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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Assures U.S. on Democracy

APRice meeting Yatsenyuk at the State Department in Washington on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON -- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk assured U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that his country would adhere to democratic standards in resolving its current political crisis.

President Viktor Yushchenko, meanwhile, dismissed a second Constitutional Court judge in as many days, increasing the likelihood that the court would be unable to make a ruling in the more than four-week crisis.

Yatsenyuk said after talks with Rice on Tuesday that U.S. officials had expressed concern that Ukraine maintain the democratic progress it had made since Yushchenko came to power in 2004. "We have to stick to democratic values, democratic standards -- it's obvious for us," Yatsenyuk said.

Ukraine's latest political stalemate erupted after Yushchenko accused Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych of trying to usurp power by wooing pro-presidential lawmakers over to the majority coalition. Yushchenko signed a decree last month ordering new parliamentary elections for late May. Yanukovych, however, and his majority in the parliament have refused to fulfill the decree, and challenged it before the Constitutional Court.

Unable to get funding for the election from the Yanukovych-controlled government, Yushchenko postponed the election until June 24.

Yatsenyuk said he assured U.S. officials that there was a legal basis for Yushchenko's move to dissolve the parliament. He said the president would seek a deal to end the impasse. "Everyone is interested in compromise, but the president had to act and react and had to protect the constitution," he said. "In 2007, we faced for the first time in our history the dissolution of the parliament. It's called democracy."

In Kiev, Yushchenko's office announced Tuesday that the president had dismissed Judge Syuzanna Stanik for "a violation of [her] oath." Yushchenko had earlier accused Stanik of corruption, citing an allegation that a member of her family had received expensive real estate. She denied the charge, and the Prosecutor General's Office also defended her.

On Monday, Yushchenko fired another judge on the 18-judge panel, accusing him of violating court procedure. Both judges were part of the six-judge quota that Yushchenko can appoint to the bench, but both were appointed by his predecessor, President Leonid Kuchma.

Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said Wednesday that his office would investigate a complaint from the two judges about their dismissals.

Under Ukrainian law, the court needs a 12-judge quorum to work. Before the court took the case, five of the 18 judges said they believed Yushchenko's decree was constitutional and that they would not participate in the hearings. They later showed up to participate, but if those judges now bow out, the court will not have a quorum.

Many analysts say Yushchenko is protecting himself in expectation that the court's decision will go against him.