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Focus on Ukraine, September 7-13, 2009

September 14, 2009

Overview of political events of the week

September 7

Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn signed a decree on the non-payment of salaries to deputies should they block the rostrum of the parliament. In addition, the speaker proposed to the deputies that they introduce a procedure of secret voting.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the head of Gasprom Alexei Miller to not agree to changes in the terms of payment of Russian gas transiting the territory of Ukraine.
Such was the response to the announcement by Ukraine’s Premier Yulia Tymoshenko that the fee for the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukrainian territory will be significantly raised starting January 1, 2010.

September 8

The Verkhovna Rada failed to open its session and renew its work. The Party of Regions continues to block the rostrum with slogans calling for an increase in wages and pensions.

Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko announced that the ministry has sufficient evidence of embezzlement of the funds of commercial banks upon the initiative of the NBU in order to open a criminal case against managers of the central bank.
The minister said abuse of power and financial gerrymandering could not have been possible without the support of President Viktor Yushchenko.
Lutsenko accused the president of exploiting the exchange rate of the hryvnia with the aim of stabilizing the political situation in the country.

VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn signed the Law “On the Presidential Elections” that was twice vetoed by President Viktor Yushchenko and sent back to the parliament for revision taking into account amendments.
The newly revised version of the law shortens the term of the election campaign from 120 to 90 days, changes the procedures for the formation of district and local election commissions, increases the deposit for registration of candidates from UAH 500,000 to UAH 2.5 million and eliminates absentee ballots to support a presidential candidate.

September 9

VR Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn announced that he was obligated to sign the Law “On the Presidential Elections” as failure to sign the law within 130 days would serve as grounds for filing lawsuits and accusing him of disrupting the electoral process.

The parliament is out of service. The Party of Regions continues to hold the rostrum in siege. The speaker could not even gather the leaders of factions for a conciliatory meeting to agree on renewing the work of the parliament.

The Presidential Secretariat called upon the Ministry of Internal Affairs to make public facts of abuse of power by high-ranking officials of the NBU.
This was said in the statement of the press service of the secretariat in response to the statement made by Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko.

According to an official statement of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, nearly 40% of the national economy has gone into the shadows.
Experts employed by the chamber say this year the country may not see the planned UAH 20 billion in revenues and the government forecast of growth in GDP is unrealistic.

September 10

Assistant Chief-of-Staff and Standing Representative of the President in the Parliament Ihor Popov announced that President Viktor Yushchenko will submit an appeal to the Constitutional Court deeming certain provisions of the Law “On the Presidential Elections” unconstitutional.

Gasprom warned Naftogaz Ukrainy about a hike in the price of gas for Ukraine in Q4 2009 to US $205-210 per 1,000 cubic meters. Today, Naftogaz pays US 198/cu. m. for Russian fuel.
In turn, Naftogaz requested its Russian partner to reduce the import of natural gas to Ukraine. Instead of the 52 billion cubic meters written in the contact, Ukraine is requesting 33 cubic meters.

Experts at the Institute of Political Technology say that although there is still a month left before the start of the pre-election campaign, certain candidates for president have launched their campaigns.
The experts say that Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Yulia Tymoshenko are in first place in terms of self-promotion and Viktor Yanukovych, Volodymyr Lytvyn and Serhiy Tihipko are in second place.
The experts say Viktor Yushchenko chose what they dubbed the “presidential strategy” of waiting for the official start of the election race for the good of the country.
Although the Law “On Presidential Elections” prohibits pre-election canvassing, it is not punishable by law.

September 11

President Viktor Yushchenko announced at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council that the government must submit to the Prosecutor General’s Office evidence of corruption on the part of former Minister of Defense Yuriy Yekhanurov and former Transport Minister Yosyp Vinskiy.
At the same time, the president is confident that the accusations of Premier Yulia Tymoshenko against these former ministers are false and ungrounded.
As a reminder, the two ministers tendered their resignation following the premier’s accusations of major abuse of power and misappropriations of funds.

Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Oleksandr Savchenko tendered his resignation having accused the bank’s leadership of conducting an ineffective policy.
Announcing his resignation the banker noted, “The National Bank of Ukraine is not independent and is mired in politics. It often plays along different schemes in the commercial sphere.”
Savchenko served as deputy governor for four years and is known for his opposition to the bank’s leadership. At the start of this year the YTB proposed that Savchenko be appointed the governor of the NBU to replace Volodymyr Stelmakh.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Kostyantyn Hryshchenko commented for BBC on the bill adopted by the State Duma of Russia in the first reading that gives the president the power to conduct military actions beyond the borders of Russia.
Hryshchenko noted that Russia has no grounds for applying force.

President Viktor Yushchenko told the Financial Times in an interview that the unrealistic national budget of Ukraine for 2009 forces the government to exercise control over the National Bank of Ukraine in order to finance the deficit by printing additional money.
The press service of the president says the UAH 20 billion in VAT refunds to enterprises, UAH 12 billion in taxes exacted in advance and the NBU purchase of UAH 30 billion through the emission of government bonds (T-bills) caused the financial crisis.

September 12

President Viktor Yushchenko participated in the ceremonial assembly in Ukraine’s National Palace of Arts marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) over the years of reconstruction.


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