Tymoshenko quits Ukraine's coalition as political turmoil escalates

Tymoshenko quits Ukraine's coalition as political turmoil escalates
Ex-prime minister and Fatherland party leader Yulia Tymoshenko during the parliament session in Kyiv on February 16.
By bne IntelliNews February 17, 2016

In a further spiral of Ukraine's political crisis, the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party headed by former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has left the ruling coalition, a day after it broke ranks with its nominal allies and sought unsuccessfully to oust Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a vote of no confidence.

"The Batkivshchyna faction took the only possible step - to pull out of the coalition," UNIAN news agency quoted Tymoshenko as saying on February 17. "The situation that exists in Ukraine today is a consequence of the reign of a shadow clan-political coalition. Therefore, the faction considers it unacceptable to stay in this flock, which actually has no chance, because it doesn't want to carry out reforms, to defend Ukraine, restart our lives."

Including Batkivshchyna, 194 lawmakers backed the vote of no confidence in Yatsenyuk held a day earlier instead of the minimum 226 votes needed to oust the premier, whose government stands accused of mismanagement and corruption while supposedly resurrecting the war-ravaged economy with billions in foreign credits.

Some pro-Western lawmakers also accused Yatsenyuk, President Petro Poroshenko and Ukraine's oligarchs of reaching backroom agreements to leave the premier in office, effectively scuttling the motion to unseat him.

As Ukraine dissected the events in the parliament in Kyiv on February 16, Serhiy Leshchenko, a reformist lawmaker from the Poroshenko Bloc, described what happened as "an oligarchic counter-revolution before the eyes of the whole country".

"There is a plot, and both the authorities and the opposition are cynical participants of this plot. Unfortunately, the Poroshenko Bloc has become part of this plot," Leshchenko said in parliament the day after the vote

Meanwhile, Poroshenko called upon Tymoshenko's faction alongside others of the existing ruling coalition - the Poroshenko Bloc, Yatsenyuk's People's Front, and the Samopomich (Self Reliance) party - to join in an overhaul of the cabinet in order to avoid a deeper political crisis that may require snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada.

The Radical Party, which exited the coalition in 2015 after the Rada passed controversial constitutional amendments that triggered deadly clashes between police and nationalists, implied its possible return to the coalition.

However, if the coalition fragments and fails to overhaul the new cabinet, this can send Ukraine back to the polls in an expensive new election that it cannot afford either politically or financially.

The previous day, Poroshenko said parliament's dissolution "is not the president's obligation, but only his right. And I will exercise it only as a last resort, which we shouldn't allow to happen," he said in a statement.

The Samopomich party, headed by the reform-minded mayor of the western city of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi, will hold an emergency meeting on February 18 to discuss "the oligarchic coup that took place in Ukraine", the party's media office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Tymoshenko warned that if  "clan-political consensus" - shady closed-door deals reached between political and business elites - is not removed from Ukraine's politics, the country can boil over again.

"If we have an uncontrolled uprising in Ukraine, with the amount of weapons in the hands of people today, we can just lose the country," the politician said.