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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawmakers Delay Tymoshenko Hearing

ReutersUkrainians rallying in support of Prime Minister-designate Yulia Tymoshenko outside the parliament building in Kiev on Thursday.
KIEV -- Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, postponed a confirmation hearing Thursday on Yulia Tymoshenko's nomination as prime minister, as behind-the-scenes negotiations continued over who would fill the Cabinet of President Viktor Yushchenko.

Adam Martinyk, deputy Rada speaker, said lawmakers would reconvene on Friday. He cited "heated consultations" as the cause of the delay, but did not elaborate.

Tymoshenko needs approval from a simple majority of 450 members of the Rada -- a proportion lawmakers said she should easily win.

The nomination vote had already been set back four hours after Yushchenko said he wanted to be present for the session.

Many lawmakers speculated that the real reason was the intense jockeying for positions in Yushchenko's Cabinet among the diverse political parties that made up his coalition. Yushchenko had promised to name his entire Cabinet after Tymoshenko was confirmed as prime minister.

Mykola Tomenko, a Yushchenko ally, said deputies from the Socialist Party were balking over the posts of the agriculture minister and several regional governors.

Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz backed Yushchenko last year in the runoff for the presidency in exchange for Yushchenko's acceptance of constitutional reforms that reduced presidential powers.

"The main thing ... should be that the people who stood together on Independence Square should live together," Tomenko said, referring to opposition leaders -- Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Moroz and others.

Tymoshenko said that if she is approved, Yushchenko will immediately sign an order naming his Cabinet.

On Wednesday, Tymoshenko sent lawmakers a broad outline of her government proposals. Among the proposals laid are ensuring free medical care, protecting intellectual property rights, converting the military to full contract service by 2010, reforming Ukraine's corrupt judicial system and changing the nation's image abroad.

The goals echo campaign promises that helped propel Yushchenko to victory in this country's most disruptive election campaign ever.

Tymoshenko said Ukrainians ought to see an improvement in the livelihoods if the country's economy experiences the same tremendous growth as it saw last year. Preliminary estimates show the country's gross domestic product jumped by 12.3 percent in 2004.

She also said the government would strive to "realize the European choice" -- a reference to Yushchenko's pledge to find a place for Ukraine in the EU. But she also called for "real and active dialogue" with Russia and deepening Ukraine's role as the main transit route for Russian gas to Western Europe.

Ukraine must "define the level of its cooperation" with the unified economic space that Russia is seeking to create with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the program says -- a significant step back from former President Leonid Kuchma's pledge to link up with the group.

It also notes that Ukraine should deepen its integration with Western organizations and continue to participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, but makes no mention of seeking membership in the military alliance.

Tymoshenko became a heroine of mass protests against a fraudulent Nov. 21 election. Yushchenko won the Dec. 26 court-ordered revote.