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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS ALLY'S DEFECTION TO RULING COALITION AS 'MORALLY SHAMEFUL.' President Viktor Yushchenko said on March 21 that the desertion of Anatoliy Kinakh from the Our Ukraine bloc and his acceptance of the post of economy minister in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 21, 2007) is "morally shameful," Ukrainian media reported. "This recruitment is disliked by everybody. It is a dishonest act in politics," Yushchenko added. Kinakh, who backed Yushchenko in the 2004 Orange Revolution, served as economy minister in the post-Orange Revolution cabinet of Yuliya Tymoshenko and was subsequently appointed by Yushchenko as head of the National Security and Defense Council. On March 22, eight lawmakers from the Kinakh-led Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs are to decide whether to leave the opposition and join the ruling majority of the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party. There are fears within the propresidential Our Ukraine bloc that the defection of Kinakh may signal the beginning of a mass exodus of lawmakers from the ranks of the opposition. Prime Minister Yanukovych said on March 21 that he intends to expand the number of his supporters in parliament by founding "a qualitatively new national unity coalition." Currently the ruling coalition, which is also called the anticrisis coalition, has 238 deputies in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada. JM

"RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report" is compiled on the basis of a variety of sources.

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