Monthly Archives: May 2007

AUR#849 May 29 Key Parliamentary Votes Needed; Tragicomedy Of Ukrainian Political Conflict; Shortchanging Democracy In Ukraine; Hero Forgotten

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            Ukraine’s politicians are gearing up for what may prove a difficult
                     process of securing enabling legislation in parliament.
REUTERS, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 28, 2007

Deutsche Welle (DW), Bonn, Germany, Monday, May 28, 2007

3.                         UKRAINE DEAL GETS MEDIA BUZZING
Media review from BBC Monitoring 28 May
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28, 2007

By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28 2007 03:00

Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 28, 2007

                  Election Date: September 30, 2007, At stake: Parliament
Angus Reid Global Monitor, Angus Reid Strategies
Vancouver, BC, Canada, Monday, May 28, 2007

7.                     EU WELCOMES AGREEMENT BETWEEN 

                               UKRAINE’S POLITICAL RIVALS
Associated Press (AP), Brussels, Belgium, Monday, May 28, 2007

Eurasian Home, Monday, May 28, 2007

9.                             THE CRISIS IS OVER IN UKRAINE
REPORT: By Mikhail Zygar, Kommersant Special Correspondent
Kommersant, Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 28, 2007

                 President Bush’s ‘Freedom Agenda’ Is Losing Momentum
OP-ED: By Jackson Diehl, Op-Ed Columnist
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Mon, May 28, 2007

11.                                BUILDING BURNED BRIDGES
                 Ukrainian chief prosecutor sacked for disobeying president
Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror-Weekly, Kiev, in Russian 26 May 07 p 1, 2
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28, 2007

12.                      UKRAINE: “LOFTY LIES, MEAN TRUTHS”
       Offering plausible answers to questions about the Constitutional Court
Zerkalo Nedeli (ZN), Mirror-Weekly, #19 (648)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 19-25, 2007

                                TURNED LIKE A KALEIDOSCOPE
Zerkalo Nedeli (ZN), Mirror-Weekly, #19 (648)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 19-25, 2007

COMMENTARY: by Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian)

Translated by Eugene Ivantsov into English
Ukrayinska Pravda, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 22, 2007

OPINION & ANALYSIS: By Viktor Safonov for RIA Novosti
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 28, 2007
               Ukraine’s politicians are gearing up for what may prove a difficult

                        process of securing enabling legislation in parliament.

REUTERS, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 28, 2007

KIEV – With a hard-fought deal on a snap parliamentary election clinched,

Ukraine’s politicians are gearing up for what may prove a difficult process of
securing enabling legislation in parliament.

Trouble in the unpredictable assembly could even cast doubt on the weekend
accord, which defused a long-running dispute between Ukraine’s antagonistic
leaders — President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

The rivals from the 2004 “Orange Revolution” agreed to an election on Sept.
30. But the deal depends on the assembly, in two days of sittings starting
on Tuesday, amending electoral law and approving other legislation and a
voters’ list.

Within hours of the deal, Yanukovich made plain he was lukewarm about the
election and would give final agreement only if it were arranged in full
accordance with the law.

Analysts said no sitting was likely to open until the president issued an
order rescinding or suspending two decrees last month dissolving the
assembly. A new election decree would have to be issued 60 days before the

“All sorts of unexpected things could occur in the meantime. Too many things
are unclear,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta think tank.

Independent analyst Oleksander Dergachyov added: “The most unpredictable
part of the conflict is behind us. But there will be no easy way of finally
ending this crisis.”

The European Union expressed relief at the deal. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the
external relations commissioner, said she hoped for a “constructive process”
leading to the election.

The pro-Western Yushchenko dissolved parliament on grounds that Yanukovich,
most popular in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, was illegally poaching his
supporters to expand his majority in parliament in order to change the
                                    INITIAL RESISTANCE
Yanukovich, back in office after his humiliating defeat in 2004, agreed to a
new election only after weeks of argument.

On Sunday, he accused the president of pandering to “troublemakers” in the
opposition led by Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister now realigned
with Yushchenko.

Other factors will complicate debate in the chamber. Deputies will be asked
to approve legislation needed to win membership of the World Trade
Organisation — Yushchenko’s first promise after taking office in 2005 and
still unfulfilled.

“There is a risk that party factions will prove to be rather undisciplined
and not submit to voting in mechanical fashion,” Dergachyov said.

Yanukovich’s Regions Party holds the most seats. Some of its members might
be reluctant to vote if they are not confident of winning back their seats
in September. Resistance might come for the same reason from the declining
Socialist Party or Tymoshenko’s bloc, the second largest.

Recent opinion polls put Yanukovich’s Regions Party in a narrow lead or in a
dead heat with those backing Yushchenko, at around 40 percent each.

Weeks of turmoil came to a head last week when Yushchenko said he was taking
control of 30,000 interior ministry troops and ordered some to Kiev. Tension
ebbed when the deal was done.                               -30-

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

Deutsche Welle (DW), Bonn, Germany, Monday, May 28, 2007

Key parliamentary votes are due in Ukraine this week to finally resolve a
long-running political crisis by setting the groundwork for early elections.
But some fear even these steps won’t heal the ex-Soviet republic.

The two rivals in the power struggle, President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovych, agreed on Sunday to hold elections on September
30 but their deal hinges on parliamentary votes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Once the votes are passed, Yushchenko is to formally set the election date.
“Agreement on the date is only the beginning of the end of the crisis and
the vote in parliament will be its final point,” Vadim Karasyov, head of the
Institute for Global Strategies in Kiev, told reporters. An earlier agreement

to resolve the crisis fell through last month.

The votes include parliamentary approval of financing for the elections and
changes in the make-up of the central elections commission to allow greater
representation for members of Yanukovych’s ruling Regions party.

Under the deal hammered out between the president and the prime minister,
parliament is also due to approve a series of bills easing Ukraine’s bid to
join the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Political analyst Kost Bondarenko said he did not expect the parliamentary
to pass off smoothly as there are sharp differences between Yushchenko
supporters and Yanukovych loyalists in the legislature.

Yushchenko has set WTO membership as a key goal for Ukraine but has faced
opposition among Yanukovych allies in parliament on measures aimed at
liberalising the economy.

Despite the show of unity by Yushchenko and Yanukovych on Sunday — the

two even attended the Ukrainian Cup final together later in the day — tensions
were barely below the surface.

“If the opposition fulfils all the conditions to allow the president to sign
the order, then there will be early elections and as lawful citizens we will
take part in them,” Yanukovych said in lukewarm comments about the deal.

His Regions party took the lion’s share of the vote in parliamentary
elections last year and is expected to do well again in any upcoming
In the eyes of many Ukrainians, pro-Western Yushchenko has failed to live

up to his promises of a bright economic future and international integration
made during the Orange Revolution in 2004.

A poll by the Sofia research centre earlier this month gave the Regions
party 41 percent of voting intentions. Another poll by the International
Sociology Institute in Kiev gave it 35.5 percent. Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine
party scored just 15.9 percent and 12.9 percent.

But, despite Yanukovych’s power, his coalition with the Socialist and
Communist parties is fragile and faces a challenge from Yushchenko ally
Yulia Tymoshenko, whose party is expected to come second.

In the Orange Revolution, mass street protests helped bring Yushchenko to
the presidency and Tymoshenko to the prime minister’s post, overturning a
flawed vote initially granted to his Moscow-backed rival Yanukovych.
The latest political crisis between Yushchenko and Yanukovych began on

April 2, when the prime minister defied orders from the president to dissolve
parliament and hold early elections.

As the power struggle escalated, thousands of protestors held rival rallies
in the capital Kiev and, last week, Yushchenko and Yanukovych ratcheted up
the tension still further by sparring for control of security forces.

International powers, including Ukraine’s giant neighbours Russia and the
European Union, have expressed concern at the crisis and urged both sides to
refrain from any use of violence.                            -30-

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

Media review from BBC Monitoring 28 May
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28, 2007

There is general relief in the Ukrainian media that President Viktor
Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych have agreed to hold early
elections on 30 September, thus breaking the long-running political crisis.

Commentators see neither of the two men emerging as the clear winner and are
pleased above all that violence has been avoided.

In Russia, where the media have been following events in Kiev closely, there
is condemnation of the tactics used by President Yushchenko, alongside the
assessment in one paper that Mr Yanukovych now has the upper hand.
The politicians could only reach agreement when the situation in the country
had reached absurdity. The threat of a violent confrontation was all too
real. The president and government divided up power-wielding structures like
toy soldiers in a children’s game, making them hostages in a political game.
The spirit of reconciliation descended just when everything suggested that a
violent scenario would replace a peaceful way out of the crisis… Enemies
yesterday, from today – partners… Each of them can count in their favour
the avoidance of a violent confrontation.
The emotional perception of the events of the last few days conceals another
goal that is not clear even to many participants in the process. Those who
think that Yushchenko’s main motivation is holding an early parliamentary
election are mistaken. In fact, this is part of a much broader project –
Viktor Yushchenko has begun his campaign for the 2009 election. He is going
for a second presidential term.
Viktor Yushchenko managed to overcome the resistance to holding an early
election. On the other hand, his demand to hold the election within two
months was not met… Viktor Yanukovych made a concession to the president
by agreeing to hold the election. But he also guaranteed changes to the
budget which will allow him to increase pensions and the minimum wage ahead
of the election – the favourite trick of the Party of Regions for the third
election in a row.
President Viktor Yushchenko opted for escalation and decided to dismiss
anyone who doesn’t agree with him… Everything that suits Yushchenko is
good, and everything that doesn’t suit him is simply illegal. Even Europe,
which had remained silent until now, paid attention to the scandalous
situation in Ukraine.
These understandings can hardly be considered firm, since the state is in
ruins. Its institutions are largely discredited… Ukrainians are now full
of cynicism. Or, if not cynicism, then, at any rate, scepticism towards the
state, and towards the politicians who represent them. So there aren’t many
people who believe that these understandings are final.
In actual fact, to someone observing from the outside, it doesn’t appear as
if there was any confrontation in Kiev. As one passer-by told us, in general
this was a crisis among the authorities, and everything in Kiev was fine.
Splendid weather, lots of people on the streets… At any rate, we didn’t
glimpse any protests, any political marches. It feels totally as if people
were simply fed up with these political battles.
Ukraine is facing the threat of an armed confrontation between two power
It looks as if the bloodless nature of the Ukrainian revolutions, which are
breaking down all traditional stereotypes, is becoming the norm. In any
case, Western experts on ‘hot spots’ are in total bewilderment – they cannot
comprehend the gist of the confrontation. In actual fact, it is all much
simpler. Neither Yushchenko nor Yanukovych want bloodshed. All this is some
kind of point-scoring at the top of the political Olympus.
Thousands of troops marching in the direction of Kiev with unclear
intentions have achieved a result, i.e. they put the particularly ‘obstinate
diehards’ in their place. Politicians realized that, if the military started
talking, there might be no place in the country left for them.
The prime minister’s Party of Regions regard as their main achievement at
the talks with Yushchenko the fact that it has proved possible to postpone
the elections until autumn. By that time, the government hopes, people will
begin to feel the benefits of the ‘social package’ under which pensions and
salaries are to go up.
So far everyone is pleased with the accords… The compromise between the
leaders of the country guarantees a more or less sustainable functioning of
the system of state power until 30 September.               -30-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28 2007 03:00

KIEV – Ukraine’s feuding leaders agreed to sit together at an important
football game in Kiev last night in a show of solidarity after agreeing to
end a constitutional standoff that saw clashes between troops loyal to the
president and prime minister last week.

