Timoshenko announces creation of Ukraine's oppositional coalition

In Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko has announced the creation of an oppositional coalition between her bloc and the Our Ukraine party. The agreement is to be signed on Saturday.

Meanwhile, members of her faction switched off the lights during the parliamentary session as a protest against proposed increases in utility bills.

“People received utility bills which were a lot higher than a monthly wage. When a family makes roughly a hundred dollars a month, paying the same money for water and electricity is nonsense. We don’t believe this government can change anything, that’s why we are here,” underscored Vitaly Korzh from Yuliya Timoshenko’s party.

On their side, the governing coalition said the review of tariffs and increase in social schemes will follow in due time.

“We managed to stop inflation and improve economic conditions. So now we can start planning a raise in salaries and pensions but closer to Easter. The government is living up to the promises it made and the opposition are only mocking themselves,” stressed Anna German, the deputy from Party of Regions.

Anyway, evenin the situation close to chaos, Ukraine's Parliament, the Rada, manages to keep on working. On Wednesday, it rejected President Viktor Yushchenko's candidate for the post of foreign minister. Only 196 deputies supported Vladimir Ohryzko, with 226 votes required.

Mr Ohryzko, a career diplomat, pledged to uphold president Viktor Yushchenko's foreign policy, which is aimed at seeking EU and NATO membership. However, in the debate leading up to the vote, parliament's majority coalition denounced him as too pro-Western.

“I will adhere to the same principles as before no matter what post I will occupy. The opposition parties approved my program to become the Foreign Minister. Neither the governing coalition, nor the Prime Minister invited me to explain my position. I hope that will change,” said Vladimir Ogryzko.

As for President Yushchenko, he has lost much of his political power since his arch-rival Viktor Yanukovich was appointed Prime Minister last year after months of political turmoil.