August 2, 2006

Ukraine’s Yushchenko faces deadline

By Olena Horodetska

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's president will make a last-ditch
attempt on Wednesday to win guarantees for his Western-leaning
policies as he faces a deadline to either nominate a rival as
prime minister or dissolve parliament.

President Viktor Yushchenko wants to secure a commitment
from pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the opposition
Regions party, that he would keep moving ex-Soviet Ukraine
closer to Europe if he becomes premier.

Yushchenko is pushing for politicians to sign a declaration
on policy principles to cement the gains of the "Orange
Revolution" that swept him to power on a wave of mass protests.

Talks between Yushchenko and Yanukovich, the man he
defeated at the polls in December 2004, ended in the early
hours of Wednesday without reaching an agreement.

"The talks did not end with any particular breakthrough,"
Raisa Bogatyryova, a senior member of the Regions party, told
the Ukrainska Pravda Web site (

"We are sitting, talking, changing the wording but we are
not reaching agreement."

She said Yushchenko's allies and his rivals could not agree
on NATO -- which Yushchenko wants Ukraine to join -- the status
of the Ukrainian language and some other issues.

Iryna Gerashchenko, Yushchenko's spokeswoman, said the
president insisted all sides needed to sign the declaration on
policy principles and talks would continue.

Otherwise, she said, a political deadlock would be defused
by dissolving the parliament, which was in session on

More than four months after an inconclusive parliamentary
election in March Ukraine still lacks a fully-fledged

On Wednesday, a 15-day deadline expires for Yushchenko to
nominate Yanukovich as prime minister. Yanukovich is backed by
a parliamentary majority grouping his Regions party, the
Socialists and the Communists.

It is not clear in the constitution whether Yushchenko has
the right to reject Yanukovich's candidacy and what
consequences there could be if he did so.

Yushchenko's lawyer said the president had no intention of
bowing to his opponents unless he wins guarantees for his
Western-leaning policies.

"Various situations are being considered," Mykola
Poludenny, head of the president's legal department, told
Ukrainska Pravda.

"We have corresponding draft decrees -- a draft decree to
dissolve parliament and a draft letter to reject Yanukovich."