Anti-NATO rally paralyses Ukrainian parliament

Opposition MPs in Ukraine have blocked the entrance of parliament in the capital Kiev, preventing lawmakers from carrying out their work.

The Party of Regions is demanding that the Rada Speaker withdraw his signature from a letter sent to NATO.  The document formally asks the military alliance to begin the process of admitting Ukraine to the organisation. 

Last week the country’s Foreign Minister handed over a request to NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. 

Government supporters hope the decision on its membership application will be taken in April, during a NATO summit in Bucharest.

Meanwhile, around a thousand people staged a protest outside parliament against Ukraine’s plans to join NATO.