Ukraine president defies parliament, tells FM to stay on -1

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a decree ordering the foreign minister to remain in office, despite being dismissed by parliament, the presidential press service said Tuesday.
(recasts, adds paragraphs 4-8)

KIEV, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a decree ordering the foreign minister to remain in office, despite being dismissed by parliament, the presidential press service said Tuesday.

Last Friday, Ukraine's parliament voted to fire Borys Tarasyuk, a key supporter of the Western-leaning president, on a request from pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Under Ukrainian law, the president appoints the ministers of foreign affairs and defense.

The motion to fire Tarasyuk was passed by the 450-assembly with 247 votes in favor, well clear of the necessary 226 votes.

The Rada also voted for the leader of the Socialist Party faction, Vasiliy Tsushko, to replace Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko. The Socialists are part of Yanukovych's governing coalition, along with his Party of Regions and the Communist Party.

Tarasyuk, who has been a leading proponent of the president's bid to join NATO and the European Union, pledged to challenge the legality of parliament's decision in court.

Russia's foreign minister said last Saturday that the Ukrainian parliament's sacking of the foreign minister would not affect relations between Moscow and Kiev.

Asked how the dismissal of Tarasyuk would affect Russian-Ukrainian relations, Sergei Lavrov said: "Plans for our relations with Ukraine are on track, and we are confident that they will be fulfilled."

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