KIEV, Nov. 2 â€“ Internal Affairs Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, after consultations with President Viktor Yushchenko, on Thursday defied Parliamentâ€™s resolution seeking to suspend him from duty for two months for an alleged corruption probe.
The motion was approved by 235 lawmakers highlighting a surprise alliance of the Regions Party, the Communist Party and the group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, an opposition party.
The Socialist Party, a small member of the government coalition, did not back the motion.
The vote comes as Lutsenko has been pressing hard for investigation of two separate murder cases that had apparently implicated members of the Regions Party and the Tymoshenko group. The vote may be an indication that both parties had been seeking to stop the investigations.
â€śFrom the political point of view this is a revenge of those who canâ€™t sleep during the night, whose consciousness is guilty and who has problems with law,â€ť Lutsenko said in an interview with Studio 1+1 television.
The ruling coalition on Wednesday reshuffled the government by replacing ministers of justice and culture amid attempts to clear the Cabinet from figures loyal to Yushchenko.
Lutsenko, a former member of the Socialist Party, is a Yushchenko loyalist that has been appointed to the post in August in a deal between the president and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
The development comes amid confrontation between the presidential office and the government for supremacy in drafting domestic and foreign policies.
Lutsenko refused to step down and argued the motion violates the constitution.
â€śThey can fire me, but they canâ€™t suspend me,â€ť Lutsenko said. â€śIf my opponents want to be in line with the law, they must submit a motion on firing the minister and to make sure it gets approved. Until this happens, I will work as the minister.â€ť
Shortly after the vote, Lutsenko spoke with Yushchenko, and the president had backed the minister. Lutsenko also spoke with Yanukovych.
Yanukovych said he will separately discuss the issue with Yushchenko, and with lawmakers that had backed the motion
â€śThis is a very difficult situation,â€ť Yanukovych said. â€śWe have to find an answer.â€ť
The Internal Affairs Ministry sent out telegrams to all regional police departments explaining the motion has no affect on Lutsenkoâ€™s authority.
Lutsenko sent shockwaves in August by disclosing that police has been investigating an unidentified lawmaker, a wealthy businessman from Donetsk, in connection with the murder of a police officer. (tl/ez)