AUR#830 Apr 19 I’m Cheering Loudest For Ukraine; Ukraine’s Pres Pushes The Panic Button; Teething Troubles; Constitutional Fits; Zoom In On Darfur Genocide

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ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR           
                 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       

                      
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 830
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer
WASHINGTON, D.C., THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2007

               –——-  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.                         TWO PROTESTS, ONE SIGN OF HOPE
                     Myself, I wish the Russians luck — but at the moment,
                                   I’m cheering loudest for Ukraine.                                  
By Anne Applebaum, Columnist, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 17, 2007; Page A21

2.                    UKRAINE’S LATEST REVOLT HEWS ‘BLUE’
              Protesters have hit the streets this week amid a constitutional
                            crisis that has caused political gridlock.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday, April 17, 2007

3.                          THREATS TO EARLY ELECTIONS
ANALYSIS: By Yulia Kyseliova, UCIPR analyst
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Research Update. Vol. 13, No 12/484, Kyiv, Ukraine 16 April 2007

4.          UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT PUSHES THE PANIC BUTTON
Jane’s Foreign Report, UK, Thursday, April 12, 2007

5.     CAN UKRAINE’S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT BE UNBIASED?
              Yushchenko-Yanukovych showdown moves to the judiciary
COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Pavel Korduban
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 75
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Tues, April 17, 2007

6OLEKSANDR VOLKOV: YULYA TYMOSHENKO IS TOP CLASS –
   SHE WILL TAKE ‘EM ALL FOR A RIDE ON THE VR DISSOLUTION
INTERVIEW WITH: Oleksandr Volkov
By Serhy Leshchenko (in Russian)
Ukrayinska Pravda Online, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 16, 2007
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #830, Article 6  (in English)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, April 18, 2007

7.                              A WESTERN-BACKED COUP
              The leaders of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution now threaten
                                the country’s democratic future
COMMENTARY: Adam Swain in Donetsk
The Guardian, London, UK, Tuesday April 17, 2007

8.                            WHAT’S AT ISSUE IN UKRAINE
COMMENTARY: By John Marone, Editor, Kyiv Post,

Eurasian Home website, Monday, April 16, 2007
 
9.                          UKRAINE’S TEETHING TROUBLES
Savik Shuster, host of the Svoboda Slova TV show, Ukraine
Kommersant, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 18, 2007

10.                        UKRAINE: CONSTITUTIONAL FITS
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Serhii Rakhmanin
Mirror-Weekly, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya #14, Kyiv,Ukraine, 14-20 April 2007

11.   UKRAINE: FORMER PRESIDENTS BELIEVE YUSHCHENKO’S
                         DECREE ERRONEOUS, UNREASONED 

Itar, Tass, Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13 

12.                     UKRAINE’S CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
                  From orange disappointment to democratic opportunity.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: by Igor Khrestin
Researcher, Russian Studies program, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
The Daily Standard, Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 18, 2007

13.          AGENT ORANGE: OUR SECRET ROLE IN UKRAINE
                      Mark MacKinnon unearths evidence that Canada
                             isn’t always diplomacy’s Walter Mitty
By Mark MacKinnon, The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, April 14, 2007.

14U.S. HOLOCAUST MUSEUM & GOOGLE ZOOM IN ON DARFUR
                      Taking on the issues of contemporary genocide
                           Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative
By Nora Boustany, Washington Post Foreign Service
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 14, 2007; Page A10

15.               DARFUR: THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS COME
SaveDarfur.org, Full-Page Advertisement,
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Wed, April 18, 2007
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1
     TWO PROTESTS, ONE SIGN OF HOPE
                   Myself, I wish the Russians luck — but at the moment,

                                   I’m cheering loudest for Ukraine.                                  

By Anne Applebaum, Columnist, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 17, 2007; Page A21

And now, alert readers, it is time for a test: Here are two demonstrations,
representing two political movements, that took place recently in two
neighboring countries. For which country should fans of “democratization”
cheer loudest?

Example No. 1: This demonstration took place in Moscow on Saturday.
More precisely, it took place in Pushkin Square, legendary site of
Soviet-era dissident protests. Some 2,000 to 3,000 people came to show

their opposition to the Kremlin — and they were greeted by some 9,000
club-wielding riot police officers.

About 200 people were arrested, including Garry Kasparov, the former world
chess champion who was described in the Russian Web site Pravda.ru as “a
political pawn who has sold his soul to the traitors who plot Russia’s
demise.” Later, Kasparov was charged with “shouting anti-government
slogans in the presence of a large group of people.”

Example No. 2: This demonstration began in Kiev some days ago and
continues. More precisely, it is taking place in the Maidan, also called
Independence Square, the legendary site of the Orange Revolution protests
of 2004. The organizers are the anti-Orange, pro-Russian “Party of the
Provinces.”

Their goal is to prevent Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko from calling
new elections. At their zenith last week, the protests attracted between
35,000 and 70,000 people, depending on whose estimate you prefer. They
were not attacked by riot police. No one has been arrested.

Now, there are some inherent difficulties in judging the merits of these
demonstrations, particularly if you are looking, as we Americans love to
do, for good guys and bad guys.

For it is true that the Russian demonstrators are, in their own words,
fighting for freedom of speech, the press and association; that they oppose
President Vladimir Putin’s increasing authoritarianism; and that they
deplore his virtual elimination of political opposition. It is true that
there are worldly, well-connected, well-known English-speakers in their
ranks.

It is also true that they enjoy very little popular support, in part because
the Russian media portray them, as the newspaper Izvestia did, as a tiny
group of malcontents, probably paid from abroad, who deliberately
provoked a fight with the peaceful authorities.

The Kiev demonstrators, by contrast, oppose the Westernization of their
country, dislike the idea of Ukraine growing closer to NATO and the
European Union, and generally wish for a return to the days when their
country was a client state of Russia.

Most of their supporters are provincial, not so well connected and probably
don’t speak English. There are no world chess champions among them.
Nevertheless, they do enjoy an important measure of popular support:

Although it does seem that their demonstration isn’t nearly as much fun as
the Orange Revolution was — one observer described the demonstrators as
“silent, poorly-dressed throngs of mostly younger men shuffling along
Hrushevsky Street under blue flags” — their leader, Viktor Yanukovych, is
in fact the elected prime minister of his country, and they did vote for him
in democratic elections.

It’s a tough choice, I know: Intuitively, one wants to see brighter
prospects for democracy in Russia. The Russian opposition is brave, its
cause is admirable, and its members and methods are familiar. Unfortunately,
the opposition’s protest is not evidence of democratization in Russia but
rather of its absence.

The truth is that the Russian authorities have, through censorship,
intimidation and even murder, largely eliminated genuine political debate
in their country.

As the police reaction to Saturday’s demonstration in Moscow well
illustrates, even the tiny number of people who want to maintain some kind
of public presence outside the mainstream must now be prepared to
encounter violence.

By contrast, Ukraine, though frequently condemned as a disorganized
political basket case, does slowly seem to be transforming itself into a
country where people can at least choose from two clear political options,
after a more-or-less open debate. President Yushchenko’s decision to call
for new elections is indeed controversial.

However, it is being examined by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court, and
all sides have agreed to abide by the court’s conclusions. Prime Minister
Yanukovych’s call for demonstrations in Independence Square was a stunt.
However, the stunt was legal, nonviolent and one that he has every right to
try.

To put it crudely, overly simply and in language everyone can understand:
Ukraine, for all of its multiple faults, is a free country in which
anti-democratic forces can demonstrate. Russia remains an authoritarian
country in which democratic forces are beaten up and arrested.

Myself, I wish the Russians luck — but at the moment, I’m cheering loudest
for Ukraine.                                       -30-

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Contact: Anne Applebaum, applebaumanne@yahoo.com            
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601421.html
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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2.            UKRAINE’S LATEST REVOLT HEWS ‘BLUE’
             Protesters have hit the streets this week amid a constitutional
                            crisis that has caused political gridlock.

By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday, April 17, 2007

MOSCOW – The demonstrators camped out this week on Kiev’s
Independence Square are far fewer than the throngs of 2004’s Orange
Revolution – the two-week-long mass protest that overturned a rigged
election, allowed the movement’s leader, Viktor Yushchenko, to become
president, and seemed to secure a democratic future for Ukraine.

This time, the tent city on Kiev’s main street is festooned with the blue
banners of the Orange Revolution’s opponents, and the nightly rallies are
filled with ringing denunciations of Mr. Yushchenko’s “undemocratic” and
“power-grubbing” behavior.

Despite the relative paucity of demonstrators compared with 2004, experts
say this is Ukraine’s most serious crisis yet. Even though the general
population remains largely uninvolved, the threat of a national breakup
looks increasingly real.

“This is a fight between the leaders and their most active supporters, but
it has already gone too far,” says Oleksandr Shushko, an expert with the
independent Institute for Euro-Atlantic Integration in Kiev. “It’s becoming
clear that our current constitutional model is not workable at all.”

Opinion polls suggest that two years of constitutional gridlock have left
most Ukrainians exhausted and disillusioned with political leaders of every
stripe who never seem to do anything but squabble.

Yushchenko’s early-April decree ordering the Blue-dominated parliament, the
Supreme Rada, to disband and face new elections on May 27, is opposed by
nearly 60 percent of Ukrainians, according to a recent survey by the
independent Sofia Social Studies Center in Kiev.

Yet that poll does not appear to reflect support for the Blue forces, led by
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who have hunkered down in the Rada and
refused to obey the president.

Several polls released last week suggest that Mr. Yanukovich’s Party of
Regions, based in the Russified east, enjoys the backing of no more than 35
percent of voters – the same percentage with which it won in parliamentary
polls a year ago.

Before the crisis erupted in early April, Yanukovich had been fortifying his
parliamentary majority by inducing deputies from the two pro-democracy
Orange parties to cross the floor.

Yanukovich had bragged that by summer his coalition would have 300 members
in the 450-seat Rada – the magic number required to override presidential
vetoes.

Yushchenko reacted to his depleting ranks on April 2, when he accused the
Blue parties of bribing Orange lawmakers, dispersed the Rada, and ordered
fresh elections.

“The key issue here is that the only democratic way of getting out of this
deep crisis … lies in new elections,” Yushchenko said on Wednesday in an
interview with Radio Free Europe.

The Constitutional Court has agreed to begin hearings on April 17, but that
is also the legal deadline for all parties to register for the snap
elections, meaning the immediate crisis is likely to go unresolved.

“For us, there is no way out but through the cancellation of the president’s
unconstitutional decree,” says Vasyl Khara, head of the Party of Regions
caucus in the embattled Rada. Otherwise, he says, the Blue coalition may
refuse to take part in the May 27 polls.

In the past week, five judges of the 18-member Constitutional Court abruptly
resigned, citing unspecified “threats” and “political pressure.” Three more
judges were checked into the hospital over the weekend with unspecified
medical complaints.

Experts say the court can continue to operate with a 10-member quorum, but
that the episode raises worries that Ukraine’s fledgling institutions may
not be able to contain the escalating dispute.

“It will be very unfortunate if, after all this turmoil, we don’t develop
better checks and balances in our system,” says Vira Nanivska, president of
the official National Academy for Public Administration in Kiev.

At a Kiev rally last week, Yanukovich said that he would vacate the Rada
only if Yushchenko agrees to face the voters, too. “If we hold early
elections, they must be parliamentary and presidential, and held within the
framework of current legislation,” he said.

That solution might also appeal to the ambitious Yulia Tymoshenko, who leads
the Orange-hued All-Ukrainian Union Fatherland party and who has made little
secret of her impatience with Yushchenko, her cautious ex-ally.

For his part, Yushchenko said in a speech last Thursday that he’s not wedded
to the May 27 date for new parliamentary polls and that he would allow
deputies to reconvene in the Rada to decide on a fresh date.

But polls suggest that a new election may only reproduce the current
stalemate. Experts warn that failure to find a compromise will lead to a
permanent crisis and, in the worst case, even Ukraine’s breakup.

Deep divisions between the country’s heavily industrialized, Russified east
and its agricultural, Ukrainian-speaking, and pro-European west, seem
certain to continue generating conflict over flash point issues like NATO
membership, economic cooperation with Russia, and official status for the
Russian language.

Until Ukraine’s Constitutional Court renders a decision or one of the
antagonists blinks, the country’s worst political crisis since the collapse
of the USSR is likely to go rolling on.

“Our political competition is not between right and left, but between east
and west, and this is a potential disaster,” says Ms. Nanivska.   -30-
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LINK: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0417/p07s01-woeu.html?page=1
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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3.            THREATS TO EARLY ELECTIONS

ANALYSIS: By Yulia Kyseliova, UCIPR analyst
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Research Update. Vol. 13, No 12/484, Kyiv, Ukraine 16 April 2007

Anyway but preparation for early elections to the Verkhovna Rada has

become one of contemporary realities of Ukraine’s political life.

