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Ukraine Leader Spurns Parliament, To Go Abroad Instead

Yushchenko is heading to Lithuania and not to parliament.
KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has spurned parliament, rejecting an invitation to a sitting to solve a political crisis and announcing instead an official visit to Lithuania.

The chamber has functioned for weeks without a working coalition or a chairman. It voted on December 4 to invite both Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his former ally turned rival, to a special session on December 9.

Parliament's move coincided with talks on forming a new governing team bringing together two groups that stood on opposite sides in the 2004 Orange Revolution that swept Yushchenko and pro-Western politicians to power.

"Viktor Yushchenko believes parliamentarians should resume effective action before demanding a meeting with the head of state," presidential spokeswoman Iryna Vannikova said. "A chairman must be elected, a coalition must be created, and its program of ideas and priorities set down."

Tymoshenko's bloc in parliament voted in favor of extending the invitation. But Vannikova said Yushchenko would be meeting Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius on December 9.

Tymoshenko has appealed for reinstatement of the "orange" coalition between her bloc and the president's Our Ukraine party, which unraveled in September.

But her allies are locked in talks on forming an alternative governing team with ex-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych -- the main target of "orange" protesters in 2004.

Denounces Alliance

Yanukovych's Regions Party holds 175 seats, while the premier's bloc has 156, which would give their forces a comfortable majority in the 450-seat chamber.

The president denounces any alliance between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, whose power base lies in industrial, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has been pitched into nearly constant political turmoil since rallies against a rigged 2004 presidential election in which Yanukovych was initially declared the winner.

The outcome was overturned by the Supreme Court and Yushchenko won a re-run of the contest.

Reforms of the economy, legal system, and other sectors have stalled, though parliament in October passed legislation needed to secure an International Monetary Fund loan.

The president initially called a snap parliamentary election to resolve the deadlock but then shelved the idea.

Ukrainian media, quoting unnamed sources, suggested he could issue a new decree dissolving parliament to prevent the formation of a coalition between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych.