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Ukraine: Parliament Ousts Government

Kyiv, 26 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's parliament today passed in two consecutive votes a no-confidence motion in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, heralding the dissolution of the cabinet and an uncertain economic and political future. News agencies say that the first, preliminary vote was 262 to 86, and the second, final vote was 263 to 69.

The motion was proposed by the Communists, with the support of centrist and business groups opposed to economic policies conducted by the government.

The cabinet will now become a caretaker government for a maximum of 60 days, until a new government is formed.

The ouster came in spite of efforts by both President Leonid Kuchma and Yushchenko himself to persuade the deputies to postpone the vote and search for a compromise on both policies and the composition of the cabinet.

Yushchenko had proposed to legislators a compromise today between the government and its critics and said that he would be ready to accommodate many demands for changes in the cabinet.

Yesterday, Kuchma and Yushchenko had closed-door talks with parliament leaders in Kyiv.

Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko described the atmosphere at the talks as "constructive."

Kuchma has said the removal of Yushchenko would not be in Ukraine's interest. He said stability in Ukraine's government is "absolutely necessary" for further development.

Yushchenko said earlier this week that his is the only Ukrainian government to have achieved positive economic growth in the past 10 years.

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly is due today to vote on whether to expel Ukraine from the 43-nation human rights body.

The Council's Monitoring Committee has recommended that Ukraine be expelled for delaying political reforms and repressing journalists and opposition figures.

Yesterday, council Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer warned the Strasbourg-based council against barring Ukraine.

He said the council should continue to exercise influence in the country. Schwimmer said Ukraine must remain in the European family.

Several members of the Monitoring Committee proposed yesterday that Ukraine should be threatened with suspension in the absence of substantial progress by the next assembly session in June.

Earlier this week, the assembly's president, Lord Russell-Johnston, said the council is unlikely to expel Ukraine even if the parliamentary assembly votes to do so.

He said the vote will be mostly symbolic as the Committee of Ministers is unlikely to support any expulsion call. That Committee will make the final decision.