Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Ukraine foreign minister sacked

Volodymyr Ohryzko (file)
Mr Ohryzko was one of two ministers appointed by Ukraine's president

Ukraine's parliament has voted to sack Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko for poor handling of government policy.

A total of 250 members in the 450-seat assembly backed a no confidence motion in Mr Ohryzko, including 49 from Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc.

He was criticised for his approach to a ruling last month by a UN court on a territorial dispute with Romania, and for his aggressive approach to Russia.

Mr Ohryzko's dismissal was the second departure of a minister this year.

Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk resigned last month after clashing with Ms Tymoshenko over the budget, including the size of the deficit.

Mr Ohryzko, a career diplomat, was one of two ministers appointed by the prime minister's ally-turned-rival, President Viktor Yushchenko.

Correspondents say the decision to sack the minister is likely to be contested in court as, according to some MPs, only the president has the power to do so. Opposition MPs dispute the assertion.

Last month's ruling by the International Court of Justice, which both parties agreed in advance would be binding, gave Romania about four-fifths of the area it had claimed from Ukraine in a long-running territorial dispute over a part of the Black Sea.

At stake were drilling rights in an area which Romania says may contain some 100bn cubic metres of gas and 10m tonnes of oil.

The ruling was welcomed as a victory for diplomacy by nearly all politicians and the media in Bucharest, but criticised by many in Kiev.

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