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Parliament votes for ouster of Kiev mayor
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, March 18 Parliament approved a resolution on Tuesday ordering early mayoral and local elections in Ukraines capital city, setting an important precedent that can be used to reshape local governments across Ukraine.

The resolution, which de-facto ousts controversial Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy, is a major victory for Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose group is expected to perform strongly at the elections.

I thought that no powers are worth much if we keep corruption intact in the capital, Tymoshenko said before the resolution was approved.

Tymoshenko accused Chernovetskiy of holding controversial privatization of land in Kiev that had given away almost $3 billion worth of land plots over the past six months.

Chernovetskiy denied the charges, and a special commission set by President Viktor Yushchenko is probing the accusations.

The resolution, approved by a 246-5 vote, was supported by the governing coalition and by an independent group led by former Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn.

This is the first time ever that Parliament has effectively voted to oust a local government in Ukraine and to set an early election in a particular region, a practice that now can be used elsewhere.

The Kharkiv region, dominated by opposition Regions Party, was mentioned as the possible next region that may face early election later this year, analysts said.

The Kiev elections are due to take place 70 days after the resolution takes effect, and will probably be held in early June.

The Tymoshenko group enjoys the strongest support in Kiev, but analysts said cooperation with other pro-Western groups, such as Our Ukraine-Peoples Self-defense and the Vitaliy Klichko Bloc, would be needed to win the elections.

The problem of nominating the single candidate still persists, Viacheslav Kyrylenko, the leader of Our Ukraine, said after the vote. Unfortunately, our partners in the coalition and other political groups are not yet ready for the single candidate.

Chernovetskiy, a wealthy businessman, won the election on March 26, 2006, by narrowly beating Vitaliy Klichko, a world heavyweight boxing champion, and an incumbent mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko.

Although Chernovetskiy was repeatedly elected to Parliament on the ticket of Our Ukraine, Yushchenkos party, he had switched sides shortly after election to the mayor post, creating a coalition in the Kiev council with Yushchenkos foes, the Regions Party.

The Kiev mayor gets automatically appointed by the president as the head of the Kiev State Administration.

Chernovetskiy is the owner of Pravex Bank he had created in 1990s. Last month Intesa Sunpaolo, an Italian banking group, agreed to pay 504 million euros, or $705 million, for 100% of Pravex, and the deal is expected to close within the next several months. (nr/ez)

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