Ukraine's revived Orange Coalition will press for early elections in a bid to halt Russia's growing influence and control over the country's vital energy assets, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an interview yesterday.

Tymoshenko said Ukraine's sovereignty and hopes for better relations with the West are in jeopardy if the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych serves out its full term to 2011.

"If this government is in power until then, there would be nothing left of a democratic Ukraine," she said, speaking through an interpreter with editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "The territory would still exist, but it would not be Ukraine any longer."

Tymoshenko, considered a front-runner among reformists for the 2009 presidential vote, said the reunited pro-reform parties will push for early parliamentary elections, although the move faces both political and constitutional hurdles.

On a high-profile U.S. visit that includes meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Mrs. Tymoshenko said the United States must speak out for Ukraine despite a full foreign-policy plate that includes Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other pressing crises.

She noted there was "disillusionment" in Washington about backsliding in Ukraine since her coalition was propelled to power in 2005 by a wave of street protests that became known as the Orange Revolution because of the orange flags and banners carried by the protesters.

But, she said, "a country as large and influential as your own has to lead this kind of work. Your country does not have the right to be fatigued about Ukraine's future."

The charismatic Tymoshenko said Mr. Yanukovych's allies dominate the courts and key security ministries in Kiev. Rich eastern business clans from Mr. Yanukovych's political base in Donetsk are buying influence and lawmakers to keep him in power, she said.


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