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Ukraine: No Clear Winners From Government Crisis

Yuriy Yekhanurov 22 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted in favor of President Viktor Yushchenko's candidate for prime minister, Yuriy Yekhanurov.

Deputies narrowly rejected Yekhanurov on 20 September, but this time gave him a comfortable majority. Yekhanurov replaces Yuliya Tymoshenko, one of the heroes of the Orange Revolution, who was sacked by the president earlier this month.

Yekhanurov, a regional governor, has promised to keep big business out of government.

Hours of talks yesterday with the political groups that had opposed Yekhanurov in the first vote insured that the obstacles were swept away. Viktor Yanukovych, who stood against Yushchenko in the presidential election, said he was ready to work in the interests of a stable government:

"The forces represented in parliament are ready today to assume responsibility for forming a government, ready to bear responsibility for creating an efficient, responsible government, and to share that responsibility with the president," Yanukovych said.

The political ruction of the last two weeks has set back the course of reform in Ukraine, and revealed a country so torn by division that, before today's televised vote, Yushchenko felt impelled to appeal yet again for unity.

"I appeal to you as political leaders, I appeal to the civil and business circles -- we must bury the hatchet of war, hide it far under the bench and forget where it is," Yushchenko said.

What place he will find for Yuliya Tymoshenko, whose dismissal earlier this month precipitated the crisis, is not yet clear. Yesterday she said that she wanted to put aside their differences, adding this was not a time for personal ambition.

"I think a new coalition government is an urgent, pressing issue. A coalition government should include people who will work as professionals, who will represent all political forces in Ukraine, because what is happening in Ukraine now calls for unity," Tymoshenko said.

Does that mean, though, that she is ready to respond to Yushchenko's call for reviving the "team spirit" of the Orange Revolution? Or will she turn her attention now to winning the parliamentary elections in March?

Those ballots have more than usual significance in a region of rubber-stamp parliaments, because they'll be followed by constitutional changes transferring much of the president's power to parliament. The battle between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko may merely have been postponed.

The new prime minister at last has his stamp of approval from parliament, but there are no clear winners from Ukraine's latest crisis.

There are plenty of losers though – not least the Orange Revolution itself, whose hopes and ideals have at times seemed conspicuously absent from the political debate. Askold Krushelnycky is a British analyst of Ukrainian affairs and a former RFE/RL correspondent. He is writing a book on the Orange Revolution.

"It's all disappointed many of the Ukrainians who were avid supporters of the Orange Revolution. It's all seemed a bit tawdry and shambolic and has displayed greed and ambition -- the worst characteristics and these have submerged all the tender and visionary hopes espoused by the Orange Revolutionaries not long ago," Krushelnycky said.

Yushchenko has survived, but his political standing and authority look badly damaged by weeks of mud-slinging. He still has to answer adequately the accusation that exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovskii bankrolled his presidential election campaign.

Tymoshenko tried to row back at the last minute, anxious no doubt not to be held responsible for dividing the revolutionary team. But her reputation, too, looks tarnished.

The real victims, though, are the people of Ukraine, the hundreds and thousands who stood in freezing cold last winter to ensure that the Orange Revolution triumphed. They will pass their verdict next year, when they vote in the March parliamentary elections.

See also Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Offers President Olive Branch and Ukraine: Orange Revolution Drowns Amid Mutual Recriminations

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