AUR#675 Will Ukraine Stay Orange?; Yanukovych Back, Wants To Wreck Orange Revolution; Russia’s Man Ahead; Our Ukraine Ineffective

               An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
                    In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

                     Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
        Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World        

  Ukraine’s hardman eyes revenge, wants to finish wrecking Orange Revolution
     Experts on Ukrainian politics and government say some of the reasons are:
                 Looking for compromises rather than working for victories
Yanukovych makes comeback due to weak, fragmented, ineffective presidential
teams and Cabinet who did not deliver real, timely and effective results; a total
lack of leadership and discipline among the Our Ukraine members of Parliament
who failed to deliver; and the lack of a majority in Parliament. A surprising lack-
luster, boring, soft, Our Ukraine parliamentary campaign with a lack of focus,
drive, momentum, energy, excitement, and fighting spirit. A campaign that seems
to lack real support, strategic involvement, engagement, a commitment of time, 
and the leadership necessary from top Our Ukraine officials to wage the critical
battles needed to strengthen and expand, all across central, eastern and southern
Ukraine, strong, majority citizen understanding and support for the reforms of
the Orange Revolution and Ukraine’s internal drive for Euro-Atlantic integration.
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
Washington, D.C., SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2006
             ——–INDEX OF ARTICLES——–
         Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
Return to the Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article
1.                     A TEST FOR UKRAINE’S DEMOCRACY?
                                      Will Ukraine Stay Orange?
Globalist Perspective: By Geoffrey Berlin, The Globalist
The daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture
Washington, D.C., Thursday, March 09, 2006
                           TOPS UKRAINE OPINION POLLS
By Fred Weir in Moscow, Canadian Press (CP)
Calgary Sun, Calgary, AB, Canada, Sunday, March 12, 2006

By Oksana Yablokova, Staff Writer, Moscow Times

Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 16, 2006

                          AS ORANGE REVOLUTION SOURS
By Nick Holdsworth, Telegraph
London, United Kingdom, Sunday, March 12, 2006

                       UKRAINE’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Mar 17 2006

                            TO WRECK ORANGE REVOLUTION

By Mark Franchetti, Kiev, The Sunday Times – World
London, United Kingdom, Sunday, March 12, 2006

By Mara D. Bellaby, AP Worldstream, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Mar 17, 2006

By Zoltán Dujisin, Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS)
Rome, Italy, Friday, March 10, 2006

                          BETTER  RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA
ICTV television, Kiev, in Ukrainian 0610 gmt 13 Mar 0
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, In English, Monday, Mar 13, 2006

               Will Russian become a second state language in Ukraine?
By Oleg Varfolomeyev
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol 3, Issue 51
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, DC, Wed, March 15, 2006

ANALYSIS:, Predictive, Insightful Global Intelligence
Austin, Texas, Friday, February 24, 2006

12.                         UKRAINE RISK: RISK OVERVIEW
EIU Riskwire – Overview Ukraine
The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited
New York, New York, Monday, March 6, 2006

    Party of Regions, Headed by Yanukovych, Leads Ahead of Ukraine Vote
By Oleg Varfolomeyev
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 3, Issue 46
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Wed, March 8, 2006

                                     UKRAINE’S FUTURE?
Meeting commemorates publication of new book "Revolution in Orange."
Speakers: Andres Aslund, Michael McFaul, Nadia Diuk
Meeting Summary: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C., Monday, March 13, 2006

Viktor Yanukovych says, "They didn’t break us. We are ready to take power,"
By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Striy, Ukraine, Saturday, March 18, 2006

TREE OF LIFE: By N.F. Karlins, Artnet Magazine
New York, New York, Tuesday, February 21, 2006

17.                        FILM: "LIGHT FROM THE EAST"
        1991.Revolution.Ukraine.The End of an Era.The Birth of a Nation
              The story of an American theater troupe that witnessed the
                  fall of Communism while in Ukraine in August of 1991.

                     To be shown in New York City, May 11-17, 2006
E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 17
Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2006

               "Chornobyl + 20: This Is Our Land: We Still Live Here"
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 18

              Edited by Aslund and McFaul Exposes the Riveting Tale
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
Washington, D.C., Monday, March 13, 2006

20  "UKRAINE’S ORANGE REVOLUTION" BY ANDREW WILSON                               
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 20
Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 16, 2006
                                   Will Ukraine Stay Orange?

Globalist Perspective: By Geoffrey Berlin, The Globalist
The daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture
Washington, D.C., Thursday, March 09, 2006

Following the recent Iraqi and Palestinian elections, Ukraine is the next
country to put its fledgling democracy to the test. But will Ukraine succeed
in consolidating the democratic gains of its Orange Revolution of November
2004? Just one year later, things have not worked out as one might have
hoped, argues Geoffrey Berlin.

The "Orange coalition" that came to power with the election of Ukraine’s
president Viktor Yushchenko formally imploded on September 8, 2005.

That was the day when Mr. Yushchenko dismissed the government of his
erstwhile ally, Yulia Tymoshenko.

But the topsy-turvy nature of Ukraine’s politics continued. Just three
months later, Ukraine’s parliament voted to dismiss the government of
prime minister Yuriy Yekhanurov. This development followed a gas
deal with Russia that will increase Ukraine’s energy costs by $1.5 billion
a year, or just under 2% of GDP.
                                        THE WINNER
The immediate winner of this political turmoil appears to be Viktor
Yanukovich, the Russian-backed candidate who lost the 2004 presidential
election that precipitated the Orange Revolution.

In the lead-up to Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, Yanukovich’s Party of
Regions is polling well ahead of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine Party and
Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party.
                            A VIBRANT DEMOCRACY
While disappointing for many western onlookers, those in the Kremlin are
surely thrilled. Nonetheless, the turning of the tides in Yanukovich’s favor
is not the biggest reason for concern.

A vibrant opposition is, after all, the basis for a vibrant democracy. One
needs to remember that Yanukovich won 44% of the vote in the re-run of
the  second round of Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election.

What is really advancing his cause is one straightforward economic
statistic: In the first year of the Yushchenko presidency, growth in
Ukraine’s GDP fell from 12.1% in 2004 – when the much-maligned
"apparatchik" Yanukovich was still prime minister – to 2.4% in 2005.

To that, add reformist President Yushchenko’s own admission, upon
dismissing the Tymoshenko government, that his "Orange coalition"
partners could not work as a team – and then his signing of a political
pact with Yanukovich to gain the Party of Regions’ support for the
Yekhanurov government.
                                  SLIPPING DEMOCRACY
Under those circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Yanukovich has
been able to hang on to his electoral base.

The fundamental question is whether Ukraine’s democracy is slipping. Will
the parliamentary elections in March 2006 bring to power a government that
is committed to democratic principles? Or will it be a re-run of the
fraudulent tactics of the 2004 presidential election?
                                           FREE AND FAIR?
One condition of the pact that Yushchenko signed in September 2005 with
Yanukovich was to assure the fairness of the upcoming parliamentary
elections in the opera-like drama that seems to characterize Ukraine’s

When in January 2006 all parliamentary deputies in Yanukovich’s Party of
Regions voted for the ouster of the Yekhanurov government, Yushchenko
disavowed his pact with Yanukovich.

Where does that leave their parties’ commitments to fair and free elections?
                                          SHIFT IN POWER
And who will be the ultimate arbiter of justice in Ukraine’s society?
Parliament’s vote to dismiss the Yekhanurov government came on the back
of constitutional changes that took effect on January 1, 2006.

These measures shifted the power to appoint the prime minister and most
cabinet members from the president to parliament following the parliamentary
elections in March 2006. Yushchenko claims that parliament’s vote to dismiss
the government was unconstitutional.
                             TROUBLE FROM PARLIAMENT
Looking ahead, what complicates matters is that Ukraine’s Constitutional
Court cannot arbitrate any potential dispute between the president and

Ukraine’s parliament has declined to confirm the nomination of judges to the
Constitutional Court, precluding the court from establishing a quorum. Of
eighteen judges on the Constitutional Court, today there are only five
acting judges, whereas eleven judges are required for a quorum to open or
reject a case.

The parliament is effectively stalling to prevent Yushchenko from appealing
to the Court to reverse or modify the constitutional changes that diminish
the powers of the president to the advantage of parliament.

In addressing the nation on February 9, 2006 Yushchenko called for a
constitutional commission "to draw up a new version of the Ukrainian
constitution." Yushchenko has called repeatedly for parliament to confirm
the nominees, but his calls have gone unheeded.
Ukraine now stands at the edge of a most dangerous precipice: Its
parliament has demonstrated a proclivity toward political instability in the
run-up to an election that will determine the face of Ukraine’s government.

And its presidency is weakened by the recent changes to the constitution –
while the constitutional arm of its judicial branch is for now
                            AN ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY
By sidelining the Constitutional Court in the run-up to the parliamentary
elections, parliament is taking out the ultimate guarantor of the integrity
of Ukraine’s constitutional process.

This is all the more concerning with opinion polls showing Yanukovich’s
Party of Regions – led by the same politician who was poised to benefit from
the electoral abuse that brought on the Orange Revolution – in the lead, but
without an absolute majority to form a government.

In this light, parliament’s refusal to approve a quorum of judges to the
Constitutional Court is a frontal attack on Ukraine’s fragile – yet
hard-earned – democracy.
                       STRIDES TOWARD DEMOCRACY
That would be a true shame. After all, in its 14 years since independence,
Ukraine has made great strides toward democracy.

In 1994, Leonid Kuchma upset Ukraine’s first president Leonid Kravchuk,
establishing the basis for a democratic transition of power in this former
Soviet republic. In 2004, Ukraine was pulled back from the brink of
electoral fraud, and the forces of democracy prevailed.
                                      LOYAL VOTERS
Over 68% of Ukraine’s eligible voters have gone to the urns in each national
election since independence. This would be the envy of any western
democracy. The democratic world will be watching as Ukraine approaches
its upcoming elections.

But first and foremost, Ukraine’s leadership from all political parties owe
it to their 47 million people and future generations of Ukrainians to assure
that this period of constitutional change and the upcoming elections will
consolidate their country’s democratic gains.            -30-
Geoffrey Berlin is Managing Director for Ukraine of GlobalNet Financial
Solutions, LLC., an investment banking firm based in Washington D.C.,
where he is leading the development of projects in the energy, industrial
and financial sectors.

He is also the founder of the Hertz Rent A Car franchise for Ukraine,
which he launched in March 1998. From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Berlin was
the Chief Executive Officer of First Tuesday Ltd., a global business
forum company in the areas of technology and entrepreneurship. From
1988 to 1992, Mr. Berlin worked with Corporate Values Associates, a
French-based management-consulting firm.

Mr. Berlin has served as the Vice President of the European Business
Association in Kiev, which brings together over 200 European businesses
that operate in Ukraine.  He is also the Founder and Chairman of
Democrats Abroad Ukraine.

