February 22, 2010 / 8:35 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Ukraine's Tymoshenko rules out deal with Yanukovich

* Tymoshenko repeats fraud charges against Yanukovich

* Rules out post-election deal with him

* Her attacks raise tension as his inauguration nears (Writes through with new Tymoshenko quotes)

By Natalya Zinets and Sabina Zawadzki

KIEV, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Monday renewed her attacks on President-elect Viktor Yanukovich, whom she accuses of winning election through fraud, and rejected any post-election deal with him.

In a televised statement she accused her rival of already beginning to sell off Ukraine’s gas pipeline network — a sensitive issue since it touches on relations with Russia — and predicted he would not stay in power for long.

The sharp attack by the fiery 49-year-old premier, who on Saturday dropped her legal challenge to Yanukovich’s election, significantly raised political tensions before his inauguration on Thursday.

“Yanukovich, who came to power by lies, is not our president and he will not last long,” she told a televised broadcast. “I want to say that I would not, under any circumstances, create a coalition together with Yanukovich,” she declared.

Yanukovich, a 59-year-old ex-mechanic who is backed by wealthy industrialists in eastern Ukraine, beat Tymoshenko by a narrow margin of 3.5 percentage points in the Feb. 7 runoff.

She says she was robbed of victory by electoral fraud, but at the weekend she withdrew an attempt to get a high court to give the go-ahead for another vote. She said she could not trust it to fairly consider the evidence.

Yanukovich is set to be sworn in to office on Feb. 25 and now has to steel himself to working with Tymoshenko — albeit for only a short period — until he can force her out by forging a new coalition in parliament.

Delays in ending Ukraine’s long political turmoil and bringing a measure of stability to the power structure will only continue to deter much-needed investment for the struggling economy.

The ex-Soviet state of 46 million has been kept afloat by an International Monetary Fund bail-out programme of $16.4 billion, but this has been suspended because of paralysis in decision-making and breached promises.

The IMF has said it will resume the programme once stability has returned to government.

The Yanukovich camp is pressing ahead with trying to strike a deal for a new coalition among the opportunistic deputies in parliament which can involve long and tricky horse-trading.

If he fails to do this, he may be forced to call an early parliamentary election with unpredictable consequences.

Until then, he is doomed to share the higher echelons of power with a prime minister who does not regard him as legitimately elected.

FUTURE IN OPPOSITION?

Yanukovich is expected to tilt Ukraine back towards the old imperial master, Russia, after five years of estrangement under pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko. His first foreign visit after inauguration is expected to be to Moscow in early March.

One specific charge Tymoshenko levelled against him was that he had begun “selling off Ukrainian national interests in all directions”, including the privatisation of the gas network system.

Yanukovich has proposed creation of a consortium including Russia to run the country’s gas pipelines.

On Monday, she broached for the first time a possible future in opposition if Yanukovich managed to outflank her in parliament and form a new coalition bringing in defectors from among her erstwhile allies.

“If the patriotic forces, the democratic political parties in parliament sell out politically, then I will go into opposition to bring closer the time when our state returns to a civilised way of development,” she said.

Earlier on Monday, her camp said it wanted a quick parliamentary vote which she hopes will back her government before Yanukovich has time to muster support to bring it down.

The Regions Party faction of Yanukovich said on Friday it planned a vote of no-confidence in the government in early March after his inauguration. But Tymoshenko’s bloc said it had collected enough signatures to force the vote this week before his swearing-in.

Tymoshenko’s BYuT bloc appears to feel that the Yanukovich camp, which is busy preparing for the inauguration, will not have time to muster the necessary 226 votes for it to succeed this week.

Additional reporting by Yuri Kulikov Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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