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Ukrainian Parliament Sacks Defense Minister

Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov
Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov
KYIV -- With an overwhelming majority of 363 votes, Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has dismissed Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The deputies who overwhelmingly supported the vote were from the opposition Party of Regions, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc, and the Communist Party.

Yekhanurov, a former prime minister himself, was not present during the vote, as he was participating in a session of the National Security and Defense Council.

"This is petty revenge against the president," said Ihor Popov, the Ukrainian president's representative in the Verkhovna Rada.

"As far as I remember, according to the constitution, it is the president who nominates and dismisses the defense minister. Therefore, we will definitely examine whether this procedure has been violated."

Tymoshenko initiated the dismissal of Yekhanurov two weeks ago after accusing him and his ministry of financial improprieties.