Ukraine's Yushchenko Admits Mistakes in Appointing Some Officials

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko said Tuesday his government erred in appointing a number of officials and pledged to rectify the mistakes.

Speaking during a visit to eastern Ukraine, which largely supports the opposition, Yushchenko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that "a government's strength is determined by how swiftly it can react to its own errors, including personnel policy."

His remarks appeared to respond to criticism in Ukraine's industrialized and mainly Russian-speaking east that the government has deliberately neglected regions who overwhelmingly voted against the new president in last year's bitterly contested elections.

The pro-Russian opposition, mainly from the former Soviet republic's east, has also accused the government of persecuting its political opponents.

The new western-leaning authorities, who came to power in January following a wave of protests against election fraud in the presidential race, have denied such accusations and claim they are just fighting corruption that flourished under former president Leonid Kuchma.

Yushchenko did not identify on the officials whose appointments he now considers a mistake, but in recent months the government has replaced all regional governors and some mayors as well as a number of civil servants in what it says is an effort to improve the country's administration.

Yushchenko recently ordered his office to form a special desk to handle thousands of people's complaints.

The president said Tuesday that democracy "cannot be created overnight" and that some of 18,000 new officials appointed throughout the county in only two months "were not good."

"We need honest people, capable people, people who care about their nation. Where to find them, that's not simple," Yushchenko was quoted as saying.

Yushchenko's government came under fire earlier this month after U.S.-born Justice Minister Roman Zvarych acknowledged he had never received a master's degree listed in his official resume, and over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's handling of a recent fuel crisis.

On Monday, Ukraine's top human rights official, Nina Karpachova, also criticized the authorities for police brutality and launched an investigation into an alleged police attack on three opposition legislators in the west of the country.

Source: CNews