Ukrainian Opposition Blocks Parliament to Demand Kiev Mayor Vote

Ukrainian opposition parties, which blockaded parliament for two weeks in February over voting rules, again stopped the legislature from working to demand mayoral elections in the capital, Kiev.

Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR party and the Svoboda party surrounded the speaker’s rostrum, preventing today’s session from starting. Kiev hasn’t had a mayor since 2010.

“The ruling party is against elections in Kiev because they don’t have support and they’re afraid of losing administrative and financial influence in the capital,” Klitschko said. “We get the impression that if they could they’d cancel Kiev elections altogether.”

Former Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi stepped down in 2010 after the presidential victory of Viktor Yanukovych, who appointed Oleksandr Popov as city administrator, leaving the mayor’s post vacant. While Yanukovych’s ruling Party of Regions got more votes than its rivals in Oct. 28 general elections, the opposition won in Kiev.

Parliament failed yesterday to set a June date for Kiev elections, with only 206 lawmakers in the 450-seat legislature voting in favor as people gathered outside to call for a ballot. Opposition parties vowed to continue blocking parliament tomorrow.

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