Former Interior Minister To Lead President's Alliance In Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's party on Monday tapped a top ally, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, to lead an alliance of pro-presidential forces in September parliamentary elections.

Yuriy Lutsenko

Lutsenko was a leading organizer of the massive 2004 street protests, dubbed the Orange Revolution, that helped propel Yushchenko to the presidency in a bitter struggle against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

He later opened corruption investigations into some of the closest allies of Yanukovych, who returned to the premier's post last year after his party won he most votes in parliamentary elections.

Yushchenko and Yanukovych reached an agreement this spring to hold new parliamentary elections on Sept. 30 in a bid to defuse the persistent power struggle in this country.

Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party and Lutsenko's People's Self-Defense party agreed last week to join forces for the elections, and Our Ukraine said Monday that Lutsenko would be the top candidate from the pro-presidential alliance.

Yulia Tymoshenko, another Orange Revolution leader who opposes Yanukovych, said her party would run separately.

Lawmakers in the 450-seat parliament will be chosen exclusively by voting on party or alliance lists, with the groups receiving the most votes allotting seats to their listed candidates. There will be no direct voting for individual candidates.

In March, prosecutors began looking into allegations of abuse of power by Lutsenko and searched his apartment. Lutsenko has denied any wrongdoing.

Source: Kyiv Post