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Focus on Ukraine, August 31 - September 6, 2009

September 7, 2009

Overview of political events of the week

August 31

The working week got under way in the Verkhovna Rada. Tomorrow the 5th Session of the 6th Convocation will open. The parliamentary factions announced their plans for the coming months at a conciliatory council.

Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych put forth a requirement that social standards be raised. In particular, the minimum monthly salary should be raised to UAH 1,500 and pensions – to UAH 1,300. The Communist Party is also in favor of raising the minimum wage.

Member of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc insist that these raises be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and that a bill on amendments to the budget be submitted for consideration.

At the same time, VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn called for a review of all government staffing issues, particularly concerning those positions that are vacant.
In addition, the new VR must resolve the issues of the presidential and mayoral elections and adopt the budget for 2010.

September 1

VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn opened the 5th Session of the Verkhovna Rada of the 6th Convocation. While the deputies approved the new plan of action, they did not support the demands of the Party of Regions to raise the minimum subsistence level and minimum wage. In response, members of the PoR blocked the rostrum and the parliamentary presidium.

VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn closed the parliamentary session, announcing that the leaders of factions failed to reach agreement on the further work of the parliament. The next session of parliament is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, September 8.

President Viktor Yushchenko stated in an address to students of the Chernivtsi National University that cooperation between the YTB and the Party of Regions will lead to the usurpation of power. The head of state said any union of political forces that have the mandate of voters will lead to a major reversal of democratic achievements.

During visit to Chernivtsi, President Viktor Yushchenko said the Budapest Memorandum concluded 15 years ago, which envisages a security guarantee in exchange for the non-nuclear status of Ukraine, should be reviewed.

September 2

Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych stated in a live broadcast on the Odesa State TV and Radio Company that if he is elected president he will do everything to ensure that Russian becomes the second official state language in Ukraine.

September 3

For a second time President Viktor Yushchenko refused to sign the Law “On the Presidential Elections”.
On August 21 the Verkhovna Rada overruled the veto of the head of state on amendments to the Law “On the Presidential Elections”. Yushchenko does not support the initiatives of deputies to reduce the term of the election campaign from 120 to 90 days and do away with the practice of an absentee ballot. The president added that the new law considerably complicates the possibility of submitting an appeal of the election results to a court of law. As it stands, the document can only take effect with the signature of the VR speaker. Should it be signed, the president vowed to appeal the initiative with the Constitutional Court.

Volodymyr Lytvyn announced in a live broadcast on Channel 5 that he will sign the new Law “On the Presidential Elections”, though he disagrees with its thesis.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) declassified documents that testify to the fact that the KGB during the times of the Soviet Union constantly spied on activists of the National Movement of Ukraine (Narodniy Rukh Ukrainy - NRU). Such was the gift the SBU presented to the NRU before its 20th anniversary that will be celebrated in September.
The NRU was the largest non-government organization in Ukraine that brought the country independence, though in modern-day politics it lost its leading position long ago.

September 4

The president announced he is prepared to dismiss NBU Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh should the latter turn a blind eye to the emission policy of the Cabinet of Ministers and thereby put the country’s banking system at risk.
Such was the president’s reaction to the sharp fall in the value of the hryvnia on inter-bank and hard currency cash markets. Today the exchange rate of the cash dollar exceeded the mark of UAH 9, while the Euro hit UAH 13.

Ukraine is breaking records of national currency devaluation, a decline in GDP and inflation by imposing the global economic recession on the political crisis of the national government.
Such was the statement of former NBU governor Serhiy Tihipko from 2002-2004 in which he stressed that President Viktor Yushchenko is no less guilty of devaluing the national currency than the current NBU governor. Tihipko said the president should have not defended Volodymyr Stelmakh without a court appeal back in the fall of 2008, when the hryvnia saw its maximum devaluation.

September 5

Leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Petro Symonenko announced that the CPU, the Socialist Party, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, the Union of Leftist Forces, the Justice party (Spravidlyvist) and the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU(u) will unite in September.
Symonenko said these forces will support the approach of the Communists during the presidential election campaign. Besides that, the union of leftist forces intends to run on a single ballot during the elections to local councils, which will be held in March 2010 and then later in the elections to the Ukrainian parliament.

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