AUR#860 Aug 22 Parliamentary Election Concerns; Big Orange Wolf; Moscow & Kyiv Elections; Shadow of Russia’s Dairy & Meat War With Ukraine;

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National Democratic Institute (NDI), Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, Aug 20, 2007

Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, Aug 15, 2007

OPINION: By Alexei Pankin, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, August 21, 2007. Issue 3725. Page 9.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: by Zoltán Dujisin
Inter Press Service (IPS), Rome, Italy, Monday, August 20, 2007

Three years after the Orange revolution, reform is glacially slow

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Lawrence A. Uzzell,
President, International Religious Freedom Watch
The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA, Tue, Aug 21, 2007

By Anastasia Smagina, UCIPR analyst, Research Update. Vol. 13, No 24/496,
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Kyiv Post Senior Journalist, based in Ukraine.
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 28, 2007

Moscow and Kiev are interested in each other’s upcoming elections
Versiya, No. 32, Moscow, Russia, Mon, August 20, 2007

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Vyacheslav Nikonov
President of the Politika Foundation.
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, August 16, 2007

Russian-Ukrainian Relations Remain Difficult; Presidential Meeting Postponed
Meat and dairy trade wars announced by Russia at the beginning of 2006
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow, Russia, Wed, August 15, 2007

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Alla Yeremenko, Nataliya Yatsenko
Mirror-Weekly 30 (659), Kyiv, Ukraine 18-24 August 2007

Interfax, Moscow, Russia, Saturday, August 11, 2007

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, August 10, 2007

National Democratic Institute (NDI), Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, Aug 20, 2007

KYIV – The National Democratic Institute’s pre-election delegation today
concluded that the campaign period is so far free from the most egregious
problems that marred previous Ukrainian elections, but the delegation is
troubled by some election procedures that appear to be a step backward and
could lead to fraud.

The delegation was composed of former Congressman and House Democratic
Caucus Chair Martin Frost, elections consultant and former Deputy Director
of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR)
Peter Eicher, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Cedric
Thornberry, and NDI Eurasia Deputy Director Katie Fox.

“This election offers Ukrainians a genuine choice among several political
blocs waging vigorous campaigns that are widely reported to voters by the
media,” said Martin Frost.  He added that, “unfortunately, changes in the
election law represent a real step backward from recent progress towards
more democratic elections.

Changes to the law make it easier to commit fraud, could create confusion,
and may lead to the disenfranchisement of many Ukrainians..   We are
hopeful, however, that these elections will meet international standards for
democratic elections.”

The pre-election delegation was particularly concerned with several changes
to the election law;

Changes to the requirements for voting at home that increase the possibility
this procedure could be abused as it has been in the past.

A new provision that requires border guards to track voters who have left
the country, raising the possibility that large numbers who return shortly
before the election could be disenfranchised.

The abolition of any provision for absentee voting by people who have either
moved or are traveling inside the country  away from their home precincts.

Another concern is the politicization of the Central Election Commission
(CEC), which has led to an erosion of trust among political parties in its
ability to organize the election fairly.

“It is not too late for the CEC to take steps to remedy the problems we’ve
outlined,” said Peter Eicher.  “If CEC members can summon the courage to
overcome political influences, and act in the spirit of cooperation, they
could do a great deal to build confidence in the electoral process.”

Katie Fox concluded, “As election day approaches, all electoral blocs and
election officials must be genuinely committed to democratic practices.”

NDI is a non-profit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy
worldwide. NDI has conducted over 100 impartial pre-election, election day,
and post-election observation delegations around the globe. NDI does not
seek to interfere in Ukraine’s electoral process.

National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, August 20, 2007

This statement is offered by an international pre-election delegation
organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The delegation
visited Ukraine from August 14 to August 20 to assess preparations for
the September 30, 2007 Parliamentary elections.

This delegation was composed of former Congressman and House
Democratic Caucus Chair Martin Frost, elections consultant and former
Deputy Director of the OSCE.s Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (ODIHR) Peter Eicher, former United Nations Assistant
Secretary General Cedric Thornberry, and NDI Eurasia Deputy Director
Katie Fox.

