Ukraine’s pro-Western liberals are manoeuvring for position in the wake of an election apparently won by a rival pro-Russian party. Ranked second in the poll, Yulia Tymoshenko is at the forefront of efforts to keep the Moscow-backed winner in opposition. Her idea is for a three-way liberal coalition, bringing together her bloc, President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the Socialists. In it, she would return to the post of prime minister.
That prospect would hardly delight Yushchenko who sacked her from the job last September. The two have been on poor terms ever since. But the options may be limited for the hero of the Orange Revolution after his party looked like trailing home in third place in the parliamentary ballot. His humiliation is all the greater, given the identity of the man who looks to have triumphed. For it was none other than Viktor Yanukovich who was defeated by Yushchenko in a re-run of a disputed presidential election in 2004. In a spectacular comeback, Yanukovich’s Regions Party has the largest number of votes so far although full results are not expected until tomorrow. The preliminary figures indicate an “orange coalition” could keep Yanukovich out of power, hence Yulia Tymoshenko’s desire to press ahead with talks. President Yushchenko however has said negotiations should begin only after the vote count is complete.