Ukraine's coalition splits over powers, Georgia war

10:00, 03 September 2008
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Yushchenko`s party quit the government of Tymoshenko

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko`s party quit the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in disputes over reducing presidential powers and her failure to condemn Russia`s conflict with Georgia, according to Bloomberg.

Our Ukraine pulled out late yesterday after Tymoshenko voted in favor of draft laws to strip the president of his veto over a candidate for prime minister and make it easier to impeach the head of state, Roman Zvarych, Yushchenko`s parliamentary representative, said in comments broadcast on 5 Kanal television.

Tymoshenko`s party earlier refused to back a resolution condemning Russia`s recognition of the independence of the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, prompting Yushchenko to issue a statement demanding ``Ukraine`s parliament give a clear view on what happened in Georgia.``

Presidential officials have said Tymoshenko is trying to secure Russian support before presidential elections scheduled for 2010, a charge she denies. Ukraine`s eastern region and Crimean peninsula are dominated by Russian-speakers who oppose Yushchenko`s goal of leading the country into NATO.

Tymoshenko is trying to position herself to pick up pro- Russian voters at the presidential election, said Alex Brideau, an analyst at the Eurasia Group.

The ``Yushchenko-Tymoshenko battle is very strong,`` he said today by telephone from Tokyo. ``They are competing mainly for the same voters`` and the prime minister is trying to win over some of Yanukovych`s supporters to gain an advantage.

Orange Revolution

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko stood together during the so- called Orange Revolution in late 2004 to defeat Viktor Yanukovych, the presidential candidate backed by then-Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders have since had a series of disputes, including over the sale of state assets and ways to fight inflation.

Tymoshenko`s and Yushchenko`s parties won a combined 228 seats in the 450-member parliament in last year`s election.

Under the constitution, the president can dissolve the legislature and call general elections if parties fail to form a coalition within a month. He can also decide to allow negotiations to continue for longer.

Tymoshenko`s party joined forces with the pro-Russian opposition led by Yanukovych during yesterday`s vote to back the laws that curtail the president`s powers.

``Every law that was voted in the parliament contradicts Ukraine`s constitution,`` Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaker of parliament and a member of Yushchenko`s party, said yesterday in a statement on the parliament`s Web site. ``Unfortunately, we faced collusion. Political forces made a new configuration.``

Political Leaders

Yushchenko has scheduled a meeting with the leaders of parliamentary parties today, the Interfax news agency reported.

There may still be a ``chance for the coalition if Yulia Tymoshenko`s bloc joins us in approving a political statement on Georgia and some other laws,`` Yushchenko`s representative Zvarych said on 5 Kanal.

Yushchenko is an ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and wants to lead his country away from Russia`s influence. Ukraine, a nation of 46 million people that is about the size of France, is a former Soviet republic like Georgia.

Tymoshenko said of the Russia-Georgia conflict that she supports the Caucasus country`s ``territorial integrity.``

The Ukrainian prime minister is due to travel to Moscow later this month to meet with her Russian counterpart Putin to discuss the economy and trade cooperation, Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn said at a news conference in Kyiv yesterday.

Bloomberg

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