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Ukraine parliament forces out PM Tymoshenko

The Ukraine parliament voted to dismiss Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko Wednesday, four years after she led the Orange Revolution and just weeks after her narrow presidential loss to pro-Russian rival Viktor Yanukovich.

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Members of Yanukovich's Party of Regions say there may be further tribulations in store for Tymoshenko, and hint that she may even be put on trial for alleged misdeeds during her tenure as prime minister.

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"Tymoshenko was acting outside the framework of the law, and she has been trying to cover up the traces," says Vadim Kolesnichenko, a parliamentary deputy with the Party of Regions and close advisor to Yanukovich. "We want an international audit to investigate what she did with the loans Ukraine received, and what happened to the country's currency reserves. There are quite a few problems that [Tymoshenko's] government concealed from parliament," he says.

Over the past 18 months Ukraine, a France-sized nation of 46-million, has been hit by an economic tsunami and seen its gross domestic product sink by 15 percent. The International Monetary Fund extended an emergency credit of $16.4 billion to Tymoshenko's government last year, but later suspended it over Ukraine's failure to abide by terms of the loan.

Yanukovich, a lackluster former governor of the coal-mining region of Donetsk, is considered by many experts to be a reasonably competent economic manager who will have to make major compromises with Ukraine's diverse political forces if he hopes to achieve stability.

"Everyone will have to come together and mount a major struggle against this economic crisis. Ukraine is facing an awful choice between default or hyperinflation," says Vadim Karasyov, director of the independent Institute of Global Strategies in Kiev. "A parliamentary coalition will have to be put together, by hook or by crook, to back the necessary measures," he says.

If no pro-Yanukovich coalition can be assembled from the Supreme Assembly's (Verkhovna Rada) fractious deputies within 30 days, Ukraine's Constitution stipulates that fresh parliamentary elections will have to be called. That could continue Ukraine's stormy politics for months to come.

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