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25 Feb, 2009 12:53

‘Stop ruining the country, leave already!’

‘Stop ruining the country, leave already!’

Ukraine’s first president has accused the current one of deliberately running the country’s economy into the ground and called him to leave.

The first president of independent Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk lashed out at the standing leader Viktor Yushchenko in a televised address.

The politician said he was ‘standing at the cradle’ of the newborn nation and felt he ‘had no right to stay silent’ seeing the current situation.

Ukraine’s first president

Leonid Kravchuk was born in 1934. He made a career in the Communist Party and headed Ukraine’s Supreme Council in 1990. He was elected President of Ukraine shortly before the Soviet Union collapsed. Following mass protests in 1994, he resigned and called early presidential and parliamentary election. He lost the ballot to former Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma. Kravchuk was later a Member of Parliament until 2006.

According to Kravchuk, Yushchenko is unable to fix what is broken in Ukraine now or form a working governing system with the government and the parliament.

“By losing the trust and the support of Ukrainian people, by deliberately getting rid of the government, destroying the parliamentary coalition, you’ve lost the basis needed to bring back order. The governing is de facto destroyed. And without effective governing there’s no overcoming the crisis.”

The former Ukrainian leader accused Viktor Yushchenko of seeking ways to stay in power at the expense of the country’s interests. Kravchuk believes the current president is acting on the principle ‘the worse it is, the better’ to drive the situation to the boiling point and declare a state of emergency in Ukraine.

As an example of such malicious policy Kravchuk named devaluation of the rapid national currency pushed by the central bank.

“The normal work of the banking system virtually stopped. Does the president of Ukraine fail to see it? Blaming the government is easier. And, frankly speaking, that’s why you push the situation to the limit.”

Failing country

Ukraine is one of the countries hit most by the global financial crisis. The national currency has fallen by 40 per cent against the dollar this year alone. Industrial production in 2009 has plunged 34.1 per cent compared to last January. The economy is plagued by unpaid debts, lack of foreign investment and unemployment. The crisis is aggravated by the bitter rivalry between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Timoshenko. Some experts say Ukraine is going straight to a national default.

Leonid Kravchuk said the only responsible way out is for Yushchenko to resign and call an early presidential election, like Kravchuk did himself in 1994. This move will stop the wave of problems, calm down the society and give hope to find a real solution to the crisis.

Commenting on the speech, Yushchenko told Associated Press that Kravchuk was but a mouthpiece of other politicians, who ‘make a bad service when they throw old men under tanks’.

“I firmly believe that there’s no need to fish out tar camphor politicians who are past their time,” he said.

He added: “A politician who cares for his country and not the presidential election must be rugged, professional, non-populist and must do the right deed.”

He also criticized Kravchuk’s term in office, saying it was the time of poverty and decline.

The speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament Vladimir Litvin commented on the call, saying the scenario of early election was unlikely, unless the situation gets out of control. If Yushchenko resigned now, it would start a new wave of the spiraling political strife in the country. He also said Kravchuk has ‘considerable political experience and knew what he said.’

Viktor Yushchenko’s presidential term expires in 2010. Some Ukrainian politicians earlier called for early election, but the president dismissed all such suggestions.