After crisis talks though the night on Saturday President Viktor Yushchenko
and his bitter rival, Viktor Yanukovich, the prime minister, emerged at 4am
yesterday to announce early elections on September 30.

Their agreement was viewed by some as a victory for the pro-western Mr
Yushchenko in convincing the Moscow-leaning Mr Yanukovich to accept a
move that could result in the ousting of his governing coalition.

Sitting alongside the two leaders yesterday was Rinat Akhmetov, one of
Ukraine’s richest tycoons, owner of the Shakhtar Donetsk football team and
an influential member of Mr Yanukovich’s Regions party. He is understood

to have played a significant role in persuading the prime minister to hold
early elections.

On Friday Mr Yushchenko had seized control of the national guard to
consolidate his grip on the country’s security forces. Yesterday with soccer
fans outnumbering protesters on the streets of Kiev ahead of the cup match
between Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk, he declared the crisis over.

“I cannot say that it was easy, but after long discussions, we found a
compromise,” he said. “Ukraine is coming out of this crisis stronger.”

He said last week’s clash, which began after he attempted to sack the
prosecutor-general, highlighted the need to amend the constitution, to
clarify the distribution of authority between the top branches of authority.

Mr Yanukovich, who on Friday accused the president of staging a coup d’etat,
said things had gone too far. “If mistakes were made by both sides, then
they should be cancelled. We have already made conclusions.”

The crisis followed months of political stalemate following inconclusive
parliamentary elections in March 2006.

A power-sharing agreement last summer was supposed to bring stability. But
it was short-lived. Mr Yanukovich’s coalition abandoned key provisions of
the agreement and embarked on a campaign to strip authority away from the

In April Mr Yushchenko dissolved parliament and called early elections to
prevent what he described as attempts by the coalition to usurp him. Mr
Yanukovich’s coalition challenged the legality of the decree, but the
politically divided constitutional court has failed to rule on the issue.

Jock Mendoza-Wilson, spokesman for Mr Akhmetov’s System Capital

Management holding company, said big business had grown frustrated by
the deadlock and wanted the leaders to compromise. “Big business wants
stability and that is what we want from our politicians,” he said.

Yesterday’s compromise agreement envisages that parliament will pass a
package of laws to make the election process more fair and transparent and
smooth the way for the country to join the World Trade Organisation this

“The president demonstrated authority and strong political will. He
demonstrated that he is a strong president,” said Vadym Karasiov, a
political analyst in Kiev.

But it is not clear whether the agreement will be backed by Mr Yanukovich’s
coalition, composed of his Regions party, socialists and radical communists.

Analysts predict more intrigue ahead of the elections. “If we look at this
as a soccer contest, we are in the semi-finals. Passage of the laws
envisioned in the compromise could prove challenging and the election
campaign will be cut-throat,” said Mr Karasiov. “The final end to this
crisis should not be expected yet, at least until after the elections.”

Mr Yanukovich’s party and the opposition party of Yulia Tymoshenko, former
prime minister, are expected to garner the most support in the new
elections, with 25-35 per cent each.

Opinion polls show that Regions could muster enough support to return Mr
Yanukovich as premier, especially if he forms a bloc with the socialists and

Ukrainians have grown increasingly disillusioned with endless political
infighting but the increasingly assertive Mr Yushchenko is regaining appeal.
His Our Ukraine party could win enough votes to be kingmaker between Mr
Yanukovich and Ms Tymoshenko, who had a bitter falling out with the
president in 2006 and has ambitions to return as premier.

Analysts say the president could have enough leverage to secure the
formation of a broad coalition that would include Ms Tymoshenko’s Byut
party, Mr Yanukovich’s Regions and Mr Yuschenko’s Our Ukraine (the three
parliamentary blocs backed by big business) leaving leftwing parties in the

Such a coalition is expected to back Mr Yushchenko’s speedy western
integration agenda and to be more effective in passing badly needed reforms.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 28, 2007

KIEV, Ukraine An aide to Ukraine’s premier said Monday that it would
depend on the president’s parliamentary allies whether an agreement to hold
early elections in September would be honored – reflecting uncertainty over
the hard-won deal that Ukrainians hoped would defuse a months-long crisis
between the two feuding leaders.

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on
Sunday agreed to hold parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, allaying fears
that their struggle could escalate into open confrontation after Yushchenko

sent several thousand troops to the capital.

But Vyacheslav Kolesnichenko, a lawmaker from Yanukovych’s Party of
Regions, cast doubt over the necessity of the vote.

“Today there are no political or economic grounds for an early election,”
Kolesnichenko told The Associated Press. “But a narrow group showed that
it was ready for everything, even civil war, to achieve their goals, and we
agreed to a compromise to avoid that.”

Kolesnichenko said the early vote would not be held if lawmakers loyal to
Yushchenko failed to submit their resignations, which would pave the way
for parliament’s dissolution and the snap vote.

“If this is only the president’s personal wish, then there is no way” the
vote would be held, Kolesnichenko said.

The deal on Sunday marked a pause in the power struggle between Yushchenko
and Yanukovych, but it also set the stage for a new election campaign likely
to be driven by the same divisions that have marked more than two years of
political turbulence in the ex-Soviet republic.

The standoff between the 2004 Orange Revolution rivals escalated sharply in
April when Yushchenko ordered the legislature dissolved and called for new

Yanukovych grudgingly agreed to an early vote, but the leaders bickered over
the date, with Yushchenko pressing for a swift election and Yanukovych
saying it could not take place until autumn.

The crisis deepened further last week after Yushchenko fired the prosecutor
general, a Yanukovych ally, and the troops he sent to evict the official
found riot police loyal to the prime minister on hand to thwart them.

Yushchenko then asserted control over the nation’s 32,000 Interior Ministry
troops and ordered several thousand officers to the capital Saturday, but
most appeared to have been blocked outside Kiev by forces loyal to

After more than eight hours of tense deliberations that dragged on deep into
the night, the leaders announced the deal early Sunday – a decision both
hailed as a compromise.

The European Union welcomed the agreement. “This negotiated compromise
makes everyone a winner,” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a
statement Sunday. Solana expressed hope that the agreement would allow
Ukraine to turn to reforms that would draw it closer to the EU.

In a show of unity, the two leaders attended together a soccer match between
Ukraine’s two top teams Sunday. But uncertainty persisted as shortly before
the match Yanukovych addressed a crowd of his supporters, talking about the
vote in the conjunctive mood, saying “if the election is held.”

In line with the agreement, lawmakers were to vote on Tuesday and Wednesday
on a series of bills needed for the election to take place.

But it was unclear whether parliament would remain in place until the
election, and Yushchenko and Yanukovych still had an array of other
complicated issues to resolve – including uncertainty over who controls the
Interior Ministry and the prosecutor general’s office, with fired chief
prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun refusing to quit his post.

Allaying fears of potential violence, the Interior Ministry said on its Web
site Sunday that it was sending riot police units that had been guarding
government buildings in Kiev in recent days back to their home bases, but it
was unclear who would assert control over the ministry.        -30-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                Election Date: September 30, 2007, At stake: Parliament

Angus Reid Global Monitor, Angus Reid Strategies
Vancouver, BC, Canada, Monday, May 28, 2007

In 1922, Ukraine became one of the original constituent republics of the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. During World War II, Ukraine suffered
severe devastation under German occupation and underwent many territorial

Ukraine gained its independence following the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Kiev is the capital and largest city. Since seceding from the Soviet Union,
Ukraine has tried to balance its close ties with Russia with its aspirations
of broader cooperation with the European Union (EU).

In 1994, Leonid Kuchma was elected president. He won a second term in a
run-off against Petro Symonenko of the Communist Party (KPU) on Nov. 14,

The last years of Kuchma’s tenure were unsound. The president was chided
for his perceived authoritarian style; in 2002, a series of tape recordings
hinted at the possible sale of hi-tech radar equipment to Saddam Hussein’s
regime in Iraq.

A year later, Kuchma deployed peacekeepers to join the United States-led
coalition effort in Iraq, a strategy that resulted in a drop in public

In November 2004, a series of public demonstrations took place in Kiev after
the presidential run-off. The Ukrainian Supreme Court eventually invalidated
the results of the second round, and ordered a special re-vote.

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko-whose supporters wore orange-
coloured clothing at events and rallies-received 51.99 per cent of all cast
ballots, defeating Viktor Yanukovych.

During his term in office, Yushchenko has had to deal with sagging approval
for his administration, which has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
He dismissed his entire cabinet in September 2005 to appoint a new roster of
senior staff in an attempt to make the government more effective.

The cabinet reshuffle meant the end of the tenure of prime minister Yulia
Tymoshenko, who had provided her party’s support to Yushchenko during the
presidential re-vote. Yushchenko appointed Dnipropetrovsk governor Yuri
Yekhanurov as head of government.

In March 2006, Ukrainian voters renewed the Supreme Council. In July, the
“anti-crisis” governing coalition-which includes Yanukovych’s Party of
Regions (PR), the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) and the Communist Party
of Ukraine (KPU)-was formally announced.

In August, Yanukovych was confirmed as prime minister, while Yushchenko
remained as president.

Yanukovych and Yushchenko agreed on a 27-point declaration, which
contemplates improving Ukraine’s relations with the European Union (EU) and
includes a plan to eventually join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

On Nov. 3, Yushchenko called for a review of the national constitution,
declaring, “The future constitutional commission will be bound to make
pragmatic decisions for better relations between power branches, court and
legal reforms, opposition rights and other constitutional issues. The
fundamental law is a national document, and not a single power branch can
monopolize it.”

The government has been deemed very ineffective since Yushchenko’s
pro-Western and Yanukovych’s pro-Russian factions have been forced to work
in coalition.

In February 2007, Yushchenko accused lawmakers loyal to Yanukovych of taking
decisions “with such insufficient consideration that they can be based only
on emotions and the desire for some primitive revenge” for the current prime
minister’s defeat in the 2004 ballot.

On Mar. 19, Yanukovych dismissed allegations that the government has come
to a stall because of ideological differences, declaring, “We deny any
parliamentary or economic crisis in the country as the government works,
economy and budget are increasing, and decisions are being made together
with the president.”
                       2007 SUPREME COUNCIL ELECTION
On Apr. 2, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko dissolved the Supreme
Council and called an election for May 27. The legislative branch refused to
acknowledge the decree and vowed to continue meeting.

Ukraine’s government has completely come to a standstill due to fighting
within the ruling coalition. Street protests in favour and against the
government are becoming more common.

On Apr. 2, the presidential office released a statement, which read: “Viktor
Yushchenko, as commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, stressed he
would allow no use of force in the country.”

On Apr. 5, Yushchenko reiterated his intentions, declaring, “I stress one
more time that it is obligatory to implement the decree of Ukraine’s
president. Any refusal to implement it will result in criminal proceedings.
I will not take a single step towards rescinding the decree.”

Party of Regions (PR) leader and current prime minister Viktor Yanukovych
dismissed the president’s call, saying, “We reject any form of early
elections. (…) If the decree is unconstitutional, then the heads of law
enforcement agencies should get involved to look into how the situation got
to this point and who started it.”

On Apr. 6, Yanukovych discussed the situation, saying, “The government will
ensure tranquility and stability in the country and all events will be
within the democratic limits and not affect our foreign policy priorities.
(…) In spite of the deepening the political crisis, the country’s activity
is going on.”

On Apr. 10, five of the 18 members of the Constitutional Court expressed
disappointment with the current situation and called for bodyguards before
issuing their ruling on the election call. Judge Volodymyr Kampo declared:
“Gross pressure has been applied.”

