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Ukrainian President Denounces Rumored Grand Coalition

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (file photo)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (file photo)
KYIV -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko has said he will not allow Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych to change the constitution, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Speaking to journalists after meeting with ambassadors of the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized states, Yushchenko said that he asked the international community to save democracy in Ukraine.

"As a matter of fact, this is a constitutional coup. It's an attack on Ukrainian democracy, [which would lead to a situation] where the [future] president and the prime minister will govern by the rules of the underworld," Yushchenko said. "So I warn you: stand side by side with the [current] president. There are millions of us, and we will not let those swindlers do to the country what they're told by someone else."

According to Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yanukovych are planning to amend the constitution to introduce 10-year terms for the prime minister and abolish direct presidential elections in favor of having the president elected by parliament.

Tymoshenko and Yanukovych held talks on June 4 and reportedly agreed that a coalition of the Tymoshenko Bloc and Yanukovych's Party of Regions would be created after the constitution is amended by the two parties in parliament next week.

Neither has commented publicly on the reports.

While Tymoshenko and Yanukovych have been rivals in the past, they are both also rivals of Yushchenko. All three have ambitions to be president, with Yanukovych leading Tymoshenko in polls while Yushchenko's support has fallen to single digits.

Earlier, Party of Regions Deputy Chairman Oleksandr Efremov confirmed that Tymoshenko's bloc and Yanukovych's party are discussing amending the constitution.

A coalition formed by the two groups would have a majority in parliament sufficient to pass amendments to the constitution.

Yushchenko said that as president, he would never allow the next presidential election to be held in parliament.

The next presidential election will be direct and by the people," he said. "That is about my honor as a citizen of Ukraine and about my presidential duty."