KIEV, Sept. 8 - President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday dismissed the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and sacked his top security advisor Petro Poroshenko to diffuse an escalating political crisis that had split his team.
Yushchenko appointed his long-time and moderate ally Yuriy Yekhanurov, 57, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, as acting prime minister, and authorized him to form a new government.
The crisis was triggered Monday, when Oleksandr Zinchenko, Yushchenko's former chief of staff, accused some officials, such as Poroshenko and Oleksandr Tretiakov, Yushchenko's top aide, of using their powers for personal financial gains.
Emerging from two days of crisis meetings with key personnel, Yushchenko said Thursday that he had decided to dismiss the Tymoshenko government, to sack Poroshenko and to temporarily suspend Tretiakov.
"The key issue that I have been fighting for is the issue of trust," Yushchenko said at a press conference. "But the team degenerated, [rival] blocs started to appear and play unpleasant games with or without compromising materials, pictures and blackmail."
"I want no more of intrigues between two or three people leading to a gathering problem," Yushchenko said.
The development is a blow for the new team of government officials that came to power seven months ago in the wake of the popular uprising known as the Orange Revolution, replacing the authoritarian rule of former President Leonid Kuchma.
The reshuffling splits the pro-government team and may force the rival groups to run separately at crucial general election due in March 2006. According to constitutional amendments that come into effect on Jan. 1, 2006, the winner of the general election will be able to claim the post of prime minister, whose powers will drastically increase.
Although the dismissal of Poroshenko has been widely expected, the decision to dissolve the government comes as more of a surprise. People familiar with the situation have been predicting that Tymoshenko would probably keep the job.
But analysts praised Yushchenko for the drastic step and said the dismissal of both Poroshenko and Tymoshenko would help bring much needed stability to the government.
"It's impossible to tolerate any longer two parties within the government that have been in fact splitting the country," said Vadym Karasiov, the head of the Institute for Global Strategies, a Kiev-based think tank.
Tymoshenko and Poroshenko have in fact been in a state of personal rivalry and even standoff for most of the past seven months, since Tymoshenko was appointed prime minister.
Tymoshenko has been persisting with the āre-privatizationā of state assets she charged had been illegally privatized by the previous government, causing discomfort among investors into Ukraineās economy and at the same time coinciding with a sharp slowdown in GDP growth.
Tymoshenko's government prevailed in courts to return to the state majority interests in Kryvorizhstal, the country's largest steel maker, and Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant, one of the world's largest ferroalloy companies. She planned to resell the assets at transparent auctions later this year. (tl/ez)