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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukrainian Police Ordered to Act

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ordered prosecutors and police on Monday to take action against any official who refused to fulfill his order to dissolve the parliament and call early elections.

But with the Constitutional Court scheduled to begin hearings Tuesday on the legality of the president's decree, action looked unlikely as all sides await a ruling in the three-week political crisis.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and his majority in the parliament have remained defiant, refusing to abide by the order or to release funds to allow the Central Election Commission to begin preparing for the May 27 vote.

"The president signed the decree. I expect you to implement it," Yushchenko said during a meeting with leaders of Ukraine's law enforcement bodies.

"Your function is to demonstrate to 48 million citizens that there is law in Ukraine and that the fundamental right to vote will be observed."

Both Yushchenko and Yanukovych planned trips to Europe on Tuesday to talk with officials about the crisis, Ukrainian media reported.

The stalemate pitting the pro-Western president against the Russian-leaning prime minister has become the country's worst crisis since the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Yanukovych's supporters brought in tens of thousands of supporters from his support bases in eastern and southern Ukraine for protests on Kiev's main square and set up a tent camp in a central city park.

The rallies echoed the 2004 Orange Revolution mass street protests, in which hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded the capital's streets to protest against Yanukovych's fraud-tainted victory in a presidential vote. The Supreme Court then ordered a revote, which Yushchenko won.

Yanukovych returned to office as prime minister last year after his party won the most votes in a March parliamentary election and put together a majority coalition, forcing Yushchenko into an awkward power-sharing agreement. Yanukovych made his political comeback by capitalizing on widespread disappointment after the Orange Revolution ushered in higher prices and political bickering -- rather than the rapid reform and thicker wallets many expected.

The latest crisis arose after Yushchenko accused Yanukovych of trying to usurp power by persuading opposition lawmakers to defect to his majority coalition, with the aim of reaching a 300-seat veto-proof majority. Yushchenko called it a revision of the voter's will.

Yushchenko and Yanukovych have held hours of talks, but so far have failed to resolve the deadlock.

Ukraine has been eager to build closer ties with the European Union, encouraged by some of the alliance's newest members -- former Warsaw Pact countries who appear eager for a friendly buffer between them and a resurgent Russia.

Moscow, which has historical ties to Kiev, has also appealed for a calm resolution of the crisis.