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Ukrainian Leader Fires Cabinet As Reform Coalition Crumbles<P>By Steven Lee Myers THE NEW YORK TIMES <P>KIEV, UKRAINE <P>

Ukrainian Leader Fires Cabinet
As Reform Coalition Crumbles

By Steven Lee Myers


President Victor A. Yushchenko dismissed his prime minister and the rest of the Cabinet on Thursday as internal divisions and accusations of corruption splintered the political coalition that led last year’s popular uprising against his autocratic predecessor.

Facing a widening scandal, Yushchenko replaced the prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, a populist reformer whose fiery oratory drove what became known as the “Orange Revolution” but whose leadership proved divisive and debilitating in government.

In somber remarks broadcast on national television, Yuschenko said he had acted to end internal struggles for power among those who rallied tens of thousands of people in protests that ultimately overturned a fraudulent presidential election last fall.

He described his decision as a reluctant, though necessary one, saying that as president he “should not baby-sit” his squabbling aides.

“Ukraine was losing momentum, including economic pace,” he said in his remarks, as transcribed and translated by the BBC. “I think members of my team listened to the president but did not hear him. And Thursday I have cut the Gordian knot, however difficult it may be.”

Barely seven months after his inauguration promised a newly transparent and democratic era, Yushchenko found himself facing a political crisis that threatened to undermine the heady ideals of last fall’s uprising. His closest aides were not only deeply divided, but also faced accusations of the sort that dogged his predecessor, Leonid D. Kuchma.

Last Saturday, Oleksander O. Zinchenko, Yushchenko’s former campaign manager, resigned as chief of staff and later accused the administration of being “even worse” that Kuchma’s. That thrust into public internal divisions that have simmered for months, hindering the government’s work.

On Thursday, almost immediately after Tymoshenko was dismissed, one of her strongest allies, the chairman of the Ukrainian Security Services, Olexsander V. Turchinov, who was not dismissed, resigned in protest almost immediately after she was dismissed, deepening the split among Yushchenko’s supporters. He warned that the president’s decision “threatened the national security of Ukraine,” the security services’ spokeswoman said in a telephone interview, citing his resignation letter.