Ukraine's Top Cop Pledges To Continue Struggle Against Corruption

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's interior minister pledged Friday to continue his fight against graft while serving in the Cabinet led by his political arch-foe, whose associates he has investigated on corruption charges.

Interior Minister Lutsenko

"The Interior Ministry will be a block to any resurgence of anti-democratic forces and restoring of corruption schemes," Yuriy Lutsenko told reporters.

Lutsenko, one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests and an appointee of President Viktor Yushchenko, kept his job under the newly appointed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, whose fraud-tainted run for presidency sparked the mass protests.

Lutsenko, who had initiated a criminal investigation of top figures in Yanukovych's party, earlier had pledged that he would not work under Yanukovych, who last week returned to the prime minister's job he held when he ran against Yushchenko in 2004.

On Friday, Lutsenko said that he changed his mind "for the sake of Ukrainian people .. so that everybody be equal before law," but added that he had "no positive emotions regarding members of the new government."

Yanukovych's Party of Regions won the most votes in the March parliamentary election, capitalizing on Yushchenko's falling popularity due to infighting among his allies and the slow pace of change.

After four months of political maneuvering and shifting alliances, Yanukovych's party formed a coalition with the Socialists and the Communists, which nominated him to the premier's job.

Lutsenko was hospitalized with hypertension just as Yanukovych was approved by parliament as prime minister last week.

Yushchenko acceded to his rival's political comeback after Yanukovych agreed to continue Ukraine's pro-Western course, uphold democratic freedoms and ensure the opposition has equal rights during elections.

The "national unity" pact also spells out Ukraine's European Union aspirations and promotes cooperation with NATO, but says membership can only follow after a referendum.

Source: AP