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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

European Lawmakers Take Ukraine to Task

STRASBOURG, France -- European lawmakers on Thursday criticized Ukraine for what they said was a failure to carry out substantial legal and administrative reforms since President Viktor Yushchenko's rise to power three years ago.

They also said the country's hastily adopted new constitution did not safeguard democracy.

Lawmakers from the Council of Europe's 46 member states said the escalating political crisis in Ukraine was a direct result of insufficient constitutional reforms introduced in 2004, which they said did not fully define the competencies of the president, government and the parliament.

"The political reforms that would set the rules of the game and enable law-based institutions to ... promote political competition have not been completed to date," the council's parliamentary assembly said in a resolution after a heated debate in which both Yushchenko and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych were criticized.

Ukraine's parliament speaker, Oleksandr Moroz, told journalists before the debate that his country would resolve the crisis "by our own means," without involvement from abroad.

Yushchenko issued a controversial decree on April 2 to dissolve the parliament and call early elections, accusing Yanukovych of trying to usurp power.

Yanukovych and his majority in the parliament called it unconstitutional and appealed to the Constitutional Court to weigh in. Both Yushchenko and Yanukovych have agreed to abide by the court's ruling.

European lawmakers warned that the Ukrainian Constitution did not clearly define how and when early elections should be carried out.

"National constitutions usually contain clear provisions, a package of rules describing how early elections can be conducted. Ukraine does not have that," Danish Liberal deputy Hanne Severinsen said.