Also on Apr. 10, Yanukovych called for a legal solution to the current
political impasse, saying, “It would be better from all points of view, if
the president, in accordance with the law, consulted with the Constitutional
Court before upholding his decision.

He could ask if he had the right to dissolve the Parliament in other cases
in addition to those which are stipulated by the Constitution. But it has
not occurred. Today, all of us should wait until the Constitutional Court’s

On Apr. 25, Yushchenko addressed the nation again, and declared: “With the
aim to organize elections appropriately and resolve problems facing Ukraine
in a democratic way, I have signed a decree scheduling early elections for
June 24.”

On Apr. 30, Yushchenko vowed to go ahead with the ballot, saying, “I will
soon announce decisions that will guarantee the election takes place in a
calm and appropriate manner. The election will be honest and democratic with
an appropriate level of organization and international observers present.
You will be able to express your will freely and honestly. I have sufficient
means to ensure the preparation and staging of these elections. I will
overcome any criminal sabotage. Any failure to act will be brought to

On May 5, opposition lawmaker Yulia Tymoshenko discussed the current state
of affairs, saying, “Ukraine has again proved to be an example of how to end
a crisis strictly through our own political means, without outside
interference or pressure. An early election gives Ukraine the chance to
proceed along the path of renewal. (…) There is a single goal in doing
this. We must draw large numbers of people towards the democratic position
and make them members of a democratic team.”

On May 7, Yanukovych rejected the proposed new date because the timing fails
to guarantee the elections will be transparent, adding, “If early elections
are to be held, they must be provided with a legal framework, which is not
in place yet.”

On May 11, the main opposition parties ruled out any cooperation with
Yanukovych’s PR. NS-NU chairman Vyacheslav Kyrylenko explained the
situation, saying, “An agreement signed between Our Ukraine and the Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc in February does not foresee any broad coalition, no
alliance with the Party of Regions in a new parliament.”

On May 17, Constitutional Court chairman Ivan Dombrovsky resigned.
Yushchenko repeated his call for a quick ballot, saying, “An early election
will take place. Let me just say that it will not be in October. We should
not engage in games on this. We need a quick, democratic reaction to the

On May 23, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court curtailed the president’s power to
appoint and fire the heads of local courts. Under Ukrainian law, chief
judges and deputies are nominated by the Supreme Court’s chief judge, and
then appointed or fired by the president. Critics of the president have
complained that Yushchenko had been appointing only loyalists to the courts
in recent months.

The decision suggests that the Constitutional Court may not approve
Yushchenko’s dissolution of the Supreme Council.

Yushchenko’s chief of staff Viktor Baloha said the president will not accept
the ruling on the elections if it is not in his favour, adding, “There are
two scenarios for the way out of the crisis: the early election to
Parliament and further monopolization of power with respective
consequences. The president will not allow the second scenario.”

On May 27, Yushchenko and Yanukovych agreed to hold the election on Sept.
30, after an eight-hour meeting. The president declared: “We have great news
for this holy day. Now we can say that the political crisis in Ukraine is over.”              –
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

                             UKRAINE’S POLITICAL RIVALS
Associated Press (AP), Brussels, Belgium, Monday, May 28, 2007

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union welcomed Sunday’s agreement
among Ukraine’s political leaders to end a crisis that had threatened to
spiral into violence.

“Today I congratulate the leaders of Ukraine, both in government and in the
opposition, for their show of commitment to democracy,” said EU foreign
policy chief Javier Solana. “This negotiated compromise makes everyone a

In a statement, Solana said he looked forward to Ukraine’s parliament
passing legislation this week to implement the agreement between President
Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, which
calls for early parliamentary elections to held in September.

Solana expressed hope that the agreement would allow Ukraine to turn to
reforms that would draw it closer to the EU.

“Now is the time for everyone in Ukraine to focus on implementing the
necessary reforms,” he said “The European Union is very committed to this
partnership, the quality of which depends on the quality of Ukraine’s
democracy and reforms.”

The German government, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said it
would maintain close ties with all sides in Ukraine in an effort to help
implement the agreement.

It urged “all involved to help ensure the success of the compromise now
achieved by refraining from unilateral measures.”

Ukraine’s political standoff has provoked mounting concern in the EU over
the stability in a neighbor with 47 million people which is an important
transit route for western Europe’s oil and gas supplies from Russia and the
Caspian region.

The EU in March approved a euro494 million (US$660 million) aid package for
Ukraine over the next four years, a significant increase in funding.

However, although the EU has started negotiations on a deeper economic and
political partnership with Ukraine, it has rebuffed the former Soviet
republic’s requests to be considered as a candidate for EU membership.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
    NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.

Eurasian Home, Monday, May 28, 2007

A truce has been announced in the seemingly never-ending conflict between
Ukraine’s pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko and his Moscow-leaning
nemesis, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych – but can anyone take it serious?

Only Saturday, the country was again attracting the attention of
international leaders and media, as Interior Ministry troops loyal to
President Yushchenko reportedly closed in on the capital.

Two days earlier, the head of the Interior Ministry, a member of Yanukovych’s
government and the majority it controls in parliament, had personally
stormed the Prosecutor-General’s Office with special police units in an
attempt to keep Yushchenko from firing the nation’s top prosecutor.

The country seemed to be headed toward a civil war.

The raid by Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko, a political appointee, was
called the first clash of armed units against one another in Independent

In fact, the special police unit under Tsushko simply broke down the door of
the prosecutor-general’s office and pushed out the state guards sent by the
president to lock out the top prosecutor.

That was the extent of “the violence.”

Far more violent scuffles between opposing lawmakers in the nation’s
parliament are a regular occurrence, while former President Leonid Kuchma
unleashed various law-enforcement agencies against his political opponents
and peaceful demonstrators on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless, ever since Viktor Yanukovych returned to head the government
last summer, the tug of war for executive power between him and President
Yushchenko has led the country from one crisis to another, as neither man
seems capable of legitimately assuming the position of the nation’s Hetman.

The reform-minded Yushchenko was handed power by the hundreds of

thousands of peaceful protesters who took part in Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution in 2004.

Yanukovych, who represents the country’s Russian-speaking east, went

from the villain of the Orange Revolution, on account of his fraud-filled
presidential bid, to a largely self-appointed co-president after his party
came in first during the 2006 parliamentary elections.

If Ukraine were more authoritarian, like its eastern Slavic neighbor, a
strongman like Putin would have firmly taken his place by now.

On the other hand, if the country were closer to the kind of European-style
democracy that Yushchenko has vowed to create, transitions of power would

be prescribed and conducted according to the law.

But Ukraine seems to be comfortable with its dual if not fickle approach to
statehood, as comical as it sometimes seems.

No one denies that the country is a de facto a bilingual east-west bridge,
but there are serious doubts about the assumption that it is transforming
from Soviet authoritarianism to Western rule of law.

The constitution was vague from the start, allowing former President Leonid
Kuchma to assume more authority than anyone expected.

But just as Kuchma was leaving office, then-opposition leader Viktor
Yushchenko agreed to a confusing and poorly thought out package of
constitutional reforms that are largely responsible for the current legal
chaos observed today.

As Yanukovych and his leftist allies in the parliament have tried to muscle
away the president’s executive authority, the country’s courts have proven
themselves just as partisan and therefore lawless as the rest of the

The situation would be laughable if we weren’t talking about the destinies
of 46 million people.

And since the nation’s constitution can now be interpreted any way one
wants, then conflicts that arise have to be resolved in some other way.

Many of Ukraine’s so-called elite are businessmen with some sort of state
position. Several have their own media outlets.

That’s why it’s common to see their little conflicts, or battles, being
waged simultaneously in company boardrooms, the parliament and the

pages of  the country’s numerous tabloids.

The fact that the Orange Revolution polarized all these conflicts into a
neat East-West struggle is largely irrelevant.

One need only note how many times the various players switch teams.
Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, the hero of the latest spiff between
Yushchenko and Yanukovych, is an excellent but by no means isolated


He was widely criticized during the Kuchma administration by the opposition
of the time, including Yushchenko, who ended up keeping him on, firing him,
rehiring him and now firing him again.

Appointments and dismissals are also a common weapon in the battle between
Ukraine’s elites – if the elite in question are high enough placed.

Upon returning as premier last summer, Yanukovych immediately went about
getting rid of Yushchenko’s appointees, including some he had no right to

When Yushchenko finally had enough, on April 2, he fired the parliament,
which served as the climax of the two-men’s post Orange-Revolution war (as
opposed to the war they fought for the presidency in 2004).

Since April 2, Ukraine watchers have been treated to a rare spectacle of
buffoon-like brinkmanship, where the primary victim is the rule of law.

The president passes decrees, and the parliament, which has refused to be
dismissed, passes a law that counters the decree.

The president puts one of his people in a key position, only to have the
premier’s team question the appointment in a court that goes on to reverse
its own decision.

The president goes on television to tell his countrymen what’s happening,
and then the premier says just the opposite on another channel.

So while international media and world leaders were calling for calm, as the
Interior troops were reportedly headed for the capital on Saturday, it’s no
wonder that the average Ukrainian was getting a suntan or watching a
football match.

Their self-interested politicians tried to make the three-ring circus
interesting, upping the stakes with the threat of an armed conflict. But the
show didn’t sell at home.

And why should anyone believe that the president or the premier are willing
to advance their supposedly polarized strategic views through the use of
force, when the two men have announced an end to their long-running
struggle, shaking hands before the nation, on at least three significant
occasions in the past year?

This time the two men, together with Socialist speaker Oleksandr Moroz,
announced that they would end the standoff by holding snap elections on
Sept. 30.

Only a few weeks before, Yanukovych and Yushchenko announced a similar
compromise to hold the elections, but didn’t set a date.

Why should anyone believe this time that some other detail won’t derail
things again, setting off another comical standoff?

The presence of Moroz this time around certainly is no guarantee.

The Socialist leader stood side by side with Yushchenko during the Orange
Revolution against Yanukovych, only to switch sides last summer, allowing
Yanukovych to become premier again.

It was Moroz’s fellow Socialist, Interior Minister Tsushko, who called in
the riot police to block a presidential order on Thursday, while the
Socialist Transport Minister announced dutifully on Saturday that he wouldn’t
let trains be used to bring in troops loyal to the president.

And even though a date for fresh elections has been set, what about all the
other issues that have popped up during the circus standoff?

Has Piskun been fired yet again or hasn’t he?

And what about Tsushko? He has set a dangerous precedent in challenging a
presidential order by means of the police. Should he go unpunished?

Then again, there is nothing unusual about ignoring the law in Ukraine.
Yushchenko promised Ukrainians that he would jail the bandits who had rigged
the 2004 elections and done other nasty things, but that did not happen.

It’s a favorite Ukrainian pastime to “open criminal cases” against someone,
without ever charging them, much less getting a conviction, although some
end up spending a few weeks in the slammer only to be released and returned
to office down the road.

Indeed, it would be a mistake to believe that no one gets into trouble
during the circus performance of Ukrainian political conflict.

President Yushchenko himself had his face disfigured after being poisoned
during the 2004 presidential campaign. Others die in “accidents” or commit

That’s why European leaders’ recent expressions of concern were not
altogether misplaced.

In addition to the reports of the Interior Troops approaching Kyiv, the
president’s team accused Tsushko’s ministry of planning violence against
peaceful protesters in Kyiv to create a pretext for seizing power.

Tsushko himself had announced that the Prosecutor-General’s Office had been
seized by armed men as a pretext for arriving with the special police units.

