[JURIST] Protests delayed a Wednesday Ukrainian Constitutional Court hearing to determine the legality of the April 2 decree [text; Yushchenko statement] by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile] that ordered parliament dissolved and new elections held. Riot police were called in to control the nearly 4,000 protesters who appeared outside the courthouse to show support for the president, and to allow the judges access to the courthouse. The hearing eventually commenced with only 15 of the 18 judges present after a delay of almost a full hour.
Yushchenko has insisted [JURIST report] that his dissolution decree was proper under the Ukrainian constitution [DOC text]. Late last week, Yushchenko added that officials who refuse to comply with his decree could face criminal prosecution [press release; JURIST report]. Yushchenko and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych were fierce rivals in the 2004 presidential election [JURIST report], the results of which were invalidated by the country's Supreme Court [JURIST report] following fraud allegations. Yushchenko was sworn in as Ukraine's president [JURIST report] in January 2005 on the wings of the populist Orange Revolution [BBC timeline] after winning a re-vote. Yushchenko reluctantly accepted Yanukovych as prime minister last June and the two have since clashed over parliamentary attempts to expand the cabinet's power [JURIST reports] at the expense of the presidency. Reuters has more.