However, more and more doubts are cast upon the date of their holding, i.e.
May 27, as it has been established in the presidential decree No. 264/2007
“On Early Termination of Power of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”.

Members of not only the anti-crisis coalition but also the opposition
parties call the date of elections in question.

Among other things, there is an opinion that should the elections be held,
they should be held not earlier than July (which is highly unlikely in view
of legitimate electoral procedures) or in fall.

The Constitutional Court will have the last word on the conflict. It will
start considering the appeal of 53 MPs on April 17. Even this date alone
indicates that preparations for early elections have been disrupted.

Except for natural political confrontation manifested in non-recognition of
constitutionality of the presidential decree and subsequent refusal of the
Cabinet to fund early campaign (worth of UAH 340 million, according to
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Y. Davydovych), numerous legal
problems emerged due to the absence of rules and procedures regulating the
early electoral process.

The law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” does not provide for
“reduced” election mechanisms. Presently, the Central Election Commission
just holds conferences and does not approve decisions.

Therefore, the address of some Commission members to the President, the
Constitutional Court and the Verkhovna Rada of April 6, 2007 accentuates a
failure to comply with necessary electoral procedures.

Specifically, the document indicates that as of April 6, 2007 territorial
election commissions had to be formed, which did not happen, “…territorial
election commissions were not formed within the terms established by the
 law”.

Though, disruption of preparation for early elections is not the worst
problem, since “ambiguity and disputability of the legal mechanism for
formation of territorial and district election commissions” became evident.

Yet, it gets worse and worse as it goes on. The point is that under the law,
“Only political parties/blocs that have factions in the Verkhovna Rada shall
enjoy the right to present territorial election commissions with their
candidates.”

The Central Election Commission registered such submissions only from Our
Ukraine and BYuT though “they were made out-of-time”. On the other hand, the
issue of a procedure for formation and revision of electoral register
remains open.

The same stands true about the monitoring process because it is apparent
that foreign observers will not physically be able to do all necessary
procedures for setting up watchdog committees. And in this case, the level
of legitimacy of election will essentially decrease.
                           THE PARTIES AND THE LISTS
Meanwhile, the issue of social legitimacy of elections, especially,
formation of political parties and blocs and list compilation, remains
acute. Today, political parties and blocs have just started making up their
lists.

At special meetings, electoral lists are compiled according to Ukrainian
traditions of party-building. The logic of determination of the first five
candidates on the list, i.e. the same pigs in a poke, remains traditional.
The society does not take part in this process again.

Closed party congresses are practiced as before. Just like in 2005,
representatives of the media are not allowed to highlight party forums,
while party leaders assure that nothing special will happen there.

The situation is identical to the course of the 2005 elections, when the
participants discussed representation quotas, percents and places of
candidates on the lists but not party programs. Nobody cared about making
public criteria of party list compilation or explaining why certain persons
hold certain places on the lists.

Needless to say, the above is not entrenched in the law but it is a matter
of honor of political parties, a direct evidence of their openness and
political responsibility (or their absence).

It has to be reminded that the process of compiling the 2006 electoral lists
revealed such trends in party-building as corporate spirit (e.g. Donbas
residents prevailed on the lists of the Party of Regions), availability of
the considerable number of famous deputies, broad representation of
businessmen as well as relatives, colleagues, friends and other persons
devoted body and soul to party leaders.

For the time being, there are no reasons to assert that anything will change
at early elections. Certainly, the current deputies-turncoats may not be on
the lists of the current opposition parties but there is no guarantee that
they won’t be substituted by other persons of the same kind included in the
lists because of “political and business expediency”.

Given these warnings, it has to be mentioned that final conclusions on
“quality” of party/bloc lists could be made only after the lists are drawn
up and approved by the Central Election Commission. Nevertheless, there are
no grounds to discuss a possibility of change of the deputy corps and
election of new MPs.

As far as the opposition is concerned, it stubbornly steps on the same rake:
the opposition forces are going to participate in the elections separately,
by four blocs at least: Our Ukraine, BYuT, Ukrainska Pravytsya and the
People’s Self-Defense – “Ukraine, Go Forward!”. This is how the situation
looks today.

Loud speeches about the need to join efforts in order to retain voters
remain just words. And this can be understood following the logic of
development of party formations as such.

However, the opposition should realize that the current situation is
extraordinary and comprehend a considerable difference between early and
regular elections.

Voters are extremely disappointed and tired and there is no guarantee that
they will come to polling stations to give their votes for the “ex-Orange
Team” again. (In 2006, the orange political forces received about 53% of
votes in total).
                                DISRUPTION AND THE RISKS
Nevertheless, many Ukrainian politicians demonstratively ignore preparation
for early elections. Representatives of the anti-crisis coalition are
waiting impatiently for the Constitutional Court’s judgment on
constitutionality of the presidential decree. However, more and more doubts
are cast upon a probability of the respective verdict.

Specifically, in view of complaints of some constitutional judges against
pressure that actually impedes their work and discreditable statements about
their “unclean hands”. Given the situation, a question may arise as to
legitimacy of the very verdict of the Constitutional Court.

Should it be the case, there would be no judgment worthy of Solomon for
resolving the current crisis and the situation on the political Olympus of
Ukraine would reach a deadlock.

The coalition blocks the beginning of the election campaign. And the Party
of Regions, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party promise to start
preparation for early elections only if the Constitutional Court recognizes
constitutionality of the presidential decree.

The coalition’s leadership made a lot of comment and promulgated numerous
angry statements on this occasion.

In their recent address to members of the Party of Regions, the Socialist
Party and the Communist Party of April 13, 2007, the coalition officially
stated, “These political forces and their regional branches cannot and will
not take any actions on participation in elections unless there are adequate
legal grounds.”

It is evident that the election schedule is disrupted and that both teams
understand this.

Meanwhile, it is difficult to find legal mechanisms for postponement of the
election date because abolition of the presidential decree of April 2 would
mean cancellation of early elections as such.

And publication of a new decree on early elections will generate the same
problems as to procedures for their holding and legitimacy.

It would be possible to suspend the decree, if it were not for the legal
terms of the campaign (there are clearly set terms that make elections
legitimate from the viewpoint of procedure sequence. So, should the decree
be suspended, elections would be on the road to ruin.

Anyway, early elections cannot radically change the situation, while
elections of a new parliament will not mean a way out of the crisis.

Comprehensive actions are needed, including making constitutional amendments
and complying with political agreements. Unfortunately, one might say that
the “quality” of leaders has not undergone drastic changes.

The logic of the present-day course of events destroys every hope of changes
in the electoral system. The dissolved Verkhovna Rada of the 5th convocation
has been deprived of the right to make legitimate changes in the electoral
law.

Moreover, it is doubtful that in case of force majeur, it will make
introduce these changes by efforts of the ex-crisis coalition members.

Therefore, speculations about the mixed system or open regional lists and
discussions surrounding various election models that might reduce the risk
of conflicts in political systems similar to Ukrainian are nothing but poor
consolation for voters.

All these problems concerning preparation for early elections give their
opponents and political forces, which will not be satisfied with election
outcomes, a good reason to appeal against the course of the electoral
campaign in court. Such the course of developments will only deepen the
political crisis and generate new conflicts.

Non-participation of the coalition members in early elections may produce
the same results, for many voters would not be represented in the
legislature, while Ukraine’s political system would be duplicated (two
parliaments). Consequences of such diarchy are unpredictable.   -30-

———————————————————————————————-
The Research Update bulletin is published in English and Ukrainian by the
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) in assistance
with the National Endowment for Democracy since December 1995.
From December 2006, the Research Update is published in English in the
framework of the “Increasing Institutional and Program Capacity/2006-2007”
Project of the Open Society Institute Zug Foundation. Distribution of the
bulletin is free.
For more details about the Research Update, please contact the UCIPR by
tel.: (38-044) 235-65-05, 230-91-78, 599-42-51 or e-mail: ucipr@ucipr.kiev.ua.
Contact persons – Yulia Tyshchenko and Kostyantyn Mykhailychenko.
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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4.    UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT PUSHES THE PANIC BUTTON

Jane’s Foreign Report, UK, Thursday, April 12, 2007

— Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved parliament on 2 April
and called new elections for 27 May to prevent the Anti-Crisis Coalition
from gaining a constitutional majority and making him powerless

— Parliament is refusing to disband and questions the legality of the
presidential decree, and institutional conflict between parliament and the
executive could be deepened by regional conflict

— While new elections are a risk for Yushchenko, if the crisis continues,
there is a chance, albeit limited, of wider division and instability
throughout the country

On 2 April, President Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree disbanding
parliament and calling for parliamentary elections, previously due in 2011,
to be held on 27 May.

The announcement follows months of political crisis that have seen the
president’s position steadily undermined by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych
and the Anti-Crisis Coalition he leads.

A key demand from Yushchenko and the radical wing of the Orange Revolution,
represented by the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc, was an end to the alleged bribing
and poaching of parliamentary deputies from the opposition, represented by
the Tymoshenko bloc and the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine, to the Anti-Crisis
Coalition.

The decision to disband parliament was a response to a fear that the
Anti-Crisis Coalition would soon obtain a constitutional majority of 300
deputies and almost completely sideline the president and the opposition.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Crisis Coalition in parliament has refused to follow the
presidential decree or provide funding for the elections and has continued
to attempt to function, while thousands of Yanukovych supporters have taken
to the streets to protest Yushchenko’s decision.
                                    CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
The current political crisis has its roots in the 2004 presidential
elections, which Yushchenko won after a compromise that included a re-run
second round and constitutional reforms.

These hastily formulated and ill-conceived reforms transformed Ukraine from
a semi-presidential to a parliamentary-presidential republic. One key reform
transferred control over the cabinet of ministers from the president to a
parliamentary coalition.

The first to benefit from these reforms was the Anti-Crisis Coalition,
formed in July-August 2006 by the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party and
the Communist Party following the failure of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko to
re-form an Orange Coalition after the March 2006 parliamentary elections.

This returned Yanukovych to the position of prime minister and vested him
with enhanced powers allowing him to undermine and isolate the president.
Yushchenko subsequently felt compelled to act to prevent Yanukovych’s
complete takeover of power.
                                        POTENTIAL DISCORD
Yushchenko’s announcement on 2 April has revived fears of regional conflict
last expressed during the 2004 Orange Revolution. Indeed, a prolonged crisis
with the Party of Regions supporting a boycott of the elections in eastern
Ukraine could again threaten the unity of the Ukrainian state.

Orange and Anti-Crisis Coalition supporters have their strongholds in
different regions of Ukraine. Traditionally, this has seen Yanukovych gain
his support in the east of the country, whereas Yushchenko and Tymoshenko
have garnered a greater following in the centre and west.

The city of Kiev is an Orange stronghold, but the Anti-Crisis Coalition has
transported its supporters from Donetsk to the capital to sustain protests.

If the crisis is drawn out, the Orange and Anti-Crisis Coalition crowds in
Kiev could become less peaceful. The Party of Regions is alleged to have
previously drawn upon unofficial organised crime enforcers to stage
provocations at such rallies. This has raised the risk of violent
confrontation between the rival supporters.

While a clash between rival supporters is conceivable, the chances of the
crisis escalating beyond the remit of politics and into the military sphere
are slim.

It is likely that military and security personnel would remain neutral or
loyal to the president and his close ally, former minister of the interior
Yuriy Lutsenko, who heads the pro-presidential non-governmental organisation
People’s Self-Defence.

Following his 2 April decree, Yushchenko added General Oleksandr Kihtenko,
commander of Ministry of the Interior Internal Troops, to his National
Security Council to shore up his position.
                                      FUTURE SCENARIOS
Beyond the fears of societal division and domestic conflict, a more probable
development will be a peaceful resolution to the crisis along one of three
lines.

The involvement of the US, EU or Council of Europe, as during the Orange
Revolution, could help to negotiate a face-saving compromise. However, this
is the least likely of the three peaceful scenarios, as a reversal of the
decree could return Yushchenko to his position as a lame duck president.

More probably, the Anti-Crisis Coalition and parliament could eventually
agree to participate in the May elections. In this scenario, Our Ukraine and
the Tymoshenko bloc could win a slight majority of seats and create an
Orange coalition and government headed by Tymoshenko.

However, this would be by no means guaranteed. If the Party of Regions

and its leftist allies won a majority, they could again create a coalition
similar to the Anti-Crisis Coalition. Yet the latter scenario relies on the
decision of the constitutional court.

Should it rule that Yushchenko’s decree was unconstitutional and illegal,
deputies would be likely to defect from the opposition to the Anti-Crisis
Coalition, which would quickly form a constitutional majority. Impeachment
proceedings could ensue, followed by Yushchenko’s resignation and early
presidential elections
                                             FORECAST
The main winner from the crisis is Tymoshenko. In early elections, her bloc
would be likely to come a close second to the Party of Regions and, in an
ensuing Orange Coalition, she would become prime minister.