Mr. Berlin received an MBA degree from the Wharton School at the
University of Pennsylvania in 1988, and an AB degree with honors from
Dartmouth College in 1984.
Front page:

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                           TOPS UKRAINE OPINION POLLS

By Fred Weir in Moscow, Canadian Press (CP)
Calgary Sun, Calgary, AB, Canada, Sunday, March 12, 2006

MOSCOW – Two key post-Soviet states, Belarus and Ukraine, head into
elections this month amid dramatic accusations of planned coups, vote-
fixing and outside interference.

But in sharp contrast to the previous cycle of elections in Russia’s
neighbourhood, which triggered tumultuous pro-democracy revolutions
in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and sent the Kremlin into a panic,
Moscow appears to be regarding the present scene with icy calm.

"Russia has learned to use its material strengths, like energy supplies,
rather than direct political interference as a means of exerting influence
over neighbouring states," says Sergei Strokan, an expert with the liberal
daily Kommersant in Moscow.

"There’s a feeling that things are going Russia’s way again, especially in
Ukraine, and we can afford to sit back and wait. One year can make a big
difference," he says.

The wave of peaceful revolts began with Georgia’s Rose Revolution’ in 2003,
continued with Ukraine’s Orange upheaval a year later and culminated last
March when pro-democracy protesters overthrew Kyrgyz President Askar

"Those revolutions were viewed in Moscow as anti-Russian, and there was real
fear that they would spread all over the former Soviet space," says Sergei
Kolmakov, vice-president of the Foundation for the Development of
Parliamentarism, which is funded by the Russian State Duma.

"Today there are real hopes that the process of ‘orange revolutions’ has
been arrested, and maybe even can be reversed," he says.

In Ukraine, a year of economic decline and disillusionment have propelled
the pro-Moscow opposition, headed by the revolution’s big loser Viktor
Yanukovych, into first place in opinion surveys for parliamentary elections
on March 26.

A survey conducted last week by the Institute of Social and Political
Psychology in Kyiv, found that Yanukovych’s party of Regions leads with 27
per cent support, followed by former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc
with 19 per cent and President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine movement
with 17 per cent.

Former "orange allies", Yushchenko and Tymoshenko – fired as PM last
September – have fallen out as the fortunes of the revolution they led have

In an ironic twist, Yanukovych, who was accused of rigging Ukraine’s 2004
presidential election in his own favour, claims the authorities are
preparing to steal the polls. "The orange team can only remain in power
through massive falsifications, and this is what they are doing," Yanukovych
alleged last week.

If upcoming Ukrainian elections bring in a deeply split parliament, that
could lead to an extended political crisis that might play into Moscow’s
hands, experts say.

A January gas blockade by Russia appears to have deepened Ukraine’s
economic slump while strengthening the hand of the pro-Moscow
Yanukovych. "Unlike the present leadership, we will not build our strategy
to the detriment of relations with Russia," Yanukovych said last week.

One reason for Russia’s new confidence may be that the "orange wave"
faltered as pro-Moscow regimes rebuffed opposition challenges over allegedly
rigged elections in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last year.

Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov bolstered his ties with Russia after crushing
a putative "Islamic uprising" in the city of Andijan last May, leaving up to
1,000 civilians dead.

Another is that the three states whose power shifts succeeded – Georgia,
Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan – now face severe popular dissatisfaction as leaders
struggle to deliver on their inflated revolutionary pledges.

"Those upsurges were the response of people to bad governance and worsening
conditions, and the new leaders that came in have shown themselves unable to
offer improvements," says Gennady Chuffrin, deputy director of the official
Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow.

In Belarus, which is already a strong ally of Russia, the Kremlin will try
to put the best face on long-time President Alexander Lukashenko’s almost
certain victory in polls slated for March 19, experts say.

Lukashenko, a former collective farm chairman who has maintained a strict,
state-controlled economy, can point to healthy growth rates, low
unemployment and stable, if meagre, living standards.

But he has closed down most independent media, severely curtailed
non-official social movements, and human rights groups say that scores of
opposition activists have "disappeared" in recent years.

Two candidates running against Lukashenko, Alexander Kozulin and

Alexander Milinkevich, have been virtually barred from the media and
have seen their rallies broken up by force.

In a Soviet-style twist, the republic’s KGB security service chief has
alleged that the opposition is planning an election day coup, to be
triggered by false exit polls, allegedly prepared by U.S.-funded
non-governmental groups, showing a 53 per cent victory for Milinkevich.

"After that, they planned to start seizing official buildings, and start
blocking railway lines with the aim of completely paralyzing the state,"

KGB chief Stepan Sukhorenko said last week.

Opposition leaders deny the allegations, but say they will bring their
supporters into the streets on election day to peacefully protest any
perceived vote-rigging. "These elections are being held under conditions
of total falsification and persecution of the opposition," Milinkevich told

Some Russian experts allege the turmoil in Belarus is overblown by Western
press reports, and point to official polls that show up to 80 per cent
support for Lukashenko.

"Lukashenko, for all his lack of democracy, has the support of his people
and is pursuing sensible policies," insists Mikhail Delyagin, director of
the independent Globalization Institute in Moscow. "He may be the devil
incarnate to the West, but Belarussians regard him as their legitimate
leader," he says.                                   -30-

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Oksana Yablokova, Staff Writer, Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 16, 2006

CHERNOVTSY, Ukraine — Viktor Yanukovych is out for revenge, and
this time he’s taking his revamped campaign to western Ukraine, the home
turf of the Orange Revolution.

In contrast to his unsuccessful 2004 bid for the presidency that relied
heavily on official rallies and the backing of Moscow, for this month’s
parliamentary elections Yanukovych has been going on the stump with U.S.
political consultants and garnering endorsements from Orthodox Church

With less than two weeks to go before the elections, Yanukovych is
tirelessly touring the country, promising to use his Kremlin connections to
renegotiate the country’s gas price hikes if his party comes to power.

According to recent polls, Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions is set to
become the biggest party in parliament after the March 26 vote, and
Yanukovych could then be well-positioned to reverse many of President
Viktor Yushchenko’s Orange Revolution reforms. The new parliament will
have unprecedented powers, including the right to appoint the prime minister
and most of the Cabinet.

In Chernovtsy, a down-on-its-luck city near the Romanian border that
heavily backed Yushchenko in 2004, Yanukovych was courting local voters
with populist promises of economic prosperity after flying in on his Yak-40
campaign jet on Sunday with some two-dozen aides.

Yanukovych’s carefully planned four-hour visit — the first in a final
whistle-stop tour of 10 cities funded by his party sponsor, Ukraine’s
richest man, Rynat Akhmetov — drew a crowd of more than 10,000
Chernovtsy residents. On this occasion, the campaign event mixed religion
with savvy politicking, as Yanukovych’s party donated a monument to the
city’s most famous son, 19th-century Orthodox leader and saint Yevgen

After an hour-long service in the city’s Orthodox cathedral, Yanukovych
walked outside with the region’s Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Onufry, and
unveiled the statue, where a large crowd of Orthodox believers mingled with
Party of the Regions supporters.

"The full credit for the appearance of this monument should be given to
Viktor Fyodorovich Yanukovych," Onufry told the crowd, which gave
Yanukovych a warm ovation. Dozens of people pressed forward to shake
hands with Yanukovych, take his picture and say hello. Many wished him
luck in the elections.

Speaking to the crowd, Yanukovych switched between Ukrainian and Russian
and back again, and even apologized for not speaking Romanian.

His most embarrassing misstep appeared to be when he wished Orthodox
believers a happy end of the Lenten season — just one week into the
seven-week period of fasting leading up to Orthodox Easter.

His main themes, however, were higher gas prices and restoring relations
with Russia.

"The new gas prices will not only provoke a new economic crisis, they will
be a catastrophe and a shock for all Ukrainians," Yanukovych told the

Speaking later to reporters, Yanukovych said that as prime minister he
would be able to a strike a better gas deal with Russia, so that prices
would instead rise gradually over the next four to five years.

Some in the crowd appeared impressed with Yanukovych, while others said
they were mostly disappointed with the government of Yushchenko and his
Orange Revolution allies.

"Yanukovych comes across as a man of his word. There are very few like
him in Ukrainian politics now," said Mykola Dorodnik, a 62-year-old

"We have always been poor, but not as poor as now," said Olexander, 44,
an airplane pilot turned gypsy-cab driver who refused to give his surname.
"The Orange Revolution turned out to be such a shame. People are very
disappointed here and feel they have been deceived."

The choice of Chernovtsy for the campaign stop was no accident,
Yanukovych’s aides said.

"Chernovtsy is a unique multi-ethnic region with the reputation of being
the most tolerant Western province," said Rodion Miroshnikov, a Party of
Regions spokesman. "Besides, the position of the Orthodox Church is very
strong here."

Chernovtsy, a city of some 250,000 people, is split down the middle between
Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers, and has a large ethnic Romanian minority.

"We did not expect any provocations here, as we could have in Lviv or other
western regions," said Taras Chernovil, the Party of Regions deputy
campaign chief and No. 4 candidate on the party list.

In the December 2004 presidential election, Chernovtsy went Orange,
delivering a vote of 79.75 percent for Yushchenko, according to figures
posted on the Central Elections Commission’s web site.

The city is as close to Yushchenko’s strongholds in the neighboring regions
of Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankiivsk as Yanukovych’s campaign bandwagon
is likely to venture, however.

According to the Razumkov Center, one of the country’s leading polling
agencies, the Party of Regions is set to win at least 27 percent of the
vote, while Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine is second with 17 percent and former
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc is third, with 13 percent.

The success of Yanukovych’s campaign this time indicates that the one-time
Kremlin-backed presidential candidate has learned some lessons, and is now
running a slicker campaign that plays on the country’s disillusionment with
Yushchenko’s government, Ukrainian analysts said.

"Yanukovych and his party have a great television and newspaper campaign,
which was put together with the help of U.S. consultants," said Vasily
Stoyakin, director of the Kiev-based Center for Political Marketing.

Miroshnikov, the Party of the Regions spokesman, declined to name the
consultants or the company the Party of the Regions had hired. Other
members of Yanukovych’s team said, however, that during the early stages
of the election campaign a group of American consultants had accompanied
Yanukovych in his trips around the country.

Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev-based Center for Politics and
Conflict Studies, said that this time Yanukovych was "smartly avoiding
appearing on television, in order not to invoke unpleasant memories of

In 2004, then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovych was openly supported by
then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and President Vladimir Putin, who
flew to Kiev during the campaign. Putin’s interventions drew criticism from
many in Ukraine and the West.

Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst, said that unlike in
the 2004 presidential campaign, this time no Russian spin doctors were
working for Yanukovych or his party.

"The Party of the Regions is using the services of U.S. consultants, but at
this stage of the campaign they are mostly working for Akhmetov, who is No.
7 on the party list and needs guidance on how to improve his image and
raise his political profile," Markov said by telephone Wednesday

In 2004, Yanukovych campaigned presumptuously, assuming he would win
easily, Markov said. "This time his campaign is more respectful to voters."

