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SOVEREIGNTY: 2ND-MOST POPULOUS REPUBLIC PASSES SWEEPING DECLARATION BY 355-4 VOTE, PLACES ITS OWN LAWS ABOVE THOSE OF USSR.

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The Ukrainian Parliament passed a sweeping declaration of sovereignty Monday, claiming the right to issue Ukrainian citizenship, mint its own money and form armed forces, the independent Interfax news service said.

The sovereignty act, passed by a 355-4 vote, declared that Ukrainian laws take precedence over Soviet legislation, similar to declarations of independence this year in the rebellious Baltic republics.The measure was the boldest independence challenge yet to come from the vital Ukraine, the second-most populous republic in the Soviet Union with 52 million people and comprising the Soviet Union's industrial heartland.

The declaration "proclaims that the Ukrainian leadership has full and indivisible power in the republic within the borders of its territory," Interfax said.

"The Ukraine has the right to its own armed forces, interior troops and organs of public order and security," Interfax quoted the document as saying.

"The document envisions the creation of an independent banking system, including pricing, customs and tax systems," Interfax said. "An independent Ukrainian currency is to be set up."

It said that holders of Ukrainian citizenship can also keep their Soviet citizenship.

In a rally Sunday, thousands of anti-Communist demonstrators were urged to gather at the parliament in Kiev to show support for the independence act.