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Focus on Ukraine, March 9-15, 2009

March 16, 2009
Overview of political events of the week
March 9

Ukraine gave respect to the 195th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko.
The president, premier, VR speaker and this year’s winner of the Taras Shevchenko Award placed flowers at the memorial to the Kobzar (Great Bard).  
In his address honoring Shevchenko’s 195th anniversary, President Viktor Yushchenko said he considers the birth of the poet to be the birth of the Ukrainian nation and urged Ukrainians to work together in these difficult economic times to achieve a unified goal.

March 10

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko stated that the wage arrears of companies of all forms of ownership are 9% higher than they were at the beginning of the year.
The government promised an early refund of the VAT to companies that have wage arrears. The companies can use the refunds to pay off wage arrears to their employees.
Meanwhile, the State Statistics Committee published rather pessimistic data showing that as of February 1 the wage arrears of companies have grown by 35% over the previous month.

March 11  

The International Monetary Fund agreed to a 3% deficit in the national budget of Ukraine.
The Ministry of Finance reported that the problem was not with the budget deficit per se, rather for the government to show the real sources of eliminating it in the future. 
The government is counting on proceeds from the privatization of the country’s largest strategic companies.
In his turn, IMF Country Representative in Ukraine Max Aller informed that the IMF and the government of Ukraine reached an understanding that the budget must be maintained at an acceptable level.


Leader of the Ukrainian National Party Yuriy Kostenko said his party will pull its members out of the coalition if the YTB continues to conduct a policy of double standards.  
Kostenko said the swap between the YTB and the Party of Regions that resulted in the dismissal of Minister of Foreign Affairs Volodymyr Ohryzko and the PoR voting against elections to the Ternopil Oblast Council, in which trust in Yulia Tymoshenko sharply fell according to the results of public opinion polls, is inadmissible. 
Aside from that, Kostenko said that the YTB and the PoR are holding talks about new constitutional reform in Ukraine, which will alter the current political system in the country.
In connection with this, Kostenko said the presidential election in 2010 may not be held and a bipartisan political system may be introduced in its place.


President Viktor Yushchenko stated at a press briefing after a meeting with Premier Yulia Tymoshenko and NBU Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh that the Ukrainian government resolved the problematic issues the International Monetary Fund had pointed out.
The president said all parties involved managed to reconcile differences regarding the warnings of the IMF. Specifically, this was about balancing the Pension Fund, the national budget of 2009 and the budget of Naftogaz Ukrainy.


Leader of the OU-PSD faction Mykola Martynenko said today live on Channel 5 that he sees the future of the Our Ukraine party without Viktor Yushchenko.
Martynenko said the party structure of Our Ukraine is alive and well and will achieve success in the future. All that is needed is for the party members to decide who will be their leader, what direction to take and what ideas to profess.

March 12

Assistant Chief-of-staff of the Presidential Secretariat Andriy Kyslynskiy urged the leader of the OU-PSD Mykola Martynenko to leave the party for his statement about the future role of President Viktor Yushchenko in the party.
Kyslynskiy said the members of his party will put up to vote the issue of stripping Martynenko of his deputy status at its next meeting.  Kyslynskiy advised Martynenko to make the “honest step” by announcing that he will join the YTB where his interests lie.


The Communist Party of Ukraine called upon the leaders of all parliamentary factions to support the impeachment of the president.  Leader of the CPU Petro Symonenko said his party has already prepared the respective statement and is demanding that his fellow deputies sign the document. 226 signatures of approval are required.


Russian Premier Vladimir Putin said Russia will not fine Ukraine for the shortage of gas by contract. He said Ukraine is currently in the throes of bankruptcy and therefore will not “punish its partner” with fines.

March 13

The presidential election will be held on January 17, 2010 according to the date envisaged by the Constitution. Presidential Chief-of-Staff Viktor Baloha stated this with conviction in response to the statement of the leader of the CPU Petro Symonenko on initiating the impeachment of the president.
Baloha assured that President Yushchenko did not once violate the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine that could serve as grounds for impeachment.


President Viktor Yushchenko urged residents of Ternopil to vote in local elections.

It is common knowledge that the political forces that currently control the oblast council of Ternopil (YTB and Our Ukraine) have lost considerable support of the local electorate.
The parliamentary factions YTB and the Party of Regions cancelled the planned elections to the Ternopil oblast council 10 days prior to their scheduled date.  
The president feels the Constitutional Court should deem this resolution of the Verkhovna Rada illegitimate, seeing as the Constitution only allows the parliament to designate elections to local bodies of self-government, not rescind them.
The head of state submitted such an appeal to the Constitutional Court and urged residents of Ternopil to come out and vote.


Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych said in an interview on the Inter TV channel that he is prepared to join the YTB in order to overcome the economic crisis.
He said that negotiating sides should put the interests of the state ahead of their own personal interests.
Yanukovych wants presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously and as soon as possible after amendments to electoral legislation and the Constitution are adopted.    



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