On Tuesday, Party of the Regions campaign chief Yevgeny Kushnaryov said
that Yanukovych would not take part in television debates with Ukrainian
Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, the leader of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine

Earlier in the campaign, Yanukovych had challenged Yekhanurov to debate
on television, but Yekhanurov had refused. Recently, however, Our Ukraine
officials have said Yekhanurov is ready to debate.

Kushnaryov told reporters that Yanukovych was now too busy with meetings
and campaign appearances to appear in the debates.

Our Ukraine campaign officials reacted by saying that Yanukovych’s aides
feared that he might damage his party’s chances by saying something
embarrassing on the air.

Last month, while campaigning in Odessa, Yanukovych mispronounced the
name of Soviet-era poet Anna Akhmatova, calling her Akhmetova, prompting
scorn from his opponents.

Stoyakin said that Yanukovych’s slicker campaign strategy outweighed his

Another potentially smart PR move by Yanukovych’s party was the decision
earlier this month by the regional council of Kharkiv, one of Yanukovych’s
Russian-speaking strongholds in eastern Ukraine, to give Russian the status
of an official language.

The Party of the Regions was also helped by the fact that no new opposition
forces have emerged since the Orange Revolution, said Pogrebinsky of the
Center for Politics and Conflict Studies.

Yanukovych’s party was "destined to win" these elections, Pogrebinsky said,
given "the disillusionment of a large part of the population with the rule
of the Orange team."

Each mistake by the Orange Revolution leaders led to extra votes for the
Party of Regions, Stoyakin said.

"Yanukovych is leading not due to his personal popularity, but because of
the splits among his opponents," said Volodymyr Polokhalo, an analyst
with the Institute of World Economy and a member of Tymoshenko’s bloc,
which is locked in a bitter rivalry with its former allies in Yushchenko’s

As a total of 45 parties and electoral blocs are competing in the
elections, Yanukovych’s party is unlikely to win a majority of seats in
parliament, but could cobble together a majority through alliances with
other parties.

But regardless of whether the party has enough support to choose the prime
minister and Cabinet, it will certainly be a major force after March 26,
analysts said.                                       -30-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

                        AS ORANGE REVOLUTION SOURS

By Nick Holdsworth, Telegraph
London, United Kingdom, Sunday, March 12, 2006

Fifteen months after he was denied high office by the youthful protesters of
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Viktor Yanukovich is on the brink of an
extraordinary comeback.

The pro-Moscow candidate, whose presidential ambitions were dashed after
the disputed December 2004 poll, scents victory in the parliamentary
elections in two weeks. Arguing that Ukraine made a terrible mistake by turning

its back on its traditional ally, Russia, to woo the European Union, his Party
of the Regions looks set to win the most seats – making him the king-maker
in an expected new coalition government.

Mr Yanukovich, who was acting prime minister from November 2002 until
December 2004, is too cautious to lay claim openly to the office again, but
his message is clear: he is back.

"We aim to get power and overcome Ukraine’s crisis and stabilise the country
with a team of able and talented people," he said at his campaign
headquarters, a 19th-century mansion in the Ukrainian capital.

In a swipe at President Victor Yushchenko, who seeks links with the EU and
Nato, he said: "The government talks about European integration and the
benefits that it will bring at a time when many people in Ukraine wonder why
their standards of living are deteriorating. The country is living in a
state of permanent crisis."

Joining Nato would be impossible, he added, because it would require a
referendum – and "80 per cent of Ukrainians are opposed".

Looking every inch the professional politician, with his glowing tan and
discreet blue suit, Mr Yanukovich, 55, exuded confidence and good humour –
no longer the anxious figure embattled by Orange revolutionaries.

"Those people had no reasons to block the government offices," he said.
"Actually, they blocked the life of the country." He insists the revolution
was little more than a coup d’etat. "That was a well-prepared and
implemented scenario. It was a seizure of power."

Since the revolution, not all has gone smoothly for President Yuschenko.
The sympathy aroused by an attempt by pro-Russian opponents to poison
him waned as Russia engineered a confrontation over gas supplies and the
EU appeared lukewarm about possible Ukrainian membership.

Last autumn President Yuschenko sacked his prime minister, Yulia
Timoshenko, a partner in the revolution, after politically damaging

Some supporters of the revolution now feel disappointed by his failure to
live up to his promises – a further boost to Mr Yanukovich’s first steps
back towards power.  -30-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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                       UKRAINE’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Mar 17 2006

KIEV – Voters look set to punish President Viktor Yushchenko in next
weekend’s parliamentary election, in a bitter twist for the Orange
Revolution leader who ushered in the very reforms that are making the
contest the most democratic in this ex-Soviet republic’s history.

Pollsters predict the winner will be the pro-Russian Party of the Regions,
led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych – the man whose fraud-

marred run for the presidency in 2004 triggered the Orange Revolution.

Widespread disappointment in the peaceful revolution’s unfulfilled promises
of prosperity and an end to corruption have left Yushchenko’s camp
struggling even to win second place.

The resurgence of Yanukovych, whose political career looked buried just over
a year and a half ago, could reshape the pro-Western politics of this nation
of 47 million that stretches between the European Union and Russia.

Most analysts predict that the pragmatic Yushchenko will reach out to
Yanukovych to form a coalition, since neither of their parties will get
enough votes to form a majority on its own. The majority has the right to
appoint the prime minister and many Cabinet members.

Proponents of such a coalition say involving Yanukovych’s party in the
government could help bridge Ukraine’s deep regional divisions, absorb the
44 percent of voters who didn’t support the Orange Revolution and improve
Kyiv’s rocky ties with Moscow. Critics warn it could slow Ukraine’s Westward
march and return power to some officials the Orange Revolution leaders had
vowed to jail.

"I would put to him only one question: If this coalition is formed, what was
the point of the revolution?," said former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko,
whose acrimonious split with the president last fall shattered the Orange
Revolution team.

The charismatic Tymoshenko, whose rabble-rousing speeches helped spur on

the protesters during the mass rallies, wants the prime minister’s seat back and
has focused her campaign on winning the votes of disillusioned Orange
Revolution supporters. Analysts predict a strong showing on election day if
she collects most of the protest vote.

Yushchenko’s bloc has countered by spending much of the campaign attacking
her. It blames Tymoshenko for the flood of economic ills that engulfed
Ukraine in the year after Yushchenko came to power, including the plunge in
GDP growth from 12 percent to 2 percent, rising prices of staple foods such
as meat and sugar, and last year’s re-privatization debacle that scared off
foreign investors.

Asked last week to name one good thing that Tymoshenko did while in
government, Yushchenko’s face hardened. One second, two, three went by

in silence. "I’m composing my emotions so I can restrain them," he said
finally. He couldn’t name one thing.

Many Ukrainians want the two heroes of the Orange Revolution to team up
again. "All I want is for Yulia and Viktor Andriyovych (Yushchenko) to make
peace and reunite," said Olha Prikhodko, 60. She had taped photographs of
Tymoshenko – an eye-catching blonde who wears her hair in a traditional,
peasant’s braid – and of Yushchenko and his five children on walls in her
western Ukrainian home.

With that looking increasingly unlikely, analysts have taken to debating
what Yanukovych’s return would mean. He draws his support almost

exclusively from Ukraine’s industrial, Russian-speaking east.

Yanukovych has called for Russian to be made a second state language

and has promised to repair ties with Moscow. He says he supports EU
membership, but views membership in a trade zone with Russia, Belarus
and Kazakhstan as an immediate priority.

"Yanukovych will pursue a much more weighted policy to Russia and the
West. You never bet your whole hand on one horse," said Yanukovych’s
ally, businessman Alex Kiselev.

But Yushchenko would retain significant powers to shape policy. The
president will still name the foreign and defense ministers; Ukraine’s
current foreign minister, Borys Tarasiuk, whom Russian analyst Sergei

Markov accused of "hating Russia even more than he loves Ukraine," is
a very influential figure and is widely expected to stay in the job.

"Regarding foreign policy, I’m sure it will not be changed," Yushchenko told
journalists. "It is one thing to be in opposition, another to be responsible
for forming foreign policy … I am convinced that European-Atlantic
integration is in harmony with our national interests."

Ukrainian election law prevents polls from being released in the two weeks
before the election, and earlier polls varied dramatically. But most put
Yanukovych’s bloc in the lead with around 30 percent, followed by
Yushchenko’s and Tymoshenko’s party neck-and-neck for second, with

between 15 and 22 percent each.

The biggest threat to stability could be a failure by parliament to form a
majority in the required one-month period, leaving Yushchenko the option

of dissolving it and calling new elections.
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                       TO WRECK ORANGE REVOLUTION

By Mark Franchetti, Kiev, The Sunday Times – World
London, United Kingdom, Sunday, March 12, 2006

LESS than 15 months after he was forced from power by crowds of
pro-democracy protesters, a former communist hardliner is finalising his
plans to end Ukraine’s orange revolution.

Viktor Yanukovich, 55, the former prime minister whose presidential
campaign in 2004 ended in humiliation when he stepped down amid
allegations of electoral fraud, is expected to win the largest number of
votes for his party when Ukraine elects a new parliament later this month.

His astonishing comeback has severely undermined the authority of Viktor
Yushchenko, 52, the embattled pro-western president and hero of the orange
revolution. Yanukovich has promised to steer Ukraine away from the West
and back into Russia’s sphere of influence.

"I have no doubts whatsoever that we will win these elections," said a
tanned and buoyant Yanukovich at his party headquarters in Kiev.

"The orange revolution has long been over. It was a populist coup staged by
people who made a lot of empty promises and brought Ukraine to the brink of
catastrophe. Yushchenko’s policy towards Russia is not in our national
interest and in the eyes of the people the concept of EU membership has been
discredited. As for Nato, Ukraine isn’t ready to join it."

According to the latest polls, Yanukovich’s Party of Regions could win more
than 30% of the vote on March 26.

Our Ukraine, Yushchenko’s party, is expected to get no more than 20%. It
could be overtaken by the party of Yulia Timoshenko, 46, the president’s
charismatic former ally. He sacked her as prime minister last September and
has since accused her of corruption, a claim she denies.

At stake are Yushchenko’s survival as a political force and the future of
the orange revolution he led with Timoshenko.

Under constitutional changes introduced on January 1, parliament rather than
the president now chooses the prime minister, most of the government and the
regional leaders. Without a majority in the country’s 450-seat parliament,
Yushchenko, whose personal approval rating has plummeted by 50% in a year,
will be leader only in name.

He may face a painful choice between forming a coalition with Yanukovich or
Timoshenko. Worse still, he risks seeing them unite against him.

The prospect of Yanukovich’s return to the forefront of Ukrainian politics
has filled supporters of the orange revolution with dread. It has also
dismayed western governments which were quick to support Yushchenko
when he challenged the authoritarian regime of Leonid Kuchma, the former
president who was close to Moscow.

