Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ukraine's leaders are fighting (yet again)

Well that didn't last long.

Last week Ukraine's two leading politicians, President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, announced that, for the third time, they would form a coalition government. But just ten days after that announcement, Tymoshenko is already calling on Yushchenko to resign.

Tymoshenko says that he has to go because of the way he has mismanaged Ukraine's financial crisis. Ukraine has been hit hard by the recent global downturn crisis (demand for Ukraine's main export, steel, has fallen as construction projects around the world are put on hold), the country recently needed a $16 billion line of credit from the International Monetary Fund just to keep the economy from collapsing. Tymoshenko though is accusing Yushchenko of relying on the financial crisis to boost his own popularity, which right now is languishing in the single digits. It's not the first time accusations have flown between the two.

This summer Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko of treason for not joining him in condemning Russia over its conflict with Georgia. Tymoshenko, meanwhile, used her role as prime minister to pass a law that put limits on Yushchenko's presidential powers. Probably the only reason that these two even tried to join forces again is because the IMF told Ukraine they wouldn't give them the $16 billion unless the country showed that it had a stable government.

The latest version of the Tymoshenko-Yushchenko coalition hasn't fallen apart yet, but it is hard to see it lasting if the two of them are fighting already. Meanwhile, Ukraine has another dispute brewing with Russia over more than a billion dollars owed in payments for natural gas supplies.
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