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Focus on Ukraine, March 30-April 5, 2009

April 6, 2009

Overview of political events of the week

March 30

People’s deputy of the Party of Regions Hanna Herman announced that her party promises to block the parliament right up until the early elections, for which it has legal grounds, if the government fails to submit to the parliament bills that form the anti-crisis program and amendments to the budget tomorrow.

March 31

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said his country will reject a loan to Ukraine if it does not take into account Russia’s interests in the modernization of Ukraine’s gas transport grid and does not invite it to participate in talks with the EU.
Recall that the declaration between Ukraine and the EU concerning the modernization of the gas transport grid that the two parties signed on March 23 in Brussels elicited the dissatisfaction of Russia.

President Viktor Yushchenko proposed his draft of amendments to the Constitution to the parliamentarians.
The president believes that Ukraine should have a bicameral parliament and a more independent government. Yushchenko feels that the upper house of parliament should represent the interests of the regions, while the lower house should undertake legislative and political activity, form the government and approve the national budget.
The president is convinced that a bicameral parliament is needed for equal representation of the interests of each region in the country’s highest legislative body.

The Ukrainian parliament adopted two of the five anti-crisis bills proposed by the government to meet the requirements of the IMF for Ukraine being granted the second tranche of the loan – namely, an increase in the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
The other three bills were not put on the order of the day due to the lack of votes of deputies of Za Ukrainu! (For Ukraine!), which is considered to be in the closest circles of the president.
Premier Yulia Tymoshenko expressed to the parliamentarians her shock over the stance of members of the pro-presidential camp. The premier assured that she will try to conduct additional consultation with the president so that the necessary bills are reviewed this week.

April 1

The Verkhovna Rada set October 25, 2009 as the date for the next presidential election.
409 deputies voted in favor of holding the election the last week of October. Earlier, a parliamentary committee voted in favor of this date.
As is common knowledge, the current head of state proposed holding the presidential election on January 17, 2010. The president’s spokesperson in the Constitutional Court Maryna Stadniychuk assured that President Yushchenko will appeal the resolution of the CCU to hold the election on October 25. She is convinced the decision of the parliament countermands the Constitution.

In his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada on the state-of-the-nation President Viktor Yushchenko insisted on a moratorium on the political confrontation in Ukraine and unity to counter the global financial crisis.
The president also proposed a series of economic measures that will mitigate the negative repercussions of the crisis. First and foremost, the president urged an immediate review of the budget and insisted that the articles on social security be preserved. The head of state insists on reform of the pension system, eliminating all special pensions and lifting the moratorium on the sale of land.

April 2

The president deemed the date of elections set by the deputies unlawful. First Deputy Secretary of the NSDC Stepan Havrysh sent out a statement in which he says the parliamentary resolution poses a challenge to the president and does not rule out the possibility of the dissolution of the parliament.

Members of the Party of Regions initiated the blocking of the parliament as promised. The party demands that the government immediately submit its program of anti-crisis measures. The members promised they will block the dais of the presidium for at least two days.
Members of the YTB feel the actions of the PoR are playing on the perceptions of the public, while members of the Lytvyn Bloc say the PoR is in cahoots with to declare early parliamentary elections.

The Party of Regions will initiate street demonstrations. The press secretary of the Donetsk Oblast branch of the party said today buses will transport protesters to Kyiv. It is expected that around 400 activists from Donetsk will arrive in Kyiv.

April 3

President Viktor Yushchenko said he is ready to declare the holding of early presidential elections simultaneously with elections to the Verkhovna Rada.
The head of state stressed that such a decision will be approved together with the holding of simultaneous early parliamentary elections on a new electoral basis.

According to a statement of the Department of Foreign Relations of the International Monetary Fund the UNIAN news agency reported that an IMF delegation will arrive in Ukraine in the middle of next week.
The IMF received convincing assurance from the president and premier of Ukraine that they are prepared to ensure the adoption of laws to strengthen the financial standing of the Pension Fund and Naftogaz Ukrainy in the week of April 13-17.

A mass demonstration organized by the Party of Regions was held in Kyiv calling for the premature dissolution of the current government.
Nearly 35,000 people participated in the protest.


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