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New Ukrainian Coalition Wants Yanukovych As Premier

Ukraine's new, self-described "anti-crisis" coalition could have a hard time living up to its name (epa) PRAGUE, July 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The formal announcement of the creation of a new majority coalition has sparked chaotic scenes in Ukraine's parliament, with punches thrown and sirens heard inside the chamber as lawmakers tried to gain control of the rostrum.

From the sounds of it, Ukraine's self-described "anti-crisis" coalition could have a hard time living up to its name.

When coalition members tried to take the floor today, parliamentarians from the Yuliya Tymoshenko faction used sirens to disrupt proceedings.

Listen to some of the sounds from the Verkhovna Rada session today (13 seconds):
Real Audio Windows Media

The ensuing chaos followed the announcement of a deal under which the Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party agreed to form the new coalition, a coalition strong enough to command a majority in parliament.

The deal was initially inked on July 7, a day after Socialist Party leader Moroz was unexpectedly elected as parliament speaker on the back of votes from the Communists and the Party of Regions.

The Socialist Party's allies from the Orange Revolution -- the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and the pro-presidential Our Ukraine -- shunned that vote, leaving in doubt the future of a so-called Orange alliance that had recently been formed.

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz's made his party's defection from the Orange camp official by announcing the formation of an alliance with the Communists and the Party of Regions.

The speaker's announcement was met with applause from his new coalition partners -- but with cries of "Judas" from his former Orange allies.

Scuffles broke out between lawmakers from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, who were attempting to block the session, and deputies from the Party of Regions trying to prevent the blockade. The session was eventually cut short after the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc used megaphones to disrupt proceedings.

Interfax quoted Moroz as describing the actions of the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine as a provocation, saying they showed "just who is obstructing the work of the parliament."

Officially, the Orange coalition has not yet dissolved and some of its members are threatening to challenge the legality of the new "anti-crisis" coalition in court. Our Ukraine leader Roman Zvarych told journalists today that his bloc would ask the court to invalidate the new coalition agreement.

A Once And Future Prime Minister?

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's future prime minister? (epa)

The new, pro-Russia coalition boasts a majority in the 450-seat parliament. It announced today that it had submitted Viktor Yanukovych's name to President Viktor Yushchenko as its candidate for prime minister. Yanukovych, a former prime minister and the leader of the Party of Regions, lost to Yushchenko and his Orange Revolution rivals in the bitterly contested presidential elections in 2004.

That puts the president in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to pass his rival's name on to parliament for approval. The Orange coalition has already proposed Yuliya Tymoshenko for the post of prime minister and Yushchenko has called on the parliament to approve the Constitutional Court before a prime minister is chosen.

There had been some speculation that the new coalition could be expanded to include the pro-presidential Our Ukraine, which would give the anti-crisis coalition a large enough majority to pass constitutional amendments.

However, other reports have quoted Our Ukraine leaders as ruling out the possibility of such an alliance, and suggesting that parliament should be dissolved and new parliamentary elections held.

The Key Players

The Key Players

BEHIND THE IMAGES: Click on the links below to read RFE/RL's profiles of some of the key players in Ukraine's March 26 legislative elections:

Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.

Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of some of the key players in the Ukrainian elections.