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Ukraine's new Cabinet to start work on Wednesday

 Ukraine's new Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Tuesday her government would hold its first session on Wednesday, focusing on the national budget.

Ukraine's parliament approved the outspoken pro-Western coalition leader's return as premier earlier on Tuesday and backed the new government later in the day. Tymoshenko received the required minimum of 226 votes in support of her nomination. The rival parties did not take part in the vote.

Tymoshenko said the new Cabinet's first task would be to prepare a new budget by New Year. "The new government's first steps in the remaining few days will be to determine our financial resources, amend the budget, and submit it to parliament for approval."

Tymoshenko also said Ukraine would stick to its commitments to transit Russian natural gas to Europe, but would urge for talks with Moscow to remove intermediary companies from the gas market, in reference to RosUkrEnergo, the sole supplier of Russian gas to the country, which is 50% owned by Russia's Gazprom.

"There is [Ukraine's national oil and gas company] Naftogaz and there is Gazprom, and there are the governments of Russia and Ukraine. Intermediaries are not needed on the gas market," she said.

Former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, the president and Tymoshenko's longtime rival, has agreed gas prices for next year with Russia at $179.5 per 1,000 cu m, 38% more than the current $130.

Candidacies for all Cabinet portfolios, except for defense and foreign ministers, were proposed by Tymoshenko. The latter two candidates were nominated by President Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko's ally in the 2004 mass protests that brought him to power, Tymoshenko was sacked by the president after less than eight months in the post in 2005 amid a series of scandals. The two reconciled their differences in the run-up to the early parliamentary elections in September.

Tymoshenko failed by a single vote to receive backing for her appointment in the 450-seat Supreme Rada twice on December 11.

RIAN Novosti

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