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Ousted prime minister warms to Russians
Journal Staff Report

MOSCOW, Sept. 18 – Ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Sunday night appeared on the Kremlin-controlled NTV Russian television for an interview in which she pledged to work hard to improve relations with Russia.

Tymoshenko said Ukraine and Russia had a number of important projects to work on and added that she planned visit to Moscow soon.

"It doesn't matter in which capacity will I come, but I really would like to improve relations with Russia," Tymoshenko said, speaking in Russian and smiling while responding to a question of whether she had planned to visit Moscow in the capacity of the president of Ukraine.

President Viktor Yushchenko sacked Tymoshenko and her political rival Petro Poroshenko, the national security chief, on Sept. 8, following a wave of clashes between the two. Both seek to position themselves and their parties ahead of the general election in March 2006.

Tymoshenko's appearance on the Russian television, which is popular in predominantly Russian speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, and her pledge to improve Ukraine-Russia relations underscore Tymoshenko's plans to tap voters in eastern Ukraine.

It also highlights Tymoshenko's political turnaround, as she had been so far perceived as a leader of a nationalistic party that had been popular in less populous western Ukraine.

The television interview comes as Tymoshenko's party have been increasingly expanding advertising at outdoor election posters throughout Ukraine, according to a report by Studio 1+1 television.

The developments follow two weeks of massive and perhaps coordinated strikes at Yushchenko and top officials of his party, Our Ukraine, which will probably become the biggest competitor for Tymoshenko's party during the upcoming election.

Tymoshenko will have to win the general election to return in April 2006 to the position of prime minister, a position that will have dramatically increased powers after Jan. 1, 2006.

Meanwhile, some in the Tymoshenko team have been calling for an early election, in January 2006 rather in March 2006 that would help Tymoshenko capitalize on her allegedly high rating.

But some proposals may go even further.

Stepan Havrysh, a lawmaker known to be recently supporting Tymoshenko, suggested a special bill may be submitted to Parliament launching the constitutional amendments Oct. 1, or three months sooner then had been planned.

Some analyst said that Tymoshenko may benefit from the bill by securing support from lawmakers for her approval as the new prime minister, but others said the plan is too risky and will not materialize. (nr/ez)







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