KIEV, Oct. 4 - The group of Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s likely next prime minister, will be able to appoint the energy and fuel minister and other key energy sector officials in the government, a coalition partner said.
Ukraine is about to replace the pro-Russian government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych when it forms its new government following the Sept. 30 snap parliamentary election.
“Today I feel that the energy sector will probably be controlled by the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc,” Yuriy Lutsenko, the leader of Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, said at a press conference Thursday.
The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, both pro-Western groups, will control a simple majority of 228 seats in the 450-seat Parliament following the election, according to the Central Election Commission.
The fact that the Tymoshenko party will control the energy sector by nominating the energy and fuel minister and the head of Naftogaz Ukrayiny, the state oil and gas company, suggests that difficult talks and perhaps even a clash are likely over Russian natural gas supplies in 2008.
Tymoshenko has persistently challenged Russia that she will seek to renegotiate the key Ukrainian-Russian natural gas agreement by replacing gas trader RosUkrEnergo, in which Gazprom owns 50%, as the only gas supplier to Ukraine.
The issues is now in focus after Gazprom on Tuesday threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine unless the country pays $1.3 billion natural gas debt before the end of October.
The warning adds pressure on Tymoshenko ahead of her formation of the government and will complicate the talks with Russia over prices to be charged for gas in 2008, analysts said.
The Tymoshenko party will also control the financial and economic departments in the government, Lutsenko said, suggesting that she will nominate the finance minister and the economy minister among other positions.
Lutsenko’s comments suggest that Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense will probably nominate ministers of justice, internal affairs minister and probably the prosecutor general.
Meanwhile, the bloc led by former Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, a centrist group, has been also invited to join the pro-Western coalition, but talks are ahead over which posts will be controlled by the group.
The Lytvyn group is likely to control 20 seats in parliament and joining the pro-Western coalition will increase its ranks to a comfortable majority of 248 seats in the 450-seat parliament.
People familiar with the situation said that Lytvyn may request the post of the speaker of Parliament and also the head of the State Tax Administration and possibly the post of the mayor of Kiev. (tl/ez)