* Resignation comes day after Azarov re-appointed
* Khoroshkovsky is influential oligarch
* Move points to divisions among supporters of Yanukovich
KIEV, Dec 14 Ukraine's acting First Deputy Prime
Minister Valery Khoroshkovsky resigned from the interim
government on Friday in protest at Prime Minister Mykola
Azarov's reappointment for a second term, his office said.
In a move that could indicate a rift among President Viktor
Yanukovich's supporters, Khoroshkovsky blasted Azarov who was
reappointed by parliament on Thursday amid an outcry from the
"Valery Khoroshkovsky considers this candidate (Azarov)
incapable of carrying out economic reforms and defending our
country's strategic course for European integration," his office
said in a statement.
One of Azarov's early tasks will be to help negotiate a new
stand-by programme from the International Monetary Fund. The
current $15 billion package, which lapses at the end of the
year, was in any case suspended in early 2011 largely because of
Azarov's refusal to meet reforms requested by the Fund.
The unusually forthright comment by Khoroshkovsky, a wealthy
and influential 43-year-old businessman with large stakes in
media and metals, suggested he did not see Azarov as the person
who could deliver on a deal with the Fund.
"I think (Khoroshkovsky's resignation) reveals deep
divisions within the Regions camp, and suggests the ruling
coalition could be fraught and more unstable than perhaps
assumed," Standard Bank analyst Timothy Ash said in a note.
"I guess Khoroshkovsky, an oligarch in his own right, was
hoping to get a more prominent reform position, and I think this
suggest that he thinks Azarov is not capable of pushing an IMF
All government members, including Khoroshkovsky, have been
working in an interim capacity following the formal resignation
of the Azarov government on Dec. 3 following a parliamentary
Azarov has yet to announce the line-up of his new cabinet.
The cabinet's press service said on Friday Khoroshkovsky had
been informed he would not be reappointed.
"Khoroshkovsky had hoped Azarov would fail to secure
parliament's approval, making him (Khoroshkovsky) acting prime
minister," political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said.
"He could also be playing a game where he pretends to be
joining the ranks of (anti-Yanukovich) opposition in order to
weaken the opposition before the presidential election" by
draining support from anyone who tries to challenge Yanukovich.
Yanukovich has indicated he would seek a second five-year
term in office in 2015. It is not clear who of the opposition
politicians would challenge him.
Khoroshkovsky, an image-conscious fitness freak, served as
head of the SBU state security service before being appointed
No. 2 to Azarov and has also held the posts of finance minister,
economy minister and head of the customs service in the past.
Analysts say he is close to Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's
major industrialists with interests in energy and chemicals who
contributed to Yanukovich's 2010 presidential campaign.