Ukraine president takes control of Interior Ministry troops

May 26, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- During a bitter political standoff, Ukraine's President Viktor A. Yushchenko issued a decree yesterday transferring control of Interior Ministry troops into his own hands and away from a minister loyal to his longtime rival, Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich.

The prime minister said the president's action was unconstitutional. Parliament, which is controlled by the prime minister's allies, passed a resolution declaring the decree legally void.

It appeared, however, that Yushchenko had succeeded in firming up his authority over security forces, because the direct commander of the Interior Ministry troops, Gen. Oleksandr Kikhtenko, is considered his ally. As commander in chief, pro-Western Yushchenko already had control over the army and the country's national security apparatus.

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