Prague, 10 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Speaking on Ukraine's Inter Plus television last night, ousted Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko said that her partnership with President Viktor Yushchenko is over.
"I and Viktor Andriyovych [Yushchenko] will go to the elections in parallel ways," she said. "It does not mean it is a war. There will be two different teams, with absolutely different people. I will not go to the elections with those people who have discredited Ukraine so much -- I do not mean the president, but his closest circle."
Tymoshenko was speaking one day after Yushchenko dismissed her seven-month-old cabinet amid infighting and accusations of corruption among senior officials.
Tymoshenko and Yushchenko led the Orange Revolution that swept the reformers into power last December. The revolution ousted the regime of former President Leonid Kuchma, widely condemned as corrupt. Now, the reformers themselves are accused of corruption. Three senior government officials resigned last week. One of them, a presidential aide, alleged that corruption was worse now than under the previous authorities.
Tymoshenko signaled that she would seek her own mandate in parliamentary elections in March. Because of constitutional changes, the prime minister will be chosen by parliament next year, not by the president, and will become a much more powerful figure. As a result, some analysts say, Tymoshenko may become a serious contender for Yushchenko.
Analysts are pondering what it might mean to the Ukrainian reforms and the political future of Tymoshenko.
Ihor Losev, a professor at Kyiv's Mohyla Academy, told RFE/RL that Yushchenko represents a moderate wing of the reformers -- those who want to improve the former system -- while Tymoshenko wants radical changes. He said she has a good chance because radical voters who supported the revolution will never agree on mending the old system. Also, they will never support former Yushchenko rival Viktor Yanukovych as an alternative to the president.
"They need a revolutionary leader who will continue acting in the spirit of Maidan [independence square where demonstrations took place in the end of last year]," Losev said. "They got this leader in the person of Tymoshenko yesterday."
Losev said Tymoshenko's chances in the parliamentary elections are good, especially if Yuschenko and the new cabinet prove to be slow with reforms and life for ordinary people does not improve.
"It is still along way to go to the elections, though [Tymoshenko] has made a good start. It is important but it will not have a direct influence on the results of the elections." - Bychenko
Andriy Bychenko, the head of the sociological office of the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies, disagrees. He said polls show that Tymoshenko's popularity is falling.
"Starting from April, her popularity was going down," Bychenko told RFE/RL. "In April, she had the support of 47 percent of Ukrainian citizens; but in August, she had the support of only 31 percent. She lost some 20 percent in half a year."
Bychenko said her popularity dropped as life has worsened for many. Only 20 percent of people say their lives have improved since the Orange Revolution. Bychenko said Tymoshenko is unlikely to become a viable alternative leader to Yushchenko, as she started opposing him too early and now that she's out of government, she can no longer affect things directly.
"It is still along way to go to the elections, though she has made a good start. It is important but it will not have a direct influence on the results of the elections," Bychenko said.
Many associate Tymoshenko with failed reforms, Bychenko noted, adding that much depends on the success of a new cabinet. If it manages to push through reforms, Tymoshenko's chances are in the elections could diminish.
Yushchenko so far has not publicly commented on Tymoshenko's remarks. Yushchenko has said he is seeking to get a new government in place quickly under his ally Yuriy Yekhanurov, whom he appointed acting prime minister.
Meanwhile today, Yekhanurov is participating in city celebrations in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk. He pledged today his government would fulfill promises laid out by Yushchenko during last year's Orange Revolution. The acting prime minister said the most important thing for him is to do everything "for people to feel the results of the government's work so that their life becomes better."
He said he would take a "softer" approach toward business, compared to Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko was an advocate of revisiting so-called shady privatization deals and reprivatizing some businesses.
Yekhanurov, who has no such ambitions, is widely seen as a technocrat concerned mainly with economic efficiency. He said he would pick his cabinet based on professionalism and not party politics. He also said he wanted to improve relations and economic ties with Russia, which have been strained since Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Yanukovych in the election in 2004See also:
President Sacks Government, Offering More Questions Than Answers
Ukrainian President Sacks Government In Growing Crisis
RFE/RL Interviews Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko