The FINANCIAL — According to RIA Novosti, Communist demonstrators rallied in Kiev on February 23 to call for President Viktor Yushchenko to pack his bags and leave for America.
As revolutionary music blared from loud speakers, around 200 people gathered on Independence Square with flags of the Communist Party of Ukraine and a collection box to get enough money to buy Yushchenko a plane ticket.
The Ukrainian president, whose popularity is approaching single digits in opinion polls, celebrated his 55th birthday on February 23. The Communists are demanding his impeachment over pro-U.S. policies that they charge go against Ukraine's interests.
In December last year, Kiev and Washington signed a charter on strategic relations which includes collaboration in the defense, security, economic and energy spheres. It also establishes a U.S. diplomatic mission in the city of Simferopol, the subject of protests on the Crimean peninsula.
Yushchenko has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko for several months as the former allies in the so-called "orange revolution" jostle for position ahead of presidential elections due next year.
The country is struggling amid the global economic crisis and had gas supplies from Russia cut off for much of January over a debt dispute. Although a 10-year supply contract was agreed barely a month ago, Ukraine's Naftogaz energy firm has already warned Gazprom that there may be problems paying for deliveries due to non-payment by local utilities.