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Ukraine Forms New Government


Ukraine's new government has taken shape after several weeks of political turmoil that broke apart the former cabinet of the so-called "Orange Revolution" that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power late last year. Most of the flamboyant political personalities have been replaced by "pragmatists" who must deal with the former Soviet republic's difficult economic situation.

The new government has formed around Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, a respected economist and long-time ally of President Yushchenko.

Mr. Yushchenko says the new government ministers have been chosen for their leadership qualities as the Ukrainian leader seeks to "de-politicize" the government.

The president sacked the previous cabinet led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko amid allegations of corruption and serious infighting.

Critics say economic growth was stunted under Ms. Tymoshenko, and the ministers in charge of economic and financial affairs are new.

Prime Minister Yekhanurov is seen as a pragmatic, competent figure capable of reaching out to all political factions but with little ambition of his own, unlike Ms. Tymoshenko.

She has now gone into opposition against Mr. Yushchenko, and with widespread popularity now poses a considerable threat in the run-up to crucial parliamentary elections next March.

Opinion polls show that Mr. Yushchenko's party would likely lose if that election were held now.

Vyacheslav Igronov is the director of the Institute for Humanities and Political Studies in Moscow.

He says Ms. Tymoshenko now has no responsibility for the current situation, and is likely to be a kind of "Joan of Arc" betrayed by the king and acquire even more popularity in the short time before the March elections take place.

The success of the "Orange Revolution" was due in part to strong criticism of Russia and its long-time influence over Ukrainian affairs.

Now however, all parties seem to be reaching out to Moscow for support. Ms. Tymoshenko made a trip to the Russian capital last weekend.

And new Prime Minister Yekhanurov won approval from parliament after President Yushchenko made an agreement with Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian candidate whom he defeated.

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