"The country is going from crisis to crisis," said Yanukovich. "People look
back now and see that under my leadership things were much better than they
are now. I predicted that the revolution was just pure populism and people
now see that I was right."

Yanukovich has opposed moves by Yushchenko’s government to re-privatise
companies which were sold off cheaply by the state under Kuchma.
Yanukovich is close to some of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs, especially
Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man.

There are fears that Yanukovich’s comeback could herald a return to the
corruption of the Kuchma era. It was during Yanukovich’s time as prime
minister that the state sold Ukraine’s largest steel plant to a consortium
led by Akhmetov and Kuchma’s son-in-law for $811m, even though a foreign
bidder had offered $1.5 billion. After the orange revolution the plant was
renationalised and put up for sale again. It fetched $4.81 billion.

Such high-profile initiatives have failed to halt the decline of Yushchenko’s
public standing. Protesters who braved sub-zero temperatures for two weeks
to force Yanukovich out lament promises made by Yushchenko during the
peaceful uprising that have since been betrayed.

The president’s difficulties have been compounded by the state of Ukraine’s
stagnant economy. Having been seen as decisive and brave during the
revolution, Yushchenko looked weak and indecisive earlier this year during a
row with Moscow over gas prices which led to supplies being temporarily cut

"Few politicians in the world enjoyed Yushchenko’s popularity," said Oleg
Zvarych, a driver who took part in the revolution. "As for Yanukovich, I
thought we had seen the last of him. His comeback is too depressing for
words."   -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


By Mara D. Bellaby, AP Worldstream, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Mar 17, 2006

KYIV – Ukraine’s parliamentary election campaign has deepened the country’s
already sharp divide between its pro-European western regions and the
pro-Russian east, harming efforts to create a single national identity for
this ex-Soviet republic, political experts said Thursday.

They accused political parties of playing up the split in order to court
voters before the March 26 election, and cautioned that it was a risky move.

The divisions are "becoming even more threatening, even more serious," said
Yuriy Yakymenko, a political analyst with Kiev’s Razumkov think-tank.

Different parts of Ukraine fell under different empires throughout the
land’s history, causing a historical and linguistic divide that has remained
since independence in 1991, experts said. The Russian-speaking East
continues to look toward Moscow, while the Ukrainian-speaking West dreams

of shaking off Russian influence and joining the European Union.

The differences were thrust into the spotlight during the bitterly contested
2004 presidential election. The Orange Revolution protests, which broke out
after the fraud-marred vote, were fueled mostly by Ukrainians from western
and central regions. The industrial east and the Crimea overwhelmingly
supported Yushchenko’s Kremlin-backed rival, Viktor Yanukovych.

Next week’s parliamentary elections pit the same main political players
against each other. Opinion polls predict Yanukovych’s party will be the
biggest vote getter, but that no party will win a majority. Some analysts
have said the most likely scenario is a grand coalition between Yushchenko
and Yanukovych.

Supporters say that could help unite the country; critics say it would
return power to many people that the Orange Revolution leaders had pledged
to jail. Both sides would find it a hard sell to their supporters.

Pollsters said that many Ukrainians report feeling more in common with
people across the border either to the east in Russia or the west in Poland
than they do with their own compatriots across the country. By focusing on
issues such as language and Ukraine’s geopolitical direction, politicians
are deepening the animosity, said analyst Valeriy Khmelko.

"There is almost an idea of ‘this is my guy’ and ‘this is my enemy,’"
Yakymenko said.

Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions and a number of smaller parties have
called for making Russian a second state language, something that is
strongly opposed by Yushchenko and his former Orange Revolution allies.
Pollsters said the debate divides right down geographical lines.

According to analyst Valeriy Khmelko, 98 percent of western Ukrainians will
always prefer to speak Ukrainian, compared with only 5 percent of eastern

"I wouldn’t like to see the language of our fathers and ancestors disappear
in my lifetime or yours," Yushchenko told students in the eastern city of
Kharkiv on Friday, according to the Unian news agency. "Who are we? Ukraine
or Little Russia? We must know and respect the Ukrainian language – that’s
our first commandment."

Analysts said that some of the division is linked to ethnicity, but much of
it is cultural – and some of it is influenced from across the border.

"Russian intellectuals and society are still crying about their lost
empire," said Yuriy Ruban, director of the National Institute of Strategic
Investigations. "And look at what kind of productions they are broadcasting
into Ukraine, what myths they are imposing on us."

Russia broadcasts news programs in Ukraine. In the run-up to the election,
the broadcasts have suggested overtly that the Ukrainian government is not
acting in the interests of its own people and is trying to distance them
from their Slavic brothers, the Russians.

The experts said there was some room for encouragement. Some 76

percent of Ukrainians describe themselves as patriots, Yakymenko said.
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By Zoltán Dujisin, Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS)
Rome, Italy, Friday, March 10, 2006

KIEV – Ukraine is preparing for parliamentary elections Mar. 26 amid
political chaos and divisions, but little has been delivered so far on one
of the main promises of last years’ elections: to eradicate corruption.

The ballot will not only elect a new prime minister, it will complete the
constitutional reform to a more parliamentary democracy.

Widespread poverty is the principal difficulty this country of 48 million
faces. A worrying economic performance is taking prevalence in people’s
minds. They partly blame it on gas price hikes by Russia, but corruption
remains a visible, largely unaddressed factor advancing poverty.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2005 placed
Ukraine in a worrying 107th place, along with Vietnam and Zimbabwe,
accounting for one of the worst positions in Europe, second only to

With the current government facing the distrust of many voters who had
previously supported it, surveys confirm that a large part of their
disillusionment is due to a lack of tangible progress in the fight against

A survey by the International Institute of Sociology in Kiev carried out
late last year following the cabinet’s dismissal indicated that almost 70
percent of Ukrainians were disappointment by the governments’

Misunderstandings within the cabinet, administrative incompetence, the
absence of a strategic vision for the country’s future, and failure to
tackle corruption were all pointed out as the main reasons behind popular

Corruption allegations have persisted in a country whose Western-leaning
government had promised to attack the problem following last year’s
presidential elections.

Accusations of bribery and illegitimate links to businesses within the
cabinet led to its dissolution in September. But since then none of the
suspects has been brought to justice, following a long tradition of
unaccountability in the Ukrainian political realm.

"Corruption is institutionalised and legitimised in Ukrainian law: it is a
talent of ours," Vira Nanivska, director of the International Centre for
Policy Studies told IPS.

Nanivska sees corruption in Ukraine as the result of misguided planning
during transition from communism. "There was economic liberalisation
without paying attention to institutional capacity and judicial reform," she

She blames World Bank policy for offering deficient assistance, and largely
neo-liberal policy advice. "Their idea was that the ‘invisible hand of the
market’ would automatically give place to the necessary regulations and

After leaving the Soviet Union and achieving independence in 1991,
Ukraine quickly proceeded to dismantle Soviet institutions, leading to an
institutional void, and the absence of a new systemic framework.

In Nanivska’s view, corruption settled to fill the gap left by this void,
and became vital for elites pursuing their interests. "The powerful ones
realised the importance of buying media outlets and bribing members of
parliament to ensure support for the policies and laws they need to see

But there is consensus that corruption existed before independence,
even if in other forms.

Yuri Sayenko, sociologist and former member of an anti-corruption
commission, argues the tradition dates back to Czarism, it survived
throughout Soviet history in the form of nepotism, and eventually
developed into its monetary form with transition to democracy.

"People currently feel they are in the hands of civil servants" who rely on
corruption to compensate for their low salaries, he told IPS. "They offer a
very simple solution to even the slightest problem: Either you pay a bribe,
or nothing will be solved."

The attitude has resulted in a deeply mistrustful, unstable population,
feeling constantly vulnerable to economic crime, he said. "Low salaries,
the lack of a middle class, and the absence of a civil society have
certainly not helped."

But some economists look at the bright side of corruption. "Corruption has
become a vehicle for economic activity and makes certain investments
possible," argues Igor Burakovsky, an economic adviser close to President
Viktor Yushchenko.

But while corruption is having a temporarily positive effect on business,
he argues for "clear and transparent institutions and legislation" so as to
ultimately "convince businessmen that the best way is the legal way."

But fighting corruption will not be easy, he said. "It is a long process,
and many mistakes will be made," he told IPS. "Its eradication is
impossible, but hopefully we can lower it to acceptable levels."

The government has taken some strong measures, even if the results have
not been the best, Nanivska said. "But we are on the right path."

Sayenko says governments change, but the same political structures are still
in place. The fight against corruption will have to necessarily involve a
"wide variety of specialists, and the participation of a strong civil
society. Only then we will be able to change mentalities." (END/2006)
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


ICTV television, Kiev, in Ukrainian 0610 gmt 13 Mar 0
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, In English, Monday, Mar 13, 2006

KIEV- Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, whose Party of
Regions is leading the opinion polls ahead of the 26 March parliamentary
elections, spoke in detail about his party’s manifesto in a 25 minute live
interview on ICTV television on 13 March.

Speaking in Ukrainian with apparent difficulty at times, and often switching
back and forth between Ukrainian and Russian, Yanukovych accused the
government of leading the country to the brink of economic catastrophe.

He said his party, once elected to parliament, would aim to boost economic
growth by improving relations with Russia and renegotiating the gas
contracts signed in early 2006, restoring normal trade relations with Moscow
and lowering taxes.

He reiterated his opposition to Ukraine joining NATO, saying that the move
would further strain relations with the Kremlin. He also said that Russia
can be persuaded to lower gas prices for Ukraine if Kiev agrees to join the
Moscow-backed Single Economic Space project. -15-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                Will Russian become a second state language in Ukraine?

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Oleg Varfolomeyev
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol 3, Issue 51
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, DC, Wed, March 15, 2006

The Russian language issue has been employed in the run-up to the March
26 Ukrainian parliamentary election probably more actively than in any past
poll. Unlike in previous elections, where marginal groups and low-key
candidates played the Russian-language card, now such heavyweights as the
frontrunner Party of Regions (PRU) has made elevating the status of Russian
a key promise.

"This issue has a significant conflict potential, that is why it is very
tempting to use it in elections," Andriy Bychenko of the Razumkov Center
think tank said, presenting the results of a December 2005 nationwide
opinion poll on the attitudes toward the Russian language.

The poll showed that more than 60% of Ukrainians are in favor of raising the
status of Russian, including 37% who believe that Ukrainian and Russian
should have equal status. The 1996 Constitution, however, does not provide
for any status for Russian whatsoever, but stipulates that Ukrainian is the
sole state language. Hence the high conflict potential and temptation to
abuse the issue.

Feelings about the Russian language are especially strong in eastern and
southern Ukraine, including Crimea. In those areas, according to an April
2005 poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kyiv-based
Sociology Institute, support for the idea of making Russian either a second
state language or an official regional language hovers around 90%. More than
half of western Ukrainians are against this, according to the same poll.

