Half-empty chamber greets Ukraine's new president

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Feb. 25, 2010, 5:17 p.m. |

Ukraine's President Victor Yanukovych holds his hand on the bible as he takes an oath in the parliament in Kyiv.
© AP

New Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych vowedFeb. 25to create "a European state outside of any bloc," but the crippling lack of concensus in his government was clear in the half-empty hall during his inaugural address. His short, unemotional speech showed a determination to save the economy and preserve ties with the West forged by the outgoing leadership. But his more specific pledges have suggested a turn back toward Russia in energy policy and military cooperation, policies that threaten to further polarize the nation.

Yanukovych took the oath of office in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, receiving a ceremonial scepter that he raised in triumph over the deputies in attendance.

But members of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party snubbed the event. Their empty half of the chamber emphasized the kinds of divisions that have paralyzed Ukraine's government in recent years and continue to do so.

Since his victory in a Feb. 7 runoff vote, Yanukovych's Party of Regions has struggled to form a new coalition that could pass urgent reforms and oust Tymoshenko, his political nemesis.

This has proven a losing fight so far. Having defeated her by only 3.5 percentage points in the presidential contest, Yanukovych enters office with a shaky mandate. He also inherits an economy crippled by the global financial crisis and a nation whose political loyalties are deeply divided.

He has broad support in the Russian-speaking east of the country, but in the Ukrainian-speaking west, he lost in virtually every region to Tymoshenko.

But the new president, once considered a Kremlin lackey, promised to carve a unique geopolitical path for Ukraine and pull its economy back from the brink.

"I think that the state can not only be saved from a social-economic collapse, but can quickly be put on the path of accelerated development," Yanukovych said in his inaugural address.

Where his predecessor had railed against Russian bullying in the region, Yanukovych pledged a more balanced approach.

"People don't like it when you show them a fist. They have more trust in those who extend them a hand," he said, appearing anxious to hold his composure.

Neither Tymoshenko nor outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko showed up for the inauguration. Both of them came to power on the back of mass street protests against Yanukovych in late 2004.

Dubbed the Orange Revolution, those protests succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to overturn Yanukovych's rigged election victory and order a revote, which Yushchenko, a fierce Kremlin critic, won by a narrow margin.

But Yanukovych has since made a comeback, capitalizing on the Orange leadership's failure to deliver on promises of economic growth and European integration. Yushchenko, who has called Yanukovych's victory a "Kremlin project," did not make it past the first round of voting in January.

Tymoshenko alleges vote fraud, but she has dropped her court case on the issue, claiming the court is controlled by Yanukovych's supporters.

International observers called the 2010 vote free and fair.

Where his predecessor had offended Russia by seeking NATO membership, Yanukovych has scrapped the idea of joining the EU or NATO. He has instead pledged to focus on the country's endemic corruption and economic woes, issues that Yushchenko was accused of ignoring as he single-mindedly sought ties with the West.

Yanukovych, a native Russian-speaker, is expected to bring Ukraine closer to Moscow. He has said he will welcome Russia into a consortium that would jointly operate Ukraine's natural gas pipeline network, restoring influence that the Orange leaders had worked to revoke.

He has also said he would extend Russia's lease on a naval base in the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol that is due to expire in 2017. Russia's Black Sea fleet stirs emotions in Ukraine, and Yushchenko had fought to kick it out, calling the fleet a hostile presence on Ukrainian soil.

Yanukovych's first visit will be to Brussels next week, and immediately after he will travel to Moscow on March 5, his advisers said Thursday.

Analysts pointed to the need for Yanukovych to strike a balance between East and West and unite the country.

"These statements (about the Black Sea fleet) are capable of very strongly pitting at least half the country against Yanukovych," said Viktor Nebozhenko, a sociologist at the Ukrainian Barometer, a think tank in Kiev.

"Yanukovych will need to change if he wants to become president of more than just the east and south of the country," said Vadim Karasyov, head of Ukraine's Global Strategies Institute.
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:25 p.m.    

Shame on Tymoshenko and her cohort of unpatriotic sore losers!

Five years ago when Yushchenko became president after the orange revolution -- everyone came to the inauguration -- Kuchma and all the Regions Party. They had class.

Yulka and her band of egomaniacs decided to show that they are above the law -- after all she still is the Prime Minister of Ukraine and Yanukovych is the President.

Will she also refuse to obey his decrees and order?

Who is this sore loser Yulia Tymoshenko if not a traitor to Ukraine and law breaker!!


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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:26 p.m.    

Can we see a photo of the half empty chamber please ?

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:28 p.m.    

It was a half-full chamber that greeted the president.

Be positive Kyiv Post!

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:30 p.m.    

One hand on the Bible and the other hand he had his fingers crossed.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:41 p.m.    

Tymoshenko ought to keep boycotting the VR while she still has the deputies under her control.

