Ukraine's Orange Revolution Partners Trade Allegations Of Betrayal Over Failed Coalition Talks

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's former Orange Revolution partners traded allegations of betrayal Wednesday, blaming each other during an open parliament session for the failure to form a working government after 82 days of coalition talks.

Orange Revolution partners

The three estranged parties that had led the 2004 Orange Revolution against election fraud had been engaged in difficult talks to reunite, but their negotiations fell apart over the weekend.

President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party initially blamed the collapse on a disagreement with the Socialists over the parliamentary speaker's job, but later said the main disagreements were over policy.

"We had not a single dispute left," countered former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was slated to return to her former job if the Orange coalition reformed. "Why then have they started to talk about principles? ... They did not want to create this coalition, they wanted to spoil the process."

Our Ukraine has said it is time to widen talks to include other parties, which could pave the way for an awkward alliance with Yushchenko's 2004 presidential election rival, Viktor Yanukovych, whose pro-Russian Party of Regions won the most votes in the March election. Tymoshenko's bloc came in second, winning more than Yushchenko's party and the Socialists combined.

Yanukovych's pro-Russian party said it was ready to hold talks with all the parties, and Our Ukraine appeared eager to start. The bitter falling-out between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko last year poisoned relations between their parties, and many analysts have said Yushchenko sees Yanukovych as a more reliable partner than Tymoshenko.

"Today we have a simple choice: either a coalition or an election mess," said Our Ukraine's Roman Bezsmertny. "We are for a coalition."

Such a move, however, could prove politically damaging for Yushchenko, whose party campaigned on the slogan "Independence Square was not in vain," a reference to the mass protests they led against Yanukovych's ballot-stuffing attempt to win the 2004 presidency.

"To form a coalition with the Socialists and Tymoshenko's bloc might mean that some politician would lose, but to form a coalition with the Party of Regions would mean that our national interests lose," said Our Ukraine's Mykola Katerynchuk, signaling a division within the president's party.

In a last minute bid to overcome the differences, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said he would surrender his demand to become parliamentary speaker. But he added that he would only do this if all presidential appointees were named in the coalition agreement.

Our Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko responded that he thought the proposal was "positive," but added that the premiership should not go to Tymoshenko - a suggestion she would never accept.

"Now all that's left is for Yulia Volodymyrivna to give up the prime minister's job and we'll have a coalition," he said, referring to Tymoshenko.

Source: AP