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Ukraine: Acting Prime Minister Starts Consultations On New Cabinet

Yekhanurov began consultations on forming a new cabinet today Ukraine's acting prime minister is holding consultations today to form a new government. Yuriy Yekhanurov says ensuring stability will be his top priority. Yesterday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko dismissed his country's government, including two key figures: Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and National Security and Defense Council Secretary Petro Poroshenko. The move came amid a corruption scandal and government infighting. Some analysts predict that a cabinet of technocrats may surface in the wake of the crisis.

Prague, 9 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Acting Prime Minister Yekhanurov says his aim is stability.

"The most important thing for the country is stability, so that the average citizen feels that there is a president in the country, there is a government in the country, there is a parliament, and that the whole government works to ensure that every citizen feels that this government cares for him," Yekhanurov said.

The new cabinet has much to do, including reviving public confidence in the government and -- by extension -- in last year's Orange Revolution that swept Yushchenko to power on promises of reform. Polls indicate that many Ukrainians feel the performance of the dismissed first cabinet was not encouraging.

Polls also show that public support for reforms is slipping. A poll in August by the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies said that 43 percent of Ukrainians believe the country was on the wrong path, a jump from 23 percent in April.

The August poll found just 32 percent felt the country was doing well, down from 54 percent last spring. Growth in the first half of the year collapsed to just 4 percent. That compares to 14 percent in the same period last year.

Oleksandr Lytvynenko of the Razumkov Center for Political and Economic Studies in Kyiv said Yekhanurov is up to the task.

"Yuriy Yekhanurov is a person who is well-known in Ukrainian politics. In the beginning of the 90s, or to be more exact in the middle of the 90s, he headed State Property Fund and it was he who mainly conducted the early stage of Ukrainian privatization," Lytvynenko said. "He also was a deputy prime minister, a minister. It should be said that he is a person who understands state affairs and is also competent in economic matters."

Lytvynenko also said that opposition politicians don't have a negative attitude toward Yekhanurov. The acting prime minister belongs to Yushchenko's political party and has the full trust of the president, but he is not perceived as having Tymoshenko's political ambitions.

Lytvynenko said that under the circumstances, Yekhanurov is probably the best figure available in the country to form a cabinet of technocrats and to become a prime minister himself.
Yushchenko could face a strong challenge from Tymoshenko, should she join the opposition.

"It can happen that Yuriy Yekhanurov will be the prime minister," Lytvynenko said. "But he will be a technocrat prime minister and the main decisions will be made by the president."

Lytvynenko said that members of a technocrat cabinet would not clash with one another on an ideological basis. Such a cabinet might be best to fulfill the promises given during the Orange Revolution.

It was different with the cabinet led by Tymoshenko. The president and the prime minister differed on many issues. Often the president was taking liberal attitudes while Tymoshenko favored more populist moves.

Anatoliy Semynoga of Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko's faction read this statement at a session of parliament today:

"The dismissal of Yuliya Tymoshenko's government is used to cover up the shameful dismissal of the corrupt cronies of the president and people close to him. We, the faction of Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc, 42 people's deputies of Ukraine, declare our disagreement with the decision of the Ukrainian president to dismiss Yuliya Tymoshenko's government, which he himself has described as the most effective government in Ukrainian history."

Some say Yushchenko could face a strong challenge from Tymoshenko, should she join the opposition. However, Lytvynenko said such a scenario is unlikely, as she earned her popularity by standing besides Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution.

Meanwhile, support for Yushchenko is coming from different quarters. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he supports the Ukrainian president and that the crisis is no cause for alarm.

"I wouldn't dramatize the events taking place in Ukraine now," Putin said. "I'm sure the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian leaders will find the right solution. Russia on its part will assist as much as it can in stabilizing the situation in that country."

Support also came from the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who said he was confident Yushchenko had made the right decision dismissing Tymoshenko's government:

"[Yushchenko's decision] did not come as a surprise to me," Saakashvili said. "I knew he had been considering that for quite some time. He knows very well what he has to do. He knows very well how to accelerate the development of this country which, to us [Georgians], is very important."

The U.S. State Department and the EU also expressed their support for Yushchenko.

See also:

Ukraine: President Sacks Government, Offering More Questions Than Answers

Yushchenko Urges Parliament To Work With New Cabinet

World Reacts To Dissolution Of Ukrainian Government

Ukraine: President Yushchenko Sacks Government In Growing Crisis

Ukraine: Corruption Allegations Abound

Yushchenko’s Team Hit With Resignations, Accusations

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