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Focus on Ukraine, January 26 – February 1, 2009

February 2, 2009

Overview of political events of the week

January 26

227 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada voted in favor of the dismissal of Volodymyr Stelmakh as the governor of the NBU. The deputies claimed the procedure of refinancing by the central bank from October to December of 2008 was not transparent. The deputies also believe that Stelmakh was prejudiced to certain business structures.
In addition to that, the VR adopted a resolution on the responsibility of President Viktor Yushchenko for the current situation with bank loans in Ukraine. The Presidential Secretariat deems both decisions of the parliament illegitimate and warns deputies of a possible panic on the market as a result of their decision.
The secretariat also stress that Stelmakh remains the governor of the NBU. Be that as it may, Stelmakh has taken a leave of absence and his first assistant Anatoliy Shapovalov will serve as the acting governor of the NBU.


The YTB says it will initiate the impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko if he does not dismiss Volodymyr Stelmakh.
People’s deputy Svyatoslav Oliynyk announced that the resolution on the responsibility of President Viktor Yushchenko for the current financial and loan situation in Ukraine recently adopted by the parliament can serve as the grounds for initiating the process of impeachment.
Oliynyk said the fact that the president twice ignored the demands of the Verkhovna Rada to dismiss NBU Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh forced them to take such measures.


Leader of the YTB faction Ivan Kyrylenko told journalists that the Verkhovna Rada will review the appointment of a new governor of the National Bank of Ukraine next week.
Kyrylenko refused to name any possible candidates for this post, saying the members of the parliamentary coalition will take up this matter for discussion.


Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Volodymyr Ohryzko said the ministry plans to establish ties with the new administration of the U.S. in the coming weeks in his presentation of Ukraine’s foreign policy for 2009.
The minister announced that meetings of a Ukrainian-American an interdepartmental group will be held, the full spectre of Ukrainian-American relations will be discussed and dialog on the US-EU-Ukraine triumvirate on issues of energy security will be launched.
The minister noted that Ukraine hopes that the new administration in the U.S. will actively support Ukraine’s aspirations to NATO membership.


Leader of the the Narodniy Rukh (People’s Movement) party Borys Tarasiuk informed that deputies Yaroslav Kendzior and Ivan Stoyko were expelled from the party.
Officially, Kendzior and Stoyko are accused of “infringement of the party’s statute”, though Tarasiuk is accusing them of spreading false information that Narodniy Rukh plans to run in the elections under the banner of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc.
Tarasiuk believes that such statements precipitated a schism inside the party.


The Presidential Secretariat announced that the next presidential election will be held on January 17, 2010.
Meanwhile, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc calculated that Yushchenko’s powers expire on December 27, 2009, the date the next presidential election should be held.
YTB member Andriy Shevchenko, who submitted such a proposal in the resolution for review by the Verkhovna Rada, said Yushchenko took office as president on January 23, 2005 and his 5th year of authority runs out in 2009.

January 27

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated at a joint press conference attended by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in Brussels that the gas crisis did not have a negative impact on relations between official Kyiv and Brussels.
He underscored that he has no doubt that Ukraine deliberately wanted to cut off gas supply to European consumers. At the same time, he noted that Russian gas pumped through Ukraine was not delivered to Europe. This was precisely why the issue of the trustworthiness of Ukraine and Russia as suppliers and transit was raised.


President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso informed that the EU intends to enhance relations, particularly in the unification of Ukrainian and European electricity and energy systems.
For this purpose the EC is organizing a conference of donors on modernization of Ukraine’s gas transport grid scheduled for March 23.
The EC is also prepared to hold talks on financing this project together with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


President Viktor Yushchenko stated his intentions of appealing to the Constitutional Court concerning the decision of the Verkhovna Rada to dismiss Volodymyr Stelmakh from his post as the governor of the National Bank of Ukraine. The president said the NBU is an apolitical institution that should have the possibility for revision.

The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) removed the seal of confidentiality from all archive materials concerning political repressions from 1917 to 1991.
Upon the decree of the president, the archives of the SBU declassified the lists of victims of the NKVD under the Soviet Union.
Acting Director of the SBU Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said the declassified materials are not a state secret. The information contained in these documents concerns the violation of human rights.

January 28

President Viktor Yushchenko stated during his official visit to Poland that the recently signed Ukrainian-Russian gas contracts are far from partner agreements. Naftogaz Ukraina will operate at a loss based on these contracts, though Ukraine will have to execute them. Yushchenko also informed that the Presidential Secretariat is looking into the possibility of reviewing these agreements.

January 29  

President Viktor Yushchenko said in an interview for Euronews that Russia initiated the gas conflict with the aim of taking control of Ukraine’s gas transport grid.
The president said Russia attempted to repeat the same scenario in Ukraine as was applied in Moldova and Belarus.


The price of gas for the population will remain unchanged, while for enterprises it will be nearly doubled.
The National Energy Regulatory Commission informed that from today 1,000 cubic meters of gas, including VAT, targeted mark-ups and transportation expenses for industrial consumers, will cost UAH 2,425 (nearly US $315).
Enterprises in the mining and smelting and chemical industries will pay slightly less.

January 30

The Presidential Secretariat forecast that 3.5 million Ukrainians will be unemployed in March.
Assistant Chief-of-Staff Roman Bezsmertniy said this forecast does not factor in those people that do not work a full day or a full week.


President Viktor Yushchenko is demanding the Verkhovna Rada to immediately review the 2009 National Budget and said in his address to the Ukrainian people that he has put all the responsibility for the current economic situation on the shoulders of Premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
In response to the president’s address Tymoshenko disseminated through her press service a statement that the budget for January 2009 has been over-fulfilled, all salaries of civil servants and retirees have been paid and will continue to be paid on time and Naftogaz is for the first in several supplying gas in a timely manner without any intermediaries and the application of corrupt schemes.
Commenting on the president’s address, Tymoshenko described it as “a mix of untruth, panic and hysteria”. The key them in Tymoshenko’s rebuttal was “If you’re not gonna help, than at least don’t interfere”.   


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