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Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 12:29 UK

Ukraine leader's speech blocked

MPs block the podium in Kiev's parliament building
MPs loyal to the prime minister blocked access for the president

Ukraine's president has been prevented from making his annual address to parliament by his own allies.

Viktor Yushchenko could not reach the podium, blocked by MPs loyal to Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ms Tymoshenko accused Mr Yushchenko of blocking measures vital to controlling inflation in the country.

Tensions between the two "Orange Revolution" allies are rising ahead of next year's presidential election. They are seen as potential rivals.

'Sabotage'

Ms Tymoshenko accused regional governors acting on the president's instructions of "sabotaging" the cabinet's work.

Mr Yushchenko described the move to prevent his annual address as "unprecedented".

The parliamentary speaker said the events were "shameful", adding that apologies should be offered to the people of Ukraine.

Opinion polls put Ms Tymoshenko well ahead of Mr Yushchenko, but analysts say that the in-fighting between the two could play into the hands of the former Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko led the 2004 pro-democracy street protests - dubbed the Orange Revolution - that swept them both to power.

The president made Ms Tymoshenko his prime minister in 2005, but their government was brought down by disagreements.

They forged a new alliance for the September 2007 election and won enough combined votes to defeat Mr Yanukovych's party.





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