Ukrainian president heckled at parliament opening

AFP , Tuesday 6 Sep 2011

Ukrainian opposition heckle the president in parliament and cover their seats in posters featuring the former prime minister and interior minister, over what they claim to be a vendetta by the ruling Regions Party

Ukraine's opposition Tuesday heckled President Viktor Yanukovych with cries of "shame" as parliament opened for a new session amid controversy over the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The opposition MPs shouted at Yanukovych as he stood up to face the chamber and then walked out of parliament en masse to protest the ongoing trial against Tymoshenko.

"We want to stop the political repressions," said a joint statement by the parliament groups BYuT (Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko) and Our Ukraine - Self-Defense, who together have nearly 150 of 450 deputies.

Before the session opening, these groups covered their seats in the session hall with giant posters featuring the former prime minister and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko who, like Tymoshenko, is also in detention.

Both ex-top officials are on trial and accused of abuse of power, while their supporters argue these prosecutions are part of a vendetta pursued by the Regions Party of Yanukovych.

Yanukovych did not mention the Tymoshenko case while giving his speech to parliament, concentrating on the need to accelerate the economic recovery.

Tymoshenko is on trial on charges of abusing power by signing gas deals with Russia, which the authorities claim sustained billions of dollars in losses to the Ukrainian budget.

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