A district court in Ukraine's capital Tuesday considered an appeal by Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk of his dismissal, and has decided to involve President Viktor Yushchenko as a third party to the case. RIA Novosti reported.

Ukraine's parliament, in which Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych leads a 246-strong majority coalition, voted in early December to sack Tarasyuk, a key supporter of the president, at Yanukovych's request, following which Tarasyuk petitioned the court to rule the dismissal illegal and reverse it.

On December 14, Ukraine's president blamed a growing conflict between himself and the governing coalition on the premier.

The power struggle between Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko and Yanukovych, whom he defeated two years ago in presidential polls but was forced to appoint as premier in August, has intensified recently, with the parliament sacking the president-appointed Cabinet of ministers.

On January 1, 2006, Ukraine shifted from a presidential-parliamentary to a parliamentary-presidential form of governance, after amendments adopted by the Supreme Rada in December 2004 came into force. As a result, some presidential powers were transferred to the country's parliament and to the Cabinet.

In late November, Yushchenko said the Constitution needed amending.

"I am convinced that presidential powers should be enhanced. They demand a greater balance, especially in relations with the government," he told three leading Ukrainian television channels.

However, the president signed a decree December 5 ordering the minister remain in his post.

He said at the time that Tarasyuk's dismissal was the result of the recent constitutional reforms transferring presidential powers to parliament and the government.

"Parliamentary powers have expanded somewhat. We are now at a stage where these relations have not yet been clearly formulated, so there are attempts to play on somebody else's turf," he said. "That is the only explanation I can offer for the attempts to fire some Cabinet ministers."

Under Ukraine's Constitution, the president submits the candidacy of the foreign minister to parliament for approval.

The motion to fire Tarasyuk was passed by the 450-assembly with 247 votes in favor, well clear of the necessary 226 votes.

Yushchenko, who swept into power on the back of the 2004 "orange" revolution, is determined to take Ukraine into NATO and the European Union, but his efforts to forge closer ties with the West have been staunchly opposed by the pro-Russian Yanukovych.


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