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Focus on Ukraine, January 25-31, 2010

February 1, 2010

Overview of political events of the week

January 25
 

A skirmish broke out between the police and members of the Party of Regions at the Ukrainian printing house, which was contracted to print election ballots for the second round of the presidential elections.

Law enforcers arrived at the enterprise to escort its new director. Members of the PoR believe the new management of the printing house was appointed to print an additional 1.5 million ballots for rigging of the second round of the elections. Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko informed that this incident was not over the elections, rather the business interests of members of the PoR.

 

The NSDC approved a decision to assign the Ukraina printing house protection by interior military forces. At the same time the SBU and other law enforcers will monitor the printing of election ballots through video surveillance.

 

The Party of Regions initiated the holding of an emergency plenary session of the parliament to resolve two issues: amendments to the law on the elections and the dismissal of Yuriy Lutsenko. The resolution on Lutsenko’s dismissal was registered today in the Verkhovna Rada. The PoR accused the minister of interfering in the election process and demanded the immediate dismissal of the head of the MIA.

 

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov arrived in Kyiv, where he presented a copy of his credentials to Minister of Foreign Affairs Petro Poroshenko. As the minister informed, President Viktor Yushchenko’s name is in the credentials.

Meanwhile, Yushchenko is confident Zurabov will personally present him his credentials. The president said he instructed the MFA to not allow a situation where the Russian ambassador fails to present his credentials to the current president until the inauguration of the new president.

 
January 26
 

Yulia Tymoshenko officially proposed Serhiy Tihipko the post of premier should he support her candidacy in the second round of the presidential elections.

The premier noted that Tihipko’s program for reform and development of Ukraine’s economy for the most part coincides with her program in this sphere.

 

Serhiy Tihipko said he will not turn down an offer to take up the post of premier should he receive such a proposal from either President Yulia Tymoshenko or President Viktor Yanukovych.

The former presidential candidate that came in third place in the first round of the elections assured that he will accept the offer to take up the premier’s seat solely depending on the package of anti-crisis reforms.

 

The ballots for the second round of the elections have gone to press at the Ukrainian printing house. In order to prevent any attempts at disrupting the election process, President Yushchenko put into effect the decision of the NSDC on emergency measure to ensure legitimacy in the printing of election ballots for the second round of the presidential elections.

 

The State Statistics Committee reported that the average monthly wage in Ukraine grew 5.5% in 2009 from UAH 1,806 to UAH 1,906 compared to 2008.

The highest average monthly wages in December 2009 were recorded in Kyiv at UAH 3,684, Donetsk oblast – UAH 2,436, Sevastopol – UAH 2,328, Kyiv oblast – UAH 2,322 and Odesa oblast – UAH 2,317. The lowest wages are in the Chernihiv oblast – UAH 1,636, Volyn oblast – UAH 1,654 and Ternopil oblast – UAH 1,695.

 
January 27         
 

The Party of Regions and the BYuT are disputing over the Kyiv Administrative Appellate Court, which is reviewing cases related to the presidential elections and to which presidential candidates may appeal the decisions of the Central Election Commission.

The BYuT is accusing several members of the PoR of “seizing” the KAAC on the day the court was supposed to review the claim of the premier regarding the decision of the CEC to not register observers from Georgia, as well as the claims submitted by Viktor Yanukovych concerning allegedly illegal canvassing.

At the same time, the PoR said it appealed to the KAAC for suspicions that the court’s judges are lobbying the interests of Yulia Tymoshenko.

 

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft stated the U.S. is prepared to cooperate with any president of Ukraine. As the ambassador stressed, both presidential candidates – leader of the PoR Viktor Yanukovych and Premier Yulia Tymoshenko – have a fairly clear understanding of the stance of the U.S. In short, the U.S. is prepared to work with which ever candidate the people vote for.

 
January 28    
 

VR deputies approved amendments to the law on the elections proposed by PoR member Oleksandr Lavrynovych.

This bill includes a norm for a quorum for the election commission. Earlier, in order for a meeting of the commission be recognized as legitimate the participation of no less than two thirds of commission members was required.

The changes proposed by the BYuT, namely adoption of bills that would regulate voting from home and including voters on voting lists on the day of elections, did not garner the support of the members of parliament.

 

MPs agreed to form an ad hoc investigative committee to review the legality of the conveyance of the Mezhyhirya state residence to Viktor Yanukovych.

 

The Verkhovna Rada dismissed Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko. 231 deputies voted in favor of the minister’s dismissal. Among them were members of the Party of Regions, the Lytvyn Bloc, the Communist Party of Ukraine, some members of OU-PSD and one member of the BYuT.

The opposition PoR was the initiator of Lutsenko’s dismissal. Among the grounds for the minister’s dismissal were involvement in “pre-election canvassing”, “interference in the election process” and “abuse of power on the part of police officers during the conflict over the Ukrainian printing house”.

Lutsenko denied the accusations explaining that this is how the PoR decided to disrupt a normal election process.

 

The Cabinet of Ministers convened an emergency session at which it appointed Yuriy Lutsenko the first deputy minister of internal affairs and acting minister.

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko said the dismissal of Mr. Lutsenko was to be expected and was associated with attempts to block falsification of election results in the first round.

 

Chair of the Luhansk Oblast Council Valeriy Holenko appealed to the courts demanding that the presidential decree on conferring the title Hero of Ukraine to Stepan Bandera be deemed illegitimate.

Holenko explained that the presidential decree contradicts the law “On State Awards of Ukraine”, in accordance with which only a citizen of Ukraine may receive the title Hero of Ukraine.

 
January 29
 

Chair of the VR Committee on Justice Issues Serhiy Kivalov informed that the Kyiv District Administrative Court dismissed Yuriy Lutsenko from the post of acting minister of internal affairs.

Meanwhile, First Deputy Premier Oleksandr Turchynov assured that neither the government nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs received a resolution that would suspend the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers on the appointment of Yuriy Lutsenko.

 

President Viktor Yushchenko announced at a gathering in memory of the Heroes of Krut in the Chernihiv oblast that he issued a decree recognizing the actions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA).

The head of state informed that in accordance with the newly signed decree representatives of the Ukrainian National Republic, the Western Ukrainian National Republic, the hetmanate of Skoropadskiy, the OUN, the UPA and others are on the list of participants of military organizations that fought for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century.

The president also pointed out that he instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to draft a bill that will define the legal status of the aforementioned organizations and submit it for review by the Verkhovna Rada.

 

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Oleksandr Medvedko announced that the Supreme Commercial Court of Ukraine confirmed the legality of the ownership of the territory of Mezhyhirya by the Tantalit company.

Medvedko stressed that no applications were submitted to the PGO for creating an investigative group in the parliament to look into this matter.

As a reminder, earlier Premier Yulia Tymoshenko had stated that the leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych illegally appropriated the Mezhyhirya state residence in the Vyshgorod County of the Kyiv Oblast and that the government intends to reinstate the status of the residence as state property.

 

A bill calling for the introduction of a symmetric visa regime with countries of the EU, Switzerland, the U.S., Japan, Canada and other countries was registered in the Verkhovna Rada.

The drafters of this bill, among whom are MPs Hryhoriy Smityuk and Valeriy Bondyk of the Party of Regions, Oleh Zarubinskiy of the Lytvyn Bloc, Adam Martyniuk of the Communist Party, Angelica Labunska of the BYuT and Yaroslav Dzhodzhyk of the OU-PSD hope to be allocated an additional US $50 mn to the budget that Ukraine lost after the visa regime for citizens of developed countries was cancelled.

  
      


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