Ukraine: Where Will the Battle of the Viktors Be Resolved?

Ukraine: Where Will the Battle of the Viktors Be Resolved?

There are two men named Viktor vying for control in Ukraine. The first, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, came to power in January 2005, riding high on a wave of orange-clad supporters during the aptly named Orange Revolution. The second, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, drowned in that sea of orange. Or at least many thought he did.

Today, Yanukovych has consolidated his power and has once again become a relevant challenger to Yushchenko. Ironically, it was Yushchenko who approved Yanukovych as prime minister in August 2006 -- but not without leaving a trail of political landmines that are exploding today.

At the time of Yanukovych's appointment, Yushchenko had already been dealing with a broken government. On September 8, 2005, Yushchenko dismissed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her cabinet amid accusations of corruption. In response, Tymoshenko, who had formed a solid partnership with Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution, declared that she would no longer support Yushchenko and that she would start her own voting bloc. That decision split the majority, giving Yanukovych's party a second chance, which it seized during the March 2006 parliamentary elections. After Yanukovych's party emerged with a plurality in the general election, Yushchenko and Yanukovych embarked on a four-month impasse. It finally ended in August when Yushchenko approved Yanukovych as prime minister, much to the dismay of supporters of the Orange Revolution.

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