- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2005

KIEV — A close aide to President Viktor Yushchenko who was a chief organizer of the “Orange Revolution” protests said yesterday he had resigned from the government because of systemic corruption around the Ukrainian leader.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, who resigned Saturday, said the situation had grown “even worse” than under former President Leonid Kuchma.

Mr. Zinchenko accused Petro Poroshenko, the head of Ukraine’s Defense and Security Council, of being one of the most corrupt members of the government. He also criticized Oleksandr Tretyakov, a top aide to Mr. Yushchenko, and Mykola Martynenko, who heads the president’s faction in parliament.

Mr. Poroshenko attended the press conference, which was broadcast live, and stood in the back frowning as Mr. Zinchenko spoke. When Mr. Zinchenko completed his prepared statement, lengthy applause broke out in the room.

Mr. Zinchenko’s departure as state secretary is the first major resignation since Mr. Yushchenko took office in January, after last year’s bitter and prolonged campaign in this former Soviet republic.

Mr. Zinchenko said he decided to make such a “sharp public announcement” to ensure that Ukrainians and Mr. Yushchenko understood the extent of the problem. He said he had repeatedly called on Mr. Yushchenko to fire Mr. Poroshenko.

“With my resignation, I am trying to sharply convey this danger to the president and his team,” Mr. Zinchenko said.

Mr. Poroshenko took the podium and said it was “the hardest day” of his life. Clearly angry, he accused Mr. Zinchenko of trying to “explode [Mr. Yushchenko’s] team from the inside” and challenged him to find evidence to back up his charges.

“He didn’t look in my eyes the entire time he was reading his statement,” Mr. Poroshenko said of his former ally.

Mr. Zinchenko, who had served as deputy speaker of parliament, was initially aligned with Mr. Kuchma. He was a senior party official in the Ukrainian Socialist Party (United), headed by Mr. Kuchma’s former chief of staff, Viktor Medvedchuk.

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