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Top Ukraine Officials Work to End Political DeadLock

Ukraine's Parliament and Supreme Court are again in session as fears grow of a split in the nation if a solution to the electoral standoff is not found soon.

Ukraine's parliament deputies are in their second session in three days, as tens-of-thousands of demonstrators call for justice from the snowy streets outside.

Opening debate, Parliament Speaker Vladimir Lytvyn warned deputies they need to focus their attention on what he said is the biggest threat facing Ukraine: separatism.

Mr. Lytvin says calls for new autonomous regions in Ukraine are illegal. He also reminded parliament it needs to remain above the political fray and maintain its objectivity.

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko - who claims to have won the presidential election - says the government is struggling to hold onto power using unconstitutional means, and he predicts it will not be successful.

Mr. Yushchenko says the people demonstrating in Ukraine's central Independence Square are not in the streets to save his political future, but rather to protect their individual rights as democratic citizens. He says the future of Ukraine depends on such courage.

Mr. Yushchenko then held up a map showing Ukraine divided into four separate regions. He said the map was drawn up by the government. He said if the deputies fail to take correct action, a divided Ukraine could become reality.

Opposition deputies have been demanding action from parliament to censure Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's government. The opposition, and foreign observers, accuse the prime minister's supporters of rigging the election, which he officially won. But a vote on the opposition's censure proposal failed to secure enough support to pass.

In the debate, Deputy Prime Minister Nikoali Azarov discounted outgoing President Leonid Kuchma's dire predictions about the imminent collapse of Ukraine's economy.

Mr. Azarov told lawmakers Ukraine has foreign reserves amounting to more than $10 billion and he said money continues to flow from the regions to the central government normally.

Mr. Azarov also said pensions and salaries continue to be paid on time, with no adverse effect on Ukraine's budget.

Several blocks away at Ukraine's Supreme Court, justices began a second day of examining opposition claims that the presidential election was rigged in favor of President Kuchma's chosen successor, Mr. Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor General Mikhail Galomsha resigned, saying he could not continue to work as long as there was such a crisis in Ukraine.

Mr. Galomsha says those responsible for the falsification of the recent presidential election need to be held accountable.

Monday, Ukraine Central Bank chief Sergei Tigipko resigned. Mr. Tigipko, who served as chief of Mr. Yanukovych's election campaign, said he was ashamed about the talk of separatism raised among Ukraine's eastern leaders.

Meanwhile, the leading student opposition group Pora is warning it will intensify its anti-government campaign, if some sort of agreement is not reached in the next two weeks, in either Ukraine's Supreme Court or parliament.