However, Yanukovych could still turn the tables on his Orange Coalition
rivals and consolidate his position as the key political power in Ukraine.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the potential for violence would also
grow and with this would come the risk of wider societal division and
widespread domestic instability.                              -30-
————————————————————————————————

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5.  CAN UKRAINE’S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT BE UNBIASED?
               Yushchenko-Yanukovych showdown moves to the judiciary

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Pavel Korduban
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 75
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Tues, April 17, 2007

Today, April 17, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court (CC) began considering an
appeal by a group of pro-government parliamentarians regarding President
Viktor Yushchenko’s April 2 decree on the dissolution of parliament.

The CC should decide not only on the question of early parliamentary
elections, but also, indirectly, the fate of Yushchenko as president. If the
CC’s verdict is not in his favor, it will mean that the president violated
the constitution.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has indicated that his Party of Regions
(PRU) — which controls the largest caucus in parliament — will push for
Yushchenko’s impeachment.

If, however, the CC upholds Yushchenko’s decree then, Yanukovych argues,

an early presidential election should be held simultaneously with an early
parliamentary one.

Both Yushchenko and Yanukovych have pledged to obey any verdict of the CC.
There are, however, doubts about the integrity of CC judges, as both sides
to the conflict have been exerting serious psychological pressure on them.

Several judges have reportedly received threats, one has been accused of
corruption, and the CC chairman wanted to resign immediately after
Yushchenko’s decree.

Chief Justice Ivan Dombrovsky tried to resign on April 4, but the CC voted
to reject his request. Dombrovsky provided no public explanation for his
decision, but the media reported that he took sick leave the same day his
request was denied.

A week later, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party (NU) issued a statement saying
that Yanukovych had threatened Dombrovsky in a private conversation. NU did
not specify the nature of Yanukovych’s alleged threats.

President Yushchenko met with CC judges in late March, several days before
his decree to dissolve parliament, which prompted the PRU to accuse him of
trying to exert pressure on the judges.

On April 9, the PRU-dominated parliament, whose legitimacy Yushchenko has
not recognized since April 2, passed a statement accusing Yushchenko of
putting pressure on the CC. Yushchenko, parliament said, “openly meets with
the judges, shamelessly imposing on them his view on the legality of his
decree.”

On the same day, parliament set up an investigation commission to check the
allegations of PRU member Ihor Myroshnychenko that the Security Service
(SBU) was wiretapping the telephone conversations of CC judges.

Meeting with his allies on April 10, Yushchenko expressed his concern over
what he described as pressure on the CC. Yulia Tymoshenko, speaking at the
meeting, made a statement essentially characterizing the attitude of both
sides toward the CC. As the judges were being intimidated and bribed, she
said, “The court is unable to make any law-based ruling.”

Tymoshenko spoke several hours after five out of the CC’s 18 judges had
dramatically announced that they would refuse to work until the state
guaranteed their security.

After that, the government supplied the judges with guards. The five, four
of whom had been appointed to the CC under the quotas of Yushchenko and NU,
did not pretend impartiality.

They said that Yushchenko’s decree was fully in line with the constitution.
This prompted Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych to accuse them of
violating the law on the CC by making their position public before the
hearing of the case at the CC.

In a pre-recorded statement that aired on several TV channels on April 13,
CC judge Syuzanna Stanik complained of being the target of a smear campaign.
SBU acting head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko on April 16 announced that a relative
of Stanik had illegally received property worth $12 million, apparently from
the government.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office on the same day, however, announced that it
had investigated the bribery allegations against Stanik and found them
groundless. Stanik accused the SBU of interfering with the work of the CC.

This, however, did not prevent Yushchenko from turning to the CC with a
request to consider the SBU accusations against Stanik and relieve her of
the duties of judge-rapporteur.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office, like the Interior Ministry, appears to be
dominated by people loyal to Yanukovych’s coalition, while Yushchenko
controls the SBU.

The Constitutional Court is not legally limited in its decisions by any
timeframe, so it is entirely possible that no decision on the parliament
dissolution decree will be passed by May 27, the date Yushchenko has chosen
for the new elections. There are signs, however, that Yushchenko may back
down as far as the election schedule is concerned.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Vitaly Hayduk was the first
official from his team to openly admit the possibility of re-scheduling the
election, speaking at a briefing on April 11.

Yushchenko probably has no choice, as Yanukovych’s government has so far
refused to allot funds to hold the election, and the local electoral
commissions have not been formed on time.                       -30-
————————————————————————————————
(Channel 5, April 4, 9, 13, 17; ICTV, 1+1 TV, Ukrayinska pravda, April 10;
NTN, April 13; ProUA, April 16) http://www.jamestown.org
————————————————————————————————

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================      
6.   OLEKSANDR VOLKOV: YULYA TYMOSHENKO IS TOP CLASS –
   SHE WILL TAKE ‘EM ALL FOR A RIDE ON THE VR DISSOLUTION

INTERVIEW WITH: Oleksandr Volkov
By Serhy Leshchenko (in Russian)
Ukrayinska Pravda Online, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 16, 2007
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #830, Article 6 (in English)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oleksandr Volkov is staging a comeback. The early elections may give another
chance to this omnipotent politico who started his parliamentary career back
in the corrupt Kuchma era.  This time, Volkov, an Orange team supporter
three years ago, has put his money on the Party of Regions.

Volkov evokes interest not only because he has rubbed shoulders with a host
of present-day key political heavyweights for whom he opened the doors of
Kuchma’s office. Now Volkov is a source of information flowing in from many
camps.

One of his buddies, Vladimir Levenets, is Yanukovych’s strategy planner,
another, Aleksandr Abdullin, does the same for Yulya Tymoshenko. Volkov
himself is back in the saddle again – judging by  the number of slang in his
locutions.

– Two weeks have passed since Viktor Yushchenko’s decree dissolving
parliament. Apparently, Ukraine has been driven into a dead-end. Can you see
any way-out?
[Volvok] –  There is a very simple way-out; but it doesn’t depend on either
Yanukovych or the ruling coalition. It is absolutely clear for all that
pre-term elections cannot be held on May 27, as set by the decree. Even
Yushchenko himself has indirectly admitted this.

[1] The first thing the president should do now is to suspend his decree
setting the deadline for elections.

[2] Second. Viktor Yushchenko’s catchword, I’ve even taken it down, is that
“the only source of power in Ukraine is the people.” Let’s assume that
Yanukovych, the Communists and Socialists agree to the early elections.
After the elections, a coalition expressing voters’ choice will be formed.

Then the question will arise: “Mr President, will you be prepared to fulfill
the will of the people and name a candidate for premier proposed by the
future coalition?” I’m not suggesting it will be Yanukovych or Tymoshenko. I’m
speaking about the way a candidate will be named.

– But by naming Yanukovych for premier Yushchenko has proven that he acts in
this way!
[Volvok] – If he can do it, let him now make a statement to the effect. I’m
absolutely convinced that such a step will clear up all problems.

The coalition does not believe that Yushchenko will name the candidate put
up by the majority. Neither do I believe him. Because I well remember how we
discussed some problems back in 2004 and what promises Yushchenko gave at
the time.

– What are you talking about?
[Volvok] – Before the presidential election me, Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and
Dima Bosov (a Russian businessman often called a Berezovsky envoy) got
together prior to the voting day.

Yushchenko promised to nominate Tymoshenko as premier. Moreover, Yushchenko
and Tymoshenko inked a deal on that. However, on the heels of the election
Yushchenko changed his mind and wanted to nominate Poroshenko.

At the time, I spoke publicly and appealed to Yushchenko, saying “Mr
President, you must deliver on your promise to Maidan and to those of us who
sat at the table of negotiations with you.”

However, Yushchenko called me and tried to talk me out of backing
Tymoshenko: “Sasha, I beg you not to support Tymoshenko. What will you gain?
You know what kind of problem I have with my boys.” I am an eye witness to
these events.

– By the way, what was Bosov’s role at the meeting where Yushchenko promised
premiership to Tymoshenko?
[Volvok] – You’d better ask Bosov. It was Yushchenko who invited Bosov to
come to the meeting, not me. As far as I know, Dima Bosov is still rubbing
shoulders with Yushchenko; he comes often to the president.

– But Bosov is close to Berezovsky.
[Volvok] – This is no secret, and Berezovsky admitted it himself that he was
involved in funneling money to the Orangists.

– Do you maintain any relationship with Berezovsky?
[Volvok] – Yes and a very close one.

– With whom is Berezovsky in the present situation?
[Volvok] – We’re not here to discuss this. Like me, Berezovsky has been
greatly discouraged by what happened.  And if you’d ask me whether he
supports Yushchenko, I’ll tell you one story.

I heard the promise Yushchernko made to Berezovsky with my own ears.
Berezovsky asked him: “When could I come to Ukraine?”  And Yushchenko
responded: “I invite you to my inauguration.”

(Raising his voice) Damn it, as you remember, only his wife came to the
inauguration, and she stayed up in my home! Berezovsky was not allowed in
Ukraine by Yushchenko, who had assumed control over law-enforcement agencies
prior to his inauguration.

Berezovsky called me to tell: “Sasha, please go to him and ask him if he has
no shame”

My answer was, “He has no shame whatever.” I raised signatures in Verkhovna
Rada for an appeal to Yushchenko and called him several times. I told him, “Viktor
Andreyevich, this is not fair. It’s not that the man bankrolled (starting to
shout) 40 million dollars to pay for your democracy. Damn it, but you gave
him your word!

– Judging by your words, you’re closer to Yanukovych now.
[Volvok] – I don’t say I was far from him. You posted a photograph where we
are together.

– Can you, in case of a 2004 repeat, attract cash  – this time for
Yanukovych’s war chest?
[Volvok] – Yes, I can. We’ve agreed to talk frankly. Yes, I’m the man whom
some in the West trust. Do you remember the gasoline crisis when Tymoshenko
was premier? One my call to the Greek Vardoyanis company was sufficient to
have tankers with gasoline docking in Odesa in two days.

I was helping Tymoshenko then. Now I don’t make it a secret that if
Yanukovych chooses to turn to me for help, I’ll do my best to assist him in
the campaign.

– In exchange for a place on the election roster?
[Volvok] – Yes, why not? Being on the sidelines, I miss work in parliament.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel nervous and out of place.

– How do you keep yourself busy?
[Volvok] – I get to my PC, read politics, take a pen and a sheet of paper
and start to draw diagrams of the current political situation. Somewhere by
dinnertime, I have a clear-cut picture of what is going on.

– Have you made it up with Tymoshenko?
[Volvok] – Let’s put it this way: we’ve restored a noncommittal
relationship.

I didn’t ask her to put me on her election roster. As far as I can see,
Tymoshenko treats me the same way as she did earlier.

–  Which way do you treat her?
[Volvok] –  Of course, my attitude changed after she let me down in 2005. No
matter how hard I try to lick this wound, it never heals. In fact,
Tymoshenko betrayed not only me, but also my family.

–  What?
[Volvok] –  Yes, my family! Tymoshenko, while on a campaign trail and after
she became premier, used to spend much time in my family.

–  Why?
[Volvok] –  She used to come in the evenings, she carried my daughter on her
hands. And she invited me to attend her daughter’s wedding.

That is, there was an informal and warm relationship. But after her betrayal
I cannot think of cooperating with her politically. Not so much because of
her, as because of her team.

– Why so? Aleksandr Abdullin, your buddy, has become Tymoshenko’s

closest ally.
[Volvok] –  On the one hand, Abdullin is not a decision-maker. On the other
hand, I’m no longer interested in such decisions.

– If we see your name on the Regions slate, should we take it as a matter of
fact?
[Volvok] – I would be happy to be put on their slate, but I’m sure there won’t
be early elections in the nearest 3-4 months. Everything the president is
offering today makes no sense.

– Why?
[Volvok] –  But I’ve just told you frankly where the way-out is: if the
president makes a pledge to nominate for premier the candidacy proposed by
the coalition, the Gordian knot will be cut.

– Most probably, the coalition fears that Yushchenko might try to cancel the
political reform. The more so that Tymoshenko faction has submitted a
request to the Constitutional Court to annul the political reform.
[Volvok] – I’m absolutely sure the political reform will not be cancelled. I
wouldn’t waste our precious time discussing the issue.

– Why are you so sure?
[Volvok] – I forgot the name of the saint who came to church and proclaimed:
“There is no God.” He put it so bluntly that no one could find any words to
contradict him. Similarly, I say the reform will never be cancelled.

Let me recall Yushchenko’s latest press conference when he said he had
always opposed the political reform. He was not sincere, to put it mildly.

I’m saying so because on the eve of the crucial vote in VR on the political
reform in Dec. 2004, Yushchenko came up to me in VR and had a conversation.

