KIEV, May 13 â€“ President Viktor Yushchenko on Saturday replaced Vitaliy Hayduk with Ivan Pliushch as his top security adviser, a position that may shortly play a crucial role in settling political crisis in Ukraine.
Pliushch, 66, is a former speaker of Parliament and Yushchenkoâ€™s close ally. During crisis talks between pro-government and opposition parties over the past seven days, Pliushch has been representing the president.
The appointment of Plishch as the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council will further strengthen Yushchenkoâ€™s clout in a stand-off with the pro-Russian government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
The council may soon play a role in replacing the Yanukovych government if the crisis talks fail to reach an agreement within the next several days on the date for the early election, analysts said.
The government has been since April 2 sabotaging Yushchenkoâ€™s decree that had ordered the dismissal of Parliament and the early election by refusing to finance it.
Frustrated by the lack of progress at the talks, Yushchenko warned the government Thursday that the council would soon hold an emergency meeting to take decisions that would ensure the election takes place on June 24 unless new date is agreed.
The reshuffle at the council suggests that Hayduk may have had a different idea and may have objected the plan, analysts said.
Pliushch has been described by political figures as a hawk in Yushchenkoâ€™s camp that had been insisting on a tougher line in the talks with the pro-government parties.
The talks are primarily focusing on when to hold the early election. Yanukovych has been suggesting postponing the election until the end of October, while Yushchenko had suggested he would only agree to postpone the vote until the middle of July as the latest.
The early vote date would probably benefit pro-Western opposition parties, such as Our Ukraine and the Bloc led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The vote scheduled on Oct. 28 would probably benefit the Regions Party, a pro-Russian party, analysts said.
Yushchenko and Yanukovych, joined by Pliushch at a meeting on Saturday, pledged to strike an agreement on the date for the election on Wednesday.
â€śI hope that on Wednesday decisions will emerge that will serve as arguments for choosing the date for the election,â€ť Pliushch said.
First Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, an ally of Yanukovych who also joined the talks, said: â€śI believe there is a 100% probabilityâ€ť that the election date will be announced on Wednesday. (tl/ez)