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UKRAINE


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 49,537 41,380 37,600 55
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 970 770 720 137
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 333 - (25/09/08)

The times are very critical indeed for Ukrainians. Russia's invasion of Georgia in August some fear puts Ukraine on the line as next in the Kremlin's sights. 

As if that was not enough to worry about, a first-class political crisis has blown up at the beginning of autumn.

As coalition collapses, new poll looms
Ukraine was in mid-September facing the prospect of further political instability and its sixth election in four years after the pro-western coalition formally collapsed on September 16. The government was made up of parties loyal to Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, and his 2004 Orange revolution partner, prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. It fell apart after months of bitter quarrelling between the leaders.

The nine-month-old coalition's collapse is a major setback, and comes amid rising tensions with Russia over the war in Georgia and Ukraine's attempts to join NATO. Its politicians are split between those who condemn the Kremlin's invasion of Georgia, led by Yushchenko, and others including Timoshenko who believe Ukraine should be cautiously "neutral" in its dealings with Moscow. 

However, the collapse has little to do with resisting Russia or integrating with the West - it is about who holds power. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko are likely to be rivals in presidential elections in early 2010.

"I officially announce the termination of the democratic coalition in the Verkhovna rada [lower house]," parliamentary speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk told MPs. "It is yet another democratic challenge, but I hope that together we will overcome the challenge."

The parliament now has 30 days until mid-October to form a new coalition. However, indications suggest that Tymoshenko was unlikely to form an alliance with the opposition Party of the Regions - making elections almost inevitable.

Wheels within wheels
The coalition split earlier in September after Tymoshenko's bloc and the Party of the Regions, led by the former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, voted to strip Yushchenko of several powers. The president accused her of staging a parliamentary coup.

The feud is further linked to which leader controls lucrative pipeline revenue on oil and gas shipped through Ukraine from Russia. "It's not about being pro-Western or pro-Russian. It's about who gets to sit on the pipe," one official remarked on September 16.

"Tymoshenko is only interested in what serves her. She wants a monopoly on power. She was pro-Western when she needed the West's support. Now she is trying to be pro-Russian." 

Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko of betraying Ukraine's interests, and suggested voters would not forgive her. He also claimed the Kremlin was trying to promote "internal instability", and aiding separatists in Crimea who wanted to return the ethnic Russian region to Moscow's control.

“For some of our partners, instability in Ukraine is like bread and butter," he said in an Associated Press interview, suggesting Moscow was stirring up separatists on the volatile Crimean Peninsula, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.

He said Ukraine wouldn't allow itself to be drawn into a war in the way he said Georgia had in the summer when Russian troops responded to a Georgian attack on South Ossetia by occupying large swaths of its territory. "Will they [Russia] repeat the Georgian scenario?" he asked. "For sure, no."

The political turmoil sets the stage for a month of intense talks during which a new coalition must be formed. Failing that, the president has the right but not the obligation to call parliamentary elections. He has said he will call the vote, though opponents say he is bluffing, pointing to his dwindling popular support.

Polls suggest Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party would be wise to avoid an election. According to a recent one, Tymoshenko's party would get 24%, the Party of Regions 23% and his bloc less than 4%.

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