The parties that regard the Russophone eastern and southern areas as their
strongholds have been capitalizing on what they describe as the authorities’
failure to address the Russian-language issue. In the current campaign, all
those parties represent the opposition, while the national-minded west and
center of Ukraine have stayed loyal to the parties that used to form the
Orange Revolution coalition.

Playing the Russian-language card is nothing new for the radical leftists —
the Communist Party (CPU) and the Progressive Socialist Party (PSPU) of
Natalya Vitrenko. Elevating the status of Russian to a second state language
has always been among their main slogans.

In the current campaign, however, they have at least two very strong rivals
playing in the same field: the United Social Democratic Party (SDPUO) of
Viktor Medvedchuk, who was a key aide to former president Leonid Kuchma,
and the Party of Regions (PRU) of former presidential candidate Viktor

One of the main slogans of the SDPUO’s campaign reads: "Against NATO, for
the Single Economic Space with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and for the
Russian language." The text reads more like a communist leaflet. The
appearance of strong rivals playing in the same field is arguably the main
reason behind dwindling popular support for the CPU and the PSPU.

One telling example is the Russophone Donetsk Region, which was the main
electoral base of the CPU a decade ago, but now is the stronghold of the

PRU leader Viktor Yanukovych, who routinely spoke Ukrainian when he was
prime minister in 2002-2004, ostensibly speaks Russian on his campaign
trips. The PRU’s campaign brochure "50 questions and answers" promises
a nationwide referendum in order to give Russian "the state status, on par
with Ukrainian," as "56% of Ukrainian citizens routinely use the Russian
language in everyday life."

The PRU collected 300,000 signatures for a local referendum on the status
of the Russian language earlier this year in Crimea, which is, ironically,
the only region where Russian actually enjoys a special status, according to

the local constitution.

Based on this, on February 22 the Crimean parliament voted to hold a local
non-binding referendum on the status of Russian on March 26, to coincide
with the general elections. The Ukrainian Justice Ministry, however, warned
that the referendum would be illegal.

For the moment, it is not clear whether the referendum will be held at all.
It is clear, however, that it will have no legal consequences, which its
organizers readily admit, saying that their goal is just to raise public
awareness of the problem. The Crimean Tatars, who back the government
in Kyiv, will ignore the Russian language referendum, their leader, Mustafa
Dzhemilev, told Glavred web site.

On March 6, the city council of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine voted to
grant Russian the status of a regional language. President Yushchenko’s
legal adviser, Mykola Poludyony, said the council’s decision was illegal,
as the council had acted outside its remit. Kyiv’s official position is that
there is no Russian language problem.

"This is speculation by certain politicians ahead of the election,"
Yushchenko said on a trip to western Ivano-Frankivsk last month. On March
11, in his regular weekly radio address to the nation, Yushchenko warned
against "provoking conflicts around the language issue in the heat of the
election campaign."                                  -30-
(LIGABiznesInform, May 5, 2005;, February 22; Interfax-
Ukraine, February 24;, March 3; Itar-Tass, UT1, March 6;
UNIAN, February 7, March 7; Ukrainian radio, March 11)
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


ANALYSIS:, Predictive, Insightful Global Intelligence
Austin, Texas, Friday, February 24, 2006

Ukraine is set to hold parliamentary elections March 26. While the results
will reflect the influence of Russian interests, the West is too busy
elsewhere to put up much of a struggle. At present, polls put all three
parties with roughly equal shares of the vote. No matter who wins, however,
the choice of Ukraine’s next prime minister probably lies in the hands of
former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

Ukraine will hold elections for its parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on March
26. The main competitors are familiar from the Orange Revolution. They
include the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovich and the Party of Regions, the
bloc led by former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, and President Viktor
Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine party. Polls, albeit with a large margin of
error, show the three in a tie with about 20 percent each; many voters
remain undecided.

Under the new Ukrainian Constitution, Rada deputies will be elected under a
purely proportional scheme using party lists and setting a threshold of 3
percent of the national vote to gain seats. The 450-member parliament will
turn over completely. No party will gain more than half of the seats in this
race, so whichever wins the most seats will not necessarily form the next
government, since other two could partner against the winner to form a

In this case, likely third-place candidate Yulia Timoshenko will decide
which party gets to name the next prime minister, via her ability to choose
which party to join in a coalition.

Generally speaking, Ukraine is split between a pro-Russian east and south
and a nationalist, pro-Western center and west. The Party of Regions
controls the pro-Russian part of Ukraine while Timoshenko and Our Ukraine
share the nationalist vote.

The Party of Regions looks likely to win the most votes, but that does not
mean it will form the next government. Yanukovich and his party are backed
by powerful oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who sponsored Yanukovich’s 2004
presidential campaign and is believed to operate major criminal enterprises
in eastern Ukraine. Akhmetov, who has ties to Russia, is on the Party of
Regions list.

Russia has shown that it will go far to keep Ukraine under its control to
serve as a buffer, as exemplified by Moscow’s recent natural gas cutoff.
With increasing aggressive activity by Russia on the Crimean Peninsula, and
Moscow keen on retaining control over natural gas transit, Russia will seek
to influence the elections.

It will go about this more quietly than it did in 2004. Whereas Putin
personally supported Yanukovich’s presidential candidacy before, this time
Moscow is sticking to financial support, mostly routed through figures such
as Akhmetov.

The Our Ukraine party does not have the votes to win, and Timoshenko’s
candidacy hurts rather than helps its chances.

Timoshenko’s popularity has fallen significantly since her denunciation of
the natural gas delivery contract between Ukraine and Russia. In her concern
for her personal and financial interests, Timoshenko miscalculated the
degree of support for the deal, which Yushchenko backs.

Nevertheless, she is a charismatic populist, and still stands poised to pull
votes away from Our Ukraine, though her party probably will not win the most
votes. After the election, she will partner with whichever party gives her
the best deal, despite her recent negotiations with Our Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Yushchenko’s behavior, including the dismissal of Timoshenko as
prime minister in September 2005, has not put him in the best light with the
West. Western involvement in Ukraine’s elections is also more circumspect
than in 2004. After the natural gas cutoff, the European Union has come to
realize that seeking to pull Ukraine too far out of the Russian orbit
jeopardizes its own energy supply.

Washington still supports Yushchenko, but U.S. foreign policy has trouble
focusing on more than one thing at a time, and has priorities beyond Ukraine
at present.

The next prime minister will thus likely be a compromise candidate. And
while the Rada elections could be seen as a referendum on Yushchenko and

Our Ukraine’s performance, they are really a contest between Russia and the
West — and the West is not trying very hard. And while the Party of Regions
may win the vote, this might not translate to the controlling the office of
prime minister, unless perhaps Akhmetov is willing to make Timoshenko a
very nice offer.                                      -30-
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12.                      UKRAINE RISK: RISK OVERVIEW

EIU Riskwire – Overview Ukraine
The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited
New York, New York, Monday, March 6, 2006

                                  OVERALL ASSESSMENT
Operating risk in Ukraine is fairly high. The leadership that took power
early in 2005 is more committed than the previous one to attempting to
increase political transparency and uphold the rule of law. However,
reforming the political process will take time. The bureaucracy remains
ineffective, and vested interests are still in a position to distort the
commercial and administrative system.

Red tape similarly remains pervasive, although the government is moving

more quickly than previous ones to ease the regulatory burden and simplify
procedures. Discrimination against foreign businesses was common in the
past; the new administration is improving on this, but concrete results will
only be noticed gradually.

Moreover, the leadership’s plans in 2005 to review past privatisation deals,
although now drastically scaled back, have increased uncertainty and raised
concerns over property rights. The tax system is unclear and unpredictable.
Infrastructure is inadequate.
Security risk in Ukraine is low. Armed conflict is not a concern. Although
ethnic tensions over Crimea persist, these are not expected to lead to
violent confrontations. The political crisis that followed the flawed
presidential election in 2004 fuelled inter-regional differences, but a
resort to violence remains unlikely, and there is no indigenous armed
activity of any kind.

There is some hostility to foreign capital, but little opposition to foreign
business people as such, and they face no special risks. Violent crime is a
concern for all businesses, as is the influence of organised crime in
Ukrainian politics and the economy.

Foreigners have not so far been targets of kidnapping but there have been
attempts at extortion. A rise in the number of physical attacks against
foreigners was reported in 2005, although these were still isolated
The risk of political instability and social unrest is significant. Victor
Yushchenko came to power backed by a fragile coalition, the competing
interests of which have undermined political stability, leading the
president to sack the cabinet in early September 2005.

The new cabinet proved more cohesive, but was brought down by parliament

in January 2006 and now serves in a caretaker capacity. The cabinet’s sacking
adds to the considerable political tension already resulting from the
campaign for the March 2006 parliamentary election.

Moreover, sweeping constitutional changes, which shift powers from the
presidency to parliament, entered into effect at the start of 2006 and have
already proved they will fuel political instability. The constitutional
changes, combined with the poor prospects for any stable majority coalition
emerging in the new parliament after the election, will increase the
likelihood of further government reshuffles and even the possibilities of a
pre-term parliamentary election.
Government effectiveness risk is very high. The leadership and the
bureaucracy have traditionally performed poorly and erratically. Corruption
is widespread and red tape is pervasive. The policy confusion and often
dysfunctional interaction of the new reformist leadership in place since
early 2005 has confirmed how hard these faults are to address.

Progress on administrative reforms will continue to be slow, and vested
interests are still prominent in the public sector. The introduction of
constitutional changes at the start of 2006 has strengthened parliament and
the cabinet, in part by weakening the presidency.

Altough it could eventually help lead to a more effective political system,
political manoeuvring surrounding the shift to a new distribution of power
is still likely to reduce government effectiveness over the short term at
The legal process is not independent and the judiciary is easily cowed by
vested interests. Contracts are difficult to enforce and regulation is
neither impartial nor clear. Although it is possible for foreign firms to
win court cases, particularly at the higher levels, the judicial process
remains slow and inefficient.

Ukraine is dominated by powerful local players who have successfully
excluded foreign capital. The risk that foreign investors’ assets will be de
facto expropriated is low, but recent examples of this exist. The outgoing
government’s record on promoting competition and restraining unfair
competitive practices was poor.

Although the new presidential administration is more committed to a level
playing field, reforming the old system will take a while. Private property
rights are still not well protected. Local accounting standards are well
below accepted levels in the EU and the US.
Ukraine’s economic growth decelerated rapidly in 2005. Inflation has risen
but remains moderate, and the currency is stable. Although relatively strong
growth is expected over the forecast period, the economy is still
over-dependent on a few low value-added sectors. This increases the
economy’s susceptibility to price and demand swings, and its vulnerability
to protectionist measures abroad.

Moreover, low levels of investment raise further doubts over the
sustainability of the economic recovery. Fiscal policy has loosened since
mid-2004, which is partly to blame for higher inflation since then.

