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Tymoshenko Declines To Give Money For Early Ukrainian Poll

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko prior to a session of the National Security and Defense Council on October 14
KYIV (Reuters) -- Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says she has no intention of providing funds for an early election called by Ukraine's president, saying the money is needed to cushion the effects of the world financial crisis.

President Viktor Yushchenko, allied to the prime minister in the 2004 Orange Revolution, but now at odds with her, dissolved parliament last week and called a December 7 election to the chamber. He said Tymoshenko's "ambition" had caused the collapse of the pro-Western "Orange" coalition in the assembly.

The National Security Council, chaired by the president, ordered the government on October 13 to allocate 417 million hryvnyas ($85 million) in election finance from a reserve fund.

But Tymoshenko, who has urged the president to cancel the poll, refused to provide the necessary government approval to spend the money.

"When every kopeck is accounted for, when every hryvnya is critical to act against the world financial crisis, spending half a billion hryvnyas on a reckless election is nothing other than acting against the national interest," she said. "An early election is a disaster for Ukraine and there is no logic in financing it. The reserve fund is intended to overcome natural disasters, not create them."

Tymoshenko also announced aid measures for the steel industry as part of plans to weather the financial crisis.

Constant Conflict

Though financial turbulence has caused a minimum of shocks so far in Ukraine, the central bank has adopted measures to cushion the banking system, forbidding early withdrawals of deposits, and curbing borrowing and lending.

Yushchenko has twice appointed Tymoshenko prime minister, but the two have been constantly in conflict. The president initially sought parliament's approval for funds, but with the premier's allies blockading the chamber, he turned to her for the money.

Preparations for the election, the third in as many years, are at a standstill as a court considers a bid by Tymoshenko's allies to suspend the presidential decree dissolving parliament.

Some of her supporters scuffled briefly on October 14 with police at the headquarters of the Central Election Commission.

The Orange coalition unraveled when the president's Our Ukraine party broke links with Tymoshenko's bloc last month.

Yushchenko was enraged by her tactical alliance last month with ex-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in passing legislation, subsequently repealed, that cut presidential powers.

Opinion polls say a new election will produce little change. Tymoshenko and Yanukovych leads surveys with about 20 percent each, far ahead of the president, in single figures.