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Ukraine court holds hearings on decree dissolving parliament

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Ukraine [official website] held hearings Tuesday on a controversial April 2 decree [text; Yushchenko statement] by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile] ordering the dissolution of parliament and new elections on May 27. By a vote of 11 to 7, the court decided to study and review the decree until April 27 or until a final ruling is passed. Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile] and leaders of the Ukrainian Parliament filed a challenge [JURIST report] on April 3 with the Ukrainian Constitutional Court seeking to block the decree. The court delayed [JURIST report] a scheduled hearing on April 10, citing political pressure and public threats against judges. Both Yushchenko and Yanukovych have said they will accept the court's decision, but Yushchenko has also said that he will not retract his decree. He did say, however, he would allow for a delay of the elections.

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 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. AP has more. RIA Novosti has additional coverage.

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