The delegation.s purposes were to demonstrate the interest of the
international community in the development of a democratic political process
and democratic governance in Ukraine, and to present an accurate and
impartial assessment  of the political environment and its implications for
democratic development.

In late September, NDI will deploy a 30-person international observer
delegation that will monitor the September 30 elections and the
post-election period. NDI.s programs in Ukraine are funded by a grant
from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The NDI pre-election delegation met with a diverse group of Ukrainian
political and civic leaders, non-governmental organizations and domestic
election groups, electoral authorities, government officials, and
representatives of the media and the international community in Kyiv.

The delegation conducted its activities in accordance with the laws of
Ukraine and the Declaration of Principles for International Election

NDI does not seek to interfere in Ukraine.s election process, and recognizes
that, ultimately, it will be the people of Ukraine who will determine the
credibility of their elections and the country.s democratic development.
With the September 30 elections, Ukraine is at a crossroads. It can
consolidate progress from the 2006 elections, or risk slipping back to
discredited, fraudulent practices. The delegation noted few problems in the
early campaign period, which is a positive sign.

However, recent changes to the legal framework for elections represent a
step backward. Meeting the challenges posed by these amendments will
require real commitment to democratic processes by all electoral blocs.

Election observation, both foreign and domestic will be important, but not
sufficient to monitor all of Ukraine.s nearly 34,000 polling places.

These elections offer Ukrainians a genuine choice among several political
contestants waging vigorous, but peaceful campaigns that are widely
reported to voters by the media.

The campaign period is so far free of the most egregious problems that
marred previous Ukrainian polls. Fundamental human rights are respected.
State censorship and direct state interference with campaigning are no
longer issues.

The blatant and coercive use of state power to garner votes that has been
documented in past elections does not appear to be a problem. All major
electoral blocs have access to the media, although paid political
advertising is often disguised as news.

New arrangements for voting at home, absentee voting and purging from
the voter rolls Ukrainians who may be out of the country on election day
threaten to disenfranchise some voters, as well as open the door to
significant falsification of votes.

In addition, more strictly partisan composition of election commissions has
already stalled registration of one electoral bloc, and risks further delays
and manipulation of election procedures for political advantage.

The delegation noted a broad lack of confidence in the Central Election
Commission (CEC) to conduct the election free from political influence,
and to an even greater extent the courts to fairly resolve electoral

As election day approaches, all of Ukraine.s electoral blocs must
demonstrate the political will to advance the country.s democratic progress.
The September 30 elections are pre-term elections, resulting from the
political turmoil that has roiled Ukraine since 2004. Ukraine.s next
regularly scheduled parliamentary elections were to be held in 2009.

However, in summer 2007, President Victor Yuschenko dismissed the
parliament and called for new elections, in response to an apparent drive
by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych.s parliamentary majority coalition
to increase its numbers in parliament to 300 seats.

Three hundred votes are needed to amend the constitution and potentially
impeach the president. Amid allegations of bribery, a number of members
of parliament changed their loyalties.

The Prime Minister.s coalition challenged the dissolution of parliament as
unconstitutional but when the courts failed to rule, early elections were
agreed to through political compromise.

The confrontation between the President and Prime Minister dates to at least
2004. The two faced each other in a presidential election deemed fraudulent
by domestic and international observers and eventually invalidated by
Ukraine.s Supreme Court.

Yuschenko won the resulting re-run election but was never able to hold
together the coalition of parties that supported him.

More significant than the specific electoral outcome, perhaps, was the
dynamics of Ukraine.s Orange Revolution, in which hundreds of thousands of
ordinary Ukrainians peacefully and successfully protested in support of free
and fair elections.

This was an exceptional demonstration of citizen mobilization in support of
political and governmental accountability, through exercising citizens.
right to participate in governmental and public affairs The Prime Minister.s
Party of Regions (PoR), President Yuschenko.s Our Ukraine/ People.s Self
Defense bloc (OU/PSD) and the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime
Minister (BYT) are now the three main electoral contenders. Several smaller
parties are also in competition.

