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    Ukraine's president blames conflict on prime minister - 1

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    Ukraine's president confirmed Thursday that there is a growing conflict between him and the governing coalition led by the pro-Russian prime minister, and blamed the situation on the premier.

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    KIEV, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's president confirmed Thursday that there is a growing conflict between him and the governing coalition led by the pro-Russian prime minister, and blamed the situation on the premier.

    The power struggle between Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, who he defeated two years ago in presidential polls but appointed premier in August, has intensified in recent weeks, with parliament's sacking of president-appointed Cabinet ministers.

    Viktor Yushchenko told a news conference, "I agree that relations between the president and the premier are becoming more and more strained on a number of issues. I want to stress that I am not the author of these conflicts."

    As of January 1, 2006, Ukraine shifted from a presidential-parliamentary to a parliamentary-presidential form of governance, after amendments adopted by the Supreme Rada in December 2004 came into force. As a result, some presidential powers were transferred to the country's parliament and to the Cabinet.

    In late November, Yushchenko said the Constitution needed amending.

    "I am convinced that presidential powers should be enhanced. They demand a greater balance, especially in relations with the government," he told three leading Ukrainian television channels.

    Ukraine's parliament voted in early December to sack Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, a key supporter of the president, on a request from Yanukovych.

    However, the president signed a decree ordering the minister remain in his post.

    He said at the time that Tarasyuk's dismissal is the result of the recent constitutional reforms transferring presidential powers to parliament and the government.

    "Parliamentary powers have expanded somewhat. We are now at a stage where these relations have not yet been clearly formulated, so there are attempts to play on somebody else's turf," he said. "That is the only explanation I can offer for the attempts to fire some Cabinet ministers."

    Under Ukrainian law, the president appoints the ministers of foreign affairs and defense.

    The motion to fire Tarasyuk was passed by the 450-assembly with 247 votes in favor, well clear of the necessary 226 votes.

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