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Ukraine's Parliament Blocks Funds For Snap Election

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says Ukraine can't afford the early poll.
KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukraine's parliament has refused to allocate funds to stage early parliamentary elections called by President Viktor Yushchenko to end a long-standing political impasse in the ex-Soviet state.

A bill to make available 417 million hryvnyas ($76 million) for the election, the third in as many years, won the support of only 222 lawmakers, four short of a majority.

Ukraine plunged into its latest bout of political turmoil when Yushchenko dissolved parliament after the collapse of coalition linked to the 2004 Orange Revolution and called a December election.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his former ally, opposes the elections as "criminal" amid the world financial crisis.

The president suspended his decree last week to allow parliament to discuss a legislative package to underpin International Monetary Fund credits worth $16.5 billion -- approved in the first reading earlier in the day. But Tymoshenko's deputies had blockaded proceedings for a week to preclude any discussion of election finance.

"Financing the election is a vital step to overcome the financial crisis by political means," Ksenia Lyapina of the president's Our Ukraine party told the chamber before the vote.

Tymoshenko's bloc, joined by the Communists, said elections would compound the effects of the crisis on Ukraine.

Oleg Lyashko, of the prime minister's bloc, said election financing would lead to "a lock being slapped on parliament tomorrow and a new election decree. Who will then deal with the crisis?"

Communist Adam Martynyuk said opponents of the elections had tried for a week "to save the situation. And you want to throw half a billion hryvnyas out the window."