Ukraine's acting prime minister to enter talks on forming new government

Ukraine's newly appointed Acting Prime Minister Yury Yekhanurov, planned to delve straight into talks Friday with party leaders, aimed at putting together another broad-based Cabinet to replace the dismissed Orange Revolution team.

His charismatic predecessor, meanwhile, kept the country guessing about whether she would now move into opposition against President Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko dismissed Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's government on Thursday, tossing out of office the heroine of the Orange Revolution that swept him to power. He also accepted the resignation of one of the movement's top financial backers, Petro Poroshenko.

The breakup, amid allegations of corruption, deepens a crisis that has cut into the popularity of Yushchenko and left him looking isolated, especially in contrast to the broad coalition that joined in last year's mass protests, which many Ukrainians saw as a new start for their nation.

"Independence Square betrayed," declared the daily newspaper, Kievskiye Vedomosti, while the newspaper Den pronounced: "Burying the Revolution."

Tymoshenko so far has been reticent, but some of her allies have called Yushchenko's move a betrayal of his revolutionary comrade, who did more than any of his other allies to persuade protesters to come out the street last year and then stay until the opposition triumphed. Radio call-in shows Friday morning were bursting with support for Tymoshenko.

"Yushchenko the president is Tymoshenko's creature. He betrayed her, and, thus, showed himself as a shortsighted politician," said Irina Shvets, a doctor. "Why sack the whole Cabinet if the conflict is between Tymoshenko and Poroshenko only? And how could (Yushchenko) put on the same level the real leader and a businessman who lost all sense of proportion?"

Relations between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, however, had long ago turned tetchy, with Yushchenko repeatedly scolding Tymoshenko for interfering too much in the free market system.

The latest criticism came just last month when the president blamed the government for its handling of the re-nationalization of one of the world's biggest Ferroalloy plants, Nikopol, suggesting his Cabinet had become embroiled in a dispute between two financial groups and giving the appearance that it was handing control from one business group to another. Tymoshenko insisted that she'd done nothing wrong.

If she decides to move into the opposition, she will become a strong challenger to the president, particularly before March parliamentary elections, according to AP.

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