Ukraine's parliament has voted to sack Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov's government in the wake of the recent crisis surrounding the price of imported gas from Russia.

The vote of no confidence was backed by 250 deputies out of the 450 seat parliament, but the country’s president Viktor Yushchenko said that the decision may be ‘unconstitutional’.

The government agreed to an increase in the price it paid for gas imports after Russia’s state owned monopoly Gazprom shut off supplies on New Year’s day. The deal means that the country will have to pay almost twice as much for its gas this year, although this is not as much as the fourfold increase that Russia had initially demanded.

Ukraine relies on imports from Russia for most of its energy needs, and the pipeline is also the main gateway for Russian shipments to Europe. There are fears that the price may rise again in six months when the terms of the deal run out.

The Ukrainian premier will continue with his duties until a replacement is named, and elections for a new government are due to be held in March. The vote marks the second time in six months that the government has been sacked, plunging the country into crisis.