Further inflationary pressures are to be expected, as the government has
boosted incomes prior to the 2006 parliamentary election, as price
liberalisation is completed, and as the effect of higher gas import prices
works its way through the economy.
In the event of a financial crisis, foreign-exchange availability would
rapidly disappear–as was most recently apparent during the election-related
turmoil in late 2004. Discriminatory tariffs are a low risk but might be
imposed in the event of a grave economic crisis. There is a moderate risk of
excessive trade protection, and some capital controls are expected to remain
in place.

The central bank has loosened currency controls in recent years. Not least,
it abolished the requirement that 50% of export earnings be converted into
the domestic currency. The central bank has long been under pressure from
exporters eager to see swifter currency depreciation, but it has thus far
resisted these demands.
The tax system poses some risks for business, since the tax regime lacks
predictability and transparency. Parliament made some progress in 2003 in
amending tax laws, including passage of a flat 13% income tax rate, which
entered into effect at the start of 2004.

Parliament attempted on occasion to reduce the VAT rate (from 20% to 17%)
under the previous president, but was blocked by presidential veto. The
level of corporate taxation is moderate, having been lowered as of 2004 as
part of a campaign to encourage tax compliance.

However, at 25% it is still higher than in many Central European economies.
There is a persistent risk that taxes will be enforced in a manner
unfavourable to foreign firms even if, in theory, they are non-

discriminatory. An additional risk comes from sudden changes in the
tax environment that leave businesses little time to adjust.
Labour market risk is moderate. Strikes are only common in the state sector
and scarcely affect foreign firms. Labour laws are tilted towards the
employee and against the employer. There is a shortage of managers and
employees with exposure to doing business in a market economy.

Wage compensation is slowly moving towards a system under which pay is
related to productivity rather than age. There is no risk that freedom of
association will not be respected.
Financial risk remains relatively high in Ukraine. The financial sector is
still underdeveloped, and there is little long-term finance available
domestically for the private sector. Few foreign firms would want to access
the small local financial markets. There is an inadequate local bond market,
while the illiquid stockmarket plays little role in providing equity

The international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Ukraine from
its blacklist of countries deemed not to be sufficiently vigilant in
confronting money laundering in 2004, and in February 2006 ended its close
monitoring of the implementation of Ukraine’s money-laundering provisions.
Infrastructure risk is high. Port facilities are extensive and have improved
over the past three years, but are in need of further upgrading. Air
transport provision has deteriorated, requires investment and is expensive
compared with other locations in the region. The distribution network is
erratic and below standard. The telecommunications system requires massive

The road network is large but in poor repair, with the railways suffering
from similar problems. Power generation capacity is sufficient, but power
cuts are possible at any time and non-payment for energy is a concern.
Information technology infrastructure is inadequate for a country with
Ukraine’s level of education.                           -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
             Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
     Party of Regions, Headed by Yanukovych, Leads Ahead of Ukraine Vote

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 3, Issue 46
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Wed, March 8, 2006

The March 26 parliamentary election in Ukraine will be contested by an
unprecedented 45 parties and blocs, but this impressive number is
misleading. Opinion polls show that over 30 of them have nothing to hope
for, while four to six parties will be struggling to clear the 3 percent
barrier into parliament, as popular support for them is calculated in single

The real race is between the three most popular forces — the Our Ukraine
bloc of President Viktor Yushchenko and the bloc of former prime minister
Yulia Tymoshenko, who shared the triumph of the Orange Revolution in 2004,
and the Party of Regions  (PRU) headed by Yushchenko’s rival in the 2004
presidential election, Viktor Yanukovych.

A year ago, the PRU, demoralized by Yanukovych’s electoral defeat, plunged
into a severe identity crisis, not knowing what to do with its new
opposition status. But the mistakes by the Orange team that led to its split
in August-September 2005 played into the PRU’s hands.

Now it is the undisputable leader of the parliamentary race, with more than
30 percent of Ukrainians ready to vote for it. The PRU should win hands down
in the eastern and southern regions, which voted for Yanukovych in 2004, and
its strongest base is the Donetsk Region, where most of the top 20 on the
PRU’s list have roots.

These include Yanukovych, Donetsk Region council head Borys Kolesnykov — 
who was arrested in spring 2005 on suspicion of extortion but later released
(see EDM, April 11, 2005) — and tycoon Renat Akhmetov, who is believed by
many to be the real leader of the PRU, the eminence grise behind Yanukovych.

Unlike Our Ukraine, the PRU does not promise integration into the EU or
NATO. "I stand for European values, that’s for sure. But if we come to
Europe today and knock at the door, will they open? I think they won’t,"
novice politician Akhmetov said at his first campaign rally in Donetsk on
February 19.

The PRU promises equal partnership with Russia, though its opponents in the
nationalist camp flatly call it a pro-Russian force. Upgrading the Russian
language to official status is one of the key slogans of the PRU, which goes
down well with their predominantly Russophone supporters.

Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine offers a different agenda. They do not see why
Ukrainian should not remain the only official language, and EU and NATO
integration are their international priorities. Our Ukraine is especially
strong where the PRU is weak — in nationalist-minded western Ukraine — but
unpopular in the east and south. Opinion polls show that at least 16-21% of
Ukrainians will vote for Yushchenko’s bloc.

The populist Tymoshenko bloc’s stronghold is the rural center and Kyiv,
which decided the outcome of the presidential poll in favor of Yushchenko.
The Tymoshenko bloc’s popularity has somehow decreased since Tymoshenko’s
dismissal from the post of prime minister last September, but no lower than
a comfortable 13-19%, opinion polls show.

This may allow the bloc to snatch second place from Our Ukraine under
favorable circumstances. Tymoshenko claims that her bloc is the only one
that did not betray the Orange Revolution ideals, but she offers little in
terms of ideology. Instead, Tymoshenko’s campaign literature underscores

her good looks, and the bloc’s emblem is a deliberately non-ideological red
heart painted on a white background.

Tymoshenko says that once back in the government she would do her utmost

to resume reprivatization, which may add to her popularity among ordinary
Ukrainians, but the idea definitely scares investors.

Under the constitutional reform in force since January 1, a parliamentary
majority, rather than the president, will decide on the appointment of the
prime minister. Tymoshenko says this election campaign is a contest for the
prime minister’s position, and that the choice will be between her and

The media supporting the Tymoshenko bloc have been claiming that Our

Ukraine and the Party of Regions are in talks over a post-election coalition,
in which Yanukovych will be prime minister. Our Ukraine and the PRU
deny this.

Meanwhile, talks between the Our Ukraine and Tymoshenko blocs on
re-establishing the Orange Coalition have stalled. Each side has come up
with conditions that the other rejects. Our Ukraine insist that the
coalition should include at least five forces and not just the two blocs,
that it should pledge loyalty to Yushchenko, and that Tymoshenko should

drop her prime ministerial ambitions.

The Tymoshenko bloc say they would continue talks only if Yushchenko’s
government breaks the natural gas agreements with Russia, which were reached
earlier this year and are widely believed to be disadvantageous.
Kommersant-Ukraine has reported that Our Ukraine has secretly accepted this
condition, but this has not been confirmed by either of the two parties.

Meanwhile, Our Ukraine campaign manager Roman Bezsmertny insists that,
should coalition talks fail and should no majority be formed in parliament,
Yushchenko would resort to the right to disband a new parliament, which
constitutional reform has granted him.
(Ukrayinska pravda, Kanal 5, February 20; Ukraina TV, February 27;

UNIAN, February 28, March 4; UT1, March 1; NTN TV, March 5;
Kommersant-Ukraine, March 6; Svoboda, March 7)
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                            ABOUT UKRAINE’S FUTURE?
Meeting to commemorate publication of new book "Revolution in Orange."
Speakers: Andres Aslund, Michael McFaul, Nadia Diuk
Meeting Summary: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C., Monday, March 13, 2006

On March 13, 2006, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a
meeting entitled "What Does the Orange Revolution Tell Us about Ukraine’s
Future?" to commemorate the publication of the new book "Revolution in
Orange." Speakers included the co-editors of the volume, Anders Aslund
(Institute for International Economics) and Michael McFaul (Carnegie), as
well as contributor Nadia Diuk (National Endowment for Democracy).
Carnegie Senior Associate Andrew Kuchins moderated the session.

In Revolution in Orange distinguished contributors from Ukraine, Russia,
the US, and elsewhere illuminate the stories behind Ukraine’s revolution of
fall and winter 2004. The authors disentangle the Orange Revolution from
the myths it has already spawned, examining the roles of actors ranging
from civil society to the media, great powers to ordinary people. (For more
information on the book, please click on the link to the right.)

Nadia Diuk opened the event by stressing the lasting social changes wrought
by the Orange Revolution. The events of 2004 politicized Ukrainian society,
leaving what Diuk called "an indelible mark." The civil groups organized
during the revolution remain today and continue to act as checks on the
government. While media ownership remains in just a few hands, both print
media and television have generally maintained an independent stance.

The panelists agreed that the government of President Viktor Yushchenko has
been disappointing thus far, but nonetheless expressed equanimity. Both
Michael McFaul and Anders Aslund pointed to last year’s sacking of Prime
Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as a sign of a healthy political system. McFaul
argued Tymoshenko’s biggest problem was public relations, not policy.

In his view Tymoshenko fell victim to the inflated expectations that
commonly follow revolution. He made the case that some blame should lie

with Yushchenko. Said McFaul, "Yushchenko was seen as unprincipled and
passive." Aslund faulted Tymoshenko for her dalliance with wholesale
privatization, the prospect of which decimated investment and overall
economic growth.

Could the Orange Revolution be reversed? The most intriguing debate of the
event centered on this question. Diuk saw no road back. In her view civil
society will serve as guarantor of democratic continuity. McFaul was more
equivocal, asking, "Is this People’s Power in the Philippines or Solidarity
in Poland?" He claimed it was too early to tell. Revolutionary coalitions
usually coalesce against something, so after they seize power some
fragmentation and disarray are natural.

McFaul did note that Ukraine has already begun to form its revolutionary
myths and symbols, which will do much to consolidate the revolution’s gains.
Like Diuk, Aslund took a relatively optimistic stand. He said the revolution
had brought democracy and a western-oriented foreign policy to Ukraine
for good.

Even Diuk, however, conceded that it will take years before some changes
filter down to the quotidian level of Ukrainian life. While national
politics will now include a tradition of opposition and the rule of law,
petty graft remains a fact of life for many Ukrainians.

All three panelists agreed that Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions will
probably come in first in this month’s parliamentary elections. Opinion
polls put the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc in second and Yushchenko’s Our
Ukraine in third. All three major parties have been talking to each other
about possible coalitions, though in some cases politicians have publicly

denied this. McFaul saw a Tymoshenko-Our Ukraine coalition as unlikely
due to personal acrimony between the two sides. The consensus most
probable coalition was Regions-Our Ukraine.

