Cabinet Cracking Up

Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday voted to sack prime minister Yuri Yekhanurov's government over a controversial gas deal with Russia.

A no-confidence motion was backed by 250 deputies in the 450-seat parliament, angry over the deal with Moscow which will force Ukraine to pay nearly twice as much for its gas imports this year.

Yekhanurov will remain as acting prime minister until president Viktor Yushchenko names a new premier. Ukraine is due to hold a parliamentary polls in March.

Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, sacked by Yushchenko last September after the partnership that swept them to power in Ukraine's Orange Revolution turned sour, was the driving force behind the no-confidence vote.

Tymoshenko is competing against Yushchenko's allies in the March 26 parliamentary polls, and has seized every opportunity to criticise the government of technocrat Yekhanurov which replaced her.

She has vowed to fight the five-year gas deal signed by Moscow and Kiev last Thursday. Tymoshenko joined forces with opposition parties representing the pro-Moscow administration ousted at the end of 2004 in the binding no-confidence vote, which required a simple majority.


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