A call for unity has been made in Ukraine, ahead of parliamentary elections next year. The country’s president and the prime minister he dismissed in September, Yulia Tymoshenko, told supporters in Kiev’s Independence Square that only a united team of reformers could beat the opposition in March.
Tymoshenko’s impassioned 20-minute address, delivered without notes, won over the crowd of more than 100,000, many of whom had helped propel Viktor Yushchenko to power a year ago.
She said: “Today they are trying to persuade us Tymoshenko will be fighting against Yushchenko. This is just propaganda and you must not listen to it.”
Tymoshenko’s dismissal dented the ratings of both leaders and sapped confidence in the new administration.
After the euphoria of last year’s mass protests, it seems the honeymoon is over for Yushchenko, with many unhappy that the country’s problems persist.
His face still scarred by dioxin poisoning, he acknowledged that some may feel the government had failed to live up to their hopes. But he said progress was being made in promoting democracy, economic reforms and fighting corruption.
The Regions Party of Viktor Yanukovich, who Yushchenko beat a year ago, is ahead in the polls. Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party lies second with the pro-presidential Our Ukraine in third place.