However none of the panelists thought Yanukovich would become prime
minister. Instead McFaul and Aslund said current Prime Minister Yuri
Yekhanurov was likely to be the choice of any plausible coalition. Aslund
further explained that Yekhanurov relies on young technocrats like Arseniy
Yatsenyuk, the Minister of Economy, and will seek to bring more such
officials into the new government.

Diuk and Aslund emphasized the importance of Ukraine’s westward shift in
foreign policy. With Congress poised to lift the Jackson-Vanick amendment,
Ukraine can realistically look forward to WTO accession and a NATO
membership action plan in the near term. While Regions still professes the
need to join Russia’s Single Economic Space, the party’s largest backer,
Rinat Akhmetov, is western-oriented and would oppose such a step. Foreign
policy successes with the West, however, will continue to irritate the
Kremlin and complicate relations with Russia.

In addition to the challenge of managing the Russian relationship, Ukraine
faces domestic obstacles to economic and political development. McFaul
expressed concern about the uncertainty stemming from the constitutional
reform, calling it "a birth defect of the Orange Revolution." He also
pointed to continued East-West ethno-linguistic polarization and the
failure thus far to hold figures from the Kuchma regime accountable for
their crimes.                                         -30-
Summary prepared by Matthew Gibson, Junior Fellow with the Russian

and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Viktor Yanukovych says, "They didn’t break us. We are ready to take power,"

By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Striy, Ukraine, Saturday, March 18, 2006

STRIY, Ukraine – A longstanding divide between nationalist Western Ukraine
and its Russian-speaking east — the fault line in the 2004 "Orange
Revolution" — remains unhealed a week before an election with high stakes.

Liberal President Viktor Yushchenko, propelled to power by the Revolution
but now plagued by splits in his camp, faces challenges from two figures in
the March 26 parliamentary poll.

In the west, Yulia Tymoshenko, his ally who roused crowds in the revolution
but was sacked as prime minister last year, chips away at his support. The
east remains the fiefdom of Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Moscow rival he beat
in the 2004 campaign.

Parliament enjoys new powers, enabling parties holding a majority to name
the prime minister for the first time. And speculation is rife that the
president’s allies will have to join forces with one side or the other to
form a government.

"The revolution is not yet finished. We must keep fighting to secure power!"
Tymoshenko told a crowd of 5,000 on Friday in the small western town of
Striy, near the Polish border.

Sporting her trademark peasant braid, Tymoshenko wades into the cobbled
streets dotted by neatly painted houses, demanding action to revive the
spirit of the 2004 protests and keep out "the Yanukovich gang."

Tymoshenko denounces a January deal sharply raising the price of gas
prices — a central campaign issue — as a ruse to keep Ukraine under
Moscow’s control. And she makes it plain she wants to be prime minister

"Why did we carry out a revolution? Not for this gang to come back as
victors. Never!" she says, embracing supporters carrying campaign flags
depicting a heart on a white background.

"There is only one path. Win the votes of those who stood on our side of the
barricade, remove politicians who advised us badly, rejoin forces with the
president and return to the path as set down before the 2004 election."
                               YANUKOVICH IN THE LEAD
Latest opinion polls give Yanukovich’s Regions Party the lead among more
than 40 groups, with about 30 percent. The president’s Our Ukraine party,
led by the prime minister who replaced Tymoshenko, is second with 18

percent to about 14 for Tymoshenko’s bloc.

Ukrainian-speaking Western regions, once under the control of both Poland
and the Austro-Hungarian empire, are the cradle of Ukrainian national
sentiment and deeply suspicious of Yanukovich and his calls for closer ties
with Russia.

In the Russian-speaking industrial east, Yanukovich starts a day of
campaigning on Friday by visiting his mother’s grave and — with television
crews in tow — securing a blessing from an Orthodox priest "in your battle
against evil." Later, at a steel mill in his home town of Yenakievo, he
tells 5,000 supporters Yushchenko is driving Ukraine to ruin.

The country’s leaders, he says, must improve ties with Russia to negotiate a
better gas deal. And coal miners, his key constituents furious at wage
arrears, must get paid on time. "Gas prices will make our industry
uncompetitive. How can we trust this government?" he says against a

backdrop of smoke-belching plants.

He remains unbowed by his 2004 defeat, when Yushchenko won a re-run

of a poll struck down as rigged by the Supreme Court.
"They didn’t break us. We are ready to take power," he says. "I know you
dream of stability, of someone representing the true face of 48 million
Ukrainians. Not someone traveling the world, cap in hand, to take in odd

Young admirers carrying balloons in the Regions Party’s blue and white
colors mount the stage to shake Yanukovich’s hand.

A wrinkled woman, wrapped in a brown shawl, is brought gingerly forward
and embraces him. "There, there, don’t cry, my dear grandmother,"
Yanukovich tells her. "Everything will soon be fine."   -30-
Additional reporting by Lina Kushch and Mikhail Yelchev in Yenakievo
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

TREE OF LIFE: By N.F. Karlins, Artnet Magazine
New York, New York, Tuesday, February 21, 2006

EXHIBITION: "The Tree of Life, the Sun,
the Goddess: Symbolic Motifs in Ukrainian Folk Art,"
The Ukrainian Museum, Nov. 23, 2005-Oct. 15, 2006,
222 East 6th Street, New York, N.Y. 10003.

Folk art sometimes brings the lore of our Neolithic ancestors to life,
uncovering hints of ancient knowledge that are often hidden before our very
eyes. A new exhibition in Manhattan’s East Village, a beautiful and
intellectually engaging show, is the kind of undertaking that could change
the way you look at folk art forever.

"The Tree of Life, the Sun, the Goddess: Symbolic Motifs in Ukrainian Folk
Art," now at the new Ukrainian Museum, taught me how to "read" a bride’s
costume. It allowed me to see symbols that evolved from at least as far back
as the Linear and Trypillian cultures from 6000-3000 BCE.

The bride’s wraparound skirt seemed at first to be covered in flowers, but
they are really sun symbols. Her shirt’s white-on-white embroidery is
covered in tree-of-life motifs and climbing vines, a variant of the same

Her sash has a tree of life that sprouts, transforming itself into a goddess
motif, while a smaller horizontal band of quadripartite sun symbols marches
across another part of the sash.  While these symbols relate to fertility
and protection, the coral beads were added to ward off evil.

All these pagan symbols reside in textiles and ornaments dating from the
late 19th to early 20th century from a country that was converted to
Christianity in 988 CE.

The goddess motif, a torso, often vegetative with curved arms held on either
side of the head, can be found on the bottom edge of a cream-colored coat
(svyta) from the 1920s or recognized in more abstract forms on painted
Easter eggs (pysanky).

A goddess figure often shows up in textiles as rhomboids, where hook-like
extensions take the place of uplifted arms. In the same manner, she appears
in sashes and in the embroidery on the sleeves of women’s shirts and ritual

The rites described and seen in photo blow-ups of rural Ukraine from early
in the 20th century are connected to these symbols and other folk
traditions. The tree of life, the sun and the goddess permeate many other
European cultures, and viewers will begin to spy them when investigating
other kinds of folk art.

The sun designs, for example, are extremely varied. Besides circles and
dots, swastikas, four swirling, spiral arms and simple crosses, sun signs
are often quadripartite or eight-rayed and resemble blossoms.  The tie
between the sun and fertility is never distant in folk art. A wooden keg
(boshilka) explodes with an image of the sun combining many of these
motifs into one vibrant image.

The tree-of-life designs play an important role in many cultures. A pillar
or tree, an axis mundi, is seen as connecting the world above (gods or
benevolent spirits), the earth (man’s domain) and the underground
(ancestors or evil spirits).

In Ukrainian folk art, the tree-of-life is often found on ritual cloths,
usually with red embroidery on a white ground. These cloths were found
everywhere in traditional villages. Some were hung in houses at weddings and
births; others were placed on coffins; still others were put atop markers at
the edge of small towns to welcome visitors. One ritual cloth (rushnyk) from
the 1930s is a riot of tree-of-life motifs along with other fertility
symbols — flowers, vines and birds.

The tree of life also appears on a gray-ground kilim that’s also chock full
of lively birds. It’s one of several on the walls of a central hall
attractively filled with female costume ensembles on manikins in tall cases
that you can walk around.

The exhibition also includes a selection of breads that are traditionally
baked for special occasions and adorned with symbols. Most extravagant is
a wedding tree (derevtse or hil’tse), made of dough over the branches of a
real tree limb, adorned with ribbons, flowers, herbs, wheat stalks, feathers
and tiny birds also formed from dough.

This extravagant version of the tree of life is not the only wedding bread.
A round bread (korovai) is topped with what looks like more than a hundred
tiny birds surrounding a central puddle of grain, all individually shaped
from dough.

More tree-of-life designs and sun symbols appear along with plants, birds,
and animals on a selection of incised and glazed folk pottery — plates,
vessels and tiles.

"The Sun, the Tree of Life, the Goddess: Symbolic Motifs in Ukrainian Folk
Art" is accompanied by a stylish bilingual catalogue with three informative
essays, including one by Lubow K. Wolynetz, the exhibition’s curator.

The Ukrainian Museum, which opened its new exhibition space last year
with an excellent Alexander Archipenko show, is definitely on a roll. In the
fall, an exhibition devoted to early Ukrainian modernists arrives. -30-
N.F. KARLINS is a New York art historian and critic.
MEMBERSHIP:  Become a member of the Ukrainian Museum in New
York City:

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
17.                      FILM: "LIGHT FROM THE EAST"
         1991.Revolution.Ukraine.The End of an Era.The Birth of a Nation
             The story of an American theater troupe that witnessed the
                fall of Communism while in Ukraine in August of 1991.
                   To be shown in New York City, May 11-17, 2006

E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 17
Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2006

WASHINGTON – In May, residents and visitors of New York City will
have the rare opportunity to view "LIGHT FROM THE EAST," the
story of an American theater troupe that witnessed the fall of Communism
while in Ukraine in August of 1991.

The film debuted at the South By Southwest film festival, Austin, Texas,
last year and will be showing for seven days only from Thursday, May 11
through Wednesday, May 17 (9 pm) at the Pioneer Theater, East 3rd street,
between Avenues A and B (closer to A) in New York City.

Tickets can be bought now and advance purchase is highly recommended.
The Pioneer Theater is only a 100 seat theater.

If the theater can sell out a week in advance it could be possible to have
a longer run for the film. It is hoped that Ukrainian and other interested
organizations in NY would promote the screening and make it an event
for their organization.

A synopsis of the film on the "Light From The East" website states:
"Summer 1991. Glasnost. Perestroika.  The Soviet Union opens its doors
to the West. In New York, a troupe of young actors from the La Mama
theater in New York gather to participate in the first American/Ukrainian
cultural exchange theater project in history.

