Former central banker Sergei Tigipko, who came third in the first round of Ukraine's presidential election, said on Friday he may agree to become prime minister in the new government, RIA Novosti reported.

Current Premier Yulia Tymoshenko has offered the post to Tigipko, who garnered 13.6% of Sunday's vote, in exchange for his support.

Tigipko said in an interview with the BBC's Ukrainian service that he does not rule out his premiership.

"I am ready to risk my name and my image. I am not afraid as I can explain [my policy] to the people," Tigipko said in the interview, adding he would focus on the "modernization" of the ex-Soviet nation.

"To me, the top priority is Ukraine's modernization. This is what interests me. All people are free in a modernized country. ... It means that politicians will change too, more pragmatic people will come to power," he said.

Tymoshenko is desperate to win over voters who backed defeated candidates to consolidate her support base before the crucial battle with Yanukovych, who has a 10-percentage-point lead over her. Yanukovych garnered 35.32% and Tymoshenko took 25.05%.

Current President Viktor Yushchenko, swept to power by the 2004 pro-Western street protests, gained slightly more than 5% of the January 17 vote. His presidency has been marred by continuous political infighting and economic problems.

Tigipko, 49, earlier said he would not support any of the candidates. He said he had had talks with both Yanukovich and Tymoshenko.


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