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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Fails to Set Poll Date

KIEV - Amid acrimonious exchanges, Ukraine's parliament shied away Wednesday from a key decision on holding a referendum of confidence in the nation's president and legislature.

After two days of debate on the crisis caused by the political demands of hundreds of thousands of striking miners and other workers, the session approved the poll in principle but failed to agree on a date and questions for the ballot, postponing a decision till Thursday.

President Leonid Kravchuk reiterated to deputies his support for a nationwide vote of confidence in both himself and parliament. But the session ended in disarray after fierce criticism of Kravchuk by some deputies.

The miner's strike, which began early last week, has brought public discontent in Ukraine's political leadership to a head. Both Kravchuk and the parliament have been roundly condemned as relics of the communist epoch.

The strike started as a response to the four-fold price rises in basic foodstuffs such as milk, bread and meat. However, the anger of miners in the Donbass region of east Ukraine has been honed by their regional political leaders who favor closer economic ties with Russia and are campaigning for local economic autonomy.

The proposal facing deputies last night was whether or not to allow a referendum on both president and parliament to take place on Sept. 26.

The new deputy prime minister, Efim Zvyagilsky, who was offered the post last week as part of a package of concessions to the miners by Kravchuk, urged parliament to make a decision.

"The miners want a political solution", he said. "If you don't come up with a solution, this problem will get worse".