But by early Sunday morning, following a marathon round of closed-door
negotiations, the president, the premier and the speaker announced a

Underlining the tragicomedy of Ukrainian politics, the president played down
the very threat he had used to force a deal with his opponents, by saying
that the 3,500 Interior Troops who were headed for Kyiv had been merely
reinforcements for a football match to be held in the capital on Sunday.

Ironically, the match was between teams from Orange Revolution Kyiv and
Donetsk, the premier’s power base.

Yushchenko glibly told reporters that he would attend the match with Moroz
and Yanukovych, two men whom he had just days before accused of state

Later on Sunday, Yanukovych, Moroz and the head of the third coalition
member, Communist leader Petro Symonenko addressed supporters at a

rally in the capital, but the message wasn’t nearly so friendly.

Moroz called his opponents “provocateurs,” Symonenko called for the
“liquidation of the presidency” and Yanukovych sowed doubt on the very
agreement he’d just struck with Yushchenko.

The premier told his supporters that, “if they (the elections) take place,
they should put an end to adventurism and public mockery.”

Unfortunately, the premier’s words only go to show that the mockery and
dangerous buffoonery are likely to continue.

Ukraine’s politicians may seem comical to the casual observer as well as the
average Ukrainian, but the country is no stranger to tragedy.

One need only recall the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the shoot-down of a
passenger jet by the Ukrainian military in 2001, and the 2002 Sknyliv air
show crash – the world’s worst.

These tragedies weren’t political, but they were about the same kind of
incompetence by officials, disregard for the rules and complacency for the
safety of the people that we have seen demonstrated the country’s
politicians lately.                             -30-
NOTE: John Marone, Kyiv Post editor, is based in Ukraine.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
9.                       THE CRISIS IS OVER IN UKRAINE

REPORT: By Mikhail Zygar, Kommersant Special Correspondent
Kommersant, Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 28, 2007

The political crisis in Ukraine ended Saturday night. It lasted 60 days, but
ended with satisfaction all around. Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovich
forgot about their old hard feelings and called each other partners. The
president decided not to remember that he had dissolved the Rada either.

The prime minister agreed to early elections on September 30. Their
supporters practically forgot everything they had been fighting over for the
last two months. Kommersant special correspondent Mikhail Zygar witnessed
this Ukrainian happy ending.
                                        THE SOLUTION
At 3:30 a.m., Ukrainian President appeared in a window on the fourth floor.
He waved his arms at journalists lying directly beneath and banged on the
window. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich appeared in another window in his
shirtsleeves. He cast a gloomy look at the street. It was beginning to get

Negotiations between the two Viktors, speaker of the Supreme Rada Alexander
Moroz, opposition leader Yulia Timoshenko and another dozen Ukrainian
politicians had been in progress for eight hours.

The political crisis in Ukraine lasted 60 days. It began on Easter week.
Yushchenko compared the dissolution of the Rada to the casting of the
Pharisees from the Temple at the time. By Whit Sunday, Yushchenko had
persuaded the “Pharisees” to leave the parliament.

A little after 4:00, Yushchenko, Yanukovich and Moroz came out of the
presidential secretariat building.

“We have news worthy of this great holiday of Whit Sunday,” the president
said. The political crisis in Ukraine is over. We have found a solution that
is a compromise.” He looked surprising well for having has a sleepless
night. So did Yanukovich. He was wearing a fashionable checked jacket and a
big smile.

In the last two months, Yushchenko and Yanukovich have spent a lot of time
together in their endless negotiations and apparently have grown close.

“I want to thank our immediate partners, with whom we found reached this
excellent result,” Yushchenko continued, nearly hugging Yanukovich, who
continued to smile. A few years ago, Yushchenko was not calling him a
partner, but a bandit.

The new-found partners had succeeded in finding a way out of the crisis on
that amazing night that made them all look like winners. Yushchenko dreamed
of dissolving the Rada.

He issued two decrees to that effect in two months, but it did not dissolve.
Under the first decree, it was to take place on May 27, that is, yesterday.

Yanukovich was not against new elections. He would win them most likely and
even make a better showing. But he did not want the Rada to be dissolved at
the president’s will. He and Speaker Moroz claimed that the president’s
decrees were illegal.

Finally they have reached an agreement on it. The president has agreed to
pretend that he never issued any decrees.

The Rada has agreed to meet two more times, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to
pass the laws necessary for the elections and then dissolve itself, not by
presidential order but because the embers from pro-presidential Our Ukraine
and from the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc are resigning.

Under Ukrainian law, the Rada cannot function if more than a third of its
members are absent. New elections will be held September 30.

The agreeing Viktors were in a playful mood. “Let’s not engage in. what’s

that called? Revisionism. There is such a word,” Yanukovich said. “We
have to agree. If there were mistakes on both sides, they have to be corrected.”

Yushchenko was ready to make corrections to. When they asked him about

the internal forced troops making their way to Kiev, he widened his eyes.

“That’s a lot of nonsense, one of the fables they are telling to misinform
the public!” he exclaimed and went on to say that the extra forces were
coming to the capital only because Sunday the final match between Kiev
Dynamo and Donetsk Miners soccer teams.

“And this evening we are going to the game together!” Yushchenko beamed,
taking Yanukovich and Moroz by the arms. Finally they embraced. Camera
flashes blazed. It was already light out.
                                        BEFORE THE WAR
Just a day before the peace, the president and prime minister were
practically ready for war to break out in Kiev.

“Yushchenko is Shrek!” an aggressive crowd of 1000 young people in shorts
and sandals (it’s hot in Kiev) chanted in front of the besieged Prosecutor
General’s office.

Berkut special forces in full battle gear guarded the building shared the
crowd’s anger. Inside the building, they were saying that it was going to be
stormed on Friday night.

Supposedly a unit of Alpha troops, which are subordinate to the president,
were in battle readiness and they intended to take the building from Berkut,
which is subordinate to the government.

They were waiting for Alpha, but they never came. Boys with Party of the
Regions flags took off their shirts and spread them on the ground to sleep
on. The reporters were drifting away and MPs were filing out of the building
as well.

In the morning, I went into the building that a war was almost fought over.
Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun was still in charge. He had won court
battles with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma as well as Yushchenko
to prove that all attempts to fire him were illegal.

Thanks to a decision of the Solomensky Court in Kiev, which stopped the
president’s order to dismiss him, Piskun was again saying that he was the
only legal prosecutor general.

He called together the regional prosecutors in the main auditorium of the
building, sat them in their chairs and showed them to the reporters: they
support him, nit the president. The regional prosecutors sat silent and cowed.

“We prosecutors are also people who consider the law supreme,” he announced.
“What am I supposed to do now? I am supposed to initiate a criminal case
against people who illegally remove people from their jobs. I am not ready
to do it, there is no case yet, but it is getting ripe.” His threats were
hints, if not at the president, at least at Secretary of the Security
Council Ivan Plyushch.

The regional prosecutors sat looking half dead and Piskun kept on joking.
“What will you do if President Yushchenko declares a state of emergency?”

“I’ll put on a leather jacket, take a Mauser, form a tribunal and then we’ll
take him out to the courtyard and shoot him,” Piskun joked. The regional

prosecutors were ready to pass out.

The next morning, after Yushchenko and Yanukovich had agreed on everything,
Piskun was again ready to talk to me. It was easier to get in on Sunday.

The Berkut troops had been relieved from duty at the prosecutor’s building
and moved out of Kiev altogether. Young people with Party of the Regions
attributes remained and, due to the soccer game that even, their numbers
were increasing.

Busses were arriving from Donetsk and many fans wanted to catch a tan by the
prosecutor’s building before the match started. Everything was calm. No one
knew the two Viktors had come to an agreement and set a date for the

No one chanted “Yushchenko is Shrek.” Only one older woman with hair in the
style of Timoshenko held a broom and shouted, “Yulia, go to America. Here’s
your ride.”

The ever merry prosecutor general was also relaxed, and joking less than

“Do you feel that they sold you out?” I asked him. “While you were fighting
here, the president and prime minister agreed on everything.”

“I’m ready to be sold out if it helps the people. If violating the law is
for the good of the people, then do it for God’s sake. But I don’t think
this will be for their good.”

“You will probably be removed from office again. Yushchenko and Yanukovich
have agreed on everything, the Rada is meeting in Tuesday. It will probably
dismiss you.”
“If the Rada votes that way, I will not resist it.”

“What will you do?”
“As long as I am prosecutor general, I will work as prosecutor general. And
then I will run for parliament.”

“With what party?”
“With the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc. Or Our Ukraine,” he laughed. He is now an
MP from the Party of the Regions.

“Why not Party of the Regions?”
“Maybe with the Party of the Regions. I’ll see which of them will be most
honest and go with that one. Now the Regionals are very honest people. But o
Timoshenko Bloc is more honest, I’ll go with it.”

Out the window, I see that the youth that have spent two days surrounding
the building are leaving for the game.
                                          VICTORY, KINDA
For early elections to take place on September 30, MPs from the Timoshenko
Bloc and Our Ukraine are supposed to resign this week. They first threatened
to do so on Saturday.

In the morning, both factions held emergency meetings and gave Yanukovich

an ultimatum: if he and the president did not announce a date for the elections
by 4:00, the Orange would resign, that is self-destruct, killing all the
rest of the Rada at the same time. Then all of the compromise laws the
opponents had been developing over the last two months would remain

At the appointed hour, I venture unto Our Ukraine’s closed meeting. Having
said they would resign, they now sat dutifully waiting for a signal from the
presidential secretariat. The president was then only beginning the talks
that would end 12 hours later. So the legislators sat and discussed their
domestic problems lightheartedly.

“This country needs to be fully reloaded,” said deputy chairman of the
party’s executive committee Igor Zhdanov. “The court system has completely
discredited itself. The Constitutional Court has been practically destroyed.
It has to be renamed. Maybe Constitutional Tribunal, as in France.”

“Maybe it would be better not to,” someone suggested.
“Why not? The best things to do would be to call a constitutional assembly
and develop a new constitution.”

“But if you call a constitutional assembly, half of the places will belong
to Yanukovich. They will write the constitutional, not you,” I pointed out.

With the hum of the president’s supporters’ conversations about reforms they
had no chanced of carrying out, I drifted off to sleep. I dozed for 40
minutes. The MPs continued talking about the same topics. There was no

news from the presidential secretariat.

A concert was beginning on the Maidan at the same time. Day of the City was
that weekend. Kreshchatik was closed to traffic and several thousand people
walked on it, eating ice cream or drinking beer. Toward evening, it started
to rain and the public thinned out. The Blue-and-White activists began
packing up their tents on the Maidan.

“Where’re you going?” I asked.
“What is there to do here? Day of the City is over. We can go home.”

“What?” I asked. “Did you accomplish anything?”
They glanced at each other and then looked away. “Well, yeah. It was a
victory, kinda.”

They had certainly forgotten what they had fought for for two months.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                   President Bush’s ‘Freedom Agenda’ Is Losing Momentum

OP-ED: By Jackson Diehl, Op-Ed Columnist
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Mon, May 28, 2007

Amid the wreckage of the Bush administration it’s easily forgotten that the
export of democracy to formerly unfree societies has not always been a
failing policy.

For a decade after the end of the Cold War, the United States and its
European allies worked through NATO and the European Union to convert
10 post-Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

At the time it wasn’t clear that all or even any of them would embrace free
elections and free markets. That they did was due in large part to the
abundant tutelage, training, aid and tough love provided by the Western

Lots of people are pointing to Iraq as an example of what happens when
attempts at nation-building go wrong. But what happens when it isn’t
tried — when the West sees a country struggling to find a new political
order after decades of repression and simply decides to back off?

