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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

OUR UKRAINE SWITCHES TO OPPOSITION... The pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc has announced that it is switching to the opposition and withdrawing its ministers from the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian media reported on October 4. "We have made a clear-cut decision. There is a government coalition and there is Our Ukraine, which is in opposition to the ruling coalition," Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus head Roman Bezsmertnyy told journalists on October 4, after the failure of the latest round of coalition talks with the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party. The three ruling parties reportedly did not agree to Our Ukraine's demand to make the declaration of national unity signed by President Viktor Yushchenko and major political parties in early August an integral part of an expanded coalition deal. Our Ukraine currently has four ministers in the government: Justice Minister Roman Zvarych, Family and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko, Culture Minister Ihor Likhovyy, and Health Minister Yuriy Polyachenko. The ruling coalition led by the Party of Regions controls 240 votes in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada, which is sufficient to pass most legislation. JM

...AND SLAMS RUSSIA'S 'IMPERIAL' POLICY TOWARD GEORGIA. The Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus on October 4 released a statement condemning Russia's "imperial foreign policy" aimed at "weakening the sovereignty of territorial integrity of the Georgian state," Ukrainian media reported. Our Ukraine criticized Russia for bans on Georgian imports and "an entire range of economic sanctions" against Georgia as well as for the holding of military exercises close to Georgia's maritime borders. "We express our solidarity with Georgia and its people at a time when Russia is taking a provocative, impulsive, and emotional style in interstate relations and returning to imperial rhetoric," the statement read. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT CANCELS ITS OWN MORATORIUM ON UTILITIES-PAYMENT HIKES. The Verkhovna Rada on October 5 revoked the moratorium on utilities-payment hikes it endorsed last month with 340 votes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 22, 2006), Ukrainian media reported. The motion to cancel the moratorium -- backed on October 5 by 249 deputies -- was submitted by the Cabinet of Ministers, which argued that the implementation of the moratorium would place an onerous burden on the state budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 2, 2006). The opposition Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc announced that it will question the legality of the October 5 vote in the Constitutional Court. JM