KYIV -- Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has failed to override President Viktor Yushchenko's veto of legislation to provide more money to fight the flu epidemic in Ukraine, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.
A total of 231 out of the 316 parliamentarians present voted to override the veto, but 300 are needed. The proposal was supported by 152 members of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, 32 members of Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc, 27 Communist Party members, 19 from the Lytvyn Bloc, and one indepedent deputy.
The opposition Regions Party abstained. The Verkhovna Rada also rejected five presidential amendments to the law and returned it to the budget committee for revision.
On November 3, the Verkhovna Rada first adopted amendments to the state budget which provided for an increase of 1 billion hryvna ($125 million) for flu prevention and treatment, but Yushchenko vetoed the law two weeks later. He said he supports putting additional funds toward fighting the flu, but was against the way the government wanted to finance the increase.
He said the law could also lead to the devaluation of the hryvna. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko criticized Yushchenko for this move and said he bears full responsibility for flu casualties in Ukraine.
The number of flu and respiratory disease patients in the country reached some 500,000 and some 400 flu deaths were reported, many of them attributed to swine flu.