Chief Judge Of Ukraine's Constitutional Court Resigns

KIEV, Ukraine -- The chief judge of Ukraine's Constitutional Court resigned Thursday amid deliberations on the constitutionality of President Victor Yushchenko's decree to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

Chief Judge Ivan Dombrovsky

Court spokesman Ivan Avramov said Ivan Dombrovsky asked to resign and the court accepted the request. He did not state the reason for Dombrovsky's request.

The court is deliberating on Yushchenko's April 2 decree to dissolve parliament and call snap elections for May 27.

But the ultimate weight of its decision is not clear because Yushchenko later withdrew the decree and issued another one still dissolving parliament but setting a different date for elections.

After Yushchenko issued the second decree, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who had resisted Yushchenko's orders, agreed to early elections on an unspecified date.

Yushchenko issued the order to dissolve parliament after accusing Yanukovych and his majority coalition of trying to usurp power.

The court appointed Valery Pshenichny to replace Dombrovsky as chief judge.

He is one of three judges that Yushchenko had fired earlier this month, accusing them of violating their oaths.

Pshenichny and another of the fired judges challenged their dismissals in court.

A regional court this week suspended the president's order and restored the judges' jobs, but an appeals court canceled that ruling.

The president's April order on dissolving parliament threw the country into its most serious political conflict since the 2004 Orange Revolution mass demonstrations that helped propel Yushchenko into the presidency.

The demonstrations started after a fraud-plagued presidential election in which Yanukovych was tallied as the winner; the Supreme Court ordered a rerun, which Yushchenko won.

Yanukovych, who was prime minister at the time of the election, returned to the premiership last year after his party got the largest share of votes in parliamentary elections and formed a majority coalition.

Source: International Herald Tribune