- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2001

KIEV, Ukraine — The Communist-dominated parliament voted yesterday to dismiss reform-oriented Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko and his government, plunging the nation into political chaos.
The ouster of the most successful Cabinet since Ukraine gained independence in 1991 is likely to slow reforms in this largely impoverished country and damage its international standing.
The former Soviet republic already has been rocked by a political crisis stemming from the disappearance of a critical journalist and accusations of President Leonid Kuchmas involvement in his killing.
The parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, voted 263-69 to approve a Communist-sponsored resolution accusing Mr. Yushchenkos government of failing to improve the economy and leading the country to ruin.
The Cabinet will become a caretaker government for up to 60 days, until a new government is formed.
"Democracy in Ukraine has suffered a serious defeat," Mr. Yushchenko said after the vote of no confidence. "The political elite … showed itself unable to accept a legal economy and public politics."
"I will continue with the policy I conducted," the prime minister added. "I am not abandoning politics. I am going away in order to return."
Supportive lawmakers applauded, some chanting "Yushchenko. Yushchenko." Others called for Mr. Kuchma to be thrown out of his office.
Outside parliament, about 10,000 Yushchenko supporters began building a mock barricade out of cardboard boxes after learning of the vote results, raising a black banner that read: "Impeachment."
The protesters then marched to Mr. Kuchmas administration headquarters, shouting "Down with Kuchma," in the largest show of opposition strength in weeks. A group of youths used bags of sand, broken furniture and pieces of wood found in nearby courtyard to build a barricade. Police refrained from intervening.
Backers of Mr. Yushchenko and opposition parties seeking Mr. Kuchmas ouster suspect that the president was only too glad to get rid of the prime minister, whom he saw as a potential rival.
The dismissal of the government will complicate the ex-Soviet republics relations with the West, which views Mr. Yushchenko as the guarantor of reforms.
The European Unions foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Ukraine not to abandon political and economic reforms following Mr. Yushchenkos ouster. "We would like very much that the process of reform — regardless of the result of the vote — will continue," Mr. Solana told reporters in Brussels.
The constitution requires the prime minister to hand his resignation to the president, and Mr. Kuchma is believed unlikely to reject it. The president would then name a new prime minister, who would then compose a list of his future ministers, subject to presidential approval.
The 450-member parliament has to confirm the new prime minister by at least 226 votes. Ministers do not need such approval.
The prime minister was defeated by an unlikely parliamentary alliance of hard-line Communists who opposed his reforms and centrist and other factions, some of which are led by powerful businessmen.
One lawmaker, a Communist, sought to cast aspersions on Mr. Yushchenkos loyalties.
"What nationality are your children?" he asked Mr. Yushchenko in reference to his wife, an American of Ukrainian extraction.
Polls have indicated that Mr. Yuschenko is Ukraines most trusted politician.
Named to lead the government in late 1999, he is credited with reviving chronically sluggish economic reforms, paying a significant portion of overdue wages and pensions, and achieving the first signs of economic growth in a decade.

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