pro-presidential Our Ukraine (80), the Socialist Party (33) and the Communists (21).

A four-month political crisis ensued until a grand coalition, comprising the Party of Regions, the Communists, the Socialists and Our Ukraine, was formed.

Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych, who was prime minister under Kuchma and who suffered defeat in the 2004 presidential elections after protests dubbed the "orange revolution" brought West-leaning Yanukovych to power, was appointed prime minister.

His archrival Tymoshenko, who had seemed to be returning for a second stint as prime minister until a coalition she led collapsed, went into opposition. She branded the new government illegitimate and urged the president to dissolve parliament and call another election.

Tymoshenko, who served as premier for eight months under Yushchenko, made fresh claims Monday, saying that the Yanukovych government was illegitimate because the prime minister had failed to give up his powers as a lawmaker by an August 25 deadline. However, Speaker Moroz dismissed the claim.

Source: RIA Novosti