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Focus on Ukraine, June 2-8, 2008

June 9, 2008

The Democratic Initiatives Foundation follows political events in Ukraine with the aim of monitoring the pre-election promises of the country’s leading political forces that won seats in the parliament as a result of the snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada held on September 30, 2007. The monitoring is conducted within the framework of the project “Where are our political leaders taking us?”

June 2

On the eve of the parliamentary session week that is scheduled to begin tomorrow the president, premier and speaker of the VR had a meeting.
VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk gave a grim forecast concerning the current squabbling in the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-defense faction (OU-PSD) and said that this will lead to the political death of all participants of the coalition. Yatsenyuk warned the factions not to block the work of the parliament and called for a vote in favor of the president’s wishes regarding the law on filling the national budget.
President Yushchenko is expecting that the VR accept the oath of the new chief justice of the Constitutional Court Serhiy Vdovychenko to replace the dismissed Suzanna Stanik.
At the same time, Yatesenyuk said the Party of Regions is demanding that the government report on the complicated economic situation in the country and presented a program for battling inflation. Otherwise, the party will initiate the sacking of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The II Euro-Atlantic Future of Ukraine forum got under way in Kyiv.
More than 80 keynote speakers from the managing constituent of the government and non-government organizations of Ukraine, the U.S., Germany, Australia, Canada, the Baltic countries, the Visegrad group and the Black Sea region will discuss the Euro-Atlantic future of Ukraine.
Over three days of discussions the participants of the forum will assess the foreign policy prospects of Ukraine, in particular, their Euro-Atlantic aspect, will look at lessons from the Bucharest summit and will review the prospects of the NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine and Georgia.

June 3

Upon the president’s quota three judges of the Constitutional Court gave their oath in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the presence of the VR speaker, the president and the premier.

This will be the first time in months that this judicial body will work with a full constituency. Recall that a number of political forces came forth in opposition to the judges being sworn in. Among them was the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (YTB), which blocked the parliamentary dais in protest.
The head of state said a normal working routine will resume in the Constitutional Court and the political influence on its rulings shall be mitigated.

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved amendments and additions to the budget by 226 votes, which the president immediately signed in the VR session hall.
Recall that the president vetoed the Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts” approved by the VR on May 23 and demanded that amendments be made to articles on the sale and leasing of land. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court deemed certain norms of the Law on the National Budget unconstitutional.

The Law “On Amendment to Certain Legislative Acts” together with the president’s proposals does not allow the government to sell and lease land outside of auctions.

Land used for objects for social aims and the construction of accessible living quarters that are leased by budget institutions, museums, cultural and art organizations, as well as land used by religious organizations.

June 4

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko stated the government plans to increase this year’s budget by UAH 20 billion.
In her opinion, this became possible after yesterday’s decision of the Verkhovna Rada regarding amendments and additions to the budget. The premier underscored that the voting on Tuesday in the VR showed that the president, the government and democratic coalitions are capable of cooperating with one another.

Participants of the second international forum Euro-Atlantic Future of Ukraine summarized its results and named the internal and external factors precluding Ukraine not being granted the MAP.

Among the internal reasons is the lack of systemic work concerning preparations for membership in the Alliance. Among the external reasons is the Russian factor, problems within NATO itself and the Ukraine-Georgia tandem that has created a critical mass of problems for NATO member countries, thus forcing them to postpone the granting Ukraine the MAP.

VR deputy David Zhvaniya, a witness in the case of the poisoning of President Viktor Yushchenko in 2004, affirmed that the results of the medical tests done on the president were fabricated.

He stated this to BBC calling his application on fabrication his civilian position.

The State Duma of Russia proposed the president and the government to review issue of Russia’s withdrawal from the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Ukraine
in the event the latter realizes its plan of joining NATO.
As it is explained in the document, this is connected to the fact that the leadership of Ukraine took measures of a military-political, cultural and informational propaganda nature aimed at withdrawing from the traditional friendly relations between the two countries. The main claims of Russian parliamentarians are against Ukraine’s actions regarding Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

June 5

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued a statement that it considers the resolution of the Russian State Duma as application of pressure on Ukraine and that it has no plans of denouncing the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership.
The MFA of Ukraine considers the agreement between Ukraine and Russia to be mutually beneficial for both countries, which is precisely why it will not initiate its denunciation.

President Viktor Yushchenko went on working visit to Moscow. Among the president’s plans are participation in the informal CIS summit, the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg and a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The YTB faction officially motioned the candidacy of VR deputy Andriy Kozhemyakin for the post of chair of the State Property Fund.
Andriy Portnov, who was appointed by the government the acting chair of the SPF, withdrew his candidacy for this post. Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense agreed to vote in favor of Kozhemyakin.
Meanwhile, members of the Party of Regions are demanding that the privatization program be reviewed and to hear out the report of SPF Chair Valentyna Semenyuk-Samsonenko and then later tackle the personnel issue. Semenyuk-Samsonenko did not show up in parliament when summoned by VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

June 6

VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced at the morning session of the parliament that deputies Ihor Rybakov (YTB) and Yuriy But of OU-PSD have pulled out of the democratic coalition.

Now the coalition has 225 voices and does not have the power to independently approve decisions. The opposition forces described this as the demise of the coalition, which may force the dismissal of the government and talks about a new majority or early elections.
Meanwhile, the coalition forces are calling their members to be humble and withdraw their applications. Now there is no coalition and no opposition in the VR as both forces have exactly 225 deputies each.

Presidential Secretary Viktor Baloha stated that the coalition is not falling apart as its members cannot abandon it one at a time
Baloha denies accusations that he is taking certain actions towards the reformatting of the coalition. However, he does not refute the fact that a broader consolidation is needed in parliament, at the very least in order to implement constitutional reforms.

President Viktor Yushchenko and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed on maintaining and developing active ties at all levels.
As the head of the presidential press service informed, this was the subject of the talks the two presidents held in St. Petersburg.
The two sides discussed issue of cooperation in the gas sector and the stationing of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
Russia called on Ukraine to enact the decision on the Black Sea Fleet “on the basis of effective agreements”.

President Viktor Yushchenko announced that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will remain stationed in Ukraine until 2017.

He said this was confirmed by the corresponding Agreement on the Stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Ukraine will execute this agreement down to the very last letter.

The price of Russian gas for Ukraine will double as of January 1, 2009.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated this after talks between the presidents of Ukraine and Russia on the issue of gas delivery to Ukraine.
Recall that in 2008 Ukraine is buying Russian gas at a priced of US $179.50 per 1,000 cubic meters.





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