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Focus on Ukraine, May 12 – 18, 2008

May 19, 2008

The Democratic Initiative's Foundation undoes political events in Ukraine in order to monitor the pre-election promises of political powers, who entered parliament as a result of the extra-ordinary elections to the Parliament of Ukraine on September 20, 2007. The monitoring is carried out within the framework of the project “Which way are political leaders leading us?"

May 12

Yesterday on May 11 the Mayor of Moscow Yuriy Luzhkov made some low arguementative statements regarding the mutual relations between Ukraine and Russia during the opening of a concert of Russian performers in Sevastopil. In his words, the question regarding the affiliation of Sevastopil as being a Ukrainian city was still not resolved. Luzhkov accentuated, that Sevastopil was not a part of the territories which Nikita Khruschev gave to Ukraine in 1954.

A coalition council of the Yulia Tymeshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine People's Self-defence, was held at which the political powers tried to resolve, which questions would examined this week in parliament.
The Speaker of the Parliament Arseniy Yatsenkyuk called upon both sides to understand one another and to find common ground on the daily agenda. As a reminder, BYT is stressing first and foremost the question of staffing, in particular — the firing of the head of the State Property Fund Valentyna Semenyuk.

The fraction of BYT in the parliament promised to block the rostrum in Parliament tomorrow, in the case that their demands regarding staffing were not met. As a reminder, the Parliament had the intention on Tuesday of hearing the annual address of the President to parliamentarians.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Urkaine reacted to the declaration of Luzhkov and called the statements by the mayor of Moscow “a planned action and the undermining of the positive dynamics of the Ukrainian-Russian relations.” According to MFA spokesma Vasyl Kyrylych, the statement of Luzhkov are forcing stress in society and complicate the prospects of Ukrainian-Russian partnership. SSU forbade Luzhkov to cross the Ukrainian border.

May 13

Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc blocked the rostrum in Parliament. The demands of the bloc were somewhat changeds — the bloc demands that a package of anti-inflationary measures be examined. Partners in the coalition — OU-PSD - did not support these demands, but instead requested not to hinder the work of the people's deputies. The Party of Regions also demanded that the blocking of the rostrum be stopped.

Victor Yushchenko was not able to deliver his annual addresss in the parliament session hall. The work of the Parliament was hindered by representatives of BYT, who blocked the rostrum. At a press conference the President called this action by the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc an unprecedented step, and stressed that the representatives of the governing coalition should not succumb to such actions. Yushchenko criticized the government for not yet having provided any package of anti-inflationary measusres, and expressed his conviction that the Basic law [the Constitution ed. ] could not be changed due to the will of “certain personalities” and stressed that he will not allow extra-ordinary elections to parliament to take place.

Yulia Tymoshenko reacted to the criticism of the President and held her own briefing, at which she stressed, that in questions related to anti-inflationary measures are not being put on the daily agenda on purpose. She announced that the work of the government is purposely being blocked, in particular by the administration of the president, which is trying to place the ratification of the law on the Cabinet of Ministers first on the agenda. Tymoshenko stressed, that from now on her actions would be “sufficiently strict”. Besides this Yulia Tymoshenko assured that she is also against the collapse of the democratic coaltion and the premature preparation for elections by certain politicians.

May 14

The Parliament was again not able to function -representatives of BYT continued to block the rostrum of the session hall, and continued to demand the ratification of anti-inflationary laws. In the opinion of the head of the Parliament Arseniy Yatsenyk, if the deputies from the fraction of Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc do not block the rostrum, then all the questions that they are insisting upon would have long ago been answered.

At a meeting of the government the ministers from OU-PSD put forth their proposals in order to overcome the crisis in the coalition, in particular — to form a working group which would agree upon the hasty ratification of the new law on the Cabinet of Ministers, the necessary examination of changes to the state budget, to develop a packet of anti-inflationary laws and putting order to the procedures of the appointment of regional leaders. This group is also to examine principle staff changes, first of all that of the State Property Fund. A separate condition of the ministers from OU-PSD — to postpone the ratification of changes to the constitution. Yulia Tymoshenko agreed with this type of anti-crisis activities. In this she declared: the reasons for the crisis — are in the personal relations between the higher-ups in government.

May 15

Work of the Parliament is once again blocked. Tymoshenko's Bloc would not give into the compromise of the opposition, which declared, that it was in agreement to examine the firing of the head of the State Property Fund as opposed to making changes to the state budget and examining the privatization program. Though to this point the coalition deepened itself in the conflict. Representatives of OU-PSD put forth their demands to everyone that the law on the Cabinet of Ministers be only examined after the ratification of anti-inflationary laws. However, BYT membrs categorically were against this and called the position of their colleagues postponement and an attempt to reform the coalition.

May 16

The BYT fraction unblocked the work of the Parliament. As announced by representative of the BYT fraction Andriy Shkil, a compromise was reached in the agreement of the Tymoshenko bloc to first vote on the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers, and later — for the package of anti-inflationary draft laws.

Parliament ratified the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers. It was supported by 245 elected officials. This document considerable limits the authority of the premier. In particular, it forbids the Cabinet to annul acts of municipal administrations. The firing of the Minister of Defense and foreigna affairs — can now only be done by the President.

Of the three anti-inflationary documents deputies only voted for one. It regulates the price of socially important foodstuffs. Parliamentarians nixed the law on the export of meat. Still one other draft law — on the lowering of duties - was sent back for further improvement.

Ukraine became a full member of the World Trade Organization. From this day forth the country can trade with 151 countries of the world under the best possible conditions. Amongst the advantages — the lowing of tariff limitations of domestic production to the markets of member countries of the WTO, cessation of quotas on the export of Ukrainian metalurgical products to the EU, simplification of transit freight. Amogst the risks — the sharpening of competition on the domestic market.

May 17

The Presidet signed the Law “On the Cabinet of Ministers”.

May 18

The BYT fraction in parliament supported the Law “On the Cabinet of Ministers” for the sake of maintaining the unity of the coalition.
This was declared by the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko together with the President of the EBRD Jean Lemierre while being interviewed in Kyiv. According to the premier, BYT realizes, that the new law on the Cabinet limits the power fo the governement and increases the powers of the President, the Secretariat of the President, and the National Security and Defense Council.

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