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Focus on Ukraine, September 29-October 5, 2008

October 6, 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 early elections to the Verkhovna Rada on September 30, 2007. The monitoring is conducted within the framework of the project “Where are our political leaders taking us?”

September 29

The latest plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada began this week with debates on the revival of the parliamentary coalition.
As a reminder, the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-defense party put forth to the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc several conditions, including approval of a tough resolution on the Russia-Georgia conflict and abrogating laws that deprived the president of some of his powers.
By the end of last week several new conditions were put forth. The YTB and certain disgruntled members of Our Ukraine are convinced that the president and his secretariat are dragging out time until October 3. If a coalition is not formed by this date, Yushchenko will issue a decree on holding early elections on December 14.

30 of the 72 members of the OU-PSD faction signed a document for the creation of a coalition between the YTB, OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc. Parties that belong to OU-PSD took such minor actions after the leader of the faction Vyacheslav Kyrylenko once again suspended talks with members of the YTB and the Lytvyn Bloc concerning the formation of a majority.
After the signatories gather 37 votes, they can agree on forming a majority together with the YTB and the Lytvyn Bloc regardless of the opinions of other members of OU. At the moment the OU-PSD is 7 votes short. Meanwhile, the leader of the OU-PSD is not satisfied with the initiatives of his proponents describing them as “corridor politicking”.

Stepan Havrysh, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said at a press conference that President Viktor Yushchenko will most likely head the list of democratic forces in the possible early parliamentary elections.
He said the chances that talks between the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the OU-PSD will be renewed are slim to none seeing as the president and premier have lost mutual trust of one another. Havrysh made it clear that this is essentially about the first round of presidential elections.

President Viktor Yushchenko returned from his official two-day working visit to the U.S. In Washington he met with his American counterpart George W. Bush. The two presidents gave a high appraisal of the execution of the Ukrainian-American plan of action. The U.S. head of state expressed his support of Ukraine on its path to joining NATO. Speaking on security issues, Bush appealed to the leadership in the Kremlin to let Russia’s neighboring countries live in peace.
On his part, Viktor Yushchenko stressed that official Kyiv has not strayed from its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and described the current events in the Ukrainian parliament as “a testimony to democracy”.

September 30

King Karl XVI Gustav of Sweden paid an official visit to Kyiv with his wife Queen Silvia.
During his talks with the King of Sweden, President Viktor Yushchenko expressed his hope that Ukraine will sign an agreement on associated membership in the EU in less than a year, when Sweden will chair the EU.
Up until now the talks between Ukraine and the EU about a new enhanced agreement of cooperation did not contain clauses on associated membership as the Ukrainian government had hoped. Recall that French President Nicola Sarkozy announced for the first time this year that Europe is proposing Ukraine associated membership in the EU.

OU-PSD will enter into a coalition with the YTB only on condition that a new coalition agreement is signed. The routine session of talks on forming a coalition opened with such a categorical ultimatum on the formation of a new majority in the parliament.
Vyacheslav Kyrylenko is demanding that the obligations and responsibilities of political forces be written into this agreement. If the coalition is formed without an agreement, Kyrylenko said he will step down as the faction’s leader. In response, Kyrylenko assured that the bloc is prepared to sign a coalition agreement.

The YTB is prepared to recall the Law “On the State Service” approved by the Party of Regions in order to unite with OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc in the new coalition.
This became known after YTB members discussed the essential principles of the coalition platform with the participation of Premier Yulia Tymoshenko. So far the members of the YTB remain intransigent on the Georgia issue. Tymoshenko announced her readiness to support the heavy-hitting text of the statement concerning the war in the Caucasus as she believes such a stance will not affect the price of gas.

Volodymyr Lytvyn proposed playing the role of an intermediary between the YTB and OU-PSD. In his opinion, these two political forces “refuse to hear one another out”. At the same time, Lytvyn believes early elections are more likely than the formation of a new coalition.