Yushchenko begged me to vote for the reform and persuade other deputies with
whom I had some influence to do the same. I asked him then: “Viktor
Andreyevich, to enact the reform, 300 votes are needed.

Such a vote is impossible without the Our Ukraine faction.” To this
Yushchenko responded: “My boys will vote for the reform.”

Meanwhile, he knew I was against the political reform. If you remember, when
Medvedchuk wanted to railroad the political reform in April 2004, it was me,
Andry Derkach and four other lawmakers who voted against it. Kuchma was just
6 votes short of the needed majority, although he had asked me to support
the motion.

When Yushchenko asked me to support the reform in Dec. 2004, I was lost.
“Why do you need such a vote?” I asked him. “Just listen to me, I beg you to
vote for the reform,” he said.” Damn it, I took a sin upon my soul – and
voted for it.

The only person who staunchly opposed the reform was Tymoshenko. Her faction
abstained, but Our Ukraine supported the reform almost in full strength.

Later, when Yushchenko began to justify himself by saying he was not present
in the sessions hall at the moment of voting, I thought “This is all crap!”
He was sitting right opposite me.

– Let’s get back to where we started: Yushchenko’s hands are tied, he has
been cornered by Yanukovych. For his part, Yushchenko has questioned
Yanukovych legitimacy.
[Volvok] – How did the political crisis start? Starting right after the 2004
election, it intensified when the law on the cabinet was enacted. In fact,
the law vested the coalition with the powers envisaged by the political
reform.

There is one minor detail in the law on the cabinet. (Volkov takes out a
piece of paper with something handwritten on it). It is Article 27 which has
it in black and white that the presidential decrees are to be signed by a
premier and related minister.

However, neither Yanukovych nor Justice Minister Lavrynovych signed
Yushchenko’s decree. It gave the government the ground to state that the
decree was unconstitutional. Still, the Constitutional Court has the final
say in this issue.

Please, note how the president’s entourage behaved in this issue: “The CC
and CC judges are under pressure!” They are preparing the public for a CC
ruling which will be unfavorable for Yushchenko. Then, Yushchenko will be
able to stand up and declare, “Sorry, the ruling was made under pressure,
and I’m not going to comply.” This scenario is being prepared now.

– Can the present stalemate be broken by appealing to the crowd and massive
public disobedience?
[Volvok] – Several days ago I went to the blue-and-white and Orange sites of
public manifestations in Kyiv where I talked to protesters. I didn’t meet
anyone with aggressive intentions.

– But they’re being paid!
[Volvok] – I cannot be sure of this, I didn’t pay them. Anyway, there’s one
thing that is clear: they didn’t come to fight. They came for a tour of the
capital, to have fun, to be at a rally, wave a flag, and get back to their
homes.

Yushchenko is currently trying to regain his power in an unconstitutional
way, not so much for himself as for his entourage. He had sufficient clout
he couldn’t wield. He should have thought better then. Back in 2005, you
asked me the same question: “Do you think Yushchenko will succeed?”

I told you then: “I want to see how he will shape up his team.” When I saw
liubi druzi, brothers, godfathers, godmothers on the team, I said to
myself, “Everything’s clear. He’ll be a looser.” And, as usual, I was right.

My present forecast is: in case of the early elections, the Regions will be
an absolute leader with about 36-38 percent. The Tymoshenko bloc will take
second place.

Depending on whether Yushchenko heads the OU roster, BYuT can win between

24 and 28 percent of the vote. Our Ukraine will be third. Without Yushchenko,
OU will get 6-8 percent, with Yushchenko – 10-12 percent.

The higher the Our Ukraine tally, the lower the BYuT’s one. Because these
parties have the same voter support base. They are currently clinging to
each other in a passionate dance, but as soon as the election campaign gets
under way they will be sinking one another like hell.

Compromising materials are valuable until they have been made public. As
soon as they are made public, they cease to be a secret weapon. The same
applies to the presidential decree disbanding parliament.

The incumbent shouldn’t have inked the decree, he should have kept the
public at tenterhooks, leaking information about the decree to the media,
but not signing it. This would have given the president the needed leverage
to implement his agenda.

However, it so happened that Yushchenko did sign the decree. Now, I am
convinced that the solution to the crisis lies in the early elections,
parliamentary or parliamentary/presidential. Even if the past status quo is
restored, the political crisis will remain.

– The decree to disband VR can well be Yushchenko’s silver bullet enabling
him to press Yanukovych into annulling the law on the cabinet in exchange
for the decree cancellation.
[Volvok] – Yanukovych can spit on it! Now he has all power in his hands.

– Save for the law-enforcement agencies.
[Volvok] – Doesn’t Internal Minister Tsushko take orders from Yanukovych?
Isn’t he a cabinet member?

– Tsushko does, but the army and SBU do not.
[Volvok] –  The army cannot be used to troubleshoot domestic conflicts. I
know Defense Minister Anatoly hrytsenko very well, he is a super decent
person. He will never accept criminal orders to shoot one’s own people, even
if the order comes from Yushchenko.

– On the other hand, new elections will enable Yushchenko to reset the
situation to zero and strive for a ruling coalition comprising The Regions
and Our Ukraine.
[Volvok] – True, I really wouldn’t risk to say now that Our Ukraine or BYuT
do not have secret plans to bamboozle one another and join forces with the
Regions.
There are many clever people and my friends in Our Ukraine who are well
aware that Yuliya Tymoshenko is a fair weather friend.
She needs Yushchenko and his team to last through till the parliamentary
elections. Or, still better, till simultaneous presidential and
parliamentary elections.

 – But Yushchenko has categorically dismissed the idea of his early
resignation.
[Volvok]- He may do whatever he wants. However, given the Constitutional
Court renders his decree unconstitutional, Yushchenko has only one way open
for him: his resignation.

Unless he wants to lose his face absolutely, he should voluntary leave his
office, because he will not win the next presidential election. Meanwhile,
Tymoshenko doesn’t want to delay his resignation till some distant future;
she wants everything and at once.

Tymoshenko cannot afford to wait till the next parliamentary elections due
in 2011. Members who joined her party expected to find themselves in power,
not in the opposition. Prior to the 2006 elections they had been promised
posts in exchange for campaign cash.

Given the current political situation, Tymoshenko realizes that urgent
actions are needed. And she hatched up a smart scenario to have the early
elections. Having persuaded her “friend” and presidential administration
head Baloha, they both took the hand of Yushchenko and inked the decree with
it.

The decree was an utter fiasco, and the president is still unaware of what
he has signed. This is Yulya’s show now: rallies, drumbeat, back-room
dealing, speeches, promises: “This time, guys, we will win power for sure.

Those after ministerial posts will get them, with time, of course.” Yulya is
top class, she takes them airheads for a ride.”

– Isn’t she your disciple?
[Volvok] – A self-declared one. She always makes the best of the situation.
Mark my words: she needs Yushchenko now. But as soon as the elections are
over, she will dump him.

If she wins and Yushchenko doesn’t nominate her for premier, what a flood of
smear we will see poured on his head.                         -30-
————————————————————————————————–
Link: http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2007/4/16/57514.htm
————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7.                 A WESTERN-BACKED COUP
               The leaders of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution now threaten
                                    the country’s democratic future

COMMENTARY: Adam Swain in Donetsk
The Guardian, London, UK, Tuesday April 17, 2007

The decree issued by Ukraine’s president Viktor Yushchenko earlier this
month to dissolve parliament and hold early elections is no less than an
attempted coup d’etat, apparently aided and abetted by western powers.

Last year’s elections brought Viktor Yanukovych – Yushchenko’s nemesis
during the rigged presidential elections of 2004 which led to the country’s
so-called Orange Revolution – to power as prime minister at the head of a
coalition government.

Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, meanwhile straddled government and
opposition, while his close collaborator during the Orange Revolution,
Yuliya Tymoshenko, went into opposition and campaigned for new elections.

The complex power-sharing arrangement that emerged resulted in a power
struggle between government and president, which the government, backed by
the parliament, had been winning.

But while Russia welcomed the Russophile government’s newly dominant
position, elements in the west feared the strong parliament would undermine
Yushchenko’s pro-western foreign policy.

For Yushchenko, the attempted coup is a means to recover some lost power
from parliament. For his western backers, it is a way of irreversibly
locking Ukraine into western geopolitical and geo-economic structures.

The president has resorted to such a high stakes gamble because of his
domestic political weakness. Even if the constitutional court rules in his
favour, early parliamentary elections will almost certainly result in his
party winning fewer seats than they did last year. Our Ukraine, with its
neoliberal and pro-western outlook, came a poor third place, drawing support
mainly in the west and centre of the country.

Should new elections take place, the largest party is likely once again to
be Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, a corporatist party which polled 32%
last year, mainly in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country.

Of the major parties only former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko’s
parliamentary bloc, with its pragmatic populism and strong pro-western
outlook, can expect an increased share of the vote.

Since the Yanukovych government was formed last summer, Ukraine has begun

tobe the author of its own democratic future. The power struggle has been a
contest for the right to consolidate the state bureaucracy and the political
system to enable strong and effective government.

This has been accompanied by a booming economy and a pragmatic foreign
policy that combines cooperation with Russia with closer integration with
the EU – but not with the unpopular Nato.

Consolidation of the state and political system is a necessary prerequisite,
not only for further political and economic reform but also for Ukraine to
withstand geopolitical pressure and economic competition from east and west.

Russia wants to establish a consortium with Ukraine to jointly own and
manage the pipeline network that takes Russian gas to the EU, while Russian
business has been seeking to acquire large Ukrainian businesses.

For its part, the west would like Ukraine to adopt neoliberal economic
reform, join Nato and deepen its relationship with the EU as a bulwark
against a reinvigorated Russia.

Should large parts of the political and economic elite, and the country at
large, regard early elections as illegitimate and boycott them, Yushchenko
and his renewed ally Tymoshenko would be unable to negotiate any form of
political compromise, weakening Ukraine’s ability to withstand external
pressure. A combined political and legal solution preventing the need for
early elections is more likely to emerge.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, who led the street protests during the Orange
Revolution, have morphed into counter-revolutionaries, intent on crushing
the parliament they ensured was elected in Ukraine’s freest and fairest
elections since independence.

Their western backers, with their own geopolitical agenda, hope neither will
emerge as Ukraine’s equivalent of Boris Yeltsin and that the international
community will not notice their improbable reincarnation.

Paradoxically Yushchenko has returned to the failed authoritarianism of the
past, and jeopardised not only his but also his country’s democratic future.

In so doing he has renounced his right as heir to the Orange Revolution and
transformed Yanukovych into an unlikely defender of Ukrainian democracy.
—————————————————————————————————
Adam Swain is a lecturer in geography at the University of Nottingham. He is
editor of Reconstructing the Post-Soviet Industrial Region: the Donbas in
transition (Routledge) swain@nottingham.ac.uk

—————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2058752,00.html
—————————————————————————————————
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========================================================
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========================================================
8.                WHAT’S AT ISSUE IN UKRAINE

COMMENTARY: By John Marone, Editor, Kyiv Post,
Eurasian Home website, Monday, April 16, 2007

The threat of Ukraine veering off the path of democratic development is
greater now than ever before, with increasingly authoritarian Russia
welcoming the opportunity to recoup lost influence in the region.

Yet, unlike during Ukraine’s democratic Orange Revolution over two years
ago, Europe and North America appear more reluctant to publicly support the
country’s pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko in his latest and arguably
most important battle with his eastern-oriented Prime Minister Viktor
Yanukovych.

Yushchenko decided to challenge Yanukovych’s months-long power grab by
dismissing the parliament on April 2 and calling for snap elections.

Yanukovych responded by rallying the majority he controls in the nation’s
legislature to ignore the presidential order. The result has been a
constitutional crisis that has once again divided the country into eastern
and western camps.

International media were quick to draw comparisons with the Orange
Revolution of 2004, which also featured the mass street demonstrations and
defiance of executive authority seen today.

But now Yushchenko is president, not an opposition leader fighting to unseat
an internationally discredited opponent. And his image as the country’s
democratic savior has been sullied by years of indecision and conflict with
his former Orange allies.

Yanukovych, on the other hand, led his Regions faction to victory in last
year’s parliamentary elections, which were dubbed the country’s cleanest
ever.

Moreover, it was Yushchenko himself who endorsed to Yanukovych’s bid to
head the government, which thereafter began to aggressively assume most
of the president’s significant powers.

But the real significance of Ukraine’s current political crisis lies not in
the war of wills between the two Viktors, nor even the larger geopolitical
implications of Independent Ukraine possibly being forced into a revamped
Soviet Union.

The real significance is that all legitimate offices of power in the country
have been called into serious doubt.

Unlike during the heady days of 2004, when the Supreme Court decisively
cancelled Yanukovych’s fraud-marred presidential victory, Ukraine’s high
courts are now as polarized and dysfunctional as the executive and
legislative branches of power.

