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Yushchenko, Tymoshenko Lash Out

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Sunday accused Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister he dismissed, of having acted in favor of certain business groups in a dispute over a metals plant.

Tymoshenko on Friday said that she no longer considered herself part of Yushchenko's team, and blamed the circle around him for her government's dismissal and the breakup of their alliance.

Yushchenko strongly criticized Tymoshenko's government for its handling last month of the renationalization of Nikopol ferroalloy plant.

"High officials started directing events in favor of corporate interests; then crises appeared," Yushchenko told journalists on Sunday. "It was the last straw. I decided firmly that the decision most of all should be the following: Everybody should get lost."

Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko's government on Thursday, ending his political partnership with his former Orange Revolution ally amid a growing scandal over corruption allegations leveled at another of the president's key allies, Petro Poroshenko. Yushchenko on Thursday appointed Yuriy Yekhanurov as acting prime minister and accepted the resignation of Poroshenko from his post as head of the powerful Security and Defense Council.

In a television interview Friday, Tymoshenko said: "Today, we are two different teams. I think these two teams will go their own way."

"Viktor Yushchenko and I will go to the elections on parallel paths. I won't go into an election with people who have so discredited Ukraine. We will run as a separate and very powerful political force, and I think the results of our team will be very, very good," she said.

The situation around Nikopol, one of Europe's largest ferroalloy plants, came to a head at the beginning of September after Ukraine's Economic Appeals Court ordered the factory's shares returned to the state. Tymoshenko's government endorsed a speedy shareholders meeting in which one group of minority shareholders, Privat Bank, was given key management posts. Privat Bank's leaders are reportedly supporters of Tymoshenko.

Former President Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, who had owned the plant, accused the government of stripping him of his assets only to hand them to his competitors.

Tymoshenko has insisted that she did nothing wrong.

Yushchenko on Sunday also criticized Tymoshenko for her populist moves during her government's seven-month tenure. "The ideas of Independence Square started to become just a legend," he said. "Let Yulia Volodymyrovna choose her own way, according to her vision of Ukraine and according to her beliefs."

But he later added that he would "not close the door in front of anybody."

Yushchenko's new chief of staff, Oleh Rybachuk, said Saturday that he and Yushchenko had decided "not to exchange nuclear blows" with Tymoshenko. "Our opponents expect just this, yet it would completely discredit our team," he said, Interfax reported.

Also Saturday, Yushchenko talked with U.S. President George W. Bush by telephone and reassured him that "the changes in Ukraine are aimed at strengthening democracy" and would not alter Ukraine's pro-Western course, Yushchenko's office said.

(The Moscow Times 12.ix.05)

 
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