The Ukrainian electorate goes into the campaign deeply polarized. The
regional division between the OU/PSD and BYT .orange. Western Ukrainian
voters on one hand and PoR.s Eastern, and Southern citizens on the other is
pronounced. Two and  half years of public squabbling have hardened positions
and bred mistrust on both sides.

Current polls indicate a near tie between the pro-Yanukovych .blue. forces
and the combined supporters of the Yuschenko and Tymoshenko blocs.

This summer Ukraine hastily revised its election law and procedures. The
changes, which were the product of a political compromise to give the
President the early elections he sought, introduce new arrangements for
compiling the voter lists, voting by the homebound, and limitations on
voting by those who have traveled abroad. All of these are problematic,
because they open possibilities for disenfranchisement and illegal voting.

Other new provisions establish a 50 percent minimum turnout requirement
and call for a CEC formed of eight representatives of the Prime Minister.s
parliamentary majority and seven of the opposition faction.

District Election Commissions  (DECs) are composed of equal numbers of
representatives of the parliamentary majority and opposition. Precinct
Election Commissions (PECs) contain representatives of  the five blocs in
the current parliament.
[1] Electoral Progress to Date:
[1-A] Freer Media Environment:
The delegation found that the major blocs contesting the election have equal
access to the media, in part because all have the resources to pay for it.

Television is the medium by which Ukrainians overwhelmingly get their news.
On most national channels coverage of candidates is equally available to
all, if – and only if – it has been purchased.

Importantly, this includes time on programs labeled news. This violates
Ukraine.s election law, which prohibits political advertising on news shows
(Article 71.17).

It potentially limits the media access of smaller, poorer parties and
undermines the long term credibility of the media. Despite these
shortcomings, which are serious, the current media environment represents
an improvement over previous elections.

In 2004 and previous elections candidates were denied or limited in their
access to national media leaving voters without the information needed to
make well informed choices.

The delegation found no evidence of state censorship or confirmed reports of
violence against journalists, both of which have figured prominently in past

[1-B] Freedom to Campaign:
Ukraine.s campaign period officially began August 2. At this early stage, no
significant interference with freedom to campaign was noted. Some of the
delegation.s sources referred to misuse of government resources, so-called
.administrative resources,. for which Ukraine was infamous in 2004.

The delegation heard no specific allegations of severe abuses of state
power, such as coercion of state employees or students, by either side.

In many oblasts, however, state employees, including oblast governors, are
serving as campaign chairs. This does not appear to violate Ukrainian
election law, as long as they do not campaign on state time or using state

However, the delegation recommends that local officials and national
Cabinet Ministers, many of whom are also candidates, take extra care
to avoid the perception that they are campaigning while performing
government duties.

Abuse of .administrative resources. is a red flag in Ukraine, considered to
be widespread, and at the root of stolen and illegitimate elections.

NDI’s experience worldwide has found that confidence in an electoral
system and a perception of fairness are as important as the letter of the

When serious doubts are raised as to the fairness of an electoral provision,
as with government  officials who are also campaign workers or candidates,
additional safeguards should be introduced even if the law meets an
otherwise acceptable standard.

[2] Matters of Continuing Concern:
[2-A] Potential Abuse of Home Voting:
In 2004, the mobile ballot box became a major instrument of fraud. Under
Ukrainian procedures the mobile box is physically brought to the sick and
disabled at home so they can cast votes.

In the 2004 elections, the number of those allegedly ill and disabled and
requesting home voting was massively and fraudulent inflated, reaching one
third of the total electorate in one oblast.

In response, legislation passed in 2005 required voters wishing to vote at
home to present evidence of their medical conditions. It  also required them
to request home voting at least a week ahead of elections.

Under the 2007 amendments and CEC regulations, home voting is still
intended solely for the sick and disabled.

However, the new rules dilute important safeguards against fraud by allowing
voters to request home voting without any medical documentation, and to do
so up to two days before the election. This re-opens a loophole in the law
that was closed precisely to eliminate fraud. As such, it is very troubling.

