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Ukraine's Parliament Asks For Minister To Be Suspended


Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko offered to step down on May 12.

Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko offered to step down on May 12.

KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukraine's parliament has urged the government to suspend Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, pending an inquiry into an altercation at Frankfurt airport where police detained him for being drunk and disorderly.

German police last week prevented Lutsenko and his 19-year-old son from boarding a flight to South Korea. Lutsenko and his son flew into a rage and four officers were injured in the ensuing scuffle, police said.

Lutsenko, supported by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, denied he was drunk but offered his resignation on May 12. He said he had become "the victim of a banal situation blown up into a political scandal."

Parliament, which has the right to sack ministers, voted instead on a motion asking the government to suspend the minister for the duration of an investigation into the incident.

Giant banners have been draped across the podium of the assembly hall for a week reading "Yuriy, sober up!"

Work in the assembly had been blocked for two days over the issue -- the opposition wanted to sack Lutsenko but did not have enough votes. The motion passed, by 423 deputies out of 450, was a compromise for which government parties voted.

Lutsenko's departure would leave the government without three key ministers -- the finance and foreign ministers have already resigned.

Analysts say that posed no threat to the government, but dealt a further blow to Ukraine's image, tarnished by constant fighting between Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko that has delayed policies and almost scuppered an International Monetary Fund deal.
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