The Yushchenko-Tymoshenko 'Punch and Judy' show, played out in Davos, Brussels and Kyiv over the last days have diverted attention from internal problems inside Party of Regions in the eastern part of the country.
There have been rumblings of discontent in the party's ranks for many months. Broadly speaking, a rift has occurred between the pragmatic 'new Donetsiites' led by Ukraine's richest oligarch - Rinat Akhmetov, his trusty associate Boris Kolesnikov, [both or whom have become close to president Yushchenko and his secretariat, as indicated by Raisa Bohatyryova's acceptance of the NSDC secretary's position], and the 'old' Donetskites, led by the likes of Yanukovych and Mykola Azarov.
'Novosti' in an article entitled: "The split in PoR will end in its downfall", describes how since 2004 Yanukovych has been diversifying his business interests away from under the wing of Akhmetov. Akhmetov no longer requires political protection from Yanukovych, having received assurances from the president himself of the inviolability of his business empire.
In order for Yanukovych to maintain his electorate in Donbas in any presidential election, he has to distance himself from Akhmetov, because the latter has just become too close to the president's camp.
The article claims Akhmetov and Tymoshenko met immediately after she was designated new premier, and concludes: "How and on what conditions, the Donetsk oligarch will agree with the authorities about the principles for further co-existence will depend on how quickly the party of large Donetsk business - the PoR, will cease to exist."
Other publications also claim "PoR fraction in Donetsk are on the verge of splitting".
And inside sources of "Kommentarii" say that a pro-Russian group called "Donbasskaya Rus'" has been formed in the PoR-dominated oblast council. Its initiators were the Progressive Socialists, led by the Stalinist harridan Nataliya Vitrenko, but its formation was first 'examined' in the central PoR office in Kyiv', and an insistent recommendation [for its acceptance] was presented to the oblast rada head Anatoliy Blyznyuk - leading to a split in the PoR ranks.
The initial idea to form Donbasskaya Rus' emerged from the group orientated around Yanukovych. Blyznyuk found himself between a rock and hard place, with the rada PoR fraction split between those who support "extreme messages", and those who uphold a "constructive position", i.e. those associated with Akhmetov and Kolesnikov.
At the last session of the oblast rada, Blyznyuk revealed under pressure that Donbasskaya Rus' had been created but refused to introduce into the session's agenda the question of supporting a deputies' rally in Syeverodontesk initiated by a group supporting Yanukovych.
Meanwhile last Monday the leader of the so-called "Committee of Voters of Donbass", Aleksandr Khryakov, an organization, controlled Boris Kolesnikov, accused Donetsk mayor Aleksandr Luk'yanchenko of playing a dual political game and collaborating with Tymoshenko.
Lukyanchenko had declared that was pleased that Yulia Tymoshenko has shown herself to be the first premier, with whom it was possible to agree an acceptable level of deductions from the Donetsk local budget for the national budget.
The mayor is also in dispute with the oblast council because because they are refusing to finance the building of a subway system, causing a fresh conflict with the fellow PoR party member Blyznyuk.
LEvko suspects these shenannigans inside PoR may partly explain the president's secretariat's boorish and overconfident criticism of premier Tymoshenko, and also Tymoshenko's odd remarks recently on possible co-operation with PoR.