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Protests Over Ukrainian Government Stand-Off Continue


Thousands of demonstrators rallied Wednesday in the streets of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, against President Viktor Yushchenko's order that dissolved parliament and plunged the country into turmoil.

The protesters took to the streets in Independence Square. Hundreds later marched on the president's offices as lawmakers loyal to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, met in defiance of the presidential decree.

Mr. Yanukovych said Wednesday he will ignore the presidential order until the country's Constitutional Court rules on the legality of the dissolution. He also said he will not launch a re-election campaign before the court decides if one is necessary.

The presidential order calls for new elections May 27.

Adding to the confusion, the head of the 18-member Constitutional Court, Ivan Dombrovski quit Wednesday. The other judges rejected the resignation, but it is still not clear when the panel will rule.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Wednesday called on all parties to find a swift solution to the crisis.

Tension between the pro-democracy president and the prime minister, who favors closer ties with Moscow, has been simmering since 2004, when the two men were rivals in a controversial presidential election.

Mr. Yanukovych won that election, sparking huge street protests by Yushchenko supporters, who called the vote fraudulent. A court ordered a new election, which Mr. Yushchenko won.

The power struggle worsened last month, after 11 pro-Yushchenko lawmakers defected to Mr. Yanukovych's coalition. The defections put Mr. Yanukovych near the majority needed to overturn presidential vetoes and make changes to Ukraine's constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.