Prediction for the make-up of the next VR:

Regions - 140

BYT - 100 (down from current 188)

Tigipko - 80

Yatseniuk - 40

Yuschenko/Kirilenko - 60

Communists - 30

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:44 p.m.    

Tymoshenko's rapidly disintegrating block occupies far less than half of the seats in the chamber.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:47 p.m.    

42% is the smallest half I have ever seen.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:54 p.m.    

Actually, only BYuT boycotted the inauguration and they make up less than 150 of 450 seats.

So, the chamber was two-thirds filled. And one-third of the SORE LOSERS were coalescing with their EGO MANICAL SELF CENTERED ANTI-UKRAINIAN braided witch.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 5:56 p.m.    

All Members of Parliament, as well as the Prime Minister, should have attended the ceremony to show respect for the rule of law and the constitution of Ukraine.

It was their slogan -- one law for all. Today they clearly demonstrated they are guided by their emotions and will go above the law and constitution if they so please.

They are not Ukraine's future -- they represent its past.


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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:05 p.m.    

Even better than Shame on Them: VOTE THEM OUT!

Tigipko and Yats are practically drooling to take over all those BYT seats.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:32 p.m.    

Correction: TYHYPKO

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:37 p.m.    

No correction, it is &quot;Tigipko&quot;, because that is how he spells it himself, nobody from diaspora has a right to tell him how to spell own name...

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 9:05 p.m.    

what strange language is this ?

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:23 p.m.    

Time for new younger, educated, energetic and patriotic people to take over Ukrainian politics. Out with the old and in with the new. Time for a change !

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:17 p.m.    


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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:52 p.m.    

All I see here are Nashi supporters

None of you are Ukrainian.. go spread your poison elsewhere

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 6:56 p.m.    

What a sore loser has she ever heard of a peaceful transfer of power? Why do that, the world was watching her, and she acted like a spoiled child.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 7:01 p.m.    

Let's hope that Yushchenko is the last Ukrainian president who refuses to attend the inauguration of his successor.

What a total lack of class. And let's not even get into Tymoshenko.

Best of luck to the new President Yanukovych and his administration.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 7:37 p.m.    

Yanukovich is NOT a native Russian speaker. He is a BELARUS', born in Belarus as were his parents.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 10:06 p.m.    

Mr Yanukovich gave a nice speech in Russian. He shouldn't worry about the bumbling previous administration of Mr. Yuschenko and Ms., Timoshenko who nearly themselves brought Ukraine down to its knees.

For too long, the bunglers representing the small impoverished region of the Western Ukraine have been in power and have only needlessly divided the country. Not even showing up at the inauguration is even a bigger disgrace. Imagine the Republicans or Democratic party in America not attending the other party's inauguration.

The people of Western Ukraine and their diaspora who so espouse democracy should be ashamed of themselves as hypocrites they are if they supported the candidates of the previous regime.

Being undecisive about the economy,letting corruption to increase under their watch while erecting statues and proclaiming heros is not the answer to improving Ukraine's lot.

Mr. Yanukovich needs to be confident and gain as much support from his party while extending a hand to the Communists,Socialists and Lytvin's party. Closer economic and military ties with Russia are a must, while maintaining a neutral stance in world affairs. Raising pensions and salaries,putting in place price controls and keeping subsidation in place is the quickest way to Ukraine's economy.

Thankfully the &quot;experiment&quot; with the E.U will end as the European Union has no interest for Ukraine becoming a member in at least the next two decades if ever at all.Ukraine does not fit that particular model anyway.

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Anonymous Feb. 25, 2010, 11:17 p.m.    

Prediction for the next VR

Regions 240

Comunist 70

Yushenko 60

Byt 60

Tigipko 19

yatseniuk 1

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Anonymous March 3, 2010, 4:30 a.m.    

Yeah, the truth hurts, but at least I’m FREE of CLOWNS like this one! ...Get this Ukraina!!! ...U Don't wanna miss this one -LOOK!!! Mr. Commie Town CLOWN (Atheist) Yanu! Ex-Russian Commie Ruuskie CLOWN, placing his hand on the Holy Bible, AAAaaahhh THE HEIGHT of HYPOCRISY!!! YEAH, I was wait’n for this one, all you little blue clowns. ...Is this all U got BIG BLU Yanu? NEECHIVO! the 11M other blue clowns who voted for this Commie, I hope you get everything you so “self-righteously” deserve! ...and then just a little bit more, cuz u definitely need it ...WAKE-UP all you little “Blue” CLOWNs! ...DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING? ...Leopards NEVER CHANGE THEIR SPOTS! ...SOON! You’ll be CRY’n in Ur Clown Corn, I can hardly wait …the Town Clown has arrived! ...Bring in the Ruushkies, let’s get this Circus move’n ...hahaha ROTF LOL!

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