Ukraine's pro-Russian parties have formed a new governing coalition in a stunning move that promises to slow the pro-Western course taken by the ex-Soviet nation after the "orange revolution."
Ukraine's orange revolution seems to have lost its momentum
In front of reporters in parliament, the Regions Party and the Communists signed a coalition agreement with the Socialists, who in a surprise move had defected from the pro-Western "orange" camp the previous day. The coalition said it was open to other parties.
"We're not closing the doors," said Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of Regions. "They are open for other parties or groups of deputies."
The trio, which controls 240 seats in the 450-member Upper Rada legislature, said it would nominate as its prime minister Yanukovych, who lost the bitterly-contested "orange revolution" election contest to President Viktor Yushchenko in late 2004.
An election poster of Yanukovych
The coalition said it would forward Yanukovych's nomination to the president later on Friday, after which Yushchenko will have 15 days to submit it to parliament for confirmation, and would move quickly to form a new cabinet.
It was not clear whether Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party would join the new union to form a so-called "wide coalition" that would unite both pro-Western and pro-Russian forces.
Slowing NATO, but not EU membership
Pro-Western Yushchenko is not ruling out a coalition with his former rival
Analysts say a wide coalition would slow Kiev's aim to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but would not affect the drive toward membership of the European Union (EU) and would provide stability to push through economic reforms.
In a televised interview, Yushchenko said that he did not see Our Ukraine in the role of the opposition, saying its absence from power would "lead to a serious revision of policies."
In earlier remarks to reporters, Yushchenko said a wide coalition would be the best option, but admitted that a new majority could exclude his party.
"It's not out of the question that we could have a situation where the courses of the president and the parliamentary majority differ," a gloomy Yushchenko told reporters. "I would really like to avoid such a scenario."
Tymoshenko won't cooperate
Tymoshenko would rather see new elections
The third member of the "orange" coalition, Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc, has ruled out joining a coalition that includes Regions, warning that it would lead to a return of the widespread corruption that marked the regime swept aside by the "orange revolution."
"A wide coalition is a wide grave for democracy and Ukraine's sovereignty," she said in a late-night political talk show. "We will either be in opposition or, if the constitution allows... we'll support the holding of new elections."
Yushchenko warned that if a new government is not formed by the end of July he could dissolve government and call new elections.
The March 26 parliamentary election did not hand any one party enough seats in the legislature to form a government alone. At present, Regions has 186 seats, Tymoshenko's bloc 129 seats, Our Ukraine 81 seats, the Socialists 33 seats and the Communists 21 seats.
On the anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939, DW spoke with English historian Antony Beevor. He explains Hitler and Stalin's impact on the individual, the global nature of the war, and the morality debate.
On September 1, 1939, the Wehrmacht invaded neighboring Poland without warning. Hitler had been planning the Blitzkrieg since 1933. DW takes a look at the events leading up to WWII.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is to address parliament to explain a decision to supply German weapons to Kurdish forces fighting "IS" militants in Iraq. The decision marks a major policy shift and is not universally popular.
In this week's show: A sampling of the sounds from Richard Strauss' operas, performed in the city in which many of them had their premieres by the Dresden Staatskapelle under Christian Thielemann.