Ukrainian Parliament paralysed

Ukraine’s opposition The Party of Regions has blockaded parliamentary work in an effort to force the government to launch new anti crisis programmes or resign.

On Thursday morning Ukraine’s main opposition party, the Party of Regions, blocked the Supreme Rada – the country’s parliament – with chairs and swarmed the podium, stalling a vote on crisis measures necessary for a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The Party leaders demand the government must urgently propose the anti crisis programme or resign. They also insist on amendments to the state budget 2009 to be made.

The party Vice Chair Alexander Efremov says their action is a short-term one and will be lasting for two days.

“We have already assigned a group of our members who will be staying in the session hall day and night,” he said. He added they would allow the government to resume if it comes up with a comprehensive program to kick start the economy.

To support its position, the party is asking thousands of people to gather in the capital Kiev.

Meanwhile, the Press Office of the Supreme Rada has announced that the anti crisis programme is due to be viewed during the plenary session on the 4 April, the RIA Novosti reports. Moreover, according to the Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, the proposal was already made in December 2008.

Yet the Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, is sure that the Party of Regions is acting in agreement with President Yuschenko. According to her, the plan is to give the president formal grounds to dismiss the Parliament.

“Regrettably, it may be the form of preparation to early parliamentary elections, which they would really like to initiate together with the president,” she said.

In the name of freedom of speech

The Rada’s Speaker Vladimir Litvin ordered the parliamentary television network ‘Rada’ to interrupt their broadcast from the Rada shortly after the protests began. This made the party officials to warn the channel authorities that the TV network may be taken under control, “should they fail to launch a live broadcast from the session hall, where the platform is being blockaded,” said Anna German, one of the Party’s leaders.

“If ‘Rada’ network does not have the session hall on air, to show that the opposition is blockading the Parliament, we would do our best to get the channel chiefs fired,” said German. “If they are not aware of what the freedom of the press is, we are ready to explain,” she added.