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Decree Dissolving Ukraine Parliament In Effect

Ukrainian parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz addressing an emergency session on April 2 (AFP) April 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's decree to dissolve parliament and hold new elections came into force today with its publication in the official gazette, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported.

Yushchenko signed the decree on April 2 after he accused coalition lawmakers allied with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych of violating the constitution by luring the president's allies in parliament to switch sides.

MORE: Coverage in Ukrainian from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

"We will do everything to persuade the Ukrainian president to repeal his decree," Yanukovych said today. "If he fails to do so...I think in that case not only parliamentary elections, but also presidential elections will be inevitable."

Parliament on April 2 moved to defy the dissolution order by blocking funding for early parliamentary polls, set for May 27, and dissolving the Central Election Commission. Parliament also called on Ukraine's Constitutional Court to rule on the decree's legitimacy.

At a late-night cabinet meeting, Yanukovych warned that the publication of the decree dissolving parliament would intensify the political crisis:.

"If the president does publish his decree tomorrow, he still has the chance to rescind it," Yanukovych said on April 2. "I will not say out loud what the [other] option is. That would boost tensions significantly in Ukraine, and the president would be fully responsible for that heavy burden."

Speaking at the same meeting, Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, an ally of Yushchenko, said the armed forces would obey orders only from the president.

He repeated this statement at a press conference today.

"As for the armed forces of Ukraine, they are in the place of their permanent deployment now and won't move anywhere," Hrytsenko told journalists. "I want to deny the information about the movement of armored divisions. I want to say that there have been no divisions in the armed forces of Ukraine for a long time."

(with material from agency reports)