During discussions following the March 2006 VR elections, Yanukovych was prepared to forgo the position of PM and accept the VR speaker's chair.
"I agreed at first to stand for election as head of the VR, I understood that president Yushchenko does not want me to be PM." said Yanukovych in an ICTV interview today.
"And in order to stabilise the situation and somehow unite the people and Ukraine, I convinced my friends, party colleagues and fractions during complex discussions, that we have to go for this. And by force I achieved agreement, as they say, on the fringes of what was possible."
At the same time, the president's side did not take advantage of this. "Probably not him [the president] but his colleagues from NU," said Yanukovych, adding, "at that time this alternative would have been good for them, an acceptible alternative, the PM would have been Yuriy Ivanovych Yekhanurov. We agreed with his candidature, we had, and still have a good relationship with him."
LEvko assumes that the cabinet ministers appointed at the prerogative of the president, including the ministers of foreign affairs and defence, would have been in place too.
Yekhanurov had been president Yushchenko's chosen PM after he had dismissed Yuliya Tymoshenko in September 2005, when Yushchenko still possessed all the enhanced presidential powers passed on to him by Kuchma.
Bearing in mind that in the March 2006 elections 186 PoR deputies and only 81 NU deputies were elected to the VR, this was a 'cracking good' offer. It indicates how much PoR's backers were prepared to give away in order to have influence on government, and partly explains why they now have so little time for the president.
Yanukovych rather let himself down later in the interview when he said, "We will not permit people to stick pins into our wheels at various levels. We will knock off the arms of those who will do this...We are fighting for there to be order in the country."
He also suggested that there is a possibility that the next president may be elected by the VR.