[JURIST] Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile] announced Monday that he has appealed to the country's Constitutional Court [official website] a recently-passed bill he fears will illegally expand the cabinet's power at the expense of the presidency. The law, effective February 2, was supported by 366 of 370 members of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada [official website]. Yushchenko alleges that the bill effectively enables ministers led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile] to usurp power as it allows a parliamentary majority to nominate the prime minister and cabinet ministers. The bill was first enacted [JURIST report] on December 21 and given to Yushchenko for review, but a parliamentary vote rejected all of the President's 42 proposed amendments. In January, Yushchenko refused to sign the law, which then moved forward under Article 94 of the Ukrainian Constitution [text], which gives power to the parliamentary speaker to sign a bill approved by a two-thirds majority into law. A compromise [JURIST report] on the bill was announced by Yanukovych in late January, but that now appears to have been premature. RIA Novosti has more.
The high court appeal adds to the tension between political arch-rivals Yushchenko and Yanukovych [JURIST report], who received Russia's backing in a bitter presidential race [JURIST report] against Yushchenko in 2004. The election had to be re-run after mass protests and allegations of fraud, precipitating Ukraine's so-called Orange Revolution [Wikipedia backgrounder]. In the wake of political reverses, Yushchenko was forced to appoint Yanukovych as premier last year.