Yanukovych Criticizes Limits On His Power

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych said limits on the power of the presidency introduced in Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution have produced a crisis of authority and urged a change in the constitution.

President Viktor Yanukovych

Reversing the amendments would help Yanukovych, who has pursued closer relations with Russia, further consolidate his power after winning the presidential election this year, installing an ally as prime minister and securing a parliamentary majority.

"The experience of state-building … shows that Ukraine's constitution requires certain changes," Yanukovych said in a televised address to the nation Friday ahead of Constitution Day, celebrated on Monday.

"Some of its norms, in particular those hastily introduced in 2004, led to misbalancing and a serious crisis of authority, and have become the target of justified criticism in the country and from the international community," he said.

The 2004 amendments weakened presidential powers such as control over naming government ministers, passing those functions to the parliament.

They were introduced as part of a deal to end the Orange Revolution street protests, which swept Yanukovych's rival, Viktor Yushchenko, to the presidency.

Yushchenko tried to reverse the amendments during a spat with then-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, but he failed to secure the support of the 300 of 450 parliament deputies required to change the constitution.

Three factions that make up Yanukovych's coalition currently control 219 seats in the parliament, but the group enjoys support from a number of individual deputies belonging to other factions, routinely securing up to 250 votes.

Source: The Moscow Times