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Ukrainian Opposition Leader Calls for Protests to Demand New Elections


Ukrainian opposition leader former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged supporters of President Viktor Yushchenko to launch non-stop rallies in Kiev Friday to press for early parliamentary elections.

President Yushchenko ordered parliament dissolved earlier this month after accusing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych of illegally persuading pro-presidential lawmakers to join the government's coalition.

Parliamentary supporters of Mr. Yanukovych have rejected the dissolution and refused to authorize funds for a new vote.

The issue is now before the Constitutional Court as supporters of both sides demonstrate outside the building.

Meanwhile, The Council of Europe urged Ukrainian politicians to resolve the current crisis in their country in a legitimate, constitutional and strictly peaceful manner. A resolution, adopted in Strasbourg, said early elections are normal practice and can be considered a key building block of political compromise.

They expressed regret that Ukraine's government has not funded what the council members considered a valid presidential decree for new elections.

Tension between the reformist president and prime minister, who favors closer ties with Russia, have been simmering since 2004, when the two men were rivals in a controversial presidential election. Mr. Yanukovych won the election, sparking huge street protests by Yushchenko supporters, who called the vote fraudulent. A court ordered a new election, which Mr. Yushchenko won.

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