The council that demanded the finance is chaired by Viktor Yushchenko, the president, who fell out with Tymoshenko, after she teamed up with the opposition to pass legislation curtailing the president's power.

Political turmoil

Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party broke links with Tymoshenko's bloc last month, unravelling the ruling Orange Coalition.

Yushchenko, who said Tymoshenko's "ambition" had caused the collapse of the pro-Western coalition, dissolved parliament last week and called elections for December 7.

Tymoshenko has urged the president to call off the election and her bloc has launched a court action suspending preparations.

Several of her supporters converged on the Central Election Commission headquarters on Tuesday, reportedly to ensure the suspension was observed, and scuffles broke out with security forces.

Tymoshenko supporters said they were injured in the scuffles but a spokesman for the security services denied that any force had been used.

Financial worries

Tymoshenko insists that allocating millions of dollars to finance the elections would be "acting against the national interest", saying that the money is needed to be used to fight the financial crisis.

Though financial turbulence has caused a minimum of shocks so far in Ukraine, the central bank has adopted measures to cushion the banking system, forbidding early withdrawals of deposits and curbing borrowing and lending.

Opinion polls say a new election will produce little change in Ukraine's political landscape.

The parties led by Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, the opposition leader, lead surveys with about 20 per cent each, far ahead of the president's Our Ukraine party, which is in single figures.