Ukrainian President Under Fire

KIEV -- Ukraine's opposition parties repeated calls on Tuesday for the government's resignation and a start to impeachment proceedings against the president over a dispute with Russia that has left the country without gas supplies.

"We demand ... the creation of a special commission to investigate the authorities' abuse of power in gas supply issues, the quick resignation of the current Cabinet and the start of procedures for the impeachment of the president," Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-leaning head of the Party of the Regions, told lawmakers in the parliament.

Yanukovych's party does not have enough votes to initiate the impeachment or a vote of no confidence and would need to win support from some pro-government lawmakers. His calls have been backed by the small Communist faction, which has long demanded the impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko, but votes held by the two groups together fall short of a majority.

"I hope that this will be the last 'Orange winter,' but we still have to survive it," Yanukovych said, referring to the 2004 revolution that brought now-rivals Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to power. "The misfortunes and problems of Ukraine deepen each day the unprofessional, argumentative and irresponsible authorities remain."

Yanukovych proposed a debate on holding a no-confidence vote Thursday, but no motion has been put on the agenda. Tymoshenko's government survived such a vote in July.

The procedure for impeaching the president is complex because the constitution has been tweaked several times. Some analysts believe it may be impossible for now in legal terms.

Ukrainians have started to grumble as some local authorities reduced heating and water supplies, but many have been apathetic or distrustful of all politicians for years.