Ukrainian President's Party: We Are 'Free' To Look For Other Coalition Partners

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko's political party declared itself free to look for other coalition partners on Tuesday, after 11 weeks of talks to reunite Ukraine's Orange Revolution partners ended in deadlock, a senior Our Ukraine official said.

A year later, can foe become friend? In Ukrainian politics anything is possible.

"A coalition must be formed in any case," Our Ukraine's Roman Zvarych said. "We always demonstrated a constructive position. However, in connection with the hopeless situation, we have informed our partners that 'We are free in our activities."'

The three parties that supported the 2004 Orange Revolution halted talks on Saturday amid a disagreement between Our Ukraine and the Socialists over the parliamentary speaker's job. The so-called Orange team's failure to overcome their differences has left this ex-Soviet republic effectively rudderless, with neither the Cabinet nor parliament fully functioning.

The disarray prompted U.S. President George W. Bush to put off a visit to Ukraine this month.

The most likely option now is for Our Ukraine to enter talks with Yushchenko's 2004 Orange Revolution rival, failed presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions won the most votes in the March parliamentary elections, which gave no party a majority.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who would get her old job back if the Orange coalition formed, and Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz have said that they would not talk to the Party of Regions.

Tymoshenko, who had a bitter falling out with Yushchenko last year, has accused Our Ukraine of setting out to sabotage the talks.

Many analysts believe that Yushchenko views Yanukovych as less of a threat to his authority and a more palatable partner than Tymoshenko, whose party won more votes than either of the other Orange forces combined in the March elections.

The Party of Regions has said it is ready to negotiate.

"I think the Ukrainian people understand that they'll receive nothing from a coalition of one color," said Yanukovych's spokeswoman Anna Herman. "Ultimately, this is natural because Ukraine is not one-colored."

The Party of Regions, whose campaign color is blue, dominates in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east and south, while the Orange parties hold sway in the west.

Under Ukraine's constitution, the parties have until June 27 to form a coalition. After that, Yushchenko can dissolve parliament and call new elections. He has said, however, that he will not call a new vote.

Source: AP