Ukraine's PM blames pro-West Prez for poor ties with Russia

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Moscow, Sep 18 (UNI) Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has sharply criticised the pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko for damaging the country's relations with Russia.

"Viktor Yushchenko is personally responsible for all negative trends in relations between Russia and Ukraine," Ms Tymoshenko said at a new conference yesterday, in Kiev.

Her statement against the President effectively ended any hopes that the coalition will reunite.

Ms Tymoshenko's scathing attack on her former ally came a day after the ruling coalition officially split amid political infighting and disagreements over Ukraine's stance on the recent Russia-Georgia conflict.

The ongoing dispute has seen the presidential Our Ukraine Party's popularity plummeting, while the Tymoshenko bloc and the pro-Russian opposition Party of Regions have gained ground.

However, Ms Tymoshenko spoke against the idea of early parliamentary elections, saying those would be devastating for the country in light of the ongoing global financial crisis.

Parliamentary Speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk announced collapse of the ruling pro-Western coalition on Tuesday, paving the way for possible early parliamentary polls.

Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko were allies in the 2004 "Orange Revolution". But they have parted ways due to differences on a host of issues, including over a recent parliamentary vote to drastically cut the presidential powers, and the PM's refusal to back the President's condemnation of the Russian military operation in Georgia.

Mr Yushchenko has also accused Russia of destabilising Ukraine in Crimea by giving support to separatist ethnic-Russians.

Ms Tymoshenko is widely expected to run against Mr Yushchenko in presidential elections to be held in 2009 or 2010.

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