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Europe

Ukraine's Opposition Blocks Government

Protesters resumed a blockade of government headquarters Wednesday, heeding a call from opposition head and presidential-vote winner Viktor Yushchenko to prevent Premier Viktor Yanukovych from chairing a cabinet meeting.

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Yushchenko supporters continue celebrating his Sunday win

A human chain of hundreds of orange-clad Yushchenko supporters surrounded the seat of government in central Kiev, and six vans blocked its main entrance. Unlike the opposition's previous blockades, however, civil servants were allowed to pass through.

"We are blocking exclusively citizen Yanukovych," said Yury Lutsenko, a parliament deputy.

Yushchenko had called on his supporters late Tuesday to resume the blockade of the government after Yanukovych, who has refused to concede defeat in a weekend rerun election, announced he would chair a cabinet meeting there the next day.

Parliament had voted to disband the current government several weeks ago, but Yanukoych and his supporters insisted the decision was non-binding on the basis of a legal technicality. Officially he has been on leave to campaign since then.

"I call on everyone to reinforce the blockade of the government," Yushchenko said in an address to tens of thousands of his supporters massed in Kiev's central Independence Square to celebrate his apparent victory in Sunday's election.

The repeat vote was held after the supreme court threw out a previous run-off on Nov. 21, which official results had handed to Yanukovych, citing massive fraud.

According to complete preliminary ballot counts released by the central election commission Tuesday, Yushchenko had won the weekend election by a comfortable margin of 52 percent to Yanukovych's 41 percent, a difference of more than 2.2 million votes.

Suicide or murder?

Ukraine Transportminister Georgi Kirpa tot aufgefunden

Ukrainian Transport Minister Heorhiy Kirpa was found dead Monday.

Also on Tuesday, Ukraine's prosecutor general said it had opened a case under the "driving someone to suicide" chapter of the criminal code into the death of the nation's powerful transport minister the previous night. Heorhiy Kirpa (photo) was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head in the early evening Monday at his residence outside Kiev, the prosecutor general's office said in a statement.

General Prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun and his deputy Viktor Shokin had inspected the scene soon afterward, it said.

"The Ukraine prosecutor general office has opened a criminal case into the death of Ukraine Transport Minister Heorhiy Kirpa under section 120 of the criminal code -- driving someone to suicide," said a statement.

Kirpa's spokesman Eduard Zanyuk told AFP the previous night he had noticed "absolutely no change" in Kirpa's recent behavior that could give credence to the theory that he killed himself.

One of Kirpas's deputies, Ivan Saliy, speculated that Kirpa's death was connected to financial difficulties within his ministry, the opposition-run Kanal 5 television network reported. Kirpa was regarded as one of the most influential figures within Yanukovych's government.

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