[2-B] Voters Traveling Abroad and Absentee Voting:
Ukrainian voter lists are in the process of compilation; most sources
reported they expected some inaccuracies as in 2006. The most serious
problems, however, concern new provisions for Ukrainians traveling abroad
on election day.

The 2007 election law amendments stipulate that three days before the
election, Ukrainian border guards must compile a list of those who have left
the country since August 2 and have not returned. The border authorities
transmit the names to local election commissions which strike them from the
list of eligible voters.

This provision is problematic for several reasons. It could disenfranchise
many voters who return to Ukraine within three days of the election. Some
suggested to the delegation that this system may even be abused through
schemes to conceal  the fact of voters. departure in order to later
fraudulently cast votes in their places.

Even with good intentions this scheme will be difficult to implement. There
is no central registry where departures from Ukraine.s numerous border
crossings are recorded. Border formalities have traditionally been few at
Ukraine.s borders with Russia and Belarus.

The system places a large burden on the border guards, who are not trained
or accustomed to playing this role in elections.

It could also create an administrative nightmare, as hundreds of DECs
scramble to compile and transmit to thousands of PECs accurate accounts
of voters to be stricken from lists, all within the three day period in the

The 2007 amendments also abolished absentee voting procedures for
Ukrainians who are within the country but away from their home precincts.

This effectively disenfranchises the many voters currently resident in a
place different from that of their formal registration. It affects many more
traveling for business or personal reasons.

This provision may also hinder recruitment of election observers to spend
election day in precincts other than their own. In the past, parties have
sent their observers to regions of the country they consider hostile to
their interests, the East and South for BYT and OU and the West for PoR.

This was cited by many as both a deterrent to fraud and an important source
of confidence in voting and counting procedures. There is provision in the
election law for those serving as election commissioners to vote outside
their home precincts.

[2-C] Election Commissions and Courts:
Election commissions at all levels are now more partisan than in previous
elections, with membership on the bodies divided between representatives
of opposing electoral blocs.

In the short time this CEC has existed, both the parliamentary majority and
opposition members of the CEC have boycotted sessions.

The CEC has split along partisan lines on such important issues as documents
needed for home voting. In early August, the CEC voted along partisan lines
to deny BYT registration on technical grounds.

The CEC vote delayed the start of BYT.s campaign. It forced the bloc to get
a court order, after which the CEC voted unanimously to register BYT.

The delegation is concerned about future problems in election administration
if the CEC and other commissions cannot work collegially.

Some of the delegation.s interlocutors raised the possibility that
partisanship might lead to unnecessary obstacles to certifying election
results. This would severely undermine Ukrainians. confidence in those

The delegation was struck by the nearly unanimous lack of confidence in
Ukraine.s judicial system to arbitrate impartially election disputes.
Everyone with whom the delegation spoke described the courts as beholden
to one political force or another.

This is very worrisome given that both the results and the conduct of voting
and counting on election day are likely to be challenged in court.

The delegation would like to thank all with whom they met. The insights
provided were valuable and the warm welcome provided to the delegation
was greatly appreciated.

In the spirit of international cooperation the delegation respectfully
offers the following recommendations in the hopes of contributing to
those working to improve the election process.

[1] For the Central Election Commission (CEC) and Courts:

[1-A] The Central Election Commission should operate in a spirit of
consensus. Its members should seek solutions and take decisions that bridge
the political divide and build confidence and garner broad support for the
electoral process. Lower level election commissions should operate in the
same spirit.

[1-B] The Central Election Commission should issue regulations requiring
verification that those voting at home are entitled to do so, to ensure
there is no abuse of Article 84 of the Law on Election of Peoples. Deputies.
Article 84, as amended, makes clear that home voting by mobile ballot box is
intended only for voters who cannot move on their own due to age, disability
or health conditions.

Regulations and procedures should ensure that voting at a place of residence
is strictly limited to persons in these categories, as required by the law.

