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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

11 Deputies Defect to Yanukovych

KIEV -- Almost a dozen Ukrainian opposition lawmakers defected to the ruling parliamentary coalition of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Friday, party officials said, dealing a major blow to President Viktor Yushchenko.

Yanukovych boasted about the defections and invited more to join, while opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko called it a coup d'etat and warned of "the loss of Ukraine's sovereignty."

"It is very important to start this process [of unification] all over our country, so that 2007 becomes a year of stable development of our country and a year when our society becomes united," Yanukovych told reporters.

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko's parties said they lost five and six lawmakers respectively Friday; the parliament's official web site confirmed the defections.

Yanukovych claimed that with the defections, he now controls 260 seats.

Earlier in the week, Yushchenko's ally Anatoliy Kinakh also defected and was named economics minister.

Yushchenko, meanwhile, said Yanukovych's coalition was based not on democratic principles but on blackmail and bribery. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and intermittent ally of Yushchenko, urged the president to call early elections.