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Ukrainian Police Converge On Kyiv As Talks Resume

Police outside the Prosecutor-General's Office on May 25 (RFE/RL) May 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- More than 2,000 Ukrainian Interior Ministry troops loyal to President Viktor Yushchenko have been sent to Kyiv, where Yushchenko and rival Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych are holding crisis talks, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported.

The standoff between Yushchenko and Yanukovych escalated on May 25 when Yushchenko ordered Interior Ministry troops to be placed under his control.

The Interior Ministry said today in a statement that several
thousand ministry troops loyal to Yushchenko are moving toward Kyiv
from several Ukrainian regions in defiance of orders from the ministry.

Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko told a news conference in Kyiv today that the decision to deploy troops was made without his consent.

"If the command of the Interior Ministry troops took the responsibility and has moved the troops, it will be accountable for that. I want to repeat it one more time -- currently there are no orders of mine, not one signature of mine allowing even a single soldier to be moved. I am responsible for that," he said. "Those who gave orders to move the troops are responsible."

Tsushko also said there were no legal reasons for the troops to be moved. "Can somebody tell me if there is a need to deploy Interior Ministry troops in Kyiv to restore order or if some unrest is under way in some places? You can't tell me that," he said. "I also can't tell you that. That is why I need to know why the troops are coming. Are they coming for training; what are they coming for?"

Ivan Plyushch, the head of Ukraine's National Security Council and a Yushchenko ally, said the president sent the troops to guard the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Constitutional Court -- two key institutions in the deepening standoff between Yushchenko and Yanukovych.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported that the Interior Ministry troops are moving toward Kyiv, but could not confirm news agency reports that buses carrying the troops had been stopped.

On May 24, riot police from
the Interior Ministry occupied the office of Prosecutor-General
Svyatoslav Piskun, a Yanukovych ally, in an attempt to block his sacking by the

accused Tsushko of breaking the law by ordering police to protect the building. Tsushko had given the order after
accusing Yushchenko of an "attempted coup" for firing Piskun.

The riot police, meanwhile, continue to occupy Piskun's office.

The European Union, Russia, and the United States have expressed concern about the possible use of force in the crisis.

(with material from AFP, Interfax)

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Ukrainian Voices

Ukrainian Voices

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service asked people on the streets of Kyiv on April 11 whether the Constitutional Court will be able to determine the constitutionality of the president's decree dissolving parliament.

Oksana, a student from Lutsk:
"Their decision will at any rate be beneficial to one of the political forces."

Oleksandr, a high-school student:
"[The court] will be able to do it, but only if the judges agree upon it."

Alla Asilyevna, a pensioner:
"How can the Constitutional Court solve the problem if there is pressure on it from all sides?"

Ivan Yukhimovich, a pensioner:
"If [Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych and [President Viktor]Yushchenko find an agreement, everything will be resolved."

Yuliya, a worker:
"I doubt very much that the judges will agree on anything."

RFE/RL's coverage of Ukraine. The Ukrainian-language website of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.