Ukraine president tightens grip on power with new government | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.03.2010
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Ukraine president tightens grip on power with new government

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has formed a new coalition and appointed a cabinet with ally Mykola Azarov at its head. The events come a week after Yulia Tymoshenko was ousted from her post as Prime Minister.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, right, greets new Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov in parliament with roses

Yanukovych congratulated new Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, left, with roses

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych consolidated his power on Thursday as his Regions Party formed a coalition that will give it a working majority in parliament.

Parliament speaker Volodymyr Litvyn announced a new alliance of 235 representatives, including Communist Party delegates, in the 450-member house.

The first act of the government was to approve the appointment of one of Yanukovych's staunchest allies, Mykola Azarov, as prime minister with 242 members voting in favor. Parliament approved all nominees with little debate.

"They are from the same party," Sacha Tessier-Stall, foreign policy program head at the International Center for Policy Studies in Kiev told Deutsche Welle. "They are from the same political family and there will be little or no bickering. That means that there will be more stability."

Ukraine's new president Viktor Yanukovych, left, reviews the honor guards upon his arrival in Moscow

Yanukovych is widely viewed as being pro-Russian in outlook

The coalition replaces the outgoing government of Yulia Tymoshenko, who was ousted from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence a week earlier. Yanukovych, viewed as largely pro-Russian in his political outlook, had defeated Tymoshenko in a February 7 presidential election.

Friends in high places

Former national bank chief Serhy Tihipko, who finished in third place in the presidential contest and who supports market reforms and fighting corruption, was named as one of Yanukovych's vice premiers.

Yanukovych appointed Konstatin Gryshenko as foreign minister, a respected diplomat who served as ambassador both to the United States and Russia.

Other cabinet appointments were either senior members of Yanukovych's party or long-time political allies of the president.

'Coffers nearly bare'

Addressing the assembly, Azarov said the country was in a critical state and that its coffers were nearly bare as a result of previous mismanagement. He said that he would submit what he called a "realistic" budget in a month's time.

Ukraine became paralyzed by chronic political infighting in the years that followed its 2004 Orange Revolution. Government unity is viewed as important if the country is to pull out of its deep economic crisis.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko speaks at the parliament in Kiev at a no-confidence vote in her administration

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was ousted in a no-confidence vote

'Leadership for the few'

Yulia Tymoshenko, who opposed Yanukovych in bitterly-fought presidential elections, has questioned the legality of a change in the rules that allowed Yanukovych to form his new coalition. She says that she will actively oppose the new government, which she derides as a narrow collection of the Ukraine's "oligarchs" – intent on ruling for the benefit of the few.

"All of the oligarchs are now represented in parliament," said Tymoshenko at a Kiev press conference. "The first thing they are going to do is divide up the money streams among themselves."

Author: David Stern (rc/Reuters/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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