As an actress in the theater group, American filmmaker Amy Grappell
brought along a cinematographer to document this historic cultural

The troupe begins to rehearse the play "Light From the East", a docu-
drama that explores the life and work of the nationally acclaimed Ukrainian
theater director Les Kurbas. Despite political resistance, Kurbas and his
company revolutionized the Ukrainian theater of the 1920s by introducing
world classics to the Ukrainian stage.

Kurbas’ dream of internationalizing the Ukrainian theater clashed with
government ideals, leading to his assassination in one of Stalin’s purges.

As the production nears, Gorbachev is kidnapped, the Kremlin is
overthrown by a military coup, and the entire USSR is plunged into volatile
uncertainty. The troupe finds itself trapped at the epicenter of a political

Inspired by the courage of the Ukrainian people who in their fight for
independence, squelch the coup and seize their liberty, the actors remain in
Ukraine, determined to put on the show rather than leave, as encouraged by
the American Embassy.

As rehearsals progress the play ironically begins to mirror action in the
streets.  Kurbas and his company struggled to make art during the revolution
that ushered in Communism; the American troupe performs the life of Kurbas
as the walls of Communism come tumbling down.

In between rehearsals, Amy and her host Natalia, conduct informal interviews
with average Ukrainians that provide meditations on freedom.  Ukrainians
show Americans that the concept of freedom is complex and that after nearly
a century of repression it will take time for most to feel "free".

During the massive political change of 1991, LIGHT takes the viewer on a
philosophical inquiry into the meaning of freedom and artistic expression.

As the tour ends, Ukraine declares its national independence, and the
American troupe faces the powerful lesson that freedom comes from

Review comments about the film:
"Personal, political, historical, I loved It." – Richard Linklater, director
Dazed and Confused and Scanner Darkly

"Beautifully captures the spirit of the former Soviet Union and the soul
of its people." – Albert Maysles

"After the recent, quiet Revolution in Ukraine, this movie is a must see
as it uses a cultural exchange theater project for the focal point of
examining a people who despite political realities are driven by dreams
that become realities."
– Louis Black, Publisher, AUSTIN CHRONICLE

Information about purchasing tickets at the Pioneer Theatre in NYC can
be found at:  Additional
information about the film can be found at:
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
     You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
              "Chornobyl + 20: This Is Our Land: We Still Live Here"

The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 18

Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2006
WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian Museum in New York City has opened
a new exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl
nuclear power plant disaster with a major multi-media exhibition that
explores the accident’s impact on the lives of residents in the territories
of Ukraine most heavily contaminated by radioactive fallout.

Entitled Chornobyl + 20:  This Is Our Land : We Still Live Here, the
exhibition includes approximately 175 color photographs with accompanying
captions.  Supplementing the photographs are other visual materials – maps,
charts, text panels – that place the accident in its historical context,
describe the actions subsequently taken by authorities to mitigate the
disaster (such as the relocation of area residents), and provide detailed
information about population shifts, levels of radiation, and the like.

The exhibition opened to the public on March 15 and continues through
May 28.

An important component of the exhibition is an interactive audiovisual
program consisting of 14 film clips, each about one to three minutes long.
The visitor-activated clips include interviews with residents of the
irradiated territories, a religious holiday celebration, the work of an
ethnographic expedition, and musical performances and craft
demonstrations by residents.
The Chornobyl disaster began on April 26, 1986, when the worst nuclear
power plant accident in history resulted in a partial meltdown of the core
in reactor No. 4 at the Chornobyl Atomic Energy Station just outside the
city of Pryp’yat in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Over the next decade, more than 160 villages in Ukraine were evacuated;
more than 160,000 residents were permanently resettled; and thousands of
other families, many with young children, left voluntarily from the
irradiated regions.

Nevertheless, more than one million people – nearly 70% of them elderly
pensioners – continue to live in contaminated areas of Ukraine.  Among
them are several hundred mostly elderly former residents of the heavily
irradiated 30 km Exclusion Zone around the reactor.  They have returned to
their homes to live out their remaining days in familiar surroundings,
sometimes alone in their villages, often under conditions closer to the
18th century, largely forsaken by the 21st.
                                     THE EXHIBITION
Chornobyl + 20: This Is Our Land: We Still Live Here chronicles the lives
of people who, twenty years after the accident, make their homes within the
"dead" (forcibly evacuated) villages of the 30 km Exclusion Zone, as well
as those who still reside in the unevacuated villages that authorities deem
"safe" enough to inhabit.

Since 1994, Ukrainian scholars have worked to document and preserve the
archaic and unique traditional culture of Polissia, the region of Ukraine
most heavily irradiated in the disaster.  This act of "cultural rescue" is
unprecedented in its scale and scope in modern history.  The photographs
and video clips in this exhibition, taken during ethnographic expeditions
in 2004 and 2005, show the people, their daily lives, and the places where
they live and work; they also document the work of the expeditions.

The film clips (all with English subtitles) tie in directly to the
photographs. They include interviews with residents of both "dead" and

"safe" villages; show craftspeople at work and traditional songs performed
by residents; and present images of the irradiated territories, focusing on
the homes and gardens of residents.

One interesting effect of the collapse of the economy in the irradiated
regions, including the system of collective farms, is the disappearance of
most mechanized agricultural technology. As a result, residents are
returning to oxen and horses for transport and motive power to plow,
cultivate, and harvest their crops; grain is more often threshed with a
flail than with a combine; and nearly forgotten arts like blacksmithing,
coopering, and basketweaving are staging a comeback.
                                  THE ORGANIZERS
The photographs and videos in this exhibition are the work of co-curators
Myron O. Stachiw of East Woodstock, Connecticut, and Serhiy M.
Marchenko of Kyiv, Ukraine.  The exhibition was designed by Alfredo
Maul of Maul Dwellings, S.L., San Sebastian, Spain.

Myron O. Stachiw is an associate professor of historic preservation in the
School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, Roger Williams
University, Bristol, Rhode Island.  He is currently in his second year as
a Fulbright Fellow in Ukraine, where he is studying the impact of the
Chornobyl disaster on the cultural heritage of the country’s irradiated

Prof. Stachiw is also producing a documentary film on the continuing
efforts of Ukrainian scholars to document and preserve the traditional
culture of the Polissia region, which has been identified by scholars as
containing the most archaic surviving cultural traditions of any part of

Serhiy M. Marchenko is a Ukrainian filmmaker and photographer living in
Kyiv.  He is a lecturer at the I. K. Karpenko Kyiv National University of
Theater, Film and Television.  Since 1988, he has been involved in
photographing and filming life in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone as well
as the efforts of Ukrainian scholars to rescue the region’s traditional

The photographs and films in this exhibition are the product of the
curators’ participation in two ethnographic expeditions with Ukrainian
scholars and several additional journeys into the irradiated territories
between August 2004 and December 2005.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Self Reliance New York Federal
Credit Union.                                -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
19.                 NEW BOOK: "REVOLUTION IN ORANGE:
                 Edited by Aslund and McFaul Exposes the Riveting Tale

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
Washington, D.C., Monday, March 13, 2006

NEW BOOK: Revolution in Orange:
The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic Breakthrough
Edited by Anders Aslund and Michael McFaul
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2006
Washington, D.C., 225 pp., Paperback $16.95, Cloth $33.95

WASHINGTON – As Ukrainians prepare to go to the polls for parliamentary
elections at the end of March, a new book edited by Anders Åslund and
Michael McFaul identifies the driving factors and political implications of
the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.

"Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic Breakthrough,"

is a pioneering effort to describe and explain the events up to and through
December 2004.

Few predicted or anticipated such a dramatic breakthrough in Ukraine, the
effects of which have already been felt from Kyrgyzstan to Lebanon and are
likely to travel further.

This is a path breaking collection of essays by authors who had
on-the-ground experience interacting with the various Ukrainian, Western,
and Russian personalities of the Orange Revolution. Inside the book is a
colorful, detailed visual aid to follow "Who’s Who" and the revolution’s
intricate chronology.

This group of scholars, specialists, and journalists portray a riveting tale
of rigged elections, mass demonstrations and foreign interference, all from
a unique, insiders’ perspective.

Contributors include: Pavol Demes and Joerg Forbrig (German Marshall

Fund), Nadia Diuk (National Endowment for Democracy), Adrian Karatnycky
(Freedom House), Taras Kuzio (George Washington University), Nikolai
Petrov and Andrei Ryabov (Carnegie Moscow Center), Olena Prytula
(Ukrainskaya pravda), and Oleksandr Sushko and Olena Prystayko (Center
for Peace, Conversion, and Foreign Policy of Ukraine).

Anders Åslund is a senior fellow at the Institute for International
Economics, and the former director of the Russian & Eurasian Program at

the Carnegie Endowment. He is an internationally recognized specialist on
Ukraine and postcommunist economic transformation.

Michael McFaul is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment and an
associate professor of political science at Stanford University. He is a
leading specialist on democracy development in the former Soviet states.

He is coauthor of "Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-
Communist Political Reform" (Carnegie Endowment, 2004).

Visit  for free

excerpts and ordering information. CONTACT: Jennifer Linker, +1
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #675, Article 20
Washing, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2006
WASHINGTON – A book by Andrew Wilson, "Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution about the events in Ukraine in the early winter of 2004 was
published in the fall of 2005 by Yale University Press. 
According to the publishers website: "The remarkable popular protest in
Kiev and across Ukraine following the cooked presidential election of
November 2004 has transformed the politics of eastern Europe. Andrew
Wilson witnessed the events firsthand and here looks behind the headlines
to ascertain what really happened and how it will affect the future of the

It is a dramatic story: an outgoing president implicated via secret
tape-recordings in corruption and murder; a shadowy world of political
cheats and manipulators; the massive covert involvement of Putin’s Russia;
the poisoning of the opposition challenger; and finally the mass protest of
half a million Ukrainians that forced a second poll and the victory of
Viktor Yushchenko.

As well as giving an account of the election and its aftermath, the book
examines the broader implications of the Orange Revolution and of Russia’s
serious miscalculation of its level of influence. It explores the likely
chain reaction in Moldova, Belarus, and the nervous autocracies of the
Caucasus, and points to a historical transformation of the geopolitics of
Eurasia."    -30-
ANDREW WILSON is senior lecturer in Russian and Ukrainian studies at
the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University of London.
He is author of The Ukrainians and Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in
the Post-Soviet World, both published by Yale University Press.
Contact:  Andrew Wilson,
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 16, 2006

KYIV The book "Grandpa, I Did Revolution, Too," by Oleksandr

Zinchenko, leader of the Party of Patriotic Forces of Ukraine  was
presented in Paris, France.

According to Mr Zinchenko, the idea of the book was born after he had

become acquainted with a leading French journalist Francois Roche. The
book considers events in the 20th and early 21st century, which fell
to the share of three generations of Ukrainians.

As Zinchenko said during an Internet press conference, "the book is not
memoirs", as he is not going to abandon the politics, so far. According to
Zinchenko, the book is being now translated into Ukrainian and English.
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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return to index  [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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