In effect, a test of that option is underway far from Iraq, in the biggest
country between Western Europe and Russia — Ukraine.

Three years ago, when the Bush “freedom agenda” was still gaining
momentum, Ukraine was a focal point. U.S. funds poured into
nongovernmental organizations that were agitating for a free presidential

When a Russian-sponsored candidate tried to steal the election through
blatant fraud, the Bush administration strongly backed the popular protest
movement, the Orange Revolution, that eventually forced a new vote.

The pro-Western winner of that ballot, Viktor Yushchenko, was for a while a
favorite in Washington; there was even a push to put Ukraine on a fast track
for NATO membership.

The change from then to now is one measure of how far a demoralized
administration has retreated from its ambitions, and from the world outside
the Middle East.

Last week Ukraine was again in political crisis; the protagonists once again
were the pro-Western president, Yushchenko, and his pro-Russian rival,
Viktor Yanukovych, who is now the prime minister.

Once again crowds gathered in the center of Kiev. There were struggles for
control over government buildings, and each side accused the other of
plotting a coup.

The country seemed to teeter between a compromise agreement on new
parliamentary elections — which was announced yesterday — and an attempt
by one side or both to seize power by force.

The Bush administration and its NATO allies, meanwhile, were nearly
invisible. Contact between U.S. officials and the feuding Ukrainians was
limited mostly to the U.S. ambassador in Kiev and European affairs officials
at the State Department.

A senior adviser to Yanukovych who came to Washington last week to lobby
for more involvement, former foreign minister Konstantyn Gryshenko, found
it hard to get a meeting at the National Security Council or the vice
president’s office.

“What’s needed from the United States, and what has been lacking, is a
strong message to all sides that it is in their interest to abide by
democratic principles,” Gryshenko, a former ambassador to Washington,
told me. “The message we’re getting is that the United States really doesn’t

It’s not just the lack of phone calls or visits that conveys that
disengagement. As the human rights group Freedom House points out in a
new report, the administration’s foreign aid budget proposal for next year
contains big cuts in democracy funding for Europe and Eurasia.

In Ukraine, the administration would slash funding for civil society
organizations — that is, the groups that led the democratic revolution of
2004 — to $6.4 million, reflecting a 40 percent reduction from last year.

In Russia, where pro-democracy and human rights NGOs are under enormous
pressure from an increasingly autocratic Vladimir Putin, a cut of more than
50 percent is planned.

The retreat is largely a function of the administration’s ever-deeper
absorption in the Middle East — a lot of the democracy funding is being
shifted there — and simple demoralization.

There’s a reluctance to do anything that might help Russia’s perceived ally,
Yanukovych, who believes he would win any free and fair election.

It doesn’t help that European governments have lost their willingness to
offer more memberships in Western clubs. Both NATO and the European

Union have made it clear that Ukraine won’t be admitted anytime soon,
regardless of how its politicians behave.

What will happen in the absence of Western influence? Maybe Ukraine will
muddle through; most of its leaders seem more interested in the model of
democratic Poland than of Putin’s Russia.

Maybe Russia, which will never lose interest in its neighbor, will succeed
in converting it into a political satellite, as it tried to do in 2004.

Or maybe the chaos in Kiev will deepen, violence will erupt and the country
will start to splinter, like Yugoslavia in the 1990s — or Iraq. If so, it
won’t be because the United States tried to impose democracy; but it might
be because it didn’t.                                    -30-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
11.                         BUILDING BURNED BRIDGES
               Ukrainian chief prosecutor sacked for disobeying president

Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror-Weekly, Kiev, in Russian 26 May 07 p 1, 2
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, May 28, 2007

President Viktor Yushchenko decided to sack Svyatoslav Piskun from the post
of prosecutor-general because Piskun refused to approve Yushchenko’s sacking
of three Constitutional Court judges, an analytical weekly has said.

The subsequent storming of Piskun’s office by the police was a mistake by
both sides to the conflict, but mainly by the head of the State Guard
Service, Valeriy Heletey and Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko, the paper

It quotes people in the know as saying that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych
is not inclined to conduct serious talks with Yushchenko.

The following is the text of the article by Yuliya Mostova entitled
“Building burned bridges” published in the Ukrainian weekly Zerkalo Nedeli,
pages one and two, on 26 May. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

People who have known [President] Viktor Yushchenko and [Prime Minister]
Viktor Yanukovych well and for a long time, know for certain that both
politicians have parasite words. To be sure, by no means offensive ones.
Yushchenko’s yes and Yanukovych’s certainly are taken by many collocutors as
an expression of agreement with what has been said.

In actual fact, in the language of both politicians it means I heard what
you said rather than I agree with you. Many people have fallen victim to
such misunderstandings. As a result, both Yushchenko and Yanukovych have
fallen victim to it, with the prospect of the entire Ukrainian people
joining the list of victims.

The last five-hour meeting between the prime minister and president, in the
words of [opposition leader] Yuliya Tymoshenko and Viktor Andriyovych
[Yushchenko] himself, ended with a definition of and agreement on a mutually
acceptable date for holding the election. According to Zerkalo Nedeli’s
information, the date in question was 30 September.

This, of course, is a substantial step towards a compromise on the date on
the part of the opposition and the president. Yushchenko viewed the date as
being a result of negotiations. Yanukovych certainly agreed with it.

However, the president obviously did not ascribe significance to the
conditions that the prime minister raised: elections only after a decision
by the Constitutional Court [on the constitutionality of Yushchenko’s decree
on the dissolution of parliament]; after the opposition returns to the
chamber with the aim of adopting as the bare minimum a package of
legislative changes required for holding the election.

(The sincere promises of [National Security and Defence Council Secretary,
NSDC, Ivan] Plyushch regarding the unification of OU [propresidential Our
Ukraine] and PR [ruling Party of Regions] in the chamber of the next
parliament, and the opportunist words on that score by [presidential
secretariat chief Viktor] Baloha are not the subject of our discussion
At first glance, the list of Yanukovych’s justified conditions had a false
bottom. In order to sort out why it appeared, let us take a small jump to
the side – into the camp of the prime minister’s party.

As we already mentioned in last week’s edition of Zerkalo Nedeli, the Party
of Regions is not ecstatic about the current sociological rating indicators
giving it a chance to remain in power after the elections, but not giving a
guarantee of ensuring it.

The rating of Our Ukraine will crawl on to the mountain with the speed of a
beginner climber. The rating of Lutsenko [former Interior Minister Yuriy
Lutsenko, leader of People’s Self-Defence movement] – with the speed of
Father Fedor [character from 20th century comic novel who ran up a hill in
search of treasure].

The YTB [Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc] is marking time, but like all of them,
apart from People’s Self-Defence, has not yet started its campaign.

The prospect of approaching the finishing line neck and neck does not suit
those who currently own the controlling stake of power in the country.

What is more, far from everyone in the PR is sure that the socialists will
pass the barrier [of getting into parliament]. But even more importantly,
they are not all sure of the possibility of a personal return to a
hypothetically attainable second term in power.

The party’s leaders will have to correct their mistakes and accept into
their ranks with personnel prospects representatives not only of the Donetsk
and Luhansk political and economic elite.

But the list is not elastic, and neither is the Cabinet – far from every
current minister and parliamentary committee chairman is sure that the job
is consolidated for them for a second term. Why bother with birds in the
bush, when the one in the hand is not bad?

It is precisely this indistinct resistance headed by the active
intra-coalition militia of the speaker [Oleksandr Moroz] that made it
impossible for Yanukovych to take a definitive decision. That is exactly why
the prime minister, apart from the negotiation process being conducted with
the president, provided himself with the implementation of another plan.

The adoption of a decision by the Constitutional Court should sharply
strengthen the position of the coalition and, of course, weaken that of the

As for the adoption of a small package of changes, mainly to electoral
legislation, it served as a lure to get the YTB and OU factions to return to
the chamber.

Representatives of these factions who are in the know claim that after the
adoption of a pro-coalition decision by the Constitutional Court, the
opposition factions might quit the chamber again, but this time in
substantially lightened numbers.

After all, recruitment work with regard to deputies of both factions has
been stepped up recently. As a result, nobody would vote for such a small
package: it is not ruled out that the Supreme Council would gain a
constitutional majority [350 deputies of the total 500], while the
opposition, if it consisted of 150 people, would stay outside parliament.

In a word, the situation of usurpation of power by the prime minister, which
the presidential decree on the dissolution of parliament was designed to
prevent, would again become absolutely realistic.
Before Thursday [24 May] the impression was forming that both sides in the
course of lengthy and thorough talks were soft-soaping each other, luring
each other into traps.

One side wanted to lure the opposition into the chamber and slam the doors
of the mousetrap shut and the other side wanted to tempt them with prospects
of a broad coalition, soothing the vigilant fear of those who are uncertain
of the victory of the Regionals at the elections.

During the negotiations, already outside the bounds of violent
confrontation, the priests tempted Kozlevych [reference to 20th century
comic novel in which Polish priests tried to convert Kozlevich to
Catholicism], putting a question to the president directly: What can be done
to get him to give up the idea of early elections?

I think that it was precisely in order to accumulate (?sweeteners) that the
health minister [Yuriy Haydayev] unexpectedly received instructions from the
prime minister to take part in the activity of a working group on the
question of transferring the presidential secretariat to the Health Ministry

However, so far as can be judged, Yushchenko was not seduced by these and a
range of other proposals on the part of Yanukovych and [prominent PR deputy,
tycoon Rinat] Akhmetov.

And yet, in spite of a certain difference between what is discussed and what
is implemented. The parties found themselves in a state of fragile peace.

Yushchenko’s yes regarding conditions for holding the elections and
Yanukovych’s certainly regarding the uncertainty of holding them facilitated
belief in each other’s declared positions. Each heard what he wanted to
The situation was exploded by [Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav] Piskun, who
declared the president’s actions in sacking three judges of the
Constitutional Court to be illegal.

Yushchenko perceived the prosecutor-general’s actions as being coordinated
with Yanukovych. It is entirely possible that this was the case.

But there is also another theory: Piskun had deliberately broken accords
between him and Baloha, representing Yushchenko. They were concluded, of
course, before the decision of the Shevchenkivskyy [district] court on the
restoration of Piskun [to office].

However, Svyatoslav Mykhaylovych was not amusing himself with the hope that
the president would once again nominate him for the post of

Following the completely pro-prime ministerial personnel policy in the
Prosecutor-General’s Office [PGO], the bridges with Bankova [Street in Kiev
where presidential secretariat is located] had been burned. Piskun was faced
with a choice about which horse to ride further. And he made that choice.

The information about a guaranteed speedy decision of the Constitutional
Court [CC], Piskun’s statement on the illegality of the removal of CC judges
and the judicial decision to reinstate [Syuzanna] Stanik, [Volodymyr]
Ivashchenko and [Valeriy] Pshenychnyy were real signs of a serious
encirclement of the president, and he started breaking out of the cauldron.

[Oleksandr] Turchynov, who was appointed first deputy secretary of the NSDC,
was brought in to help, since the readiness of Ivan Stepanovych [Plyushch]
to take unusual steps was somewhat exaggerated – where one sits determines
one’s point of view.

The leap-frogging of heads of the State Guard Directorate, three of whom
were effectively replaced within 24 hours, was perceived as a feverish
unwillingness to give in.

