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    Ukraine's parliament restarts work after opposition halts protest

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    Ukraine's parliament resumed work on Thursday after more than a month of inactivity caused by opposition protests over the government's drive to integrate the country into NATO.

    KIEV, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's parliament resumed work on Thursday after more than a month of inactivity caused by opposition protests over the government's drive to integrate the country into NATO.

    The Supreme Rada was blocked by the Party of Regions led by former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych and the Communist Party. The parties demanded a referendum on the country's accession to the action plan that paves the way to entry to the NATO military alliance.

    In January, Ukraine's pro-Western leader Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk sent a letter to the military alliance's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer saying they hoped that the country could join the NATO Membership Action Plan.

    The legislature reopened after adopting a compromise resolution to hold a referendum prior to making a decision on the country's accession to the plan.

    "Ukraine will make a decision to join NATO only after a national referendum, to be held on the initiative of the people, is held on the issue," the resolution reads.

    A recent poll carried out by Ukraine's Democratic Initiatives foundation showed that over 50% of Ukrainians would vote against joining NATO.

    A NATO-Ukraine commission is due to hold a meeting during the alliance's summit in Bucharest, Romania, on April 2-4, 2008.

    Russia has been unnerved by NATO's ongoing expansion, and outgoing President Vladimir Putin said at his last annual press conference in February that Russia could retarget its missiles on Ukraine if the country joined NATO.

    Viktor Yushchenko responded by saying that Ukraine was ready to adopt laws to prevent NATO military bases from being deployed on its territory in the event of the country joining the military alliance.

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