Ukraine's parliament opens second session amid opposition protest

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Ukrainian parliamentary speaker, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, closed parliament's first session on Tuesday and opened its second, despite opposition attempts to block work by the Supreme Rada.
KIEV, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian parliamentary speaker, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, closed parliament's first session on Tuesday and opened its second, despite opposition attempts to block work by the Supreme Rada.

The attempt to obstruct work by the country's parliament was in protest at moves by the country's leaders toward membership of NATO.

The country's former premier, Viktor Yanukovych, said on Monday that the opposition would call a halt to its obstruction of work by parliament only after the announcement of a referendum on the former Soviet republic joining NATO.

In January, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Yatsenyuk sent a letter to the alliance's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer expressing their hope that the country could join the action plan for joining NATO at a summit scheduled for early April in Bucharest.

The opposition Party of Regions, led by Yanukovych, and the Communists subsequently blocked the rostrum, demanding a referendum on NATO admission.

The coalition and the opposition still lack consent as to Ukraine joining the NATO Membership Action Plan. The opposition insists on a referendum before Ukraine joins the action plan, but the coalition and the speaker say a referendum should be held only prior to admission to NATO proper.

Participation in the NATO Membership Action Plan does not automatically mean a country will be admitted to the bloc, but is the first step toward membership.

The Ukrainian presidential press service said Yushchenko would not deliver his annual address to parliament on Tuesday due to a "lack of understanding on the readiness for constructive work by parliament."

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