At the same time, the president understood that in the position of
prosecutor-general he had got not a weakling, but a turbulent copy of
[former Prosecutor-General Oleksandr] Medvedko: the PGO did not remain

It was good that it did not become independent, but dangerous that it became
pro-Regionals, which is also bad. That was why he signed the decree on the
dismissal of the prosecutor-general whom he had reinstated, but had not
justified the hope placed in him.

You know and have seen what followed in the endless news confusingly
relaying clips of the seizure of the PGO by Berkut [riot police] under the
leadership of Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko.

It is not known for certain who gave the command to the minister to win back
the PGO that had already been left by Svyatoslav Piskun. Some people believe
that it was Oleksandr Moroz. But that is probably an emotional conclusion.
They are absolutely convinced on Bankova that the command came from Viktor

The fact that the prime minister, who was the basic party to the talks with
the president, failed to turn up on Friday [25 May] at 1100 [0800 gmt] to
the agreed meeting with Viktor Yushchenko is evidence of encouragement by
the coalition leader for prospects of a violent scenario of the development
of events.

[Former Defence Minister] Yevhen Marchuk was absolutely right, when he said
on TV 5 Kanal that after what had been seen on the news, the president and
prime minister should have met immediately, withdrawn their teams to the
previously occupied positions and reached agreement clearly and specifically
about the time frame and conditions for holding elections. Yanukovych
refused to do that. At least, he refused to do so promptly.
The politicians could drag out the negotiations, causing irritation to the
whole country, up to the line that Tsushko crossed. For the first time in
the history of independent Ukraine there was a clash between security units
receiving commands from different political centres.

The mediocrity and clumsiness of [head of State Guard Directorate Valeriy]
Heletey is no justification for the seizure of the PGO building by special
units with the interior minister at their head.

In the course of the 52-day crisis of dismissals and reinstatements there
were masses of statements backed by incursions by deputies into state
institutions by both sides.

But there were people with weapons, quite a few of whom, dressed in plain
clothes by the way, penetrated the PGO… [ellipsis as published]

But there were special units kicking their colleagues downstairs…
[ellipsis as published] But there was the minister in the role of the main
Chapayev potato [Vasiliy Chapayev was a Civil War hero about whom many

jokes are told]… [ellipsis as published] The country had never known anything
like it!

And instead of cautiously but firmly together pulling up Ukraine, hanging
over the precipice, and helping it to cling on to the edge of the abyss, the
parties to a greater or lesser extent are continuing irresponsibly to swing
on a tightrope.

As far as Zerkalo Nedeli knows, Viktor Yushchenko’s plan for Friday was
written out in two versions.

[1] The first, postponed for now, looked like this: the morning meeting with
the prime minister was due to be completed by a joint appearance to the
people with an announcement of a definite date for the elections.

After that step, the president was ready to hold technical negotiations
determining the conditions for holding early elections with the leaders of
all factions and with the participation, of course, of the prime minister
and speaker.

But first there should be a date fixed by the president and prime minister.
Yushchenko did not manage to put that plan into action because of the
absence of his opposite number.

The non-appearance of the prime minister on Bankova (?at the appointed time)
was not officially explained at all. What is more, Yushchenko’s protocol
services were also unable to get explanations.

Unofficially, in conversation with Zerkalo Nedeli, a person in the prime
minister’s close entourage said: Who was there to negotiate with? They’re
crazy and understand only force… [ellipsis as published] One would like to
think that this was emotions.

Another source told Zerkalo Nedeli that Yanukovych did not want to have a
meeting without Moroz, but Yushchenko did not accept that condition. It is
possible that the meeting will still take place after lunch. But the same
source assured us that Yanukovych’s mood is far from being inclined to
achieve compromise with the president.

Confirmation of this is provided by the tough tone adopted by the prime
minister when holding an emergency sitting of the Cabinet of Ministers. We
were unable to cover the results of that sitting, owing to the schedule for
releasing this issue.
                              PRESIDENT’S ACTION PLAN
[2] For now, for the above-mentioned reasons, the president decided to go
for Friday’s plan No 2: the regional governors, notified in good time and
summoned to Kiev, took part in a meeting chaired by the president. Security
officials were also present. All apart from Tsushko.

The interior minister ignored two conferences with the president on Thursday
[24 May] and, in spite of an invitation delivered by courier post, he
treated the president with contempt on Friday too.

This fact confirmed once more the definitive prominence of the problem that
our paper was shouting about back in September last year: the
law-enforcement security agencies, shared out like Easter cakes will become
not so much a means of mutual control of the president and the coalition as
a means of the power struggle.

In the light of what happened, the president subordinated the Interior
troops to himself, and acting Prosecutor-General Viktor Shemchuk instituted
criminal cases against Tsushko and two CC judges previously suspected of

Notices were handed to the two gentlemen and were ignored by them. SBU
[Security Service of Ukraine] staff who were instructed to carry out the
investigation have not yet managed to find the lady to hand over the

The president’s plan being put into practice assumes the holding of a
sitting of the NSDC and congresses of OU and the YTB.

The purpose of the second measure is to get them to resign their mandates
and prove the illegitimacy of parliament which will not have the two thirds
of deputies required for work. From the legal viewpoint it is extremely
complicated to carry out this procedure (resigning mandates) impeccably in a
compressed time limit.

Many people agree that Oleksandr Moroz is right – you must not put the horse
before the cart: to start with, statements must be written to the Supreme
Council secretariat by each one of the deputies, and only on their
confirmation by the session (by the coalition majority?!) will a reason
arise for holding congresses.

But at the present time legal niceties are of little interest to either
side, it seems. The situation has blown up. And in the absence of prospects
for prompt joint intervention by the president and prime minister, it will
become irreversible for many.
I very much want to believe that at the time when you are holding the fresh
issue of Zerkalo Nedeli in your hands, the most dreadful thing will not have

This belief is in spite of the existence of two prosecutors-general planning
double-edged arrests and dividing investigators into ours and not ours;

     [1] in spite of the appointment of hawks – the replacement of [Volodymyr]
     Radchenko by [Oleksandr] Kuzmuk [as deputy prime minister] de jure
     and of  Plyushch by Turchynov de facto;
     [2] in spite of the readiness of Tsushko accompanied by special units to
     seize whatever they want and the readiness of the interior troops to
     defend that state-owned whatever they want;
     [3] in spite of the victory of radical moods in the entourage of both
     Yushchenko and of Yanukovych.

The legal field capable of serving as a template for a settlement of the
situation has been trampled on by hordes of irresponsible politicians,
corrupt judges and meretricious lawyers. It is not possible to find a grain
of truth in these ruts. And this is an extremely bad thing.

But, on the other hand, it is an opportunity, by casting aside the weight of
mutual complaints of the opposing sides to plough the field anew, at least
in that section that assumes a settlement of the crisis.

The idea of a constitutional agreement was also proposed by the Razumkov
Centre [think tank], and as a consequence by a number of other expert
centres. It remained unheard.

Only one thing is needed for its implementation – the will, responsibility
and ability to take tough and responsible decisions. Only for this, will
must not be confused with stubbornness or pigheadedness; responsibility with
loyalty to appearance rather than the family; decisiveness with hysteria and
bull-like nature with mayhem.

All of this may be very easily muddled in a country where every electoral
section shouts not for itself, but for its own people:
     [1] where East and West sit in their homes without hot water;
     [2] where old men of East and West climb up to their homes without

     working lifts;
     [3] where patients of East and West receive – and this is guaranteed –
     only antiseptic in the hospitals free of cost;
     [4] where victims of East and West do not trust the courts and
     [5] drivers crash cars on roads not of the first quality.

No, my dears, there is no point in consoling yourselves with the illusion
that there is a war at the top for values and languages, for a different
vision of state prospects and for the improvement of life today. If we
understand this, then they will have nowhere to splash out to with their
irresponsibility and hostility.

If we don’t understand it, we will become petrol for the sparks struck.
And – probably the most important thing – the leaders who put the country on
the threshold of civil confrontation cannot have prospects in a society that
respects itself.                                       -30-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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        Offering plausible answers to questions about the Constitutional Court

Zerkalo Nedeli (ZN), Mirror-Weekly, #19 (648)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 19-25, 2007

“Is the Constitutional Court dead?” With this question the pro-presidential
side responded (quite predictably) to the recent dramatic events that
changed the balance of power in Ukraine’s highest court of arbitration.

The response from the pro-government side was predictable as well:
statements about the court’s upcoming verdict became louder and louder. No
one in the white-and-blue camp doubts that the verdict will be in favor of
Yanukovych and his allies.

Without delving into the scenario of this poor show, ZN gives the following

Yes, passions rage and the stakes are very high. Yet the Constitutional
Court is not dead, as some politicians and officials have stated. The CC is
not only a vital organ of the state system; this institution is also one of
the natural features and symbols of the state.

It is very dangerous to deny its existence. Even if a country is ruled by a
scoundrel, can that be a sufficient reason for denying its existence as

Yes, politicians have the right to assess the court’s performance, debate
the objectivity of its verdicts, or call its legitimacy into question. But
those who say that the CC does not exist question the reputation of all CC
judges, which is hardly fair.

Besides, those who deny the existence of the CC as an institution
acknowledge the absence of the main instrument for restoring legal justice.

If there is no such instrument, what is the use talking about law or
searching for legal (or pseudo-legal) solutions to the crisis?

In this case the politicians should declare: “There is no law in this state
anymore. There are no legal formulas for resolving this conflict, either. We
have to resort to political agreements.”

Then politicians of all colors and ranks would assume responsibility for
what they all have done to this court and to the law in general.

The question of the legitimacy of the CC remains open, mainly due to the
absence of true information. The CC keeps its doors closed while the country
is flooded with all manner of resolutions and counter-resolutions.

In this bacchanalia of true lies and false truths, all we can do is offer
plausible answers to several questions.

[1] FIRSTLY, the President undoubtedly did have the right to dismiss the

CC judges – the right given to him by the Constitution. All references to any
other regulatory acts or by-laws do not hold water. The question of whether,
when, and how he should have dismissed the judges is evaluative rather than

Therefore, as long as the presidential decree on the dismissal of CC judges
Stanik, Pshenychniy, and Ivashchenko remains effective, they ought to be out
of office.

[2] SECONDLY, did the district courts have the right to consider the
presidential decrees? The answer is positive. It looks absurd, but this
absurdity is blessed by the Constitution, which stipulates that the
jurisdiction of courts covers all legal relationships in the country except
for those related to the constitutionality of legal acts.

There is another question: did the courts have the right to abrogate the
presidential decrees challenged by third parties instead of the CC judges

This question is difficult to answer, but one thing is certain: these
citizens should have substantiated their appeals, explaining how the
dismissal of the CC judges violated their – the plaintiffs’ – rights. Their
lawsuits contained no argumentation. Subsequently, the court rulings to
abrogate the presidential decrees look rather dubious in legal terms.

[3] THIRDLY, does the reinstatement of the CC judges in their positions
have to be “sealed” with a relevant presidential decree?

Not necessarily, but the court that annuls any dismissal has to follow a
certain reinstatement procedure with all substantiations that go with it.
The documents published in the mass media suggest that the district court
judges did not follow the procedure.

They may have been in a hurry or simply ignorant (no kidding – everything is
possible in Ukrainian courts!), or may have acted deliberately (no
surprise – that is also possible). The conclusion is: if the court rulings
the press refers to are authentic, the reinstated status of the CC judges
looks rather questionable.

[4] FOURTHLY, is the CC legitimate, being short three judges? Some say

it is not, but they are wrong. It is, just like it was recently when the quorum
was even shorter. Do Havrysh and Kostytsky have the right to take the place
of Stanik and Pshenychniy? No, they do not – not until they take the oath.

