January 1, 2005

Yanukovych Vows To Fight On Despite Resignation

Viktor Yanukovych vowed to fight on for the Ukrainian presidency despite his resignation as Prime Minister this week, claiming that although he doesn't have much hope of reversing the election, he won't stop trying:

Viktor Yanukovych vowed to fight on for Ukraine's presidency, despite handing the opposition of this ex-Soviet Republic a begrudging victory by announcing his resignation as prime minister. ...

The pro-Russian Yanukovych announced his resignation as prime minister on Friday in a televised address, his first significant concession since losing Sunday's vote, but said he will maintain his claim to the presidency.

"I have made the decision to submit my formal resignation," Yanukovych told the nation.

"We are still fighting, but I don't have much hope," he said. "I will act as an independent politician, as the rightful winner of the legitimate Nov. 21 election."

Some speculate that the real reason Yanukovych resigned now is to avoid having to submit his resignation to President-elect Viktor Yushchenko after he gets sworn into office next month. He prefers to give his resignation to Leonid Kuchma, who told Ukraine in a televised speech that the nation must support the new president:

Later Friday, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma told the nation in a separate televised address that "in 2005, there will be a new president. Every region and every citizen of Ukraine must accept this democratic choice as their own because this person will need your support."

Kuchma didn't mention Yanukovych's resignation in his speech.

The resignation automatically resulted in the dismissal of the Cabinet. Kuchma could now appoint a caretaker government -- in fact, Ukraine law dictates that he has to do so within 60 days, but that's well after Yushchenko will take office. Kuchma doesn't appear to have much stomach anymore to hold back the Orange Revolution, and even if he did, Yushchenko's ability to call out hundreds of thousands to the streets and bring the government to a standstill essentially checkmates Kuchma and his interests. Kuchma has shown that he has one essential quality of successful Western politicians after all: pragmatism.


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