Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ukrainian PM Agrees To Demands To Keep Orange Team

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
KYIV (Reuters) -- Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said she accepted conditions posed by a party linked to Ukraine's president to keep her government team in office and spare the country new parliamentary elections.

But Tymoshenko said she doubted President Viktor Yushchenko would agree to cooperate. The two stood together in the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought the president to power with pledges to move closer to the West, but are now at loggerheads.

Four years of political turmoil has put long overdue reform on hold and brought to a halt privatization vital to budget revenues.

Tymoshenko has twice served as prime minister, but the latest "Orange" team collapsed last month when the Our Ukraine party, linked to the president, walked out.

"We accept all the conditions, ultimatums, demands, and arm-twisting from Our order to avoid providing any grounds to wreck the coalition and hold an early election," Tymoshenko told a news conference.

"We do not agree with them. We just accept them to preserve the democratic coalition and uphold democratic policies."

Our Ukraine's demands focus on relations with Russia and the recurring issue of how to divide up power within Ukraine.

It accuses Tymoshenko of being too passive in criticizing Russia's actions in Georgia to curry favor in Moscow and wants her to denounce Moscow's "aggression." She says Yushchenko's strident support for Georgia has spoiled ties with the Kremlin.

Our Ukraine also wants the abandonment of laws reducing presidential powers, approved when Tymoshenko formed a tactical alliance with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych -- the main adversary of the Orange protesters in 2004.

With politicians focused on their chances in a presidential election due by early 2010, invective has become personal.

Talks to restore the Orange coalition or form a viable alternative have made little progress. Should no coalition be put in place this month, Yushchenko can dissolve parliament and call an election, the third to the chamber in as many years.

Tymoshenko said the president was bent on a new poll.

"I am certain that once we accept these ultimatums, the president will issue new ones," she said. "All these ultimatums are linked strictly to someone wanting an early election."

She repeated that the smallest group in parliament, led by the Verkhovna Rada's centrist former Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn, had agreed to join the Orange team. Such a configuration would hold 248 of the chamber's 450 seats.

But Lytvyn has been skeptical about such a deal. Both Yushchenko and officials in Tymoshenko's bloc have suggested that an election may now be inevitable.

No major party stands to gain from a new parliamentary race. Polls show Tymoshenko and Yanukovych vying for the lead with about 20 percent support, with Yushchenko in single figures.