Today’s conflict is rooted in the controversial constitutional amendments
that Yushchenko agreed to during the peak of the Orange Revolution in
order to secure political support for his second attempt at the presidency.

The consequences of the president’s compromise, the first in a string of
fatal ones, has been a level of legal chaos that the justices of the
nation’s overwhelmed Constitutional Court are incapable or unwilling to

resolve.

Justices have done everything from feigning illness to crying political
pressure in their attempts to avoid taking a decision.

The development of an independent judiciary is something that takes time,
and a dedication to reforms that has been sorely lacking in the newly
independent state.

That’s why the Regions bloc’s insistence that snap elections must be
preceded by a ruling from the Constitutional Court cannot be taken
seriously.

Yushchenko’s pledge to honor a ruling by the high court also looks like lip
service. If the Constitutional Court ever does take a decision it will be in
line with an agreement reached beforehand between Yushchenko and
Yanukovych.

Most political analysts are predicting some kind of a compromise deal,
whereby Regions would agree to fresh elections later than the date of May 27
ordered by the president. But such a deal is not guaranteed.

In a much weaker position than he was in 2004, Yushchenko may again feel
compelled to agree to a compromise that will seal the fate of Ukrainian
democracy once and for all.

A majority of Ukrainians supported Yushchenko as their president in 2004,
while members of Yanukovych’s coalition got into parliament fairly less than
two years later.

These same Ukrainian voters, however, did not approve Yanukovych as the
country’s chief executive, a goal he seems to have set himself since taking
control of the government last summer.

The issue is relevant, as Yushchenko and Yanukovych have very different
ideas about the country’s foreign policy.

For example, Yushchenko is for joining the EU and NATO, while Yanukovych
has sought closer ties with Moscow. That’s why it is hardly surprising that
Russia’s State Duma has again come out publicly in support of Yanukovych in
his latest battle for power.

The Duma issued a statement on April 6 denouncing Yushchenko’s decision to
dissolve the parliament. “Deputies of the State Duma express their sharply
negative attitude to attempts to resolve the political crisis by the
dismissal of the legitimately elected Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine,” the
statement reads.

Although the Kremlin has avoided outward expressions of support for one

side or another, Russian President Vladimir Putin has increasingly tried to
rebuild his country’s prestige as a regional if not global power.

The string of so-called color revolutions held in Georgia, Ukraine and
Kyrgyzstan a few years ago juxtaposed Western-style democracy with the
Kremlin’s increasingly authoritarian policies in Russia’s own backyard.

More recently, the US has floated plans to set up a missile defense system
in Poland, and President George Bush has signed legislation backing NATO
membership for five countries, including Ukraine.

Russia has responded to what it perceives as Western encroachment by
increasingly using the energy dependency of former Soviet republics and the
newly expanded EU to dictate its will.

Ukraine, for example, had the price it pays for Russian and Central Asian
gas doubled and then raised by another third within a year.

Western government officials, especially the US, have expressed concern
about Moscow’s growing gas monopoly over its neighbors.

Nevertheless, the US State Department refrained from supporting President
Yushchenko’s latest and possibly last ditch attempt to keep his country’s
democratic development on track.

During a press briefing on April 4, two days after Yushchenko had dismissed
the parliament and called for fresh elections, State Department spokesman
Sean McCormack said: “Our view is that any political questions in Ukraine
need to be resolved by the Ukraine Government and in accordance with their
laws and their constitution.”

Yanukovych’s team would agree wholeheartedly with the wording of such a
statement.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU’s commissioner for external relations, also
avoided ringing the alarm bell over Ukraine. “There is an active and open
political debate in Ukraine. This is a sign that democracy is at work in the
country,” she said.

Although Western governments’ reluctance to meddle in Ukraine’s internal
affairs is understandable, the issues, as well as the stakes, are no less
serious than during the Orange Revolution.

As then, Yushchenko is calling for re-elections, demanding that the people
decide the country’s fate, break the deadlock between warring officials in
Kyiv. If the West doesn’t take a definite stance of principle, the outcome
for Yushchenko and Ukraine may be different this time around.   -30-
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http://www.eurasianhome.org/xml/t/opinion.xml?lang=en&nic=opinion&pid=697
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9.          UKRAINE’S TEETHING TROUBLES

Savik Shuster, host of the Svoboda Slova TV show, Ukraine
Kommersant, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I don’t think it would be right to consider developments in Ukraine as a
Yushchenko-Yanukovich-Timoshenko triangle as many people do.

Others, like Yulia Mostovaya, The Week’s Mirror deputy editor-in-chief and
Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko’s wife, say if a triangle of President
Yushchenko-PM Yanukovich-Speaker Timoshenko emerged, it would alleviate

the situation.

Events in Ukraine can be interpreted in two ways. According to one opinion,
the current turmoil is just a part of teething troubles which will
inevitably open a period of maturity when issues of euro integration, NATO,
languages and land privatization will be
settled.

In contrast, some people tend to see the developments as the start of a
fatal illness – the disease of the aged post-Soviet elite which will split
the country in two.

There is another point to consider when analyzing events in Kyiv. Major
business is a factor which did not play any significant role in similar
circumstances in Russia in 1993. In the meantime, Ukrainian tycoons are
losing millions in profits every day.

There is no further capitalization to their assets. Looking for a way-out
from the political standoff, major business wants to remain both Ukrainian
and international with access to foreign markets and its fair play.

Will major business bring reason to politics in Ukraine? This is the
question. In fact, there has been scarcely any politics but a lot of money
relations in the 15 years of Ukraine’s independence.

Money matters have ranged from purchasing a place on an election roll to
buying a court decision. But the trouble is that you can’t buy a political
decision and stabilization.

If the Ukrainian crisis comes down to teething troubles, then a new election
will be a valid solution. In this case, the parties should enter talks to
refine the vague constitution and election law and ask the people for a
decision. If we interpret the developments as a fatal illness, the country
may end up in a civil conflict and separatism.

In this case, the present-day Ukraine can be compared to the 1993 Russia
when the parliamentary crisis led to the first Chechen war. But I still
believe that Ukraine is going through a stage rather than writhing on the
deathbed.

What about Russia, then? Ukraine has been considering Moscow as a threat
ever since the last year’s gas crisis. Quite naturally, Russia’s political
elite, or the Kremlin, thinks that the worse Ukraine feels, the better.

Following the same idea, an emerging Ukraine may become a paragon of a

civil democratic solution to other former Soviet republics.

But it’s not the only reason why Russia is concerned about the situation in
Ukraine. There is still the issue of the Black Sea Fleet to consider as
Russia has pledged to withdraw its navy from Ukraine in 2017.

But as I see it, officials in Moscow – and they may as well retain power
until 2017 – are not going to pull out the Black Sea fleet anyway.
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http://www.kommersant.com/p759807/r_520/Opinion_Ukraine_Parliament_Crisis/

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10.         UKRAINE: CONSTITUTIONAL FITS

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Serhii Rakhmanin
Mirror-Weekly, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya #14, Kyiv,Ukraine, 14-20 April 2007

The nation is awaiting the Constitutional Court judgement. Even those
totally unversed in politics are looking forward to the verdict. Kyiv
residents, for instance, wish it would rid the city of the crowds of
“political tourists”, garbage, foul language and stench.

Leaders of Ukrainian establishment pin their hopes on it. Both the Cabinet
and the Presidential Secretarial would give anything for a decision in their
favour or, put more accurately, they do give a lot for potential loyalty.

According to our source, privy to the mechanics of the court, both sides use
very similar methods in their communications with the CC justices, but one
of them has more resources, tougher negotiators and, therefore, more reasons
for optimism.

The justices, in turn, hope they would not have to pass any judgement
whatsoever.

They have become major news-makers of the day: every third headline, TV or
radio report and publication in the press is about the Constitutional Court.
We will not describe the latest developments around it but, rather, provide
comment and try to analyze the implications.

The presidential decree on the Supreme Rada dissolution and early
parliamentary elections has split society and politicians into two
irreconcilable camps: one supporting the early elections wholeheartedly, the
other rejecting them point blank.

Both parties are convinced they are right. At the same time, in both camps
there are people who are not quite sure their case is perfectly right.

These people wait for the Constitutional Court to dispel their doubts. And
in both camps there are people (fortunately, not numerous enough) who would
not stop at anything to get their way.

They have not resorted to extreme measures because their respective leaders
have not sanctioned such measures yet. The leaders are still confident they
will be able to obtain a favourable CC ruling, by hook or by crook.

So, both sides count on a positive CC decision, and neither believes the
decision would be fair and impartial. Policy-makers in both camps do not
rely on the independence of the “gentlemen (and ladies) of the long robe”
authorized to interpret the Constitution. Instead, they rely on their teams’
financial capacities, fusses and follies of human nature, and luck.

A lot of bizarre things have been recently going on around the
Constitutional Court. The head of state had a strange meeting with the CC
justices on the eve of signing the disputable decree. The Prime Minister and
Speaker demonstrate a strange familiarity with the contents of deliberations
behind the closed door on camera.

Chief CC Justice Ivan Dombrovsky made a strange attempt to retire and later,
equally strangely, took an unpaid leave of absence.

Five CC justices (Dmytro Lilak, Volodymyr Kampo, Petro Stetsiuk, Viktor
Shyshkin and Yaroslava Machuzhak) called a strange press-conference
announcing they were subject to unprecedented pressure. [Speaker] Olexander
Moroz riposted with a strangely harsh comment.

Strange rumours started circulating about Deputy Chief CC Justice Valery
Pshenychny’s alleged attempt to take over chairmanship and hastily consider
the petition against the presidential decree even before Dombrovsky had
taken leave.

A strange story about tempering with justice-rapporteur Suzanna Stanik
appeared on the Internet and was made public by MP Ruslan Kniazevych of the
“Our Ukraine” faction.

In view of the above let us ask ourselves: should we be surprised that
neither of the belligerent camps expects the Constitutional Court to pass an
unbiased, objective, competent and politically unmotivated judgement?

Should we be surprised that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians are no
longer appalled with stories about huge sums of cash brought into the
justices’ offices and transferred into their accounts as down-payment for
future services?

Should we be surprised that the media openly discuss whose side – the
President’s or the Premier’s – the Constitutional Court at large and each
particular justice will take in the case (although the Constitution, special
law and their oath explicitly prohibit them to take sides)?

In international practice, constitutional courts exist to act as unengaged
arbitrators, to prevent political crises or help the society and political
leaders to find legal solutions in times of crisis. In many countries
constitutional courts are guarantors of the constitution, which emphasizes
their significance for the proper functioning of the state.

With the launch of the political reform it became obvious that the
Constitutional Court would have to mediate in the inevitable conflicts
between the centres of power. Now it is equally obvious that it will not be
able to live up to this role.

On several occasions, ZN predicted (based on the legal experts’ opinions)
that this panel of CC justices would have to consider the most complicated
and controversial cases in the entire history of this institution, and that
the Constitutional Court would have difficulty coping with such cases as
this panel is the weakest in the entire history of this institution.

The politicians have fallen prey to their own shortsightedness. All of them,
irrespective of their colours, would have benefited from having at least one
independent body in the country, capable of unprejudiced and qualified
decision-making.

Yet they opted to delegate there people whose major merit was their personal
faithfulness and who were not always skilled enough to write a plausible
declaration [part of the judgement]. Having manned the Constitutional Court
with obedient vassals, the politicians made the first grave mistake.

Their second mistake was to “sponsor” their men in the Constitutional Court.
Most justices, regardless of their personal likes and party allegiances,
gladly accepted lavish gifts from both the Presidential Secretariat and the
Cabinet. Some partook of the generosity of the largest oppositional force as
well.

The givers’ munificence soon corrupted the takers. Where the justices’
opinion used to be determined by their party boss’s instruction, it has come
to be shaped by the amount of the offered bribe. And now, faced with the
need and obligation to seal the fate of the nation, they flounder and try to
shirk responsibility.

Having realized they had been investing in air bubbles, the political bonzes
failed to conceal irritation in public, which was their third mistake.

The leading politicians in both camps censured and disparaged the
Constitutional Court so often that their today’s promises to accept any CC
decision are not worth a brass farthing. The general public believes in
neither their promises nor the fairness of the CC decision.

We have no way of knowing when the Court will pronounce its verdict, what it
will be like and whether it will ever see the light of day, in the first
place. Whatever the verdict, one half of the country will regard it as yet
another proof of the justices’ venality, and the other – as evidence of
their political idols’ clout. Even if the verdict is truly objective, few
will think so.

Having forgone the decency, the politicians debunked the nation’s last myth.
For a long time, the public perceived the Constitutional Court as some kind
of a mysterious order of knights, a caste of the esoteric,. The decision on
President Kuchma’s third tenure marred the attractive image.

