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Yulia Timoshenko Bloc officials criticised Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday
Yulia Timoshenko Bloc officials criticised Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday for the first time since the September 30 early parliamentary elections. One of the bloc leaders, Andrei Shkil, reproached Yushchenko for “a lack of propaganda of the country’s accession to NATO” among Ukrainians. The head of state should “lead the people, not to wait for the people to become ripened” for NATO membership. He responded to Yushchenko’s remarks that “the question of membership in the Alliance will be decided in a referendum not in years to come but when Ukraine gets ripened for that.” Earlier, the president Ukraine should make its mind about NATO membership in several years. “The question of joining NATO is a discussion about Ukraine’s security, and there are there models of solving it,” he said. One is a “bipolar world and arms race”. “This model will be most harmful to the nation because Ukraine has no oil and gas to set ambitious military goals,” he said. Yushchenko believes that “Ukraine won’t be strong enough” for the second model – non-bloc status. In his view, “the only acceptable model for Ukraine” is the one that “has been accepted by Europe – collective security”. In an interview with the Inter television channel on Sunday, Yushchenko said 150-160 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters would be the best price for Russian natural gas for Ukraine. Yulia Timochenko Bloc representative Alexander Gudyma said on Monday, “It’s not the president’s business to calculate the price of Russian gas for Ukraine next year because this issue falls within the competence of the future government”. Bloc officials have never made such attacks on the president before. Two weeks ago, the bloc and the pro-presidential Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence Bloc agreed to create a broad coalition in the parliament but then the process got stuck. Yulia Timoshenko is certain that the “orange” coalition will conclude an agreement on cooperation with the Litvin Bloc. “The process of negotiations with the Litvin Bloc will be continued and we shall be able to achieve full understanding,” she said. For his part, the leader of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc Yuri Lutsenko said, “The ball today is in the Litvin team’s court, and in case of its good will the democratic coalition will be prepared to come to the negotiating table for official talks.” “We shall be prepared to meet their interest in joint work for the good of the nation,” Lutsenko said, adding that “it is not posts that I have in mind, but a general action plan for developing Ukrainian statehood.” Vladimir Litvin, a former parliament speaker, said it is of no interest to him to make any comments on the declaration that the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc and the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence bloc have created a coalition. “This is not a fact of life yet,” he told Itar-Tass. “These days there are far more important problems facing the country – how to curb inflation, what price of gas there will be in 2008, and how to curb hikes of food prices,” Litvin said. “Today one must give thought to how to act on the election pledges and not to how to distribute posts and portfolios.” Litvin was evasive, when asked if his political force would be in opposition or would team up with the “orange” coalition. Before, Litvin said his bloc would not join any of the possible alliances. According to the official results of the elections announced on Saturday, the Party of Regions led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich received 34.37 percent of votes. It will have 175 seats in the parliament. The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc received 30.71 percent (156 seats), the pro-presidential Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence 14.15 percent (72 seats), the Communist Party 5.39 percent (27 seats), and Vladimir Litvin’s bloc 3.96 percent (20 mandates). The Socialist Party of previous parliament speaker Alexander Moroz received 2.86 percent and was not elected. Twenty parties and blocs ran for the Verkhovna Rada.
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