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Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 12:24 UK

'Drunken' Ukraine minister quits

Yuri Lutsenko (12 May 2009)
Mr Lutsenko admitted he had drunk a beer before the flight to Seoul

Ukraine's interior minister has offered to resign after being detained at Frankfurt airport after an altercation with police while apparently drunk.

Yuri Lutsenko said he was the victim of a banal situation that had been turned into a scandal for political reasons.

Mr Lutsenko's resignation has to be approved by the Ukrainian parliament.

German reports said the minister and his son had reacted angrily to being prevented from boarding a flight and thrown their mobile phones at officers.

Four policemen were injured in the incident, German media cited police as saying.

'Apology'

At a news conference in Kiev on Tuesday, Mr Lutsenko said he had asked Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the speaker of parliament to consider his offer of resignation at the earliest opportunity.

"I have become the victim of a banal situation blown up into a political scandal because of domestic squabbles inside Ukraine," he said.

Mr Lutsenko denied that he had been drunk and disorderly, although admitted that he had consumed a beer before attempting to board the flight to Seoul.

He said police had surrounded members of the Ukrainian delegation and that he had become angry when his 19-year-old son, whom he claimed had recently undergone an operation and therefore would not have been allowed to consume alcohol, was handcuffed.

The minister said the head of police in the state of Hessen had apologised to him for the incident before the delegation was booked onto another flight.

He also said he would sue the German newspaper, Bild, for libel.

If Mr Lutsenko's resignation is approved, it will leave the country without three key ministers.

Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk resigned in February after clashing with Ms Tymoshenko, while Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko was dismissed by MPs in March for his handling of government policy.

Ukraine has been hamstrung by a deep rift between parties supporting Ms Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko, which has crippled many of the normal functions of government.



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