KIEV, July 6 â€“ Oleksandr Moroz, the leader of the Socialist Party, was elected the speaker of Parliament on Thursday after clinching a secret separate deal with the Regions Party, a pro-Russian opposition group.
The move effectively toppled the pro-Western coalition that had been created during the past three months, and may now lead to creation of a coalition that would be hostile to President Viktor Yushchenko.
The development makes it virtually impossible for Yulia Tymoshenko to get the job of the prime minister, but instead opens way for a candidate from the Regions Party to take the post.
In a Byzantine style politics move, the Regions Party, the Communist Party and the Socialists unexpectedly joined forces to elect Moroz by 238-0 vote in 450-seat Parliament.
Yosyp Vinskiy, the Socialist Partyâ€™s No. 2 man and a critic of the deal, in a highly emotional speech called Moroz a â€śtraitor.â€ť He also suggested huge money had been thrown specifically to undermine the pro-Western coalition.
â€śThe price of the issue was very high,â€ť Vinskiy said. â€śSoon you will be able to see who rides in what kind of car and who lives in what kind of apartment.â€ť
Mykola Tomenko, Tymoshenkoâ€™s ally, said recently that a secret fund, worth $250 million, had been apparently created by Regions Party businessmen to tilt balances in Parliament. But Regions Party lawmakers denied the allegations.
Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions Party, on Thursday praised Moroz as â€śan experienced politician,â€ť and suggested that he himself would rather work in the government.
Asked whether there were any guarantees that he would secure the job of the prime minister, Yanukovych said: â€śThe guarantees, as they say, are when youâ€™ve got the money in your pocket. These are the guarantees. But when the money sits at home, you donâ€™t have the guarantees. The house may burn down.â€ť
Our Ukraine, Yushchenkoâ€™s party, and a group led by Tymoshenko, two former coalition partners of the Socialist Party in the pro-Western coalition, condemned Morozâ€™s deal with the Regions Party.
â€śWhatâ€™s happening is the treason,â€ť Petro Poroshenko, a senior member of Our Ukraine, said. â€śI think the [pro-Western] coalition doesnâ€™t exist anymore.â€ť
â€śAll agreements that have been reached by the three [pro-Western] parties are being broken by the Socialists,â€ť Oleksandr Turchynov, Tymoshenkoâ€™s ally, said.
Moroz had confusing and complicated explanations for his dealing with the Regions Party.
First, Moroz said he did not think that Poroshenko, speaker designate, would make a strong coalition with Tymoshenko, prime minister designate. Later, Moroz explained the deal by the need to keep his own Socialist Party from splitting.
â€śI was facing a dilemma: whether I nominate myself for the post and maintain unity in the party or I become a hostage of intrigues as some have been unfolding,â€ť Moroz said.
Moroz suggested that now he will try to forge the so-called grand coalition, which would also involve the Regions Party and Our Ukraine.
But Our Ukraine has quickly ruled out any coalition that would involve the Socialist Party.
â€śOur Ukraineâ€™s participation in the coalition with the Socialist Party is now impossible,â€ť Roman Zvarych, a senior member of Our Ukraine, said. (tl/ez)