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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS CANDIDATE FOR FOREIGN MINISTER FOR SECOND TIME. The Verkhovna Rada on March 20 rejected the candidacy of Volodymyr Ohryzko for the post of foreign minister, Ukrainian media reported. Ohryzko was supported by 195 votes from the opposition Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine. He needed at least 226 votes to be approved. It was the second time that the candidacy of Ohryzko, submitted by President Viktor Yushchenko, was rejected by the legislature. The first failed vote on Ohryzko took place on February 22 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 22, 2007). After the vote on March 20, the lawmakers from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine left the session hall. On March 19, President Yushchenko held consultations with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and parliamentary leaders on Ohryzko's confirmation but apparently failed to persuade the ruling coalition to support his nominee. JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ALLEGES BRIBERY ATTEMPT IN PARLIAMENT. Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the eponymous political bloc, said during consultations between parliamentary leaders and President Yushchenko on March 19 that a group of unidentified persons in parliament is working to expand the ruling majority into a constitutional majority of at least 300 votes by way of bribery, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "I can tell you that I spent this weekend talking to deputies," Tymoshenko said. "Each of them told me that groups had been formed at the parliament, and from $3 million to $8 million had been offered alongside official positions for family members. They are offering everything, and 300 votes are being actually handpicked. Is this democracy?" she added. Parliamentary speaker Moroz said earlier this month that a majority of 300 deputies will be formed in the Verkhovna Rada in two months. The Ukrainian parliament currently has five caucuses: the Party of Regions (186 deputies), the Socialist Party (31), and the Communist Party (21), which form the ruling majority; the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (186) and Our Ukraine (79), which are in opposition. JM