Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko today named fiery former opposition leader &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2001/04/03/3277.html ' target=_blank>Yulia Timoshenko as his acting prime minister, his spokeswoman said.
Yushchenko signed the order before leaving on a one-day visit to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/ 21/93/374/14454_abkhazia.html ' target=_blank>Russia, Ukraine's largest trading partner and key energy supplier that has named Timoshenko a suspect in a criminal corruption investigation.
"Yulia Timoshenko has been named acting prime minister ... by a decree signed today," spokeswoman Olga Grishina said. "This means she will carry out the duties of the office until parliament examines her candidacy", reports Sydney Morning Herald.
Tymoshenko, with her trademark blond braid was Viktor Yushchenko's most visible ally in the "Orange Revolution" that paved the way for Yushchenko's victory in Ukraine's fiercely contested presidential race.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Tymoshenko said her first tasks as prime minister would include reviewing the national budget and restarting Ukraine's efforts to join the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/22/38517.html ' target=_blank>European Union.
Ukraine's new leadership cannot go into the EU integration processes "half-ready," she said. "It is a bilateral process and Ukraine cannot decide by itself when it will join the EU", writes the Seattle Post.