[JURIST] Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile; JURIST news archive] announced Wednesday that he would freeze his controversial April 2 decree [transcript of televised statement; decree text] ordering the dissoluton of parliament and new elections on May 27 in an attempt to end a constitutional confrontation with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile]. The freeze would allow parliament to continue operating, but early elections would be called on a date to be negotiated. Yanukovych, who had initially called on Yushchenko to cancel the decree, indicated on Wednesday that he would accept a compromise freeze. Yanukovych and other leaders of the Ukrainian parliament [official website] appealed to the Constitutional Court [JURIST report] last week after Yushchenko issued the decree. On Tuesday the Constitutional Court [official website] delayed a scheduled hearing on the decree's legality until April 17, claiming public threats against judges and political pressure impeded a scheduled hearing. Several judges also asked the state to provide them with bodyguards, and indirectly blamed Yushchenko for the pressure campaign.
Yushchenko and Yanukovych were fierce rivals in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election [JURIST report], and the two men have clashed over parliamentary attempts to expand the cabinet's power since Yushchenko reluctantly accepted Yanukovych as prime minister [JURIST reports] last June. Attempts to negotiate proved unsuccessful, and Yushchenko subsequently threatened to prosecute officials [JURIST reports] who disobeyed his decree. AP has more.