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Focus on Ukraine, October 20-26, 2008

October 27, 2008

Overview of this week’s political events
October 20

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko appealed to President Viktor Yushchenko and the leaders of parliamentary factions to form an anti-crisis coalition in the parliament and a new government.
Only the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, some members of OU-PSD and the leader of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko, which are against early elections, supported the idea of parliamentary unification. As to the reformatting of the Cabinet of Ministers, the head of state proposed that all political forces delegate their representatives in the government. He said, “A government that shall protect Ukraine from the global financial crisis, as Tymoshenko labelled it, must continue to function until “the threat of a financial and economic collapse is not overcome in Ukraine and the world.”


Representatives of the Party of Regions and the Lytvyn Bloc did not take part in today’s session of the Verkhovna Rada on overcoming the crisis.
As the leader of the Party of Regions Hanna Herman said, the appeal of the premier to form a new government is testimony to her intentions of shirking her responsibility.
Herman reminded that the Party of Regions warned the premier of the oncoming crisis and proposed creating a stabilization fund.  


A part of the OU-SPD faction that is loyal to the president ignored the Yulia Tymoshenko’s appeal to form a new government.
The president’s spokesperson Iryna Vannikova stated that the president also called the premier’s proposal to form a new government irrelevant.
She informed that the president considers the National Security and Defense Council the only state body that is capable of safeguarding the national economy from the global economic crisis.


The president suspended the validity of the decree on early elections. The head of state explained that he renewed the powers of the Verkhovna Rada for a few days so that the parliamentarians can make amendments to the 2008 National Budget, which will allow for financing early elections.
President Yushchenko also informed that early parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be held on December 14, a week later than planned. At the same time, the president did not indicate the new date for early elections in his decree.

October 21

Parliamentarians of the 6th convocation convened in the renewed Verkhovna Rada, though their cooperation was not fruitful.
Draft laws on amendments to the 2008 National Budget that take into account early elections were 25 votes short of being included on the daily agenda.
The YTB put forth a requirement to parliamentarians that they first adopt the package of anti-crisis laws and later changes in electoral legislation. Members of the Party of Regions point out that the parliamentarians have yet to see any of the laws that the YTB is insisting on.

October 22

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko informed that the government unanimously approved the anti-crisis draft law.
She said the draft law envisages the creation of a Stabilization Fund to protect the economy of Ukraine from the effect of the current global financial crisis. The fund will be established on the basis of proceeds from privatization, financial aid from international organizations and foreign loans.
Specifically, the government proposed to legislatively obligate banks to not divvy up their dividends over the next two years, but instead reinvest their profits in statutory funds.
The Cabinet of Ministers is proposing to allocate UAH 1 billion to the Bank Deposit Insurance Fund (BDIF) and introduce a property tax at the level of local budgets, raised the excise tax on petroleum products, imported automobiles and any kind of imported product, such as wine, chocolate and meat.
Meanwhile, economists point out that some of these proposals contradict the requirements of the World Trade Organization.


Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych announced live on the air of the Crimean National Television and Radio Company that he calls for the immediate dissolution of the government of Premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
He said the ineffective work of the government over the past year has led to a “catastrophic inflation”. Yanukovych further emphasized that the Party of Regions does not support the current government’s anti-crisis measures to cut back social programs.


Representative of the Lytvyn Bloc Oleh Zarubynskiy criticized the anti-crisis proposals of the government as, in his opinion, they will mainly reflect the interests of big business and the main burden will be placed on taxpayers.

The work of the Verkhovna Rada has been blocked. Representatives of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc are demanding the immediate review of a package of anti-crisis measures, while other political forces are insisting on amendments to the budget to finance early elections.

October 23

People’s deputies of the Party of Regions managed to convince the Verkhovna Rada to review their anti-crisis draft together with the package of anti-crisis measures proposed by the government. A record 436 parliamentarians voted in favour of this decision.
In addition to that, the deputies supported a proposal to review on Friday draft laws on amendments to the national budget of 2008. Among them is the draft law submitted by the government, which do not contain a proposal to allocate money to finance early elections.

October 24

The fourth day of the renewed parliamentary sessions were without results as the deputies failed to adopt a single draft law.
As VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated, not one of the anti-crisis drafts – among which are the president’s proposal and 5 alternative proposals – garnered the support of the deputies.
In response, the deputies will form a working group that must consolidate all six variants of the draft laws into one over the weekend. The parliamentarians will try and vote on this when they reconvene on Tuesday.


Chairman of the Central Election Committee Ihor Popov said early parliamentary elections should be postponed to January 2009.
He said the main argument for postponing elections is the lack funding for the elections and the imperfect legislation. Besides that, the CEC has yet to prepare a general voters’ list.


The leader of the YTB Ivan Kyrylenko announced at a briefing that the faction will block the parliamentary dais until the anti-crisis proposal of the government is reviewed.
He said the draft law submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers was to be reviewed by ad hoc committees, the work of which was blocked by factions of the Party of Regions and the OU-PSD. He explained that representatives of these factions do not show up to the committee’s meetings, which prevents it from doing its work.


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