Ukraine hurt by Russian gas deal

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The flag of Ukraine

The Ukrainian Parliament voted to oust the Prime Minister and his cabinet Tuesday after the handling of the countries gas crisis with Russia last week.

Viktor Yushchenko called the vote "incomprehensible, illogical, and wrong".

Although Russia and Ukraine have solved the crisis, for the time being, when the two countries agreed to new gas prices last week, the parliament described the deal as "traitorous," reports The Independent of London, and ousted Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov's government in response.

Both Members of Parliament and even opposition groups, said they were unhappy with the governments response to the crisis, and began to accuse it of "selling out to Russia and betraying national interests".

The motion to oust the government, which both shocked and surprised many MP's was backed by 250 of the 450 members of Parliament. Mr Yushchenko's former ally and one-time prime minister, Julia Tymoshenko, was among those who voted against the government.

Location map of the Ukraine

Yushchenko is calling the no-confidence vote politically motivated.

It is expected, however, that the government will remain in place until parliamentary elections are held, which are scheduled to occur in March.

The debate, at the moment, is whether the standing parliament has the authority to dismiss the prime minister. While the constitutional amendments allowing such an action were adopted Jan. 1, Yushchenko and Yekhanurov claim that only the parliament set to be elected in March will have such an ability.

However, there are some that believe that the parliament's move was more about gaining "political leverage" than responding to the gas crisis, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Yushchenko also accused Ukraine's parliament on Wednesday of "destabilizing the country by sacking his government," a move which sent the local currency plumitting to its lowest point in nearly nine months.

Yushchenko met Vladimir Putin for the first time since the Russian president ordered gas taps to be turned off to his ex-Soviet neighbor at the new year in a bitter dispute over prices that briefly disrupted supplies to the rest of Europe.

Last week Moscow agreed to a new contract, which Ukraine would pay nearly two times the amount it did before. The two leaders barely touched on the energy issue in comments to reporters after their meeting, instead focusing on the positive side of their strained relations.

"Ukraine and Russia have entered an excellent phase in bilateral relations, a phase of personal friendship, which allows us to discuss wonderful prospects," Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Yushchenko as saying.