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Ukraine court reverses Orange Revolution, hands president more power

Ukraine's Constitutional Court essentially nullified the amendments that paved the way for greater democracy after the Orange Revolution, giving the pro-Russia president greater powers.

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Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a news conference after Ukraine's Constitutional Court read out its ruling on the presidential powers, in Kiev, Oct. 1.

Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

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Ukraine's Constitutional Court handed down a politically explosive ruling Friday, declaring "illegal" a complex deal that peacefully ended the Orange Revolution six years ago by redistributing power from the presidency to the more broadly based parliament.

Supporters say Ukraine needs a strong hand to guide it through economic and political crisis. But critics say the decision will enable President Viktor Yanukovich, who was elected in a hard-fought contest in February this year, to rapidly consolidate power and carry out a far-reaching political agenda.

That agenda has included repairing Ukraine's tattered relations with Moscow, ending its bid to join the Western military alliance NATO, and perhaps seeking to give Russian – spoken by nearly half of Ukrainians – official language status.

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