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18 Sep, 2008 04:28

Ukrainian PM lashes out at President

Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko attacked her former Orange bloc ally on Wednesday with a scathing criticism that all but ended hopes of their joining forces to form a new coalition government.

“Since 2004, this president has managed to destroy everything: people's faith in the ideals of the revolution and faith in the president himself – only five percent still support him,” she told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Timoshenko was called to give evidence to investigators in connection with the poisoning of the president in the run-up to the 2004 parliamentary elections. Last week Timoshenko controversially suggested that the poisoning was not a proven fact. The president's opponents have made claims that it was a simple food poisoning.

The Ukrainian government, which wrested power from pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich in the 2004 Orange Revolution, was in Parliament on Tuesday by Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk, sparking another political crisis in the country. Yatseniuk announced his resignation the following day.

Speaker's resignation won't derail talks

Analysts say Yatseniuk's resignation won’t affect the Ukrainian parliament’s efforts at forming a new coalition.

Some commentators suggest that if the Rada’s new Speaker is selected from the Party of Regions, it would be a clear sign that a coalition between former bitter foes Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich will be formed. Together, their parties would have a constitutional majority in the lower house.

An agreement drafted by Timoshenko and Yushchenko a few years ago says that should the speaker stand down, the Prime Minister – and the government – must resign as well. Timoshenko has already made it clear that is not intending to pursue that course of action.