Members of the parliament's opposition bloc, led by charismatic leader Yulia Tymoshenko, blocked the presidium of the Supreme Rada and tried to snatch a microphone from Deputy Speaker Adam Martynyuk after the majority of the parliament adopted a bill on setting up a special committee to investigate into activities of Ukrainian Unified Energy Systems, which was headed several years ago by Tymoshenko.
The opposition earlier proposed to form another committee on investigating into the cause of the increase in natural gas prices in Ukraine, but parliament members decided to support another bill.
Ukraine was involved in a pricing spat with Gazprom over the winter that led the Russian energy giant to temporarily cut off supplies in January. The dispute was settled with an agreement signed January 4. Ukraine now imports a mixture of Russian and Turkmen natural gas at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. The price formula is based on a rate of $230 for Russian gas and $60 for the Central Asian republic's gas.
Tymoshenko called Wednesday's voting as a "humiliation of Rada's work regulations" and added that she would be insisting on another consideration of the issue.
The adoption of the bill proposed by the ruling coalition was not the only blow to the Ukrainian opposition Wednesday as earlier in the day three members of the Tymoshenko's bloc announced that they joined the anti-crisis coalition, which comprises the pro-Russian Party of Regions, the Socialists, the Communists and some members of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc.
Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 "orange revolution" that swept Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency and saw her installed as his first prime minister, has repeatedly claimed that her political opponents in parliament have attempted to bribe members of her faction into changing the sides. She has failed to provide concrete evidence to support her allegations.
The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which won 129 seats in the 450-member Supreme Rada during the March 26 elections, was the leading force in the first parliamentary coalition to emerge after the elections, but the alliance collapsed when the Socialists defected to join the Party of Regions, led by Yushchenko's former rival in 2004 presidential election Viktor Yanukovych.