So today, to the majority of our compatriots the Constitutional Court is no
different from adistrict court where one can obtain any decision with one’s
money.

Well, in fact, people think the Constitutional Court is different in that
the money involved here is much bigger. Busting popular myths, the
politicians fall into their own trap, since the next myth to explode could
be that about the state of Ukraine.

Numerous legal experts concur that constitutional courts in all post-Soviet
countries are not totally independent. However, in Russia, for example, for
many justices their good name, reputation, and peer respect are values that
they will not trade for short-term political benefits.

The situation in Ukraine is much sadder. Analysts maintains that there are
very few competent constitutional legal experts in the country. Skeptics
argue they will not even make a full panel of the Constitutional Court. Yet
those few will probably never get there: political party treasurers and top
officials do not want the knowledgeable and the independent; they want the
submissive.

Can a former bureaucrat with a genetic fear of any boss have an independent
opinion? Can a former prosecutor and penitentiary institution officer be
authorities in constitutional law if they were raised by the Soviet system
to view anybody’s freedom as their professional failure?

Can a career judge cherish his reputation if he has climbed the judicial
ladder knowing that every next step will bring higher “fees” for “correct”
decisions?

Can a person with a career and mindset of a procurement manager feel
responsible for the nation’s future development? Can people related to
powers that be as friends, kindred and business partners be objective?

When a person does not conceal he votes as instructed by the party that
nominated him, is financed by the party and works as the party’s vigilante,
why should he bother to learn the particulars of jurisprudence? Why should a
vigilante need the long robe? He shouldn’t; and therefore he arrives to the
court premises in a tracksuit, an appropriate outfit for the Premier’s
Donetsk neighbour.

Professional inability to pronounce judgements the nation requires, fear of
making decisions and of those who order those decisions have paralyzed the
collective saviour of the country.

Watching this paralysis with anguish, some politicians suggest the very
principles of selecting the CC justices, appointment procedures and
justices’ competence should be revised. What should be revised and changed,

first of all, is the politicians’ attitude to this institution and the people making
it, whatever their names, likes and dislikes.

We blamed the former president and previous Rada convocations for many
things, but we should pay homage to them for appointing professional CC
justices. Neither the incumbent “multicoloured” coalition, nor their
 “orange” opponents are interested in such conventionalities. Their attitude
to judges is similar to that of the former administration.

Rumour has it that Viktor Medvedchuk, former Head of President Kuchma’s
Administration, summoned the CC justices to his office and gave
recommendations. Compared to that practice, Yushchenko’s recent public
meeting with the Court members is an innocent prank. Could one qualify it as
bringing pressure to bear on the Court? One could if one wanted to.

Yet one could only guess what the pressure is like behind the closed doors,
without limelight, cameras and Dictaphones. Once I heard about the party
thrown to celebrate Yanukovych’s first appointment to the prime ministerial
office. Invited were, among others, several CC justices.

Viktor Yanukovych, reportedly, called the Chief Justice by his first name
and asked him a “harmless” question: “We will cooperate, won’t we?” Can

this be qualified as administrative pressure?

Fortunately, yours truly was not invited to the party and could not hear the
question with his own ears. Yet I have the right to believe in this story,
and I do believe in it. For one thing, it is fully consistent with its main
characters’ mode of conduct.

For another, the justices allow the politicians to treat them like that. Are
the justices operating under duress? Are they being placed under pressure?
Perhaps, they are.

However, it is their fault: they let it happen by turning up to Medvedchuk’s
briefings, Yanukovych’s parties and Baloha’s interviews; by vowing fidelity
and promising to help; by begging for apartments, summer cottages, cars,
construction materials and money for renovations; by bearing with the
politicians’ indecent offers and suggestive questions.

I also believe that the five CC justices mentioned above did not volunteer
to make their statement. It was orchestrated by people having little to do
with the constitutional law and having no lawful right to interfere with the
Constitutional Court. It does not mean that these justices were insincere
but I do not think it was their free choice.

Some of them, probably, could not say “no” to the President or Head of his
Secretariat. Others secured themselves hoping it will help them in the
future. Others still dreamt of their day of glory. Presumably, at least two
of them were certain they did their civic duty, but never thought they were
ripping up the arbitrator of the split country.

It is true, the Constitutional Court had not been a united body before that
episode. Perhaps, it would never become one due to the other party’s effort.
Now we know for sure it will not.

Masterminds behind this PR ploy should realize what responsibility they have
shouldered but they do not seem to. To them, the Constitutional Court is an
instrument of fighting for power. The rest is sentimental nonsense.

The politicians have no time to waste on sentiments. They are preoccupied
with arithmetic: they multiply rates, add insult to their opponents’ injury
and divide the society into allies and foes. They calculate their chances:
nine CC justices are “blue”, five are “orange”, and four are undecided.

They cannot admit that some justices could have their own opinion and firm
beliefs unaffected by threats, promises or appeals. The politicians worry
over the reports that three CC justices are unwell, viewing it as an element
of the intrigue rather than a plain fact that justices are human beings and
their hearts could fail them.

People in the street tend to doubt the integrity of the CC judges as well.
According to the recent survey of 2,041 respondents held on 29March – 3
April by Kyiv Institute for Sociology (error being under 2.8%), half of
Ukrainians do not think the Constitutional Court is capable of rendering an
objective judgement.

Only 10% trust the Court and as few as 12% of the surveyed consider the CC
justices to be honest people. The poll outcomes look like a “guilty” verdict
not only to the Court but also to the politicians who created it in their
own image.                                            -30-
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LINK: http://www.mw.ua/1000/1030/56426/

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11. UKRAINE: FORMER PRESIDENTS BELIEVE YUSHCHENKO’S
                           DECREE ERRONEOUS, UNREASONED 
Itar, Tass, Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13 

KYIV – The two predecessors of Viktor Yushchenko at the presidential

post Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma believe his decree on Supreme
Rada disbandment and new parliamentary elections is erroneous and
unreasoned. They said so in their interviews on the Inter television
channel on Thursday night.

The crisis in Ukraine is a result of the lack of respect for the
Constitution. Yushchenko must have settled the situation another way,

Kravchuk said.

The president must be able to make a step back, that is to revoke the
decree, he said, reminding that he made such a step together with Boris
Yeltsin in 1993 when the decrees on the Black Sea Fleet were rescinded.
Kravchuk with his decree transferred the fleet under Ukraine’s jurisdiction
and Yeltsin to Russia, but then, they had a telephone talk, discussed the
problem and revoked their decisions.

The Ukrainian ex-presidents believe elections planned for May 27 must
be cancelled.

The conflict parties must find a compromise and take a plan of action to
settle the crisis, Kravchuk said, noting that early elections are held, but
parliament is not dissolved in any country until elections. In Kiev, hatred
and extremism prevail, he said.

Kuchma, who was twice elected Ukrainian president, is sure that there
were no grounds to dissolve the parliament. It is just a struggle for power
on the “Maidan” democracy basis, he said. A precedent was created in late
2004, and it recurs despite laws, he added.

Kuchma suggested waiting for the Constitutional Court’s decisions and
then thinking about a way out of the political crisis. Yu may not call
yourself a democrat if you encroach on parliamentarianism, a democracy
indication,” he noted.                                       -30-
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12.      UKRAINE’S CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
                    From orange disappointment to democratic opportunity.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: by Igor Khrestin
Researcher, Russian Studies program, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
The Daily Standard, Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 18, 2007

AFTER PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO’S dramatic decision to dissolve the
parliament on April 2 and schedule new elections on May 27, Ukraine has
been plunged into yet another political crisis.

In an address to the nation on April 4, deputies from the Verkhovna Rada
have decried Yushchenko’s move as a coup d’etat aimed, they say, at
“creating a precedent that will lead Ukraine down the path of former
Yugoslavia.” Kiev’s Independence Square is once again filled with
protesters, though bitterly divided among opposing factions.

The events unfolding on the streets of the capital and in the halls of
government are the culmination of a prolonged political struggle that has
engulfed Ukrainian politics since the zenith of the Orange Revolution in
2004.

The precedent of “people-powered” democracy, noble as it may be, has
nonetheless failed to dispel deeply-rooted regional divisions or the venal
politics of that country’s elite. After much elation in the West over the
“victory of democracy,” a battle between political ambitions and a genuinely
free civil society, unhesitant in expressing its discontent, continues to
rage.

Lost in the euphoria a few years ago was the fact that nearly half of the
country voted against the Orange Revolution–notwithstanding the few
districts where enthusiastic supporters of Viktor Yanukovich employed “dead
souls” to garner more than 100 percent of eligible votes.

The hero of the revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, was no dissident in the mold
of Vaclav Havel or Lech Walesa, having held a variety of administration
posts during the ancien régime. Even Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s “Joan of
Arc”, had previously made a fortune in the cutthroat world of the
post-Soviet gas industry.

From Heroes to Foes: The Return of Viktor Yanukovich
The installation of “Team Orange” initially produced few tangible benefits
for ordinary Ukrainians. Despite the common goal of bringing Ukraine closer
to the West and rooting out entrenched corruption, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko
instead squandered their political capital in bitter rivalry.

The Ukrainian economy was perhaps the most damning indicator of Orange
failure, it grew 12 percent under the stewardship of former president Leonid
Kuchma in 2004, but declined precipitously in 2005.

Promises to tackle corruption and to reverse shady privatization deals went
largely unfulfilled, excluding the dramatic–and televised–public auction
of Ukraine’s largest steel producer, Kryvorizhstal.

In September 2005, only months after their display of gallant solidarity on
the streets of Kiev, Yushchenko unceremoniously fired Tymoshenko from her
post as prime minister. Ukraine’s “Iron Lady” would not forgive easily.

She reenergized her opposition movement–originally formed to propel
Yushchenko to the presidency–into an eponymous party (“The Yulia

Tymoshenko Bloc” or “BYuT”) that claimed to uphold the “ideological
purity” of the Orange Revolution.

President Yushchenko came off the worse in this power struggle. Last year,
he had little choice but to arrange deals with Yanukovych’s Party of Regions
and oligarchic groups in order to steer the county through political and
economic crises, resulting in the appointment of the centrist technocrat
Yuri Yekhanurov as prime minister.

Curiously, President Yushchenko’s position started to resemble the latter
years of Mikhail Gorbachev–a beloved “liberator” abroad, awarded medals

and standing ovations, but unable to escape a dubious reputation as a
“spineless,” “traitorous,” and essentially powerless politician at home.

To boot, the president lost most of his executive prerogative at the
beginning of 2006, when the country’s political system switched from
super-presidential to a hybrid semi-presidential model.

The failure to reunite the “Orange Team” dealt a serious blow to
Yushchenko’s goals–bringing Ukraine into the Euroatlantic community and
building viable democratic institutions at home. In the March 2006
parliamentary elections, after seeing his popularity plummet, Yushchenko’s
party “Our Ukraine” garnered only 14 percent of the votes, losing to the
resurgent Party of Regions and bested by BYuT as well.

The final tallies from the March elections, however, only reaffirmed the
split in the Orange camp–they did not represent a wholesale discarding of
the country’s pro-Western orientation. But once again, consensus was ditched
in favor of personal ambitions: after gaining the largest share of the
“Orange” vote, Tymoshenko demanded the post of prime minister. Yushchenko
steadfastly refused. The winner in all this was Viktor Yanukovich, who
consolidated his position and was transformed from “enemy of the revolution”
back to prime minister.
                      AVOIDING THE “RUSSIA SCENARIO” 
Yet amidst the chaos and power struggles, a remarkable transformation took
place in the Ukraine. The elections last March were the most democratic in
the country’s history, with 45 parties taking part in the contest. Along
with the emergence of a genuinely democratic civil society, the Ukrainian
media has been liberated and now plays a key role in exposing corruption in
government and business.

Ukraine’s economy, despite Russia’s sudden decision to cutoff of subsidized
gas imports, adjusted well in 2006, exhibiting overall growth on par with
its energy-rich neighbor. Following the example of the European Union in
2005, the United States Congress voted to establish permanent normal trade
relations with Ukraine, with President Bush signing the bill into law in
March 2006. With a view to enter the World Trade Organization early this
year, the Ukrainian parliament has likewise adopted all of the necessary
legislation to comply with WTO standards.

Will the current constitutional crisis reverse the gains of the Orange
Revolution? Prominent analysts of post-Soviet affairs, such as Nicholas
Gvosdev of the National Interest, have been quick to draw parallels to the
1993 crisis in Russia, which resulted in a bloody standoff between armed
forces loyal to President Boris Yeltsin and the Soviet-era Congress of
Deputies.

 
That watershed event has become “Exhibit A” for causal
explanations of why the Russians are hesitant to embrace Western-style
democracy and for the Kremlin’s effective touting of Putin’s oil-infused
“confidence and stability” over the Yeltsin-era’s “shame and chaos.” As
Gvosdev counsels: “Let’s be careful not to repeat history with Ukraine.”

