Is this the beginning of the end for democracy in the Ukraine?

This is a personal view – and I’m reading between the lines here and want more facts – but the report below about the impending collapse of the government in Ukraine looks to me like a power display by pro-Russian forces within the current Ukranian government, flexing their muscles just prior to a visit by Dick Cheney (who is due here on Thursday). We have to see this situation as “six of one and half a dozen of the other.” I don’t blame Russia for disliking American influence in this area. I don’t blame America for wanting to perpetuate democracy in former Soviet states. However I really do feel that America is playing a very dangerous game.
Those vodka-drinking Ukranians. Those nuclear weapons.

This report is by the BBC at mid-day today. Untoned and cool. Not like my comments.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has threatened to dissolve parliament and call elections after the collapse of the country’s ruling coalition.

Mr Yushchenko’s supporters walked out in protest following new laws trimming the president’s powers.

The laws were introduced by the pro-Russian opposition and backed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party.

Former allies, the prime minister and president are now at odds despite sharing pro-Western political goals.

All but one of 12 ministers from Mr Yushchenko’s party boycotted Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

“A political and constitutional coup d’etat has started in the parliament,” Mr Yushchenko said in a televised speech.

“I will use my right to dissolve parliament and decree early elections if a new coalition is not formed within 30 days,” he said.

But Ms Tymoshenko blamed her rival for the chaos, vowing that the Ukrainian cabinet would continue its work despite the break-up of the coalition.

“I am sorry that the president behaves irresponsibly,” she said at a cabinet meeting. “The coalition was destroyed under his instruction.”

The BBC’s Russian affairs analyst Steven Eke says Mr Yushchenko’s popularity is at rock bottom at the moment with opinion polls giving him single-digit levels of support.

The prime minister and president are believed to be jockeying for position before next year’s presidential election, though our correspondent says Mr Yushchenko’s chances of winning with current popularity levels would be slim.

The crisis follows mounting tension between the president and prime minister with Mr Yushchenko accusing Ms Tymoshenko of treason for allegedly siding with Moscow over the conflict in Georgia.

Mr Yushchenko has been a vociferous supporter of Georgia during the conflict but the prime minister’s party on Tuesday blocked a parliamentary resolution condemning Moscow.

The flare-up comes a day before a planned visit to the country by US Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The trip is part of a tour of former Soviet states which the US sees as key allies.

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