Yanukovych threatens to "tear off" heads of ministers

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Sept. 14, 2012, 4:53 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Economy Minister Petro Poroshenko.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich told government ministers he would "tear off" their heads if they did not stop political intriguing before Oct. 28 parliamentary elections, Ukrainian media said on Friday.

Yanukovich, who is known for his rough language, made his outburst last Wednesday after Economy Minister Petro Poroshenko appealed to him for more active support in imposing a recycling fee on cars and machinery from Russia.

"A bad dancer is always impeded by something," Yanukovich replied, a slightly softer version of a crude Russian expression that says a poor dancer always blames his testicles.

Clearly seeing Poroshenko's request as a stalling tactic, he said: "I'll tear off your heads very soon. Straight after the elections if you go on talking without doing anything."

Yanukovich, who was presiding over an economics strategy meeting in the town ofDnipropetrovsk, went on: "I told the prime minister this and today I am telling all of you sitting in the front row the same thing.

"We have a month and a half left (before the election). If you want to play at politics - go on play at politics (at your own risk)."

Yanukovich's caustic remarks appeared to reflect some unease over how his Party of Regions may perform in the October election given his government's unpopularity over tax and pension reform.

Despite a united opposition bringing together the main opposition parties, including Batkivshchyna of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, experts predict Yanukovich's allies will hold on to their majority in the 450-seat parliament.

Poroshenko, a billionaire businessman whose assets include chocolate factories and a major television station and who was named economy minister in March, was reported by Interfax news agency as replying to Yanukovich: "Alright then, thank you. We'll do it without your help."

The online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda quoted Poroshenko as telling journalists in theBlack Sea resort of Yalta on Friday that the comment had not been personally directed at him alone.

"It was addressed to everyone who was on the front row. I was standing at the tribune at the time ...," he said. (Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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