Tuesday January 16, 2007
The man who led Ukraine's orange revolution two years ago has been transformed into a lame-duck president following a humiliating parliamentary vote that effectively strips him of all powers.
Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's opposition leader turned president, no longer has the power to veto the choice of prime minister or foreign minister.
Lawyers for President Yushchenko said yesterday that they were preparing to appeal, describing the move as "unconstitutional".
However, Mr Yushchenko appears to be the big loser in Ukraine's latest constitutional battle, which has paralysed the country over the past year because of vicious internal power struggles.
The president lost his responsibilities after his ally-turned-rival Yulia Timoshenko decided to vote with the party of Ukraine's pro-Russian prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich.
In late 2004, Mr Yushchenko and Ms Timoshenko led the popular orange uprising against a rigged presidential election. Mr Yushchenko duly beat Mr Yanukovich as president.
However, last August the president was forced to appoint Mr Yanukovich as prime minister after his own allies, incuding Ms Timoshenko, failed to form a government.
Mr Yushchenko and Ms Timoshenko had fallen out spectacularly a few months earlier, each accusing the other of corruption.
Yesterday one of Ms Timoshenko's closest advisers shrugged off the suggestion that she had betrayed the orange revolution by siding with Mr Yanukovich, her former enemy.
"This is an absurd argument," Hryhoriy Nemyria told the Guardian. "We have never signed any kind of pact with Yanukovich."
He added: "Ukraine's constitution doesn't function properly. Voting with Yanukovich was the lesser of two evils. We now want early elections."
However, Russian newspapers noted yesterday that Ms Timoshenko has changed her famous peasant plait hairstyle - a sign, they said, of her own ruthless presidential ambition.
Last Friday MPs summoned 366 votes to override Mr Yushchenko's veto of a bill outlining the powers of the cabinet - well above the 300 needed. They also shot down 42 other proposals by the president to amend the bill.
Officials from Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party described the vote as unconstitutional. They were preparing a challenge before Ukraine's constitutional court, they said.
Analysts yesterday said that Mr Yushchenko - who is supposed to keep his presidential job until 2009 - had seen his powers steadily "whittled away".
"He's been a potential lame duck since last year," Andrew Wilson, a Ukraine specialist at University College London, said, adding that "this is his last throw of the dice".
Although Mr Yushchenko appeared to be nearing the end of his political career, yesterday's events did not mean Ukraine's orange revolution was finished, Mr Wilson said.
"The rules in Ukraine are different from the rules before the revolution. The media is freer. And this is very much the cut and thrust of normal politics."
Спасибо за Вашу активность, Ваш вопрос будет рассмотрен модераторами в ближайшее время