- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

1:26 p.m.

Ukraine’s rebuilt Orange Revolution coalition will press for early elections in a bid to halt Russia’s rapidly expanding political influence and control of the country’s vital energy assets, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an interview today.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and key figure in the pro-Western Orange Revolution uprising of December 2004, said Ukraine’s sovereignty and hopes for better relations with the United States and the West are in jeopardy if the government of pro-Moscow 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 in an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times this morning. “The territory would still exist, but it would not be Ukraine any longer.”

Mrs. Tymoshenko’s party and the party of pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko over the weekend signed a new unity deal to cooperate in parliament, hoping to end a disastrous feud among the Orange Revolution allies that enabled Ukraine’s pro-Moscow parties to come to power in August 2006.

Mrs. Tymoshenko 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 visit to Washington that included meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Mrs. Tymoshenko said the United States must take a direct and vocal interest in Ukraine’s democratic development despite a full foreign-policy plate that includes Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other pressing crisis areas.

She noted there was “disillusionment” in Washington about backsliding in Ukraine after the Orange Revolution.

However, she added that “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.”

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