Given the nature of post-Soviet politics, avoiding military intervention is
critical. However, it is then Yushchenko’s perceived “weakness” that should
play a favorable role in the successful resolution of the crisis. In August
2006, the president was already faced with a similar choice, when three
months of wrangling failed to produce a ruling coalition. Having a
legitimate right to call for fresh elections, Yushchenko chose to respect
the wishes of the Ukrainian voters instead by signing a broad “unity
agreement” with Yanukovich.
                OBSERVING THE “RULES OF THE GAME”
While the legal basis of Yushchenko’s latest decision will remain unclear
until Ukraine’s Constitutional Court renders its ruling, expected shortly,
his motives are ascertainable.

With the president already deprived of most of his powers by the recent
constitutional reforms, Prime Minister Yanukovych further strengthened his
rule in January by passing the “Law on the Cabinet of Ministers,” which
severely curtailed presidential prerogatives regarding cabinet appointees
and veto powers.

Tymoshenko joined with Yanukovych in order to secure the “largest opposition
party” (currently her own party, BYuT) with the right to nominate the deputy
parliamentary speaker as well as the chairs to several parliamentary
committees.

Apparently unsatisfied with these gains, Yanukovych actively engaged in
rather unsavory methods of ensuring further legislative prerogative,
including the alleged bribing of opposition deputies.

As the number of “political refugees” climbed steadily upwards, and the
prime minister came closer to controlling two-thirds of the parliament (300
deputies out of 450), the presidency of the Ukraine was in danger of
becoming analogous to the English monarchy. But Yushchenko reasoned that
Ukraine was not ready for “Question Time with the Prime Minister” just yet.

According to Anders Åslund, one of the most prominent Western experts on
Ukraine, “The constitutional basis for new elections appears to be missing
but the lawlessness of the Yanukovich government is palpable.”

In a latest poll by the authoritative Kiev International Institute for
Sociology (KIIS), a plurality (40 percent) of Ukrainians agreed that “the
migration of deputies from the opposition to the [ruling] coalition de facto
negates the results of the 2006 elections.” It is now up to Ukraine’s
Constitutional Court to decide whether that is the case de jure.

All is not lost for the Orange Team should fresh elections take place–they
could manage to reunite again.

According to the latest poll conducted by KIIS and the Razumkov Center,
support among the three primary contenders would stay roughly the same as
during the March 2006 elections: the Party of Regions would receive roughly
33 percent of the votes, Tymoshenko, who has pushed hard recently for
re-election, would get nearly 25 percent, while Yushchenko’s depleted “Our
Ukraine” gets support from 10 percent.

The Communist party, which had traditionally sided with Yanukovych, would
provide him with additional support–projected at 5 percent of the votes.
Crucially, however, the Socialist party of parliament speaker Oleksandr
Moroz may not be able to pass the required 3 percent threshold.

After the Socialists’ unexpectedly bolted from the Orange Coalition and
sided with Yanukovych in July 2006, such a failure would be welcomed by
Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.
                         BETWEEN THE WEST AND RUSSIA
After unequivocal support for Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution,
should the West once again consider getting seriously involved?

There really isn’t much of a choice, especially after the Ukrainian
parliament has asked for “international mediation.” The European Union is
once again sending prominent emissaries, including the former Polish
president Alexander Kwasniewski.

While the U.S. State Department has since the March 2006 election repeatedly
stated the importance of “respecting the choice of the Ukrainian voters and
the rule of law,” both Congress and the White House have acted far more
assertively.

Perhaps as another timely gesture of support for the embattled Yushchenko,
President Bush on April 10 signed into law “The NATO Freedom Consolidation
Act of 2007,” which renders Ukraine as one of the countries eligible for
financial assistance under the NATO Participation Act of 1994.

During the current period of crisis, however, the West must be careful to
support the process, not the candidate. Behind the diplomatic niceties,
Ukrainians face a choice between Western democracy and Russia’s increasingly
authoritarian model.

In rejecting a fraudulent power grab in 2004 and holding a free and fair
contest in 2006, the Ukrainian people have aptly demonstrated that they are
ready to choose the former over the latter.

In adopting the system of power-sharing between the branches of government
that has worked successfully in the Baltic states and in Eastern and Central
Europe, the country took another step in building viable democratic
institutions.

The West must now continue to encourage Ukraine’s politicians and lawmakers
to make responsible choices in order to respect these institutions.
—————————————————————————————————
Igor Khrestin is a researcher in the Russian Studies program at the
American Enterprise Institute. He also covers the Russian media for
THE WORLDWIDE STANDARD.
——————————————————————————————————-
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/533ggaqm.asp?pg=1
——————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
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13.     AGENT ORANGE: OUR SECRET ROLE IN UKRAINE
                         Mark MacKinnon unearths evidence that Canada
                                isn’t always diplomacy’s Walter Mitty

By Mark MacKinnon, The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, April 14, 2007.

KIEV — Andrew Robinson is unassuming and bookish, the sort of man who
seems better suited to the cocktail circuit than to toppling governments.
But on the streets of Kiev, he is revered by some as a revolutionary.

The bespectacled Mr. Robinson, 60, now teaches international affairs at
Carleton University, but in 2004, during the wild and dramatic Orange
Revolution, he was Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine and played a key role
in events that changed the country forever.

“Andrew Robinson is a hero of the revolution,” Vladislav Kaskiv says with a
smile, using a term the old Soviet Union reserved for the Bolshevik leaders
of 1917.

Mr. Kaskiv would know. As head of Pora, a radical youth group that occupied
central Kiev for five weeks in the winter of 2004, he played a bigger part
in the uprising than almost anyone other than its leader, Viktor Yushchenko,
and his firebrand deputy, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Pora was just a gleam in his eye when Mr. Kaskiv, then 31, met Mr. Robinson
in the spring of 2004, just months after another youth group, Kmara, had
helped to overthrow Eduard Shevardnadze in the former Soviet republic of

Georgia.

Mr. Robinson recalls being “very impressed” by the would-be revolutionary
and made a decision uncharacteristic of Canadian foreign policy: He gave

$30,000 (U.S.) to Pora through a special embassy fund. The first money
Pora received, it “was there . . . right when the movement started,” Mr.
Kaskiv recalls.

Today, little orange remains on the streets of Kiev. The country is once
again in the midst of a political crisis, and even the souvenir stalls near
Independence Square can’t flog the paraphernalia that was once visible
everywhere.

“The orange is popular only with foreigners,” says vendor Viktoria
Biloshtan. “Here, orange has lost its credibility.”

It’s a far cry from just 2½ years ago, when orange was the colour of hope
and optimism — and Canada was at the centre of the action.

The embassy’s bold decision to back Pora — Mr. Kaskiv says he spent

he money on “infrastructure” and training — was just one way in which
Canada’s government, as well as its vast Ukrainian diaspora, intervened
in Ukraine’s disputed 2004 election.

All told, the embassy spent a half-million dollars promoting “fair
elections” in a country that shares no border with Canada and is a
negligible trading partner.

And Mr. Robinson acknowledges the effort helped the pro-Western Mr.
Yushchenko to prevail over Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich.

The United States also played a leading role, as it came to see the
Ukrainian election standoff as a major battle in a new cold war that it was
fighting with a resurgent Kremlin for influence across Moscow’s old
empire. The Bush administration was particularly keen to see a pro-Western
figure as president to ensure control over a key pipeline running from
Odessa on the Black Sea to Brody on the Polish border.

The outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, had recently reversed the flow so

the pipeline carried Russian crude south instead of helping U.S. producers in
the Caspian Sea region ship their product to Europe.

Even though U.S. investment in the uprising eventually surpassed Canada’s,
Mr. Robinson says the Canadian role “was really quite significant and
deserves to be known.”

Beginning in January, 2004 — soon after the success of the Rose Revolution
in Georgia — he began to organize secret monthly meetings of Western
ambassadors, presiding over what he called “donor co-ordination” sessions
among 28 countries interested in seeing Mr. Yushchenko succeed. Eventually,
he acted as the group’s spokesman and became a prominent critic of the
Kuchma government’s heavy-handed media control.

Canada also invested in a controversial exit poll, carried out on election
day by Ukraine’s Razumkov Centre and other groups, that contradicted the
official results showing Mr. Yanukovich had won. Thirty months later,
Razumkov director Yuriy Yakimenko maintains the poll was impartial and
scientific — but also boasts that it brought Yushchenko supporters into the
streets.

After that, hundreds of Ukrainian Canadians travelled to Ukraine and spread
out across the country to watch over the deciding third round of elections.

Despite their proclaimed neutrality, many arrived at Kiev’s Boryspil Airport
decked out in the opposition’s signature orange. Since then, some of the
Ukrainian Canadians who have now made the “old country” their home
sometimes call the uprising the “Canadian Revolution.”

The key to Canada’s intervention was Boris Wrzesnewskyj, a Liberal MP of
Ukrainian descent who had the ear of then-prime minister Paul Martin. His
sister, Ruslana, is close to Mr. Yushchenko’s wife, Katerina Chumachenko —
a pipeline that ensured Canada, first to recognize Ukraine’s independence in
1991, once more led the international community .

“Canada had a lot of influence in soft ways that are difficult to quantify,”
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj says. “Behind the scenes, we played quite a significant
role.”

He and Conservative MP Peter Goldring were observers for the Nov. 21
second round of elections, and made headlines by condemning flaws at
polling stations. Two days later, as the protests on Independence Square
were growing, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj made Canada’s sympathies clear.

“It’s quite clear to me that Viktor Yushchenko is, in fact, president of
Ukraine,” he shouted from the stage the opposition had erected on
Independence Square. Elated, the crowd responded with a cheer and chants
of “CA-NA-DA.” The next day, Canadian flags started appearing amid the
sea of orange.

Unknown to the crowd, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj had already played a giant role in
ensuring the disputed election would be rerun. While observing the Oct. 31
first round of voting, the MP for Etobicoke Centre had met Yaroslav
Davydovych, deputy head of Ukraine’s Central Elections Commission

When Mr. Wrzesnewskyj started listing all the violations he had seen, Mr.
Davydovych signalled that the room was bugged. So Mr. Wrzesnewskyj wrote
his mobile phone number on a piece of paper, and several hours later, Mr.
Davydovych called and asked to meet under a pine tree near his offices,
already being fortified in anticipation of unrest. Inside, the vote counting was
finished, but no official results had been announced. Expecting fraud, the

opposition was poised.

As night fell, the two men stood under the tree not speaking, until “I told
him that in these historic circumstances, when good people do the right
thing, I can make sure that Canada will guarantee them safety,” Mr.

Wrzesnewskyj recalls. “A big smile broke out on his face and he told me
that Yushchenko had won the first round.”

After consulting Karl Littler, deputy chief of staff to Mr. Martin, Mr.
Wrzesnewskyj promised Mr. Davydovych and his family safe passage to

Canada should publicizing the true results put his life in danger.

The election commission eventually released results showing Mr. Yushchenko
had indeed narrowly won the first poll, bringing about a second-round
showdown with Mr. Yanukovich. Three weeks later, Mr. Davydovych was to

play a fateful role, refusing to sign off on tainted official results showing Mr.
Yanukovich had won the rematch.

As the crowds poured into the streets to protest, Mr. Davydovych’s act of
defiance emboldened others in the electoral commission and judicial system
to refuse orders to certify Mr. Yanukovich as president. Instead, the Nov.
21 election was annulled and a rerun ordered for Dec. 26. Mr. Wrzesnewskyj

says Mr. Davydovych made his call knowing his family would be safe in
Canada if things turned against him.

Mr. Wrzesnewskyj also invested some of his own fortune, funding election
observation missions to Ukraine through the University of Alberta with
$250,000 from his family foundation. He opened his spacious apartment in
central Kiev so those sleeping in tents could get an occasional shower.

Perhaps most important, he acted as an conduit between Mr. Martin and Mr.
Yushchenko, whom he had introduced in Canada several years earlier, and
persuaded the prime minister to read a dramatic statement in the House of
Commons condemning Russia’s meddling in Ukraine.

In the end, the millions in Western money invested in the Orange Revolution
was a pittance compared with the $600-million Russia is said to have poured
into the Yanukovich campaign through Gazprom, the state-controlled energy giant.
But the Western cash was far better spent and had a dramatic effect on the
streets of Kiev.

Other American and European democracy promotion groups invested in Pora and
a host of other organizations across Ukraine. The NGOs rallied voters to Mr.
Yushchenko’s side, and Pora was the backbone of the protests that paralyzed
Kiev until Mr. Yushchenko was sworn in on Jan. 23, 2005. In doing so, Canada
and other Western countries borrowed from an approach that had already worked
twice.

As well as Georgia’s Kmara movement, Pora was modelled on Otpor, the youth
group that helped to topple Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic four years before.
Likewise, the West-backed Committee of Ukrainian Voters was based on
Georgian and Serbian groups.