[1-C] The Central Election Commission and the Border Guard Service

should stipulate detailed procedures for the implementation of Article 102-3,
paragraph 9, of the Law on the election of Peoples. Deputies, as amended,
to ensure consistent application of the law throughout the territory of

The procedures could include publicizing lists of people to be stricken from
the voter lists, in time for them to correct errors, or other measures to
ensure that persons returning to Ukraine within the final three days before
the election are not deprived of their right to vote.

[1-D] Central Election Commission should take steps to ensure the full
transparency of election results by posting immediately at every level of
tabulation and on the CEC website all results . down to the polling station
level . as soon as they are received.

[1-E] The Central Election Commission should develop procedures to ensure
compliance with Articles 71.17 and 102-6.14 of the Law on the Election of
peoples. Deputies, which stipulates that election propaganda placed in the
media shall contain the full title of the party or bloc which has ordered
the propaganda.

Neither media outlets, nor parties, nor election officials should tolerate
the apparently prevalent practice of hidden, paid political advertising.

[1-F] The Central Election Commission should ensure that international and
domestic non-partisan observers are registered through an inclusive, rapid,
simple and effective procedure that ensures the broadest possible presence
of observers on election day, as well as during the pre-election and
post-election periods.

[1-G] The Central Election Commission should issue regulations ensuring
that observers have full access to all aspects of the electoral process,
including observing data entry at the District Election Commission level.

[1-H] The Central Election Commission, the media and non-governmental
organizations should undertake a widespread public information campaign to
encourage every voter to check his or her registration, to ensure the
accuracy of the voter lists and to prevent any eligible voter from being
turned away from the polls on election day.

[1-I] The District Election Commissions should take care to refrain from
appointing to PECs any individuals associated with fraudulent practices in
past elections.

[1-J] All courts adjudicating election cases should take prompt,
well-reasoned decisions that comply fully with the letter and spirit of the
law and with Ukraine.s international obligations to support democratic

[2] For the Media:

[2-A] The media should devote more effort to, and develop a better

capacity for, analytical reporting on the election campaign.
[2-B] The media should sponsor debates among the leaders of the major
parties or blocs standing in the election.

[3] For the Political Parties:

[3-A] Political parties should ensure that they field the largest possible
numbers of party agents to polling stations throughout the country, in order
to help ensure the integrity of the polling process on election day.

[3-B] Political parties should seek gender balance in their nominations of
polling station officials.

[4] For the Voters and NGOs:

[4-A] Since the law does not provide for absentee voting in these early
elections, voters should check to ensure that they are included on lists for
their current places of residence in order not to be disenfranchised on
election day.

The Central  Election Commission and other authorities compiling voter
lists should make a maximum effort to include voters at their current places
of residence.

[4-B] We encourage domestic and international organizations to field the
largest possible numbers of non-partisan short and long term observers as a
means of discouraging malpractice and building public confidence in the
electoral process.

In this regard, NDI will be sending its own team of election day observers,
and has provided funding and support for other international observers.

[5] Although it is too late for these elections, the following
recommendations should be taken into account for future elections:

[5-A] The election law should be thoroughly reviewed and brought fully

into line with international standards and best practices. As part of this
process, Ukraine should fulfill its commitments to implement
recommendations on election reforms set out by the OSCE and the
Council of Europe.

[5-B] Detailed guidelines should be established on the use of so-called
.administrative resources,. making absolutely clear what is and is not
permitted of public officials of all levels during a campaign period.

[5-C] Political parties should adopt more open, transparent and democratic
methods for establishing their candidate lists and party platforms.

[5-D] Parties should place more women on their candidate lists, in positions
that ensure their election to office.

[5-E] The new parliament should develop clearer and more comprehensive
rules governing campaign financing, aimed at enhancing transparency and

[5-F] Ukraine should continue to take steps to strengthen the independence
of the judiciary in order to advance the rule of law and to create greater
public confidence that the court system can provide an effective remedy for
This election presents Ukrainians of all political stripes with an
opportunity. The parliamentary elections of 2006 were an achievement
following a long history of troubled elections. The September 30 election
provides an opportunity to build on that achievement.

It is a chance to demonstrate to the Ukrainian voters that despite the
fractious, partisan maneuvering that led up to this election, all Ukrainian
political leaders are irrevocably committed to free and fair elections, as
an integral part of democratic development.

