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Deal ending political crisis in jeopardy
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, May 29 – Ukraine’s fragile agreement ending political crisis appeared to be in jeopardy Tuesday when the pro-Russian government and pro-Western president had renewed attempts to get control over the key law enforcement agency.

President Viktor Yushchenko’s appeal on Tuesday cancelled a recent local court ruling in Kiev that had allowed Sviatoslav Piskun, a member of the Regions Party, to keep the job as the prosecutor general.

But Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Regions Party reacted immediately by securing a controversial ruling from the same court seeking to again re-install Piskun on the post.

The party also sent its lawmakers as reinforcement to the Prosecutor General Office in much the same scenario that had provoked a serious clash last week. The party followed with a statement warning the agreement is under threat of collapse.

“We have to stress that in case of revision of the agreement by the president’s team, the Regions Party will insist that its leader withdraws his signature from the agreement,” the party said.

The development comes two days after the agreement has been reached to end the sharp political crisis that had threatened to plunge Ukraine into a serious confrontation between supporters of the government and the president.

It underscores difficulties that may still undermine the agreement, which has set early election date on Sept. 30 and has been regarded as a relief among main political groups and diplomats.

The attempts to take over the post of the Prosecutor General shows that both camps, the pro-Russian government and pro-Western president, view the position as the key element in their strategic and tactical plans.

The control over the post allows either to launch or to sabotage crucial investigations that may have a major political impact and may shape the way the political situation develops, analysts said.

The Regions Party, which effectively controlled the post since October 2005, had apparently managed to stop corruption and criminal investigations against party members and loyalist judges, analysts said.

Yushchenko fired Piskun last week and appointed Viktor Shymchuk, a loyalist, as the acting prosecutor general. But the court in Solomyanskiy district in Kiev has suspended Yushchenko’s decree.

Yushchenko appealed the move on Tuesday, but Piskun had later said that the Solomyanskiy court had issued a new ruling that had again overturned Yushchenko’s decree. The ruling was immediately followed by a clarification from the Justice Ministry stating that it had come into effect and must be executed.

Ihor Pukshyn, Yushchenko’s top legal adviser, said the new ruling had never come into effect as the president had again appealed it. He said any entity, including the president, had a 10-day period to appeal any ruling, which means the ruling may come into force only after the appeal is heard.

“You can’t execute the ruling that hasn’t come into force. One doesn’t have to be a lawyer” to understand that, Pukshyn said adding that it was a “crime” for an unidentified Justice Ministry official who had issued the clarification. “I believe the Justice Ministry is playing with fire.” (tl/ez)




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