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Ukraine's leaders divided over South Ossetia

Latest update : 2008-08-18

President Viktor Yushchenko's office accused Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of betraying national interests by not backing Georgia in its conflict with Russia. The premier's silence is seen as a bid to win Russian support for elections in 2010.


Watch FRANCE 24's exclusive report: South Ossetian refugees return to battered Tskhinvali

 


KIEV, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor
Yushchenko's office on Monday accused Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko, his "Orange Revolution" ally, of betraying national
interests by not backing Georgia in its conflict with Russia.
 

Yushchenko, who has strongly supported Georgia, was swept
into power by protests against electoral fraud after defeating a
Moscow-backed rival in 2004. He then embarked on a pro-Western
agenda, seeking membership of NATO and the European Union.
 

Yushchenko's deputy chief of staff accused Tymoshenko of
remaining silent to secure Moscow's support during presidential
elections in 2010.
 

"Russia's leaders are seriously considering supporting Prime
Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the presidential campaign once she
... fulfils the condition of adopting a passive position in the
conflict with Georgia," Andriy Kyslynsky said in a comment on
the presidential Web site.
 

Tymoshenko became Yushchenko's first prime minister but was
sacked after seven months, only to become premier again last
year when "orange" forces won a snap parliamentary election.
 

The president's office was handing prosecutors documents
about Tymoshenko's "fully fledged work in the interests of the
Russian side", the statement added.
 

"The public has a right to know how far politicians will go
beyond the boundary where political battles end and the betrayal
of national interests begins."
 

Kyslynsky provided no further evidence of his allegations.
 

Tymoshenko and her bloc have been careful to maintain a
balanced position in the conflict over Georgia's breakaway
region of South Ossetia, calling for an end to hostilities.
 

Yushchenko travelled to Tbilisi last week along with leaders
of four central European states to show support for Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili.
 

While avoiding criticism of the Kremlin, he enraged Moscow
by placing restrictions on the movement of ships and aircraft
from the Black Sea Fleet, based in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
 

Opinion polls give Tymoshenko 24 percent -- enough to win a
presidential election if it were held now. Former Prime Minister
Viktor Yanukovich, the rival Yushchenko beat in 2004, has just
over 20 percent, while the president has about 7 percent.
 

Date created : 2008-08-18

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