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Focus on Ukraine, July 14-20, 2008

July 21, 2008

The Democratic Initiatives Foundation follows political events in Ukraine with the aim of monitoring the pre-election promises of the country’s leading political forces that won seats in the parliament as a result of the early elections to the Verkhovna Rada on September 30, 2007. The monitoring is conducted within the framework of the project “Where are our political leaders taking us?”

July 14

The Verkhovna Rada goes on summer vacation. Over the 180 days of the existence of its 6th convocation, the Ukrainian parliament worked a full 22 working days over which time it adopted 52 laws.
Recall that on July 11 the VR had planned on its agenda to review the issue of no-confidence in the Tymoshenko government and changes to the National Budget 2008.
Only 174 deputies voted in favor of no-confidence in the government, while the draft of the budget law was sent back for a repeat reading. The people’s deputies will return to work on September 2.

VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated during his working visit to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea that a deputy will not have the right to vote in absentia in the new session of the parliament. He said that the resolution on renewing the Rada electronic voting system has been implemented.

Today, Sea Breeze-2008 multinational maritime training sessions began in Odesa.
The objective of these training sessions is to work out the actions of joint subdivisions according to NATO standards in planning and conducting peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Close to 1,000 military servicemen from 17 countries and soldiers of all forms of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will participate in these training sessions.
Members of the Communist Party and the progressive Socialists led by Natalia Vitrenko organized an anti-NATO demonstration.

July 15

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev approved the new concept of the countries foreign policy. In one of its clauses there is a reference to the negative attitude of Russia towards NATO enlargement that would entail the membership of Ukraine and Georgia in the organization.

July 16

The Tymoshenko government plans to increase pensions by 13% as of July 1, despite the fact that the National Budget 2008 has yet to be approved.
The government also plans to study the situation in the agricultural sector. Agricultural producers stated a day earlier that they are in dire need of subsidies. They threatened to stage a nationwide strike if their demands are not accommodated.

Bread mills in the nation’s capital are demanding an increase in bread prices, arguing that they currently operating at a loss.
Premier Tymoshenko is convinced that price increases are an artificial process that Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy is behind.
The premier stated that this year there are grounds to anticipate a record-breaking grain harvest, which is why there is no need to raise the prices of bread.

Assistant Secretary Andriy Honcharuk announced that President Yushchenko is insisting that the parliamentarians approve the changes to the budget at an extraordinary session of the VR.
Honcharuk said that the VR Budget Committee can prepare both the government and president’s versions of the budget within the next few days.

July 17

First Deputy Head of the YTB faction said it is prepared to convene an extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada on condition that the presidential bill on changes to the national budget for 2008 is recalled from reading in the parliament. He added that the faction is completing the collection of signatures with a demand to hold an extraordinary session of the parliament.

The government of Kyiv approved the decision to increase the prices of social sorts of bread starting July 18.
Up until now the prices of bread in Kyiv were cheaper than in other regions of Ukraine due to artificial restraints on prices at the behest of the local government.
The Kyiv City State Administration promises needy residents in the city payouts of UAH 15 for the purchase of bread.

July 18

Pierre Lellouche, a deputy of the National Assembly of France and an advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy, said in an interview for Radio Free Europe that Russia must stop blackmailing Ukraine for the latter’s intentions of joining NATO.
He further noted that he is personally in favor of granting Ukraine the NATO Membership Action Plan as the former president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its concerns about the nature of U.S.-Ukrainian Sea Breeze-2008 training sessions.
In a note from the MFA Department of Information and Printed Materials the text reads that the training process does not correspond to that which was officially announced concerning the enhanced level of interaction and the compatibility of the two countries’ subdivisions.
Russia feels these training sessions are anti-Russian seeing as the training includes reconnaissance, search for the submarines of a conditional enemy, measures controlling navigation of ships, warding off air and sea attacks, landing of troops and firearms shooting practice.





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