Russia is blatantly intervening in Ukraine’s internal matters. Such was the reaction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to the Permanent Representative Office of Russia under the OSCE disseminating the appeals of participants of the so-called Pan-Crimean Demonstration. The appeal alludes to gross violations of the main constitutional powers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimean by the ruling regime in Ukraine. As written in the statement issued by Ukraine’s MFA, despite the bombastic statements of the Kremlin on non-intervention into the internal affairs of Ukraine, the Russian side could not resist the temptation to play the “Crimean card”.

October 1

For the sake of forming a coalition between the YTB, OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc, the political force of Yulia Tymoshenko agrees to fulfill the demands and ultimatum of its colleagues in the orange bloc. The premier stated this today at a press conference. Tymoshenko explained that that she will take such a step in order to avoid chaos in the country that the elections might stir up.

President Viktor Yushchenko informed today that the term of validity of the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Russia and Ukraine was automatically extended for the next 10-year period.
Seeing as neither of the two sides expressed a desire to annul the agreement, its term was automatically extended. In the president’s opinion, this proves that the two sides acknowledged the importance of this agreement for bilateral relations.

October 2

By uniting the YTB and OU-PSD annulled practically all the laws vetoed by the president. In particular, these were the laws approved by the YTB and Party of Regions factions on September 2 concerning the Cabinet of Ministers, the SBU, the Constitutional Court, Ad Hoc Investigation Committees and the Civil Service. A day earlier Premier Yulia Tymoshenko promised to fulfill the demands of the president in order to salvage the coalition and avoid early elections.
Members of the Party of Regions did not conceal their indignation and state that the majority of the votes of members of the YTB and OU-PSD were gained through manual rigging of the Rada voting system. YTB members explained that they voted in the name of stability. The Lytvyn Bloc did not take part in the voting as its leader did not want to intervene in clarifying the relations between the president and the premier. The Communists saw the hand of America at work in the unity of the YTB and OU-PSD. Meanwhile, VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk called this the first step to the revival of a democratic coalition.

People’s deputy Taras Chornovil submitted a statement about his leaving the Party of Regions. He explained that his decision was because he does not want to play along with the plans of the president that he feels are leading to the demise of parliamentarianism in Ukraine. In his opinion, the Party of Regions played into the plans of the head of state when it withdrew from the negotiating process with the YTB when it had a real chance of forming a coalition with this bloc. Chornovil noted that he will continue his work in the foreign affairs committee.

Yulia Tymoshenko traveled to Moscow to resolve the gas issue. During her meeting with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin she intends to reach an agreement on the supply of natural gas to Ukraine in 2009. Only a week ago Tymoshenko assured that the new price of gas will not shock Ukrainian consumers at US $300 per 1,000 cubic meters.

October 3

Gasprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy will switch to direct supply of gas to Ukraine on January 1, 2009. This is stated in a memorandum signed by the premiers of Ukraine in Russia yesterday in Moscow.
Yulia Tymoshenko informed that within three years Ukraine and Russia will switch to market prices for gas. This also applies to raising prices for the transit of gas. As to the price of gas for Ukraine next year, the premier said it will be made known within a month. The price has not been determined due to the uncertainty of the price of gas in countries of Central Asia.

Today the term for forming the coalition expired. This means that the president can dissolve the parliament at any moment. The members of parliament consulted with one another behind closed doors the entire day long. Members of the YTB say talks continue with OU-PSD, but so far no constructive results have been achieved. The members of OU-PSD insist on adoption of the resolution concerning Georgia in which the actions of Russia are assessed as aggression.
Meanwhile, discord within the OU-PSD faction persists. Five party leaders have stated their readiness to forming a coalition, the unification of which the leader of the faction Vyacheslav Kyrylenko is holding back.

The Lytvyn Bloc pulled out of talks on forming a coalition. It explained its actions saying that a tripartite coalition is not possible at the moment.
The members of the bloc did not vote together with OU-PSD and the YTB in favor of cancelling the laws vetoed by the president.
Volodymyr Lytvyn said his bloc feels superfluous in the coalition talks and assured that his political force will hold talks with all members of parliament and factions and will not participate in “political” swinging.

Yulia Tymoshenko publicly signed a resolution of the EU on the events in Georgia
and stated that she is in favor of the territorial integrity this country.


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