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Ukraine: Parliament Splits

Kyiv, 21 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - Ukraine's parliament split today after its pro-presidential majority called a separate session and voted to remove the leftist speaker from his post. Some 240 centrist and right-wing deputies from the 450-seat legislature gathered in Kyiv's former Lenin museum, now the Ukrainian House exhibition center. Meanwhile, around 180 leftist deputies held a separate session in the parliament building.

The centrist and right-wing deputies passed a unanimous vote to remove leftist speaker Oleksander Tkachenko from his post. The deputies also decided to replace Communist-era state symbols on the facade of the parliament building with state symbols adopted after independence in 1992.

A simple majority of 226 deputies is needed to make voting valid. Last week, 240 deputies formed a majority to support President Leonid Kuchma, who repeatedly blamed parliament for blocking reforms. Yesterday, speaker Tkachenko blocked voting on several amendments to regulations proposed by the center-right majority.

Tkachenko denounced today's alternative session, calling it "criminal" and insisted any legislation it enacts would have no legal force.