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Ukrainian president appoints new chief of staff


KIEV, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko appointed the governor of the Kiev Region, Vera Ulyanchenko, as his new chief of staff on Tuesday, the president's website said.

Viktor Baloga, who had been Yushchenko's chief of staff since September 2006, resigned earlier in day in protest at the president's plans to run for reelection.

Ulyanchenko, 51, has been an ally of Yushchenko since 2000 and was elected head of the political council of the president's Our Ukraine party on Saturday. She was appointed as the Kiev Region governor in July 2006.

Baloga, who is believed to have founded the United Center party to replace Our Ukraine, which is reportedly on the verge of dissolution, said Yushchenko had "no moral right to stand in the presidential elections."

"In any case, I will not be your associate in this," Baloga was quoted by the party's press service as saying. Yushchenko said however he saw no "tragedy" in the move.

Yushchenko's approval rating is currently in single figures and his chief ally in the so-called Orange Revolution, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is now his archrival.

She is likely to run in the presidential elections, expected to take place in late 2009 or early 2010, as is the pro-Russian leader of the Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovych.

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