Ukrainian lawmakers bar foreign minister from cabinet session

01:30, 20 December 2006
Politics
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Scuffle with his supporters

Allies of Ukraine`s prime minister barred Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, a presidential ally, from a Cabinet session Wednesday for the second time in as many weeks, signaling growing tensions between the president and the premier, according to AP.

      Tarasyuk`s status has been uncertain since he was sacked by parliament earlier this month. But President Viktor Yushchenko ordered him to stay on, arguing that firing the minister was the president`s prerogative, since he is the one who nominates him.

      When Tarasyuk tried to enter Wednesday`s Cabinet session, he was stopped by lawmakers from Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych`s party and a scuffle between them and Tarasyuk`s supporters erupted.

      Last week, Cabinet members barred Tarasyuk from attending the session in a similar manner.

      Tarasyuk called the lawmakers` actions illegal and said he would lodge a complaint with the Prosecutor General`s office.

      "They are violating the law ... I have all legal grounds to fulfill my official duties," Tarasyuk said.

      Tarasyuk`s dismissal was initiated by Yanukovych, who complained he was working in opposition to the Cabinet. Tarasyuk appealed the dismissal in a Kyiv court and the court suspended the parliament`s decision.

      Tarasyuk heads a political party that has declared itself in opposition to Yanukovych`s government, and his pro-Western views are in sharp contrast with Yanukovych`s more Russian-leaning political party.

      The pro-Western Yushchenko and Yanukovych share power in an awkward arrangement that was initially billed as an effort to unite Ukraine, but instead has turned into a tug-of-war for influence.

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