Ukrainian Parliament Standoff Extends Into Second Week on Voting

Ukrainian opposition parties blocked Parliament for a second week to protest lawmakers who vote on behalf of absent colleagues, prompting threats that President Viktor Yanukovych may dissolve the legislature.

Jailed ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR and the right-wing Svoboda surrounded the speaker’s rostrum today in the capital, Kiev. UDAR lawmakers have stayed in Parliament since Feb. 5, including at night, attaching stickers saying “vote for yourself” to the seats of pro-presidential deputies.

Yanukovych may exercise his right to dissolve Parliament if it fails to function for 30 days, Vitaliy Zhuravskyi, a member of the president’s Party of Regions, said today on parliamentary TV channel Rada. Klitschko called the threat a “bluff,” according to a statement on his website. Yanukovych’s spokeswoman, Darka Chepak, couldn’t comment immediately when called by Bloomberg.

While the Party of Regions got more votes than its rivals in Oct. 28 elections, it fell short of a majority and relies on support from the Communists and independent lawmakers to pass legislation. Opposition parties, which boosted their number of seats, are demanding technological changes to the existing parliamentary voting system to stop absent lawmakers’ identification cards being used to submit ballots.

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