Ukraine's Tymoshenko Gathers Strength For New Political Assault

KIEV, Ukraine -- Over the past few weeks Yulia Tymoshenko has suffered a series of humiliting defeats in front of the Ukrainian people, but analysts say she will soon be seeking political revenge.

Defeated Yulia Tymoshenko

The prime minister's defeat in the February 7 presidential election against sworn enemy Viktor Yanukovych came as a numbing shock to the Orange Revolution princess who had expected Ukraine's top job to become the pinnacle of her high-flying career.

Instead, she has suffered a series of wounding blows and sneers from foes.

Tymoshenko threatened mass street protests if Yanukovych rigged the polls. She had to backtrack on that after it became clear noone was in the mood for a second Orange Revolution.

After the polls she disappeared from public view. There was three days of silence before she declared she would never recognize Yanukovych's win.

Then she vowed to challenge his victory but in a dramatic backdown asked the country's top court to drop her appeal.

"Her task was simple -- to make the legal process part of a new political legend about the stolen elections," said Andriy Yermolayev, director of the Sofia social research centre.

For now, analysts said, she will have to regroup and be patient. In a deeply divided, impoverished country she has time on her side.

Yanukovych inherits a nation badly hit by the economic crisis and it will not take long before people become disillusioned by the lack of economic progress in Ukraine torn by rivalries and dependent on foreign aid, including from Russia and the IMF, analysts said.

"Tymoshenko is a very emotional woman who has been renowned for her powerful political tactics only," said Viktor Nebozhenko, the head of the Ukrainian Barometer polling agency.

"Today however she has finally got some sort of strategy. She is thinking about the future for the first time."

"In about six months Tymoshenko's fight for justice will bring her political dividends."

After Tymoshenko ignored Yanukovych's calls to volantarily resign from the post of prime minister, his Regions Party launched an official motion in parlaiment to throw out her government.

To do that, Yanukovych must secure a majority in the 450-seat parliament, getting political rivals to join his coalition. The new president will have to call early elections if he fails to forge a majority. None of it will be easy.

A top politician from Tymoshenko's BYuT party, Andriy Kozhemyakin, said her camp will go into opposition if the government is dismissed.

Analysts say the charismatic 49-year old prime minister, who enjoys solid support in the country's west and centre, can make life difficult for Yanukovych, whose win by a margin of just over 3.5 percent was unconvincing to many.

Many observers fear Ukraine could become stuck in a paralysing new political confrontation, with Tymoshenko now taking out her wrath on Yanukovych instead of Viktor Yushchenko, the outgoing president and her one-time ally.

"Tymoshenko will do everything to keep the old coalition in place," Yermolayev said.

"In Ukraine real power rests with the coalition and the government because they control budget, economic policies, the corporate sector and even most of the security forces."

Both rivals have good ties with Russia to which the two are expected to take their disputes.

Yanukovych is believed to enjoy President Dmitry Medvedev's backing and is to meet him in Moscow in early March. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is said to favour Tymoshenko, whose camp has already said it will boycott Yanukovych's swearing-in set for February 25.

Source: ABS-CBN News