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Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Kiev mayor must see psychiatrist

Leonid Chernovetskiy prepares for a lie detector testing during his mayor election campaign in Kiev (9 March 2006)
Leonid Chernovetskiy took a public lie detector test before the 2006 election

A parliamentary commission set up in Ukraine to evaluate the mayor of Kiev, Leonid Chernovetskiy, says he should submit to a psychiatric examination.

Mr Chernovetskiy, a former banker, won re-election as an independent last May.

His populist campaign included handing out food parcels to pensioners, and waxing lyrical to audiences about how great life would be with him in charge.

Opponents have accused Mr Chernovetskiy of becoming increasingly erratic in his behaviour and criticised his policies.

Around 10,000 people attended a protest last month, accusing him of corruption. Some pensioners even returned the food parcels.

Mr Chernovetskiy organised a counter-demonstration by municipal employees the following day, and also went on television to assert that he was sane.

'Cosmos'

Members of the ad hoc parliamentary commission voted unanimously on Friday to order the mayor to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The commission was set up to investigate alleged violations of the constitution, laws, and recent decisions taken by Kiev city council.

Protest against Leonid Chernovetskiy (12 February 2009)
Thousands attended a protest against Mr Chernovetskiy last month

There have been growing concerns about Mr Chernovetskiy's behaviour.

In particular, residents of Kiev have been worried by recent media reports suggesting that he planned to levy taxes on such items as satellite dishes and air-conditioners, and charge an entry fee to communal graveyards.

The mayor's office has distanced itself from some of these plans.

However, the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Kiev says Mr Chernovetsky has undeniably angered many by raising rates for communal services, such as water, heating and electricity, in a bid to balance the city's budget.

The mayor has even earned himself the nickname, "Cosmos", because of his sometimes other-worldly behaviour.

But Ukraine's parliament cannot force Mr Chernovetsky to undergo any examination, and he has plenty of supporters too, our correspondent says.

His power base is largely among the poorest sections of society, especially pensioners, who are also some of the most likely to vote, he adds.

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