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Focus on Ukraine, February 22-28, 2010

March 1, 2010

Overview of political events of the week

February 22

The Party of Regions recalled the draft resolution on the accountability of the Cabinet of Ministers.
It was reported on the official website of the Verkhovna Rada that the draft resolution was returned to the legislature for revision.

Vice Premier Oleksandr Turchynov issued a statement that the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) insists on immediate review of the issue of the dismissal of the government to show Ukrainians that this political bloc is not holding on to power.
He said the Party of Regions recalled the draft resolution on the accountability of the Cabinet of Ministers for its inability to assume responsibility and form a parliamentary majority.

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko informed on the First National TV Channel that she will not hold talks with President Viktor Yanukovych about the formation of a coalition under any circumstances.
She also said she does not acknowledge Viktor Yanukovych as the presient of Ukraine, claiming that he came to power by deceit and will not remain in office for long.

Presidential candidate of the Strong Ukraine party Serhiy Tihipko approved the decision at its inter-party congress to exit the Lytvyn Bloc.
The Lytvyn Bloc was formed to run in snap parliamentary elections in 2007. The bloc was made up two political forces – the People’s Party and Trudova Ukraina (Labor Party of Ukraine). On November 28, 2009 the TU headed by businessman Serhiy Tihipko was renamed the Strong Ukraine party.

February 23

Member of the Party of Regions faction Hanna Herman stated that the resolution on the dismissal of the government of Yulia Tymoshenko will be voted on in the parliament at its plenary session next week.

As she informed, the PoR recalled the resolution on the dismissal of the government only for “revision” and has already resubmitted it to the Verkhovna Rada. At the same time, Herman stressed that a new government and premier will be proclaimed immediately after voting in the resolution.

President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek stated he will meet with Ukraine’s president-elect Viktor Yanukovych on March 1 in Brussels.

The BYuT faction made a statement in which it feels there are not enough MPs in the Verkhovna Rada that would support the decision on the dismissal of the government. Otherwise, the Party of Regions would not have recalled its draft resolution drafted by the party’s best legal experts Oleksandr Yefremov, chair of a VR committee, and VR First Vice Speaker Oleksandr Lavrynovych.

Deputy Foreign Minister Valeriy Chailiy said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is confident that Ukraine’s foreign policy will not change under the presidency of Yanukovych.
In his opinion, the main priorities such as EU membership, Euro-Atlantic integration and building a genuine strategic partnership with Russia and EU countries remain unchanged. Chaliy emphasized that Ukraine’s accession to NATO not currently an issue.

February 24

VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn received a draft of a new coalition agreement from the Party of Regions.

The speaker noted that the draft document contains general approaches to the formation and activity of the faction’s union, though it does not mention which factions will make up the future coalition.

The draft resolution on no confidence in the government has been registered in the Verkhovna Rada. In the document it is proposed to the parliament to approve the resolution on no confidence in the Cabinet of Ministers based on the results of the review of issues regarding the responsibility of the government for the current socio-economic situation in Ukraine.

February 25

Viktor Yanukovych officially took office as the President of Ukraine. Prior to his inauguration Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kyryl visited Kyiv upon the invitation of Yanukovych get the patriarch’s blessing as the new president in the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra.
The inauguration procedure was held in the Verkhovna Rada, where Viktor Yanukovych took the oath of the president. After taking the oath the newly elected head of state took over command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The leaders of a dozen countries, members of Ukraine’s parliament and certain government officials attended the ceremony for the inauguration of the President of Ukraine.
At the same time, outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko, the majority of members of the BYuT, Premier Yulia Tymoshenko and ministers by the BYuT quota did not attend the inauguration ceremony. The first president of independent Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk also did not attend the ceremony, while former president Leonid Kuchma was present.

Viktor Yanukovych promised in his inauguration speech that he would reform the system of government, specifically one that would work synchronously with the president.

He also stressed the need for internal political stability, overcoming corruption and renewing the trust of investors. As for foreign policy, the new head of state emphasized that Ukraine must become the bridge between Russia and the EU.

The first decree of Viktor Yanukovych was on renaming his secretariat the Presidential Administration as it was during the presidency of Leonid Kuchma and appointing as its head Serhiy Lyovochkin, who served as Kuchma’s first assistant.
Iryna Akimova was named First Assistant to the Chief-of-staff of the Presidential Administration. Hanna Herman was named Chief-of-staff of the Presidential Administration.

Mykhailo Klyuyev will fulfill the duties of First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. This directive of the Cabinet of Ministers was made public on the government’s official website. According to the directive, Klyuyev will serve in this position until the review of the judicial case against Yuriy Lutsenko is completed. On January 28, the parliament dismissed Lutsenko as head of the MIA upon the initiative of the Party of Regions.

Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Ukraine, which specifically contains a clause on the possibility of official Kyiv applying for membership in the European Union.
The resolution also calls for devising a “road map” of the movement towards a visa-free regime for Ukraine and making Schengen visas free-of-charge for Ukrainian citizens at the stage of transition to a visa-free regime.
At the same time, the members of the European Parliament criticized the decision of President Viktor Yushchenko to confer the Hero of Ukraine title upon Stepan Bandera and called on the new president of Ukraine to review this decision.

Experts believe the decision of the European Parliament to grant Ukraine the right to apply for membership in the European Union is a response to the statements of Viktor Yanukovych that Ukraine will follow a course in the opposite direction of Europe.
In the opinion of experts, Europe saw that Ukraine may begin moving in the reverse direction and hinted that will be allowed to apply for EU membership.

President Viktor Yanukovych will pay his first visit to Brussel
s. This was agreed upon in the president’s meeting with Head of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek.
The president of Ukraine also held a number of meetings with high-ranking officials he invited to his inauguration. Specifically, the president discussed directions of bilateral cooperation with Deputy Head of the European Commission Catherine Ashton, met with the presidents of Belarus and Poland – Aleksandr Lukashenka and Lech Kaczinski.
Viktor Yanukovych discussed the development of bilateral relations with Special Envoy of the People’s Republic of China Han Changfu (check the spelling).

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych plans an official visit to Moscow on March 5.
His plan was announced at a meeting with Head of the State Duma of Russia Boris Grizlov and Chief-of-staff of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergei Narishkin. Yanukovych noted that the main objective of his visit is to significantly activate relation with Russia, particularly in the economic sphere.

February 26

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych issued a decree “On Emergency Measures to Overcome Poverty”.
In particular, the VR Committee on Economic Reform was instructed to analyze the state of poverty in Ukraine and submit proposals on raising the effective of state policy in this sphere.

Viktor Yanukovych formed the National Anti-corruption Committee, which according the presidential decree will act as a consultative-advisory body to the president.
According to the document, the committee’s main task is to execute a systemic analysis of the state of corruption in Ukraine and devise measures to prevent and counter corruption.

Expert at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw Anna Hurska said the European Union is open to cooperation with President Viktor Yanukovych, but demand clarification of several of his contradictory statements.
She stated the European Union must clarify with Yanukovych his position on Ukraine’s participation in a Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, as well the idea he revived about the creation of an international consortium for the management of Ukraine’s gas transport grid. In the expert’s opinion, such actions render impossible deeper economic integration with the European Union, which Yanukovych said he supports.

First Assistant Chief-of-staff of the Presidential Administration Iryna Akimova stated Ukraine will not enter a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
She informed that Viktor Yanukovych succinctly stated in his inaugural speech that any new steps in international cooperation with any countries can only be developed on condition that previously signed agreements are not breached.

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