Saturday, 5 November 2011

Yanukovych Warns Of Imminent Shake-Up

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych yesterday challenged his government to either win people’s trust or resign while dismissing two officials himself.
Yanukovych made a rare appearance at a cabinet session during which he lashed out at his trusted prime minister and singled out other officials for allegedly paying too little attention to voters’ economic needs.

His comments came a day after about a thousand veterans of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster tried to storm parliament over planned cuts in benefits and coincided with another festering row over natural gas prices with Russia.

The head of the president’s administration said ahead of the meeting that Yanukovych was on the verge of announcing his first reshuffle since beating the 2004 Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko for the presidency in February 2010.

But the increasingly isolated leader completed the session by announcing the dismissal of just two regional governors while telling the rest of his cabinet to improve their performance in the coming weeks.

“This is not the end of our conversation,” Yanukovych said in televised comments.

“We will take a look at things again before the end of the year, towards the end of December, and see how quickly people are improving their work.”

He also urged “those who cannot handle things to find easier work - preferably on a voluntary basis.”

Yanukovych yesterday did replace the head of the western Lviv district that was once a hotbed of support for the pro-Western Orange leaders and sacked the old governor of Zaporozhia - an industrial region in the southeast.

Local media however speculated that the wave of dismissals could eventually touch up to five ministers including those responsible for finance and defence.

An unidentified government source told the independent online publication that even Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s position was not safe.

Yanukovych did not spare his long-standing ally from criticism but appeared to save his harshest comments for Health Minister Oleksandr Anishchenko - a relatively low-level official also rumoured to be on the way out.

“It is hard to work with you - really hard,” Yanukovych is reported to have told the minister at one point.

Several reports said Azarov was currently trying to save the job of Finance Minister Fedir Yaroshenko amid attempts by some groups to replace him with the hawkish head of Ukraine’s SBU state security service.

Analysts said talk of a reshuffle appeared to have been sparked in part by attempts by Yanukovych to distance himself from domestic criticism and improve his government’s credibility at a time of tensions with the West.

But analysts also point to a heated rivalry within the president’s Regions Party that has spilled out into the open less than a year before October’s elections to the Verkhovna Rada upper house.

The talk of impending government changes results from “a fight for government access between big business and political groups,” said Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta political studies group.

No comments: