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    06 March 2021 Saturday

    Yushchenko says parliament destabilizes Ukraine

    President Viktor Yushchenko accused Ukraine's parliament on Wednesday of destabilizing the country by sacking his government, a move that sent the local currency tumbling to its lowest in nine months.
    The vote was led by opposition MPs who analysts said were using anger over a costly gas deal last week with Russia to undermine Yushchenko's supporters ahead of a March 26 parliamentary election.

    "Yesterday's decision was incomprehensible, illogical and wrong," Yushchenko told reporters in the Kazakh capital Astana. "It simply serves to destabilize the situation."

    However, he added: "I don't see this as a tragedy. It's an experience that will increase the quality of Ukrainian politics."

    Financial markets were less sanguine and the normally tightly controlled hryvnia currency dropped to its lowest level since April 2005 to 5.09/5.0965 per dollar by midday from 5.075/5.0875 at the opening.

    "We are all bewildered," one currency dealer said. "There has been no central bank in the market for two days as (dollar) demand has been rising. The market has started to panic."

    The central bank did eventually step in to calm things, saying it would take any bids at 5.06 hryvnias to the dollar. Both the currency and stocks recovered some of their losses.

    Standard & Poor's agency also affirmed its sovereign credit ratings on Ukraine, saying that despite relatively bleak economic prospects, low debt levels gave the government flexibility with its budget.


    Yushchenko met Vladimir Putin for the first time since the Russian president ordered gas taps to be turned off to his ex-Soviet neighbor at the new year in a bitter dispute over prices that briefly disrupted supplies to the rest of Europe.

    Last week, Moscow and Kiev finally agreed a new contract under which Ukraine would pay nearly twice as much for its gas.

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