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Ukraine lawmakers approve prime minister
Updated: 2005-02-04 21:30

Parliament on Friday unanimously approved Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister to lead Ukraine's new, Western-oriented government.

The fiery ally of new President Viktor Yushchenko was approved by a vote of 373-0, far above the 226 votes she needed.

Tymoshenko smiled broadly after the vote, and lawmakers burst into a round of applause. Then she walked over and hugged Yushchenko, who came to the chamber to personally ask lawmakers to support his choice for Ukraine's No. 2 job.

"I trust her to organize the work of the government," Yushchenko told legislators before the vote, which had been delayed a day by political horse-trading over other top positions in the new government.

"Millions of people on Independence Square put their faith in her, in us," he said, referring to Tymoshenko's key role in the mass protests that helped usher the opposition to power in this ex-Soviet republic.

Yushchenko called Tymoshenko "my political partner, my political friend."

Before the vote on her nomination, Tymoshenko laid out the broad goals of her government's program. Emphasizing the importance of "justice" in every aspect of Ukrainian life, Tymoshenko called for raising living standards, fighting corruption and separating business from power.

"The dark doors to the government will be closed," she said.

Tymoshenko was a widely popular figure during the mass protests that broke out following the Nov. 21 election in which former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner. The Supreme Court ruled that vote fraudulent and Yushchenko won the Dec. 26 court-ordered revote.

She is not well-liked, however, in Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking east, which supported Yanukovych.

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