[5] FIFTHLY, who has the right to challenge verdicts passed by the CC?
Nobody, even if it passes them with a short quorum and with obvious
violations. Its verdicts may not be challenged, abrogated, or ignored by the
President, or the National Security and Defense Council, or the Prosecutor
General Office, or any other courts.

Are there any protective mechanisms in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world
against arbitrariness of CC judges? There are none. In all civilized
countries CC judges care about their reputation, and politicians prefer not
to pressure or suborn them.

Did the CC prohibit the President from appointing judges to administrative
posts? If it did, is this ban just? The answer is positive. Leonid Kuchma
once usurped this right and his lawyers almost legalized it.

Such a function debilitates the principle of power division and the
independence of the judicial branch and contradicts the Constitution.
Article 106 only authorizes the President to establish courts, but not to
interfere with staff issues.

The question is why the Ukrainian politicians, who refer to the Constitution
every now and again, have overlooked this norm until now.

And the last question is: what to do now? The CC is what it is, its verdict
is very unlikely to cut this Gordian knot, and it might not even pass any
verdict at all. The politicians are what they are.

No matter which verdict the CC passes, one of the opposing sides is sure to
disagree with it. By “working” on the CC, the political leaders have
discredited themselves, the CC, and the very principle of the rule of law.

The conclusion is obvious: regardless of either verdict, the political
leaders must look for a political solution. They should jointly change the
legislation and hold a new election. It is only a half measure, but it is
the only way out for now.                                  -30-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
         Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
                            TURNED LIKE A KALEIDOSCOPE

Zerkalo Nedeli (ZN), Mirror-Weekly, #19 (648)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 19-25, 2007

Looking at the current kaleidoscope of negotiating patterns, I cannot tell
what sickens me more – my weak vestibular system or my reaction to the
Pechersk Hills uprising, aimless and seemingly never-ending.

The patterns of forces, alliances, objectives (declarative or real), losers
and winners are changing quickly, unpredictably and often in no-go manner.
But the process is advancing.

The snap elections are unavoidable, as most of the population believe this
to be the only feasible way out of the protracted political crisis, or at
least out of the negotiating stalemate that has already entangled both the
participants and observers. And those aiming for the electorate to be cut
off from the observation process risk causing a dive in their trust ratings
prior to the election.

This is one reason driving the contracting parties towards a compromise on
the date of the election, and the terms and conditions for the new vote.

As a matter of fact, however, the early election is not going to put a stop
to the dispute, but will rather jumpstart yet another redistribution, the
conditions of which are being negotiated already. But about this more later.
Here let’s look at the prevailing patterns.

The ex-Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC),
Vitaliy Haiduk, has been let free to go fishing, play tennis and attend to
amateur floriculture.

This is where the transition to a state office has ended up for a man whose
brains, tuned up for the development of major business projects and
strategies, have turned out to be needful to nobody on Bankova.

Haiduk is one thing, but Ivan Spetanovych [Plyushch, newly-appointed NSDC
Secretary] is quite another. It is not Viktor Ivanovych [Baloha, the head of
President Yushchenko’s Office] to whom Plyushch owes this new appointment;
by getting Haiduk ousted from the NSDC Secretary office, Baloha thereby
“neutralized” the man who objected to the NDSC being involved in dubious

The return of the Prodigal Son to the team of presidential associates took
place some six weeks ago, when Yushchenko was the first to make overtures to
his former comrade-in-arms, apparently having found it necessary to exploit
the latter’s experience, political guile and connections.

I am not going to ask questions as to ‘whether the NSDC under Pliushch will
become an efficient strategic center for this country’. But what is clear
even today is that Pliushch looks much more organic among the presidential
team than Haiduk was.

The ex-Parliament Speaker’s position as to possible ways out of the crisis
was originally very tough. At this point, Pliushch, having got the new post
together with a certain amount of responsibility, has weakened his stance,
and transferred from backstage deals with [Renat] Akhmetov, [Ukraine’s
richest man, parliament member and the de facto head of the Party of
Regions] to official negotiator status.

Ivan Stepanovych is a known ardent proponent of a grand coalition [between
the Party of Regions and the Our Ukraine party], and he maintains close
contacts with many of the majority coalition members, which well explains
why his appointment as NSDC Secretary was not objected to by any of the
coalition deputies.

On the other hand, it may well happen that, if the NSDC makes some decisions
unfavorable to the coalition, there is no doubt they will not forget his age
(the president could not violate the requirement of the 65-year-age limit
for the sake of Horbulin, the NSDC Secretary under President Kuchma, because
of ‘blood incompatibility’, but did so for Plyushch), neither will they
forget about the Council’s composition itself, which is not fully compatible
with the legislation on that body.

There has been much talk recently to the effect that Pliushch is openly
aiming for the Speaker’s post in the future Rada. We would not disagree.

But this is not the only reason for Ivan Stepanovh to campaign for the grand
coalition; he is simply defending this scenario as seemingly the only one
feasible way out of the crisis situation, and he is finding more and more
supporters, both from among the Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions.

Incidentally, the Party of Regions is looking at the
‘We-will-not-allow-Yushchenko-to-tear-Ukraine-apart!’ catch-phrase as a
possible watchword for its upcoming election campaign.

Curiously enough, this idea originated with the same people who created the
notorious billboards featuring Ukraine divided into three parts during the
2004 presidential campaign. In short, the parliamentary election campaign is
progressively gaining momentum.

Rumors are afloat that the Party of Regions’ campaign will be led by Borys
Kolesnikov rather than Vasyl Dzharty. According to some sources, places on
the party’s ticket will be divided 50:50 between the Premier’s and
Akhmetov’s men.

Even the Party of Regions’ campaign budget has been approved (I would not
disclose the exact figure for fear of being murdered).

The only thing that remains unclear to date is whose political strategists
will take charge of the Regions’ campaign: the Kyrgyz (the term the Party of
Regions for some reason refers to Manafort’s men) or the Russians.

As for the latter, some problems may crop up, as Gleb Pavlovsky, [a
notorious election campaign manager from Russia] has been declared persona
non grata in Ukraine.

This all is taking place against the background of never-ending negotiations
on all levels; negotiating teams are discussing tender procedures for the
Central Election Commission on one day and the server problem the other day,
while lawyers and freelancers are speculating about possible ways out of the
prevailing situation, and looking for places of their own in the current and
future alliances.

For instance, the Constitutional Court de facto sided with the coalition.
And the Presidential Secretariat argued that following the dismissal of
three Constitutional Court justices, any decisions to be made by the Court
will be rendered invalid.

The chief Constitutional Court justice, Ivan Dombrovsky, who could no longer
tolerate the enormous pressure being brought to bear on him by the warring
parties, has submitted a letter of resignation.

By the way, those familiar with what is going on in that fairly closed body
are doubtful as to whether a decision on the constitutionality of the
presidential orders dissolving the parliament will ever be made.

The nerves of the judges, irrespective of which camp they belong to, are at
their limits; and it is only a sense of duty in a general sense of this word
that is keeping them from resigning.

Deputy Prosecutor General Holomsha is attempting to get case files on
Syuzanna Stanik, but cannot do so without written permission from another
deputy prosecutor, Renat Kuzmin, who has refused to sign the permission.

The Prosecutor General Piskun himself does not seem to be very much
interested in those refusing to comply with the presidential decrees.
Instead, he is studying intently the economic activities by the Kyiv City
Mayor [Leonid Chernovetsky], and additionally is collecting arguments to
defend himself in future court sessions.

The fact is that Piskun’s five-year term as Prosecutor General is coming to
an end in early July. Being doubtful that his nomination for this post will
be once again proposed by Yushchenko for Rada’s approval, Svyatoslav
Mykhailovych is most likely to try and prove that the time he spent beyond
the Prosecutor General’s Office must not be counted as part of the five-year
term provided for the Prosecutor General by law.

Here let’s change an ordinary kaleidoscope for an optical one, and look at
possible alliance configurations after the election, especially as this is
one of the main issues being discussed during every round of the election

Yulia Tymoshenko firmly believes that the ‘orange’ forces will win a
landslide victory during the election.

It was this belief of the leader of the political party with the best
chances of winning a majority support from the democratically inclined
voters that encouraged Yulia Volodymyrivna to continue to stick to the
seemingly unrealistic idea of snap elections. And it is the expected
‘orange’ majority coalition for which sake agreements are being signed

between the BYuT and Our Ukraine parties.

These call for portfolios in the future Cabinet to be divided 50:50 between
these two political forces, irrespective of who wins more votes, with the
nomination for the Prime Minister to be proposed by the winner party.

Tymoshenko is self-confident, while President Yushchenko is currently
devoting much of his time and effort to building up a mega bloc, in the hope
that the Noah’s Ark consisting of the Our Ukraine, People’s Self-Defense and
Pravytsia parties will be able to win over more voters than the BYuT.

Hopeful Prime Ministers from among the presidential team are legion: Baloha
is most unlikely to be too happy about his potential status as the first
deputy Prime Minister; Plyushch has long dreamed of becoming Premier some
day, even though the parliamentary speaker’s post could well satisfy his
ambitions; and, as claimed by some sources from the presidential camp,
Lutsenko is fighting for the top line on the Our Ukraine’s ticket not only
for the sake of winning mayoral elections in Kyiv.

Basically, the orange forces do have chances of winning the election. A
series of opinion polls conducted by various polling agencies suggests that
the Party of Regions would get into parliament with 32 percent of the vote,
the BYuT with 20 percent, Our Ukraine with 12 percent, the Communists with
five percent, and Lutsenko’s People’s Self-Defense with five percent.

[Ex-Parliament Speaker Volodymyr] Lytvyn’s party and the Socialists will be
0.7-0.8 percent short of passing the three-percent barrier required to enter
the legislature, while [Natalia] Vitrenko[‘s Progressive Socialist Party]
will have to double its popular support to make it into the Rada.

At this point, the list of potential winners ends there, but their
respective popular trust ratings may vary significantly one way or the
other. With such an alignment in place, none of the competitors can be 100
percent confident of winning a majority.

[1] First, because the Socialists’ fate remains unclear: the Party of
Regions may help them by yielding part of their voter support and other

But this option has a very little chance of being translated into reality,
as there are many influential people in the Yanukovych’s party for whom
charity begins at home and who are fairly tired of the Moroz’s appetite.

[2] Second, nobody has held any serious negotiations with Lytvyn yet, and
which side the potential candidate for a parliamentary party leader will
take remains unclear at this point.

The presidential office is doing a lot to wear down Lytvyn’s patience, while
the Party of Regions cannot launch negotiations with him because of the
burden accorded to the leading political force. Third, nobody can predict
the way the Progressive Socialists may behave in the next convocation of the

Not only because of their anti-Regions election rhetoric–if some expert
forecasts come true and we see a lot of Ihor Kolomoysky’s men on their
election list, it will mean the only thing: there will be no friendship
between the Progressive Socialists and the Akhmetov’s party.

Considering that about one third of all voters are either undecided yet or
declared to be unwilling to come to the polls, it may be inferred that
neither the ‘blue-and-white’ nor the ‘orange’ camps have enough guarantees
of winning the election; instead, they both have a chance of winning the

This uncertainty about the outcome of the election sobered the Regions,
who were originally almost 100 percent confident in their victory; and it
jumpstarted two processes.

[1] First, the Constitutional Court has begun to work at last; on Monday,
without any previous debates and working behind closed doors, it is going
to start hearings on the presidential decrees.

There are men in the Regions Party who, considering the predictability of
the Court decision, rely on it as a final stop in their dispute with the
President and the opposition.

