Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday visited the hostile Donetsk region, the country's coal-mining center, to mark a holiday for miners.
The visit came days after reform-oriented President Viktor Yushchenko announced his plans to reshape the country's coal industry, which is plagued by lack of funds and widespread accidents. Nearly 4,300 workers have died in Ukraine's mines since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Tymoshenko visited Donetsk eight months ago in an attempt to persuade local voters to support Yushchenko in the presidential election, but she was met with hostility, the AP reports.
The Russian-speaking region overwhelmingly supported Yushchenko's rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who advocated closer ties with Moscow.