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Ukraine court reverses Orange Revolution, hands president more power

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"This is disastrous. It will make Ukraine look more like its eastern neighbors, like Belarus or Uzbekistan, and eliminate the checks and balances," says Volodymir Horbach, an analyst with the independent Institute of Euro-Atlantic Integration in Kiev. "The sovereignty of the Ukrainian people has been trampled, and our people will have real cause for popular revolt."

'A political nuclear weapon'

It may also lead to a fresh outburst of political strife. Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko told a Kiev press conference Friday that if the decision is carried out, the Ukrainian state would be on the road to collapse.

"Ukraine is now outside the bounds of political and legislative culture and has stopped being a part of democratic civilization," said Ms. Tymoshenko, who was narrowly defeated by Mr. Yanukovich earlier this year. "It displays anti-Constitutional madness on the part of our authorities, who have decided that law means nothing in Ukraine. This is a political nuclear weapon, personified in an inadequate leader [Yanukovich] who is claiming for himself the powers of a dictator."

Announcing the decision, chief judge Anatoly Holovin said that the Dec. 8, 2004, constitutional amendments that were agreed to following three weeks of rolling street demonstrations in Kiev, remembered as the Orange Revolution, "do not correspond to the Constitution of Ukraine, are unconstitutional, due to violations of constitutional procedures for its consideration and adoption."

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