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Ukrainian Parliament, Supreme Court Convene Over Vote

Protesters surrounding the Ukrainian parliament building yesterday 30 November 2004 -- Ukraine's Supreme Court and parliament have both convened today in separate processes addressing political and legal questions around the country's disputed presidential election.

At parliament's emergency session, deputies defeated an opposition-backed, symbolic motion of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was declared the winner of the presidential runoff of 21 November in official results.

But lawmakers might debate a second, similar text again later today.

If passed, the resolution would have no legal effect but could be seen as a major symbolic victory for the opposition, whose candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, has accused authorities of rigging and manipulating the election.

Yushchenko said yesterday that he was calling for the nonbinding no-confidence vote because the government had lost control of the country.

The Supreme Court resumed hearings on opposition complaints that the election results were rigged to give victory to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Under Ukrainian law, the court cannot rule on the overall result but can declare results invalid in individual districts.

That decision is expected within several days.

The deliberations come amid an ongoing crisis in Ukraine sparked by the recent presidential election. Yanukovych was declared the winner, but Yushchenko and his supporters claim the vote was rigged against him.

Much of the international community -- including the United States and the European Union -- has expressed similar doubts about the fairness of the election.

Yesterday, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma suggested that a new election could be held to defuse the crisis.

The dispute has led to more than a week of mass protests mainly by supporters of Yushchenko, although counterdemonstrations have also taken place.

Yanukovych's backers in eastern and southern regions have threatened to demand autonomy if Yushchenko becomes the new president of Ukraine.

Yesterday, the regional council of Donetsk announced plans to hold a referendum on greater autonomy on 5 December.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's central bank announced today that it is forbidding commercial banks to make early deposit withdrawals and it set limits on cash and noncash foreign-currency transactions to preserve stability during the country's current political crisis.


[Click here for more RFE/RL coverage of Ukraine's disputed presidential election.]

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