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Focus on Ukraine, September 21-27, 2009

September 28, 2009
Overview of political events of the week
September 21

VR deputies failed to reach an agreement to unblock the work of the parliament at a meeting of the Conciliatory Council. Once an understanding is reached, VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said the bill submitted by the Party of Regions on raising social standards and alternative bills will be the first to be considered in the parliament. As a reminder, there are five bills on raising social standards currently under consideration.

Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych said the party will vote in favor of the Budget 2010 provided the populist promises are deleted from the document.
He said the Party of Regions is for the parliament discussing issues concerning the budget. At the same time, Yanukovych continues to insist on an increase in minimum pensions and wages.
President Viktor Yushchenko said in his address to the Foreign Affairs Council in New York that Ukraine’s membership in NATO will preserve the country’s independence and will in no way “be used as a threat to third-party countries”.
Ukraine’s head-of-state also reminded that Ukraine and the U.S. signed the documents titled Roadmap for 2009-2010 and Ukraine is interested in “high-status relations” and strategic replenishment.

If Ukraine does not join the European model of security, it will have a “complicated future”, said President Viktor Yushchenko said in an interview with Bloomberg prior to his visit to the U.S., expressing his concern that Europe is not heeding Ukraine’s desire to join NATO.
At the same time, the president objected to the fact that difficulties in relations with Russia are due to Ukraine’s position and that Russia should assume responsibility for the situation that has unfolded.
Yushchenko also called upon Russia to not interfere in Ukrainian affairs on the eve of the elections.


President Yushchenko stated that the gas agreements with Russia may be revised at any time. He said the gas agreement with Russia violates market principles, thus giving Russia the edge over Ukraine. The president blames the government for signing such an agreement and expressed his doubts that the agreement fosters the stability of gas supply to Europe.

Presidential Representative on International Issues of Energy Security Bohdan Sokolovskiy forecasts that the price of gas imported from Russia in January-March 2010 will be around US $300 per 1,000 cubic meters.
He said the average price of US $210/cu. m. for imported gas factored into the 2010 Budget is unrealistic. As a reminder, today Naftogaz Ukrainy is paying US $198/cu. m. for Russian gas.       
September 22
The Party of Regions once again blocked the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada as the issue of raising social standards remains unresolved.
The party members did not support the proposal to vote on this issue by a show of hands, in response proposing a vote by card.
The YTB faction decided to not support any of the bills proposed concerning social standards.
Leader of the faction Ivan Kyrylenko pointed out that his political force is in favor of raising social standards, but this should only be done after all the necessary economic calculations are done and submitted.

The Party of Regions is preparing the advance of Viktor Yushchenko to the second round of elections as the only candidate that Viktor Yanukovych can beat. Leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Petro Symonenko expressed this thought in an interview with the Vechirni Visti (Evening News) newspaper.

The Poltava branch of the Narodniy Rukh Ukrainy (NRU) party announced it will back out of the party to join the Za Ukrainu! (For Ukraine!) civil movement, which will support President Viktor Yushchenko in the next presidential elections.      
The reason for this decision was that the leadership of the NRU allied itself with the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc.
September 23

The Party of Regions is holding the parliamentary rostrum, presidium and government loge under siege. Leaders of the party’s faction attempted to reach a compromise with the VR speaker at the conciliatory council, but failed.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated after his meeting in New York with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili that Ukraine and Georgia can be accepted as members of NATO if they meet all necessary criteria.
Rasmussen assured that the decision of the Bucharest Summit remains in force and the position of NATO remains unchanged – the doors of the Alliance remain open to both Ukraine and Georgia.
September 24

The work of the parliament remains at a standstill as its deputies failed to reach an agreement to unblock the legislature.Before voting for the bill on raising social standards, the members of the YTB proposed seeking a source of financing.
Leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych said his party agrees with the method of voting for the bill and demands that it be done using the card system.


VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn announced that there are enough votes in parliament in favor of raising social standards. He feels that the Party of Regions continues to deliberately block the work of the parliament because the party’s members are not prepared to approve this bill.


Some members of the Party of Regions abandoned the party. They are mainly representatives of business that also are opposed to an increase in social standards. They feel their enterprises will not be able to carry such a financial burden.


President Viktor Yushchenko said in his address at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York that Ukraine is counting on the support of the United Nations on the issue of strengthening security guarantees to non-nuclear states.
Ukraine’s head of state also stressed that Ukraine welcomes the steps the U.S. and Russia are taking to signing a new agreement that will replace the old agreement between the USSR and the U.S., which expires this year.


President Viktor Yushchenko stated after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in New York that NATO cooperation with Russia and other countries will not damage the prospects of Ukraine’s integration into NATO.

September 25

The deputies of the Ukrainian parliament once again failed to reach an agreement on unblocking the work of the country’s main legislative body.


VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn punished the deputies by not signing off on the transfer of their salaries for September.


Ukraine’s first president Leonid Kravchuk left the SDPU (u). Kravchuk said he made such a decision because he disagrees with the formation of the bloc of leftist forces in which the SDPU (u) decided to unite with the Communist Party, the Spravedlyvist and the Union of Leftist Forces to run together in upcoming presidential elections. Kravchuk said this goes against his principles.      

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