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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Kiev crisis delayed not solved
By Helen Fawkes
BBC News, Kiev

Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych on Sunday 27 May 2006
The pair finally came to a deal after long negotiations
The blue flags are being rolled up and the tents packed away.

Hundreds of supporters of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who have lived in protest campsites in the capital since the start of the political crisis last month, are getting ready to go home.

And President Viktor Yushchenko has declared that the crisis is over.

But the streets are not expected to be free of political campaigning for long.

Hostile parliament

The president and the prime minister agreed that an early parliamentary ballot should be held in Ukraine in September.

The compromise, which was reached in the early hours of Sunday morning, brought an end to the deadlock.

However, the deal is dependant on Ukraine's parliament, which is hostile to President Yushchenko.

MPs have to pass a series of laws in the next few days to enable the snap election to take place.

Party of the Regions supporter in Kiev 26 May 2007
Pro-Yanukovych supporters had camped out in Kiev

"If may be too early to celebrate just yet," Yevhen Fedchenko, a Ukrainian political analyst says.

"Tactically it was a good agreement, but we now have to see if everyone sticks to it and that could be the hardest part," he says.

If elections do go ahead, the party of the prime minister is expected to win the largest share of the vote - but not enough for an outright majority.

In other words, Ukraine's parliament will not look too much different to the current set-up.

Coalition questions

But there is speculation that the prime minister's party, the Party of the Regions, may split as a result of internal divisions which were exposed by the prolonged crisis.

It is currently the biggest party in the governing coalition, which includes the Communists and the Socialists.

Now there is speculation that the Party of the Regions may instead form a coalition with the president's Our Ukraine party, after the election.

It's not definite that Viktor Yanukovych will be chosen to be prime minister again
Mychailo Wynnyckyj, sociology professor

The conflict has helped to save the career of Viktor Yushchenko, who had been looking politically weakened.

He was on the verge of losing almost all his power when he dissolved parliament in April.

Now his popularity ratings have improved and he appears almost invigorated.

The future is not so certain for the prime minister.

"It's not definite that Viktor Yanukovych will be chosen to be prime minister again. It all depends on the billionaire business leader who is the real driving force in the party; he may decide it's time for a change," says Mychailo Wynnyckyj, professor of sociology at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev.

Yushchenko and Yanukovych supporters in Kiev, 26 May 2007
There were fears the crisis could spill into violence

The snap election has been set for 30 September.

The president wanted it held before August but the prime minister had long argued for an autumn ballot.

By the time the polls open, Ukrainians will be enjoying increases to state pensions and other social benefits introduced by his government, and likely to be popular in what is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

'It's a mess'

The deal which broke the deadlock will not necessarily mean an end to political instability in Ukraine.

It is more like a temporary truce in the bitter battle for power between the president, who wants closer ties to Europe, and the prime minister, who is seen as more pro-Russian.

Ukrainians tend to vote according to their home region and there is a fundamental East-West split.

The mainly Russian-speaking people from the industrial east tend to support the party of the prime minister, while in the Western half of the country closest to the EU, people usually back the president and the parties of his allies.

"We will have one political crisis after another. There's likely to be an election almost every year in Ukraine for the next ten years," Mychailo Wynnyckyj, professor of sociology at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, predicts.

"Politically it's a mess. But as long as the economy continues to grow at the rate it has been, it won't be a significant problem for our country," he says.


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