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New Ukrainian Coalition Announced Amid Scuffles

Verkhovna Rada deputies clashing during today's session (epa) KYIV, July 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz formally announced the creation of a new, "anti-crisis" coalition during a chaotic session of the legislature today.

The new coalition brings together the Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party. The deal was inked on July 7, a day after Socialist Party leader Moroz was unexpectedly elected as parliament speaker on the back of votes from the Communists and the Party of Regions.

The Socialist Party's allies on the recently revived "Orange" coalition -- the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and the pro-presidential Our Ukraine -- shunned that vote, leaving the future of the Orange alliance in doubt.

Moroz's announcement of the new "anti-crisis" coalition came during a chaotic scene in parliament today, and was met with applause from the new coalition members, and shouts of "Judas" from his former Orange allies.

The pro-Russia coalition, which would control a majority in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada, is expected later today to submit Viktor Yanukovych's name to President Viktor Yushchenko as its candidate for prime minister. Party of Regions head Yanukovych is a former prime minister who ran against Yushchenko in the disputed presidential elections in 2004.

The formation of the coalition freed parliament up to begin electing vice speakers and committee heads.

There has been some speculation that the new coalition could be expanded to include the pro-presidential Our Ukraine, which would give the anti-crisis coalition a large enough majority to pass constitutional amendments.

However, press reports have also quoted Our Ukraine leaders as ruling out the possibility of such an alliance, and suggesting that parliament should be dissolved and new parliamentary elections held.

The announcement was preceded by scuffling between lawmakers from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, who were attempting to block today's session, and those from the Party of Regions who were trying to prevent the blockade.

Outside the parliament building, hundreds gathered to support the new coalition.


MORE: To read coverage of breaking events in Ukraine from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service in Ukrainian, click here.

Ukraine's Choice

Ukraine's Choice

Campaign stands on a Kyiv street in ahead of the March 26 elections (RFE/RL)

RELOADED DEMOCRACY: On March 16, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States OLEH SHAMSHUR held a briefing at RFE/RL's Washington office. Shamshur discussed the political and economic achievements of the last year and the political environment in the run-up to the legislative elections. "Many people would say it was a year lost," he said. "And I would categorically, even definitely, object to that. I think that it was a year not lost; it was a difficult year; it was the learning period when we were learning, or in some instances, relearning to act under the democratic rules and procedures. Some mistakes which were made were avoidable, some were hardly avoidable, but in any case it was very important period for Ukraine as a country, Ukraine as a new, or if you wish, rediscovered, reloaded democracy."

Listen to the complete presentation (about 60 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media

Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.

Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.

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