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5 Feb, 2009 19:37

Ukraine’s government ‘saved’

Ukrainian opposition MPs have resorted to abusive remarks and even started a fight in the middle of the session – but still failed to adopt a motion of no confidence in the government and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

The Party of Regions which backed the proposal has repeatedly criticised Timoshenko’s economic policy and her political positioning.

However, the critics failed to gain enough votes to dismiss the government. The tensions between the members of the country’s parliament – the Rada – began to rise long before the ballot.

Two deputies from the Party of Regions and Timoshenko's party started to push each other during the morning session, before their colleagues joined the fray. The fight started because some deputies couldn’t agree with the order in which they were assigned to ask the Premier questions. As the brawl was close to Timoshenko’s rostrum, her party’s members joined in.

When the disgruntled Rada members finally calmed down, another obstacle hampered the Parliament’s intensive work. The computer system went down and the deputies’ microphones stopped working, although both problems were later fixed.

But however tricky the deputies’ questions could have been, the voting went in favour of Timoshenko. The motion of no confidence received the support of 203 legislators – including one from Timoshenko’s own party – while the required minimum for a decision to be passed is 226 votes.

Government's safe – economy is not

So now the government will continue its work despite the fact it’s been blamed for the current state of the country’s economy. With key industries already under severe pressure, the World Bank said in December last year the Ukrainian economy has entered a recession which could last for a year.

Compulsory leave, salary cuts and early retirements are some of the measures being used to try to deal with the situation. Experts say work at almost all factories and mines in the country is either suspended or under threat.

The rate of inflation over the last year in Ukraine is estimated as 25.2 per cent.

Now experts are calling it an economic free-fall as the hrivna, the country's currency, has lost half its value since September. Currently the hrivnia is set at 7.7 to the US dollar.

According to President Viktor Yushchenko’s Secretariat, since January 21 the country’s budget received only 3.5 billion hrivnas instead of the more than 16 billion planned. The same source reports that the budget’s debt on salaries is currently 130 billion Hrivnas and is likely to grow further.