The similarities between what had happened in Belgrade in 2000, Tbilisi in
2003 and Kiev in 2004 did not go unnoticed in Moscow, where the uprisings
were seen not as expressions of popular will, but as peaceful Western-backed
coups.

The Orange Revolution “was a well-organized street rally which had been
based on the experience of the Serbian and Georgia revolutions,” says Sergei
Markov, a Kremlin strategist sent to Kiev in 2004 to aid the Yanukovich
campaign.

“I call them NGO revolutions — Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, all of them,” and
their aim was to push back a Russia that had grown more assertive since
President Vladimir Putin had come to power in 2000.

Erasing the Kremlin’s influence certainly motivated the returning expats.
Most of Canada’s million-plus ethnic Ukrainians have roots in western
Ukraine, which is predominantly Catholic, Ukrainian-speaking and far closer

to Hungary and Poland than Russia.

So Canada’s election-monitoring efforts focused heavily on the east. Mr.
Wrzesnewskyj secured government funding to send 500 observers, the largest
official delegation from any country, and another 500 Ukrainian Canadians
came independently. Even before they landed, they made it plain that their
goal was not just to monitor an election, but to keep Mr. Yanukovich from
reaching the presidency.

An e-mail circulated among those monitoring the final vote suggested that
observers be redeployed at the last minute to catch the Kuchma and
“Yanu-NO!!-kowych” camp off-guard.

“If we aren’t as cleaver (sic) as the Kuchma camp we won’t win!!!” read the
message, signed by Vlodko Derzko. “Don’t forget, this isn’t a picnic . . .
for Kuchma it’s a war of survival . . . See you on Maidan [Independence
Square] on the 28th!!! The biggest street party in the world when Yushchenko

wins.”

Mychailo Wynnyckyj served as an observer and admits “we were told not to
arrive wearing orange, but there was no doubt who everybody was supporting.
Of the 500 observers supported by the Canadian government, maybe 100 were,
in their hearts, truly impartial.”

Now a sociology professor here at the prestigious Kyiv-Mohilo Academy, Mr.
Wynnyckyj also lobbied to ensure the international media would be in Kiev —
a heavy journalistic presence often cited as a reason force wasn’t used.
Despite all this, Mr. Robinson, the former ambassador, and Mr. Kaskiv of
Pora are among those who argue that the West had a limited impact.

No one was paid to stand in the streets of Kiev for those five weeks in
2004, and the fact that so many did demonstrated how deep the desire for
change was. All Canada, the U.S. and Europe did was help to provide an

outlet for that emotion.

But to the victors go the spoils. Viktor Yushchenko was sworn in as
President, Ms. Tymoshenko became his prime minister, and Mr. Kaskiv was
made a special presidential adviser. Anatoliy Gritsenko, a former head of
pollster Razumkov, was made defence minister, responsible for deepening

Ukraine’s co-operation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

And the new government announced its intention to reverse the flow of the
Odessa-Brody pipeline. And so far that’s about it.

The political marriage of Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko didn’t last;

in just eight months, they discovered that they shared little beyond a desire
to see the end of Mr. Kuchma. The sky-high popularity Mr. Yushchenko
enjoyed disappeared just as quickly, as post-revolutionary disenchantment
set in.

Despite the promised change, Ukraine today is much like it was in 2004, a
charming country plagued by economic problems that force scientists to drive
taxi cabs and keep the villages around the rapidly growing capital mired in
poverty.

Most Ukrainians are tired of politics, but the intrigue never stops. In
January, 2006, the Kremlin struck back hard, briefly switching off Ukraine’s
flow of natural gas and forcing Mr. Yushchenko to accept a harsh price
hike or risk shivering. In the process, the Putin government reminded
Ukrainians that they still live next to a giant.

The Kremlin denied a political motivation for cutting the gas, but in
parliamentary elections two months later, Mr. Yanukovich staged an
improbable comeback, forcing Mr. Yushchenko to make him prime minister.

Since then, the Yanukovich camp has been trying to undo what remains of

the Orange Revolution. Even though he already has a majority in the 450-seat
Rada, he has been luring pro-Yushchenko deputies (allegedly using
multimillion-dollar bribes) into his camp. With 300 seats, he can overrule
the President, amend the constitution and effectively claw back what the
revolution took from him.

Two weeks ago, with his back to the wall, Mr. Yushchenko dissolved
parliament and called fresh elections, a move that caught many Ukrainians
off-guard and sparked the renewed crisis.

Now there are thousands of Yanukovich supporters camped on Independence
Square, deliberately mimicking Pora’s tactics in what has been dubbed the
“Blue Revolution,” after the colour used by Mr. Yanukovich’s Party of
Regions.

Claiming the President had no right to dissolve parliament (something the
constitution is unclear on), they’re demanding that he either back down or
put his own job on the line as well.

Clearly, this isn’t what Ukrainians thought they were getting, and Canada
thought it was supporting, in 2004. Mr. Robinson now lives in Ottawa but
keeps a close eye on Kiev, hoping that despite the current unrest what he
and other Canadians did has put Ukraine on an irreversible course to

democracy.

“The Orange Revolution is incomplete,” he says. “Democracy is something

you have to struggle for. Ukraine is in a situation where that struggle . . . is
not over.”
————————————————————————————————-
Now based in the Middle East, Mark MacKinnon covered Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution while he was The Globe and Mail’s correspondent in Moscow.
His book, “The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline
Politics in the Former Soviet Union,” is to be published this week by Random
House Canada. (http://www.globeandmail.com)
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14. U.S. HOLOCAUST MUSEUM & GOOGLE ZOOM IN ON DARFUR
                     Taking on the issues of contemporary genocide
                           Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative

By Nora Boustany, Washington Post Foreign Service
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 14, 2007; Page A10

When Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel conceived of the U.S. Holocaust
Memorial Museum, he envisioned a “living memorial” that would not only
chronicle the crimes of the past but also take on issues of contemporary
genocide, said Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the Washington museum.

“A memorial unresponsive to the future would violate the memory of the
past,” Bloomfield quoted Wiesel as saying.

To help fulfill that mission, the Holocaust Museum this week launched a
multimedia initiative with Google Earth to highlight the genocide unfolding
in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where government-backed militias
and nomadic tribesmen have burned huts and villages to drive sedentary
farmers from their homes.

Google Earth is a nearly two-year-old Web-based service that displays
satellite photographs to give users the feeling they are flying around the
world and zooming in on particular spots. The new enhancement adds
extra features to aerial images of Darfur.

Zooming in on red flames brings up a place that has been destroyed;
yellow-and-red flames show a village only partially damaged. And
accompanying video footage, photographs and eyewitness testimony
explain what happened in each case.

Click on quotation marks, and Darfur survivors will tell their stories in
their own words from villages such as Terbeba, where 265 structures out
of 577 were destroyed.

“In July, the military arrested several persons including Brahim Siddiq, a
seven-year-old boy,” reads one chilling account by the Masalit chief of
Disa, who described women accompanying attacking tribesmen while
singing songs and lashing out with racist slurs.

“The blood of the Blacks runs like water, we take their goods and we
chase them from our area and our cattle will be on our land,” he quoted
the women as telling some of the farmers under attack.

The multimedia project was the brainchild of Michael Graham, a former
researcher at the museum who now coordinates its Genocide Prevention
Mapping Initiative.

This marriage of technology and goodwill grew out of an effort to overcome
what museum officials and others call the credibility gap that Holocaust
survivors once faced: how to provide concrete evidence that the most
unspeakable atrocities are actually occurring.

Bloomfield recalled the story of Jan Karski, a young Pole who came to
America in 1943 and attempted to describe to a skeptical Justice Felix
Frankfurter, himself a Jew, what he had seen in the Warsaw ghetto and a
Nazi death camp.

After asking technical questions, pacing back and forth and then quietly
sitting down, the judge told the Pole, “I am unable to believe you.” He was
not the first person in an Allied country to react to Karski’s atrocity
stories with disbelief.

“I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him.
There is a difference,” Frankfurter is reported to have said while trying to
calm an indignant Polish ambassador accompanying Karski.

“When you look at the history, people had the information,” Bloomfield said
of reports about the Holocaust that were ignored. “We want to create a
community of conscience. What would have happened had the Holocaust
been seen? It happened before television, 24-hour newscasts and the
Internet.”

When Google Earth was launched, museum officials were pondering how
best to share the information about Darfur coming from a multiplicity of
sources — human rights groups, the State Department, U.N. agencies and
others.

“That is when the ‘Aha!’ moment came,” Graham said. “The viewer was so
visual, so accessible, and provided a landscape for information,” he said of
the new program in an interview Wednesday. “It is a tool that can help them
all collaborate together.”

“We had all this data from Amnesty International, from State, from UNHCR,
but this information did not live together,” he said. “Satellite imagery was
the added value. This puts an abstract 50-page report in the context of a
larger picture.”

But the real added value is a viewership of 200 million and growing — the
people who, according to the company, have downloaded Google Earth
since its June 2005 launch.

“What is critical is using this new technology so we can be a catalyst for
action,” said John Heffernan, director of the Genocide Prevention Mapping
Initiative. “Darfur is far away, and this brings it into homes and offices.
People can continue to go back to it because the content will be
continuously updated.”

“No one can any longer say they don’t know. This tool will bring a spotlight
to a very dark corner of the earth, a torch that will indirectly help
protect the victims,” said John Prendergast, a senior adviser to the
International Crisis Group. “It is David versus Goliath, and Google Earth
just gave David a stone for his slingshot.”                 -30-
———————————————————————————————-
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041302189.html
——————————————————————————————————————-
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined with Google
in an unprecedented online mapping initiative. Crisis in Darfur enables
more than 200 million Google Earth users worldwide to visualize and
better understand the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur, Sudan.
The Museum has assembled content-photographs, data, and eyewitness
testimony-from a number of sources that are brought together for the
first time in Google Earth.

Crisis in Darfur is the first project of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention
Mapping Initiative that will over time include information on potential
genocides allowing citizens, governments, and institutions to access
information on atrocities in their nascent stages and respond.

“Educating today’s generation about the atrocities of the past and present
can be enhanced by technologies such as Google Earth. When it comes
to responding to genocide, the world’s record is terrible. We hope this
important initiative with Google will make it that much harder for the world
to ignore those who need us the most.”
                               Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, USHMM

USHMM and GOOGLE EARTH: http://www.ushmm.org/googleearth/ 

————————————————————————————————
FOOTNOTE:  Unfortunately the President, Prime Minister, and the Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine continue to remain silent about the Genocide
in Darfur.  Most Ukrainians and Ukrainian organizations around the world
also unfortunately remain silent.  It is not enough just to continue to tell the
world about the millions who died in the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-1933. 
AUR Editor Morgan Williams
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15.        THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS COME

SaveDarfur.org, Full-Page Advertisement,
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Wed, April 18, 2007

                           “The Time for Stalling has Passed;
                       THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS COME”
           Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, September 27, 2006
                         [It is now Wednesday, April 18, 2007]

IT TAKES MORE THAN TALK TO STOP A GENOCIDE,
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION MUCH ENACT PLAN B NOW.

After countless false promises and broken agreements, Sudan’s
President al-Bashir continues to commit genocide. And after pledging
to stop Bashir, our President’s diplomacy has not even slowed that
genocide.  It’s time for him to enact an effective Plan B to;

—– Enforce a full range of targeted sanctions, including banning
       from our ports ships that have carried Sudan’s oil

—– Maintain pressure for full deployment of U.N. peacekeeping
       forces to Darfur

—– Implement a no-fly zone

—– Fully fund the U.S. share of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid

—– Aid the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of those
       involved in the genocide.

www.SaveDarfur.org

———————————————————————————————–
FOOTNOTE:  Unfortunately the President, Prime Minister, and the Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine continue to remain silent about the Genocide
in Darfur.  Most Ukrainians and Ukrainian organizations around the world
also unfortunately remain silent.  It is not enough just to continue to tell the
world about the millions who died in the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-1933. 
AUR Editor Morgan Williams
————————————————————————————————

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

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make sure the spam blocker used by your server and also the one on your
personal computer, if you use a spam blocker, is set properly to receive
the Action Ukraine Report (AUR).
            HOTMAIL.COM AND YAHOO.COM

We are also having serious problems with hotmail and yahoo servers not
delivering the AUR and other such newsletters. If you have an e-mail
address other than hotmail or yahoo it is better to use that one for the AUR.

========================================================
                          PUBLISHER AND EDITOR – AUR
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Director, Government Affairs
Washington Office, SigmaBleyzer, The Bleyzer Foundation

Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group;
President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, Washington;
Trustee, Holodomor Exhibition & Education Collection
P.O. Box 2607, Washington, D.C. 20013, Tel: 202 437 4707
mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com; www.SigmaBleyzer.com
========================================================
       Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
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