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Focus on Ukraine, June 30-July 6, 2008

July 7, 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?”

June 30

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko held talks in Moscow on June 28-29 with her Russian colleague Vladimir Putin concerning energy shipments to Ukraine and gas prices. Recall that prio to Tymoshenko’s visit to Moscow, Gazprom made a statement to Kyiv that the prices of Russian gas next year could reach the level of US $400 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Ukraine will make a transition to European gas prices over 3-4 years, not as of January 1, 2009 as the Russian gas monopolist Gazprom warned.
Premier Yulia Tymoshenko made this announcement commenting on the results of her meeting with her Russian colleague Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine and Russia will discuss gas prices by September 15, after which they should sign a strategic agreement on the supply of natural gas.

The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc approved a decision on the premature suspension of the powers of Ihor Rybakov, who submitted a statement about his leaving the coalition.
Recall that Rybakov together with member of Our Ukraine – People’s Self-defense Yuriy But left the coalition, thereby lowering its numbers to a critical 225. Rybakov feels that he remains a member of YTB, despite the fact that he left the coalition.
Representatives of YTB explain that the Constitutional Court of Ukraine approved a decision by virtue of which parliamentarians do not have the right to join a faction of the political party under which they were elected.

The Presidential Secretariat categorically disagrees with the position of YTB concerning Ihor Rybakov.
The secretariat feels that there are no grounds for stripping Rybakov’s mandate as he signed a statement about his withdrawal from the coalition, not from the faction.
The Constitution only prohibits leaving a faction. Besides that, the secretariat says in Ukraine there is no mechanism of premature suspension of a deputy’s mandate (powers).

President Viktor Yushchenko is on an official visit to Azerbaijan. During talks with Azeri President Ilkham Aliyev the issue at the top of the agenda was making a decision on creating the Caspian-Black Sea-Baltic energy corridor that Baltic countries and Poland would join in addition to member countries of GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova).
Official Kyiv and Baku feel this energy corridor will serve as an alternative to the Russian route of the supply of energy resources to countries of the European Union and will pose competition to the Russian routes Northern Flow and Southern Flow.
The presidents of Ukraine and Azerbaijan announced they will agree in the coming months on pumping the first party of Caspian petroleum through the Odesa-Brody pipeline.

July 1

The Party of Regions presented to journalists its project on amendments to the Constitution.
Among the amendments proposed by the party are strengthening Ukraine status of neutrality, prohibiting the opening of bases of other countries and granting Russian the status of the second official state language of Ukraine.
There is a proposal to convey all the power of the Party of Regions to the parliament so the country’s main legislative body can submit its candidate for premier to the VR deputies without the intervention of the president. Besides that, the Party of Regions wants to abolish local state administrations and replace them with representative offices of the Cabinet of Ministers in the regions.

July 2

VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the minority factions to vote in favor of amendments to the budget.
Next Tuesday the new budget will be put to vote, a process that will not be straightforward. Recall that the Party of Regions is demanding that Premier Yulia Tymoshenko to submit a report on the work of the government. Tymoshenko says she is prepared to submit such a report to the parliament, but only after the plan of action of her government is approved.

July 3

The VR Privatization Committee deemed the work of the head of the State Property Fund Valentyna Semenyuk-Samsonenko unsatisfactory and appealed to the parliament with a request to review whether the member of the Socialist Party is competent in her position. Semenyuk-Samsonenko described this decision as political reprisal.

Today the parliamentarians and ministers held a special meeting of the coalition council at which representatives of the coalition discussed the future voting for amendments to the budget. Premier Tymoshenko said that all amendments to the budget are ready and that the president has the last word in making proposals.

July 4

The government plans to approve new social expenditures in the amendments to the budget, namely an increase in the minimum level of pensions and payouts of deposits to OschadBank. Premier Yulia Tymoshenko told this to journalists on an official visit to the Mykolayiv oblast.
The parliament is to approve them next week prior to the summer vacation.
Recall that the government wants to allocate an additional UAH 30 billion in revenues and set new macroeconomic indicators.


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