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Lawmakers loyal to Yushchenko call for new elections in Ukraine after pro-Russian parties announce coalition

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July 11, 2006, 1:12 p.m. |
Formation of political coalition between eastern Ukrainian industrialists of Party of Regions, Communists and Socialists dramatic turnabout for Ukraine less than two years after the mass street protests of the Orange Revolution rm a government.

The formation of a political coalition between the eastern Ukrainian industrialists of the Party of Regions, the Communists and the Socialists, first announced Friday, was a dramatic turnabout for this ex-Soviet republic less than two years after the mass street protests of the Orange Revolution.

A government led by the three parties would present a major obstacle to the president's efforts to steer the country toward reform and closer ties with Western Europe. Under such a government, Ukraine would also likely slip back under the influence of Moscow.

Ukraine's political life has been paralyzed since no party won a majority in the March 26 parliamentary election, and both sides of the political divide have struggled to assemble a governing coalition.

The new coalition was created after Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz abandoned his former Orange Revolution allies to be named parliament speaker and form the new union, which he said was the only way to unite the country. Moroz formally announced the coalition in the chaotic session hall Tuesday to applause from the coalition members- and shouts of "Judas" from his former allies.

The alliance, which would control 240 of parliament's 450 seats, is also likely to bring about the return to power of Viktor Yanukovych, whose fraud-marred presidential victory in 2004 sparked the massive street protests that became known as the Orange Revolution.

The leaders of the new coalition have said they would nominate Yanukovych to be prime minister.

Before announcing the new coalition, lawmakers scuffled, and one legislator, from the president's party, appeared to have a broken nose. Moroz had to be flanked by Party of Regions deputies for protection. Lawmakers from the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, a key figure in the Orange Revolution, used sirens to drown out parliamentary speeches. Moroz called a four-hour recess.

"I don't see another way out except the decision to dissolve parliament," said Petro Poroshenko, one of the president's closest allies. "It is up to the president. The party is ready to support him."

Lawmakers from Yushchenko's and Tymoshenko's blocs argued that the new coalition is illegitimate. Under rules agreed to by the Orange coalition members, if any party left, the other members should have been given 10 days to hunt for new partners, lawmakers said.

Yanukovych said his party didn't support new elections, but also didn't fear them. "If it happens, we will get a total victory and could stop this mess," he said. Yanukovych's party won the most votes in the March elections, but fell short of a majority.

Outside the parliament, hundreds of supporters of the new coalition massed in a show of strength aimed at countering the calls to dissolve parliament and hold new elections.

Supporters carried signs that read: "Viktors (Yanukovych and Yushchenko): Unite Ukraine.""We want a better life," said Serhiy Chernov, 35, who joined the supporters outside parliament. "Let them start working and stop bickering."
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