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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukrainians Want Early Presidential Vote

ReutersPolice passing tents erected to support Yanukovych near the Central Election Commission building in Kiev on Monday.
KIEV -- Ukraine's defiant parliament on Monday said it would only support early parliamentary elections if a presidential vote is held at the same time, raising the stakes in the country's ongoing political confrontation.

The parliamentary majority has no power to force an early presidential ballot, but its threat showed how deep the standoff between President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, has become.

"We are not against early elections, we are against calling elections illegally," the parliament said in a statement approved by 258 lawmakers in the 450-seat legislature.

Yushchenko last week ordered the parliament dissolved and called for snap elections on May 27, accusing Yanukovych and his parliamentary majority of trying to usurp power.

Yanukovych and his supporters have called the order unconstitutional and refused to honor it. They have appealed to Ukraine's Constitutional Court, which is expected to begin hearings on the issue this week.

The standoff has provoked the biggest political crisis in Ukraine since the 2004 Orange Revolution protests against Yanukovych's fraud-tarnished presidential victory. Yushchenko brought hundreds of thousands of supporters to the streets, and later won a court-ordered revote.

This time, it is Yanukovych who has brought his supporters to the streets. They had set up a tent camp in a central Kiev park and pledged to increase their numbers to up to 50,000 on Tuesday. But they canceled the plan for the Tuesday rally on Monday evening.