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Focus on Ukraine, December 15-21, 2008

December 22, 2008
Overview of political events of the week
December 15

Parliamentarians dedicated this day to determining the fate of the coalition.
OU-PSD people’s deputy Borys Tarasiuk stressed that 37 deputies of this political force (there are 72 deputies in the faction) are in favor of signing an agreement with the YTB and the Lytvyn Bloc.
At the same time, the rest of the faction members that met with the president today announced that they are not ready to sign this agreement.
Member of the OU-PSD Anatoliy Hrytsenko informed that President Viktor Yushchenko made it clear that he is in favor of a situational majority in the parliament and is against a coalition of the three aforementioned factions.  
Leader of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc Ivan Kyrylenko said his force will immediately sign the coalition agreement provided that the coalition’s partners OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc agree to this.


The Party of Regions is demanding that VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn clarify whether a coalition between the YTB, OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc currently exists.
Leader of the PoR faction Oleksandr Yefremov stated at a meeting of the faction’s conciliatory council that if such a coalition does not exist, the PoR demands that the statement about its creation be renounced.

December 16

The coalition agreement between three political forces – the YTB, OU-PSD and the Lytvyn Bloc has been signed.
Leader of the YTB faction Ivan Kyrylenko, deputy head of the OU-PSD Borys Tarasiuk and the newly elected leader of the Lytvyn Bloc Ihor Sharov signed the agreement. 
Three new clauses were included in the coalition agreement. In particular, the clauses state that Ukraine’s accession to NATO is only possible based on the results of a nationwide referendum in Ukraine.  
At the behest of the Lytvyn Bloc, a clause on the normalization of land legislation was added.
The third clause stipulates that the coalition must obligate itself to approve an act honouring soldiers of the OUN-UIA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army).


Deputies of the OU-PSD faction that did not sign the coalition agreement (34 of them) were left without their leaders.  
Leader of the faction Vyacheslav Kyrylenko and his assistant Roman Zvarych tendered their resignation from their posts.
Commenting on the reasons for his resignation, Kyrylenko pointed out that he will respect the decisions of his colleagues, but he will no longer be the leader of a faction representing a minority.
Former VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk also did not sign the coalition agreement, arguing that this coalition will barely garner the votes of 214 deputies.   


The Party of Regions accused the Lytvyn Bloc and the Communist Party of betraying its people and its electorate.
“The factions OU-PSD, YTB and Lytvyn Bloc formed a false coalition that will implement anti-people policy without the required number of votes and with the support of the Communists,” the press service of the Party of Regions stated.
Besides that, it was noted in the statement that the coalition agreement does not contain a serious solution to the current economic crisis and the foundation of the agreement is based on ideological slogans formulated by proponents of NATO and forced Ukrainianization.


President Viktor Yushchenko made a pessimistic forecast during a meeting of oblast governors that the number of unemployed in Ukraine could reach 5 million next year.
The head of state obligated the governors to draft anti-crisis measures to preserve jobs and not resort to massive layoffs. The president informed that payments to the national budget are already less than the planned amounts, which means that paying the salaries of employees registered on the budget payroll is an inevitable problem.


The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy allayed fears about non-payment of pensions.    
Minister Lyudmyla Denysova assured that pensions are currently being paid out and the government will guarantee payouts even if the national budget for 2009 is not approved on time.
She also promised that the pensions of ministers will not be lowered next year. There is even a promise that these pensions will be indexed to inflation.

December 17

President Viktor Yushchenko expressed his hope in several printed media that the OU-PSD party will make a fair decision concerning deputies that supported the coalition with the YTB and the Lytvyn Bloc at its next meeting and will expel them from the party and the list of people’s deputies.
The head of state affirms that the parties to the coalition demonstrated obstinacy to the will of the party convention and will now have to assume responsibility for this.
Of the 37 members of the OU-PSD that supported the formation of the coalition with the YTB and the Lytvyn Bloc, seven are members of the National Union Our Ukraine party: Valeriy Borysov, Edward Zainalov, Yuriy Klyuchkovskiy, Ruslan Knyazevych, Mykola Martynenko, Oleksandr Tretyakov and Olha Herasymiuk.
The Central Election Commission believes that depriving deputies that represent the National Union Our Ukraine party of their mandates as deputies of OU-PSD will not be straightforward. The convention of the entire bloc has the last word.


VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn announced that the budget for 2009 must be immediately approved. The final deadline is next week.
The speaker underscored: the budget must be urgently elaborated. The budget requires adjustments that factor in the current economic state of affairs. If the parliament does not approve the budget by the end of the year, Ukraine will be deprived of foreign loans, which the country desperately needs.

December 18

This week the hryvnia fell twofold in value. Premier Yulia Tymoshenko made a sensational statement in which she blamed the National Bank of Ukraine for the crash of the hryvnia under the umbrella of the Presidential Secretariat and accused it of collusion with commercial banks.

The premier promised that if the president does not dismiss NBU Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh and the entire board of governors, she will appeal to international financial institutions.
Tymoshenko further promised that the activity of the Verkhovna Rada will be blocked until it considers this matter.


VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn instructed deputies to form a special investigative committee that will look into the activity of the National Bank of Ukraine on the currency exchange market.
The committee was given four days to clarify the circumstances of the crash of the hryvnia and the overall financial situation in Ukraine. The committee’s report will be heard in parliament on Tuesday.
The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the Party of Regions demands that experts at the Prosecutor General’s Office, an auditing control board, the State Security Service (SBU) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs be engaged in the investigation into the activity of the NBU.

December 19

Standing Representative of Russia in the UN Vitaliy Churkin stated that Russia has blocked Ukraine’s attempts at getting the UN General Assembly to acknowledge the Holodomor (Famine) as genocide of the Ukrainian nation.

Churkin noted that this year the Ukrainian delegation made several attempts to submit this issue to the daily agenda of the UN General Assembly. Churkin noted that Russian diplomats explained all historic details to their colleagues and the majority of countries supported Russia.
As a reminder, earlier the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine stated that Russia is attempting to deprive Ukraine of the right to submit the issue of the Famine of 1932-33 for review by the UN General Assembly “through pressure and blackmail”.


The Party of Regions and the Communist Party propose a vote of no-confidence in Minister of Defense Yuriy Yekhanurov and demand his dismissal.
Chair of an Ad Hoc Investigative Committee Valeriy Konovaliuk (Party of Regions) stated from the parliamentary rostrum that Yekhanurov is being accused of complicity in the illegal supply of Ukrainian weapons to Georgia.
Former minister of defense Anatoliy Hrytsenko came forth in defense of Yekhanurov, stating that Ukraine did not violate a single law regarding the supply of weapons to Georgia.
VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn informed that the current minister of defense was summoned to be present at a briefing of the ad hoc investigative committee concerning this matter.


Ukraine and the United States signed a charter on strategic partnership.
The document addresses the issue of economic and security cooperation of the two signatories in the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and preventing the spread of dangerous technologies.
Besides that, the American side will foster judicial reform and the fight against corruption in Ukraine.

December 20

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko stated today in a briefing at the Cabinet of Ministers that she has no intentions of being a participant on the current government team and is going in opposition to President Viktor Yushchenko, who in her opinion is covering up illegal currency fraud inside the NBU.
The premier once again accused the president of the governor of the NBU of organizing the drop in the exchange rate of the Ukrainian currency and said she intends to appeal to the Global Witness international non-government organization to an expert assessment of the fluctuations in the exchange rate of the hryvnia. Tymoshenko believes thanks solely to her actions and public announcements that the situation on the currency market in the country has gradually begun to stablize.        


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