But prevailing among the Regions’ decision-makers are those who are about
to exploit the expected court decision for building up a qualitatively
different negotiating basis with the President to dictate terms and
timeframes for the election beneficial to them.

If this truth is nothing new to the President, he will take the lead once
again by reaching an agreement with the Regions on the date and terms for
the election, pending the Court ruling. Baloha, Pliushch and Tymoshenko are
all ready for the elections in September.

According to yet unsubstantiated reports, Yushchenko himself has made up
his mind to move the elections from July to September. Still, the three
political forces have not yet lost their chance to reach an agreement on an
election day acceptable to all.

The Communists may well join the three, following the example of Communist
deputy Shepilov. As for the Socialists, they are most likely to play for
time. In any case, any legal formula that would legalize the early election
is going to be a stopgap solution and a time bomb.

This scenario will not work if the three leading political forces, whatever
the election return may be, impose a blockade on major Ukrainian courts for
minor parties.

[2] The other process that came to the fore following the evaporation of
illusions about the predictability of election results had to do with
negotiations on a mixed majority coalition. By declaring the need for such a
coalition, Ivan Pliushch has one more time proved his consistency and

His long-time friendship with Yefim Zviagilsky and Borys Deich [of the Party
of Regions] has once again provided him a ‘communication link’ with
Akhmetov. The Our Ukraine leader, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, just like many of
his fellow party members, is quite sincere when reiterating time and again
that this party will never enter a coalition with the Regions.

That said, it turns out that it is only the ‘imperative mandate’ that can
make it possible for President Yushchenko to save his party faction from

What encouraged the President to issue the first decree ordering the
Verkhovna Rada dissolved was what the decree referred to as a “revision of
voters’ will” as a result of some deputies elected on the Our Ukraine and
BYuT party tickets defecting to the coalition ranks.

But if Our Ukraine gets into parliament in a single bloc with Lutsenko’s
party and Pravytsia gets in under the banner of impossibility of any
coalitions with the Party of Regions, and if it forms such a coalition
immediately after finding itself in the legislature, will this be a
‘revision of voters’ will’ or not? The point is not in the apparent fact
that a mixed coalition will be an evil.

 It may well be the case that a mixed coalition — be it between the
presidential party and the Regions, the BYuT and the Regions or the Our
Ukraine, the BYuT and the Regions – will be the most suitable alliance for
that given date. But if such a scenario is not ruled out altogether by the
presidential party, this must be expressed clearly to the voters.

In connection with a mixed coalition, there is one more scenario that came
under discussion during the most recent round of negotiations with Akhmetov
and Yanukovych: If none of the political forces garners enough voter support
for forming a ‘self-colored coalition’, the reins of government will be
turned over to the parliamentary minority.

In other words, Yanukovych will continue as the Prime Minister, the Regions
will replace some of the Cabinet members, and most, if not all nominations
currently assigned to the junior coalition partners will be de facto yielded
to the President. This surrogate government will exist for 12 months – a
period securing it against dismissal after the snap parliamentary election.

Following will be a realignment of forces in the run up to the presidential
vote, or another early parliamentary election will be held concurrently with
the presidential vote.

Incidentally, it is foreseen that future redistribution of Cabinet
portfolios should be held in such a way to ensure that the political forces
involved enjoy a 300-seat super majority that would be veto-proof and could
allow them to change the constitution.

It seems that it won’t be long before the situation clarifies; the
kaleidoscope will be turned a couple of times more, and by the resulting
pattern we will see an answer to the question as to when and on which terms
the early election will take place.

The third presidential decree will signal the choice of another toy.   -30-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

COMMENTARY: by Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian)

Translated by Eugene Ivantsov into English
Ukrayinska Pravda, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It was another year without Georgiy Gongadze. He was born on May 21, 1969

in Tbilisi. He became the Hero of Ukraine not because he was awarded this title
but because his name changed this country forever.

When he disappeared journalists first understood that it was dangerous to be
a journalist in Ukraine. When Mr. Moroz made Melnychenko’s tapes public
Ukrainians assumed that their president might be implicated in a murder of a

When ordinary people came in the streets it became clear that the opposition
was not ready to fight Leonid Kuchma.

However, his death had its effect. It was then that people understood they
had the right to come in the streets and oppose those they did not trust in
order to protect their rights, their country and future of their children.
Such were people’s intentions when they came to Maidan in 2004.

After his death Ukrainian society became even more cynical. It seemed there
could be nothing more discouraging than the tapes on which the president of
their country is quietly listening to denunciation against his closes allies
who tell him how they rob the country. President’s remarks and cues on these
tapes are the model of dirty language.

Death of Georgiy changed the country and public consciousness, although it
cannot change the authority.

We were first ashamed for the Orange authority when they paid people to come
to Kyiv on Maidan’s anniversary. They feared that participants of the Orange
Revolution would not come after a year of the Orange reign.

After an outburst of expectations Ukrainians changed their hope and faith
for indifference.

Is it not why people were so patient watching the development of the
parliamentary crisis? After Mr. Moroz’s treachery they drew necessary
conclusions. It aroused neither anger or mass protests nor public
discouragement. That is why people from all over Ukraine are not
embarrassed to earn money taking part in all kind of rallies.

Today’s rallies arouse a mixture of indifference and compassion. It is also
compassion to the current authority which tries to demonstrate its strength
in such a way.

We have our own scores with this authority. During a short period of Mr.
Yushchenko’s effective reign, suspected of Gongadze’s murder were arrested
five years after the murder.

Does anybody believe that the police killed Gongadze because of “an extreme
hostility to him”? Does anybody believe that Georgiy was a personal enemy of
General Pukach? Who commanded the police to kill the journalist? How many
police officers know the truth?

Having serious doubts that Gongadze case will be ever solved, we complained
of the lack of the political will. Now we can state that there is the
political will to stop investigation of this crime.

After the return of the ‘regional’ prosecutors, investigators who brought
the suspects to trial were fired. The investigation is run by a man who has
not even read the numerous volumes of materials regarding this case.

It is difficult to say if it is good or bad, but President Yushchenko
stopped mentioning that “this case is a matter of honor to him.” Mr.
Yanukovych has even never mentioned Gongadze case.

The history is repeating. Mr. Kuchma does not seem that scary as he did when
in office of the president. Melnychenko’s tapes are sold on Inter TV Channel
as a black PR against ex-president Kuchma but not as the real records of his
conversations in his office.

Kyiv streets are named after Georgiy. Then the authority renames them. Mayor
Chernovetsky dreams of a monument to Gongadze which will become another
element of his advertising campaign.

Meanwhile the country is forgetting its hero.                  -30-

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

OPINION & ANALYSIS: By Viktor Safonov for RIA Novosti
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 28, 2007

MOSCOW – Ten years ago, on May 28, Russia and Ukraine signed a “big

treaty” and an agreement on the status of the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. But
Russian sailors describe the occasion as a “sad” anniversary. Why?

The reasons are many. The central one is the lack of additional legal
agreements regulating basic aspects of the fleet’s existence, dropped for
some reason or other from the “bigger treaty.”

One of these, incidentally, is on hydrographic facilities in the Crimea.
Both sides lay claim to them. As a result, there are frequent disputes which
even courts at different levels cannot resolve.

Crimean judges regularly rule in favor of local authorities, but the fleet’s
command refuses to accept the rulings, justly believing that international
treaties are not subject to the peninsula’s law enforcement practices.

They must be dealt with by intergovernmental commissions. Yet even such
commissions, which meet once every six months at most, cannot come to


On the one hand, there is the safety of sailing in coastal waters of the
Crimea to consider, and on the other, a desire to get additional dividends
from servicing warships from a neighboring country.

On top of all else, there is a lot of hot air about Ukrainian sovereignty,
independence, etc., although similar facilities at the British naval base in
Gibraltar and the American base in Yokosuka (Japan) belong respectively to
the United Kingdom and the United States. No legal issues are raised there.

But the claims to hydrographic equipment near Sevastopol pale in comparison
with more serious problems. One of them is the rapid ageing of Black Sea
warships. No modern vessel has joined the fleet since the status agreement
was inked.

The fleet’s flagship Moskva is more than 20 years old. The missile cruiser
was built back in 1983, but spent half of its life at the Nikolayev repair

The refit, however, failed to give the cruiser its former might or new
strength. Over the past 14 years the cruiser has never used its main
missiles for practice. During its spell of duty in the Mediterranean in
2002, it carried no missiles at all.

The other first- and second-echelon ships that make up the core of the fleet
are also advanced in age, with more than 25 years under their belt. Two
relatively new missile-carrying ships, Bora and Samum, which are equipped
with supersonic Moskit anti-ship missiles, joined the fleet in the early

In 1991, the Black Sea Fleet included more than 800 combat vessels and
launches, special and auxiliary ships, along with several hundred planes,
whereas today they are counted in dozens.

Admiral Igor Kasatonov, a former Black Sea commander (1991-1992), said

that the fleet is outnumbered by the Turkish fleet one to four. Ankara has 13
submarines on the Black Sea against Russia’s one. The Turks boast 26 ships
in the cruiser and patrol vessel classes, while the Russians have only six.
“No comment,” said the admiral.

But the crucial problem, he said, is that the fleet is losing its basing
facilities. Its main forces are stationed in Sevastopol, with only a few
vessels found in Feodosia, Temryuk and Novorossiisk.

Of the network of airfields that once stretched from Moldova to Daghestan,
only two airports remain – one in Kacha (north of Sevastopol) and one in
Gvardeisk (Simferopol).

The new bases that are being built in Novorossiisk and Tuapse are making
slow progress and will not be able to compensate for Sevastopol’s loss,
either in natural conditions or in infrastructure development, if Russia has
to leave it in 2017.

What has taken three centuries to establish in the Crimea will be impossible
to rebuild even in 20 or 30 years.

Problems also plague Russian citizens living in Sevastopol. Their status and
accommodation conditions are a far cry from accepted standards.

In the early 1990s, when Russia and Ukraine allowed dual citizenship, the
wives and children of Russian warrant and senior officers were persuaded to
take out Ukrainian passports.

It made no difference, they were assured, you will find it easier to take
care of your housing problems in the Crimea. Now the dual citizenship has
been repealed, and members of the same family belong to different states.
The husband is a Russian citizen and upon retirement is entitled to an
apartment certificate at his chosen place of residence.

The certificate, however, does not cover his wife or children, and a divorce
appears the only way out. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it is no problem to
obtain a Russian passport, whereas in Sevastopol, it is practically

Pensions, according to the agreements concluded in the same years, are paid
to Russian citizens in Ukrainian hryvnas. But Kiev charges high exchange
commissions, and retirees find themselves at a disadvantage compared with
their Russian counterparts.

Now, the “smartest” of them, when they go on a pension, register themselves
in a nearby Russian locality to draw their pensions there. Once in six
months they go there to collect it. Travel expenses are less than exchange

To be sure, Russian authorities, especially the mayor of Moscow, do
everything in their power to help out their citizens who sometimes find
themselves hostages in Sevastopol.

Moscow builds houses for them, opens Russian-language schools and branches
of the capital’s universities. But an absence of solutions to legal problems
often means that their efforts come to nothing.

A further problem is that Ukraine now has no one in a position of authority
with whom the issues of the Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol and its Russian
residents can be decided. A drawn-out political crisis and the bitter fight
between the opposing forces stand in the way of serious negotiations.

The only option is to wait.                            -30-
NOTE: Viktor Safonov is an analyst for Nezavisimoye Voennoye

Obozreniye. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and
do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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