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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Parliament Confirms New PM

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KIEV — Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday narrowly approved business lobbyist Anatoly Kinakh as the country's new prime minister, signaling a possible end to a long government crisis.

The Verkhovna Rada voted 239-2 with 12 abstentions to approve Kinakh, the nominee of President Leonid Kuchma. Kinakh, who heads Ukraine's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and a similarly named party, needed at least 226 votes in the 450-member parliament.

His chances for approval appeared uncertain until the very last minute, with several factions refusing to support him.

The Communists, who control the largest faction, either voted against Kinakh or did not vote at all, as did the centrist opposition and nationalist groups — accounting for the lopsided vote. This could spell trouble for Kinakh in future dealings with parliament.

Kinakh, 46, a former maritime engineer who served as deputy prime minister in charge of industrial policy in 1995-96, will assume his new post after Kuchma signs a corresponding decree.

Kinakh now faces the difficult task of forming a new Cabinet, and he will have to take into account the interests of both the factions that supported him and his powerful foes.

In an address to parliament Tuesday, Kinakh promised to foster close cooperation with legislators and regional authorities, whom the previous government had allegedly alienated. He also said Ukraine's relations with such organizations as the International Monetary Fund could be reviewed — an apparent attempt to appease Communists and their allies, who consider the IMF an instrument of Western pressure on the country.

These relations "should be based on mutually beneficial ties and equal rights and exclude any attempts of force pressure or dictate," Kinakh said.

Late last month, the Communists and pro-Kuchma centrists in parliament teamed up to sack Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko and his government, credited with achieving the first signs of economic growth in Ukraine after nearly a decade of post-Soviet economic decline.

Kinakh has pledged to continue reforms and promote Ukraine's economic integration in Europe and the world

Speaking to trade union leaders Monday, Kinakh promised to make "the very difficult economic reforms" easier for Ukrainians, but without veering to "social populism." He said increasing salaries and the fight against poverty would be his top priorities.