Yushchenko Threatens to Call Off Reforms

KIEV, Ukraine -- The battle between the president and prime minister of Ukraine continued on Friday.

Viktor Yanukovych in front of President's office

The Ukrainian parliament, where Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions has the majority, voted against dismissing Igor Dizhchany as head of the Ukrainian Security Service, even though he has been a appointed deputy secretary of the security council.

The president accused the parliament of contentiousness and, for the first time, spoke of the possibility of canceling the political reforms that were enacted two years ago. That move would cause a crisis in the country no less serious than the one it found itself in then.

Ukrainian President Yushchenko submitted Drizhchany's dismissal as security service head to the Rada on November 30, several days before he appointed him to the security council.

Since both personnel decisions fall within the president's competence, the vote by the Rada is mainly a formality. Nonetheless, it refused to free Drizhchany from the Ukrainian Security Service.

Leader of the Party of the Regions faction in the Rada Raisa Bogatyreva said openly that the move was revenge for Yushchenko's rejection of the 2007 federal budget.

At the traditional end of the year presidential press conference, Yushchenko showed that he was ready to take up the parliament's challenge, telling Ukrainian and foreign journalists that accession to NATO remains Ukraine's top foreign policy priority and that he does not recognize the Rada's “unlawful” dismissal of Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk.

Yushchenko blamed Yanukovich for the increasingly confrontational relations between the two leaders, saying that it was Yanukovich's “style.”

The greatest blow Yushchenko dealt Yanukovich was a statement on the possibility of canceling the changes made to the Constitution to expand the powers of the prime minister at the expense of presidential power.

He called those changes unfinished and “cosmetic.” “The changes have led to an unbalanced system of rule in Ukraine,” he concluded. He suggested that the reform be continued through a constitutional commission.

He warned that “if that option isn't developed, there will probably be a conflict option: first [the 2004 political reform] will have to be repealed, that is, return to what there was two years ago, and then begin a new long process of making changes.”

Thus, Yushchenko has given Yanukovich an ultimatum – either agree to serious corrections in political reform or the president will take it away.

Source: Kommersant

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