Confusion Spreads After Tymoshenko’s Move

KIEV, Ukraine -- Confusion spread Tuesday among five groups seeing to form a future government backing President Viktor Yushchenko’s policy after former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had unilaterally signed an undisclosed alliance agreement.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Five parties that have played a role in catapulting Yushchenko, a pro-Western leader, to the presidency last year, apparently made progress during their two-week talks over the coalition, but no one was sure which agreement had Tymoshenko signed.

“In the morning, a draft agreement has been sent to all leaders of parties holding the talks,” Tetiana Mokridi, the head of information department at Our Ukraine, a pro-Yushchenko group, said Tuesday. “I hope this is the draft that had been signed by Tymoshenko.”

Party leaders have not issued any comments on the agreement. Our Ukraine leaders have been holding a meeting late Tuesday to discuss the latest developments, politicians said.

The talks between Our Ukraine, the Tymoshenko group, the Socialist Party, Pora-PRP and the Kostenko-Pliushch bloc focused on the coalition agreement that would allow the groups to form the government after March 26 general election.

The matter became extremely important after a split of the pro-Yushchenko coalition in September 2005 had helped the Regions Party, a pro-Russian opposition group, to gain leadership in opinion polls ahead of the election.

A massive victory by the Regions Party could slow down Yushchenko’s pro-Western policy and economic reforms, analysts said. But the agreement discussed by the five groups during the past two weeks could prevent this scenario, analysts said.

The draft agreement anticipated that a group, a member of the coalition, gaining most votes at the election would nominate the prime minister, a position that has huge economic and political powers.

Most of the opinion polls indicated that Our Ukraine had been leading other potential coalition partners, suggesting that incumbent Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov could keep the post.

But one of the most controversial issues that could deal a blow to the coalition was Tymoshenko’s criticism of natural gas deal signed between Ukraine and Russia on Jan. 4.

Tymoshenko called on the deal to be cancelled and set this as a precondition for the coalition agreement. The agreement that has been signed by Tymoshenko on Tuesday apparently contained a clause promising canceling of the deal.

Our Ukraine and other likely members of the coalition as of early Tuesday have not supported the cancellation of the deal.

Pora-PRP, a group led by Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk, who himself criticized the gas deal, stressed the issue should absolutely not be mentioned in the agreement.

“The Tymoshenko’s statement [on the gas deal] jeopardizes not only the agreement but further democratic development of Ukraine,” Pora-PRP said. “The coalition agreement must not contain any preconditions.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal