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Tymoshenko Says She Won't Quit

KIEV -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Saturday that she would not resign, denying media reports of a deep rift with President Viktor Yushchenko -- who expressed support for her.

Tymoshenko said her relationship with the president was "as warm and friendly as ever."

Her remarks came after the Kiev weekly Zerkalo Nedely reported that Yushchenko suggested she resign over perceived mishandling of a fuel-shortage crisis in the country.

Yushchenko also sought to ease speculation about a rift, saying that his "team is as monolithic as always" and that his "positive evaluation of the government's work remains unchanged."

"We've found courage to have an open, public and honest dialogue, to undertake difficult and responsible steps," Yushchenko said in a statement. He pledged that no one "will destroy the unity of our team."

Tymoshenko dismissed the weekly's report as "media sabotage" and said she and the president were "a team that has come to power to stay for a long time."

Tymoshenko came under criticism last week over her attempts to institute restrictive fiscal and monetary policies that were blamed for fuel shortages. Acute shortages erupted two weeks ago after major Russian oil exporters reduced supplies. In an apparent rebuke to Tymoshenko, Yushchenko pledged Thursday that Ukraine "will operate exclusively along market rules." After meeting representatives of the Russian oil exporters, he described the fuel crisis an example of how things were not supposed to be done.

Tymoshenko was a vital leader of the massive protests that helped secure Yushchenko's election in a presidential rerun against his Russian-backed rival, Viktor Yanukovych.

State Duma deputies on Friday accused the Ukrainian government of human rights abuses, including allegedly persecuting the pro-Russian opposition.

In a 351-0 vote, the Duma adopted a resolution calling for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which promotes democracy in the region, to investigate its claim that Ukraine failed to respect the organization's principles. The Duma said Yushchenko's government is engaging in mass layoffs of state employees from the former government and detaining politicians who disagree with it.

A U.S. judge has tossed out half of the convictions against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko in a multi-count money-laundering and fraud verdict -- but refused to grant a new trial.

(The Moscow Times 23.v.05)

 
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