Tymoshenko named as new Ukraine prime minister
Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko named his fiery, populist ally as prime minister Monday during a visit to Moscow, a move that upstaged his fence-mending meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yushchenko and Putin emerged from nearly three hours of talks looking more stern and reserved than when they started. Although Russia wants Ukraine to move forward on an economic plan to further unite the two neighbors, Yushchenko says any such plan must meet Kiev's national interests and not close it off to other markets, such as Europe.
Yushchenko made Russia his first foreign visit as president, an acknowledgment of Moscow's close, historic ties to Ukraine as well as the Kremlin's role as top trading partner and investor. He also needed to smooth relations after Putin's overt support for Yushchenko's rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Following their meeting, Putin and Yushchenko tried to stress the positive, with Putin thanking Yushchenko for his "constructive approach."
During a news conference later, Yushchenko reiterated his intention to improve relations with Moscow. Cited by the AP, he said, "My aim was very simple. I wanted to make our relations better. I want to make them more sincere, more transparent.
"We have not had enough sincerity or trust in our relations."
However, during their meeting, Yushchenko's office announced in Kiev that Yulia Tymoshenko, aged 44, would be the next prime minister — a troubling choice for Russia.