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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bloc Tymoshenko Supporters Stage Rally Over Registration

ReutersTwo protesters huddling Monday in front of the Central Election Commission.
KIEV -- More than 1,000 people rallied in central Kiev on Monday against the authorities' refusal to register Ukraine's main opposition party for next month's parliamentary election.

The Central Election Commission on Saturday declined to register candidates from Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko on the grounds that they had failed to provide their exact addresses.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, called the move politically motivated and vowed to contest it in court.

Hundreds of Tymoshenko supporters waving party flags -- a red heart on a white background -- demonstrated Monday outside the commission headquarters, demanding that it reverse its decision and allow Tymoshenko's bloc to run. They had set up a tent camp here Sunday.

The decision to hold early elections Sept. 30 was a compromise to defuse a bitter, months-long power struggle between pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko and his more Russian-leaning foe, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

But the refusal to register Tymoshenko's bloc -- the leading opposition force -- is likely to raise questions about the legitimacy of the vote.

Tymoshenko has said Yanukovych was behind the decision not to register her bloc, while Yanukovych's party has claimed that she deliberately created the scandal to increase her popularity.

A long-standing confrontation between the president and prime minister escalated in April when Yushchenko ordered the parliament dissolved, accusing Yanukovych's majority coalition of trying to usurp power. Yanukovych rejected the order, but eventually agreed to early elections after tensions escalated to the point that some observers feared an armed confrontation was imminent.

The two men were bitter rivals in the 2004 presidential election. Yanukovych was initially declared the winner, but Yushchenko won a court-ordered revote after weeks of mass protests against electoral fraud, which became known as the Orange Revolution. Yanukovych staged a remarkable political comeback last year when his party received the most votes in parliamentary elections and formed the ruling coalition.