Ukraine Opposition Seeks To Oust Yushchenko Over Gas Crisis

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's powerful pro-Russian opposition on Tuesday called for the impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko after a gas dispute with Moscow that seriously disrupted gas supplies to Europe.

Viktor Yanukovych, head of the pro-Russia Regions Party.

Viktor Yanukovych, head of the Regions Party and a former presidential candidate, also called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's government during parliamentary debates on the gas crisis.

"We demand... the immediate dismissal of the government and the start of procedures for the impeachment of the president," said Yanukovych, who proposed that lawmakers schedule a vote for Thursday on dismissing the government.

"In the middle of a political and economic crisis, the authorities have left Ukraine without gas and without prospects. Ukraine is in the process of losing its status as a transit country," he added.

Communist Party leader Petro Simonenko joined Yanukovych in the call to imepach Yushchenko, who was not present at the debates.

The popularity of Ukraine's pro-Western president has plummeted amid the gas crisis, which began January 1 when Russia cut supplies to Ukraine in a payment dispute and which has left hundreds of thousands of Europeans without gas.

Yushchenko's approval rating hit 2.4 percent according to a poll published Monday by the Democratic Initiatives organisation, which is backed by Sweden's government.

Yanukovych lost to Yushchenko in a 2004 presidential election. He initially won but the result was later overturned amid charges of vote-rigging and after the massive street protests known as the "Orange Revolution."

The two of them, along with Tymoshenko, are all seen as potential candidates in Ukraine's next presidential election expected in 2010.

Source: EU Business