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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 17:38 GMT
Ukrainian PM denies urging force
A policeman reads a book as he guards shields in the ground of the presidential building in Kiev
Thousands of police were in the area at the time
Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has denied reports he urged the use of military force to resolve the country's political crisis.

A report in the Financial Times said he had lobbied the government to consider deploying troops to end mass rallies organised by the opposition.

The protesters were angry at the result of presidential elections in November, which they said were fraudulent.

Mr Yanukovych was declared the winner, but the results were later annulled.

He and his opponent, pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, face a repeat presidential run-off on 26 December.

'Restore order'

The newspaper says Mr Yanukovych and the presidential chief of staff, Viktor Medvedchuk, urged President Leonid Kuchma to impose a state of emergency.

At the time, hundreds of thousands of Mr Yushchenko's followers had occupied parts of the capital, Kiev, and blockaded government buildings in the protest against fraud in last month's vote.

Yushchenko supporters at a rally in Kiev on 24 November
Demonstrators claimed fraud robbed their candidate of victory

Mr Yanukovych says he merely urged Mr Kuchma to restore order according to the constitution.

"This information is false. There was no talk of bringing in troops," Mr Yanukovych said, according to the Interfax news agency.

"It was about ensuring order properly and observing the Ukrainian constitution," he said.

The deputy head of Mr Kuchma's office, Vasyl Baziv, told the paper that the president was consistently against the use of force.

New inquiry

Mr Medvedchuk is said to have handed in a letter of resignation. He was quoted as saying it will come into effect before the next president takes office.

Mr Medvedchuk is the leader of a pro-government political party and a successful businessman. He is believed to be leaving to concentrate on politics.

Meanwhile, parliament has revived its inquiry into Mr Yushchenko's illness after doctors in Austria said he had been poisoned.

Mr Yanukovych has also categorically denied any involvement.

On Monday, he accused the US of interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs, saying the Washington had financed Mr Yushchenko's campaign.

The US has repeatedly rejected such claims.

Yushchenko says who is to blame for his illness

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