This goal is well within reach. The campaign period has so far been
relatively free of problems. As election day approaches, all of Ukraine.s
electoral blocs must  demonstrate the political will to advance Ukraine.s
democratic progress.
An accurate and complete assessment of any election must take into account
all aspects of the process, and no election can be viewed in isolation from
the political context in which it takes place.

Among the factors that must be considered are:
[1] the legal framework for the elections set by the constitution,
     including electoral and related laws;
[2] the ability of citizens to seek and receive sufficient and accurate
     information upon which to make political choices;
[3]the ability of political competitors to organize and reach out to
     citizens in order to win their support;
[4] the conduct of the mass media in providing  coverage of parties,
     candidates, and issues;
[5] the freedom that citizens and political competitors have to engage in
     the political and electoral process without fear of intimidation,
     violence, or retribution for their choices; the conduct of the voter
     registration process and integrity of the voter register;
[6] the right to stand for election;
[7] the conduct of the voting, counting, results tabulation, transmission,
     and announcement of results; the handling  of election complaints;

     and      the installation to office of those duly elected.

It should also be noted that no electoral framework is perfect, and all
electoral and political processes experience challenges.

NDI is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy
worldwide. Calling on a global network of volunteer experts, NDI provides
practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic
values, practices, and institutions. NDI has conducted over 100 impartial
pre-election, election-day, and  post-election observation delegations
around the globe.
CONTACT INFORMATION: in Kyiv, Sam Sager at 38-044-569-8840,; in Washington, DC: Nelson Ledsky at +1 202 728 5500
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, Aug 15, 2007

KYIV – The Committee of Voters of Ukraine is the all-Ukrainian NGO that
has been performing comprehensive monitoring of campaigns in Ukraine in
terms of observance of the national legislation and international standards
of fair and democratic election by all stakeholders since 1994.

From the moment when the snap parliamentary election campaign started,
the CVU monitored the election process.
Observations of the CVU based on the campaign monitoring:
1. Political actors nominate their candidates freely and openly; no
obstacles in conduction of party congresses were registered. However, the
procedure of discussion and adoption of election lists is not democratic
enough; “rank and file” party members have no influence upon nomination of
candidates. Also, the CVU has registered minor procedural violations in
nomination and filing documents on registration of candidates.

2. Party members and ordinary voters have no detailed information on
candidates put on election lists. The CVU recommends parties to promulgate
full biographical data of candidates and information on their income in
party periodicals and web-resources.

3. Campaign continued despite on the ban on official agitation. Political
parties and blocs resort to hidden agitation and pay for it from other
sources than election budgets (funds).

4. The CVU is concerned about officials, who take part in the campaign in
their working time; CVU believes that hours spent for agitation should not
be accounting as working hours. Officials should go on leave for the period
of campaign.

5. Yulia Tymoshenkos’ Bloc has initiated campaign for the constitutional
referendum. Given current legal conditions, it is impossible to observe all
procedural requirements for conduction of the referendum on September 30,
2007. Combined voting at the parliamentary election and the referendum might
impede both processes.
Central Election Commission and Pubic Authorities activities —
From the beginning of the election process, the CEC has been operating in
compliance with the current legislation and provides valuable election
campaign organization. At the same time, the CVU points out that CEC’
members are still politicized and there is a risk that they will block
operations of the supreme electoral body.

In particular, the Central Election Commission failed to approve a form of
application for voting at home, while some Commission’ members objected to
the requirement that a voter should present a document confirming his/her
inability to vote at a poling station.

Given experience of prior election campaigns, the CVU warns against
uncontrolled “home voting”, which is often used for falsification of
election results.

Therefore, more detailed regulation of the voting at home is quite
justified, given the current social and political situation. CVU urges CEC’
members to adopt the norm making a voter give grounds for his/her voting
at home.

Also, the CVU expects discussions at formation of constituency election
commissions, as the legislation on nomination of commissioners by factions
of the Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc is ambiguous. The problem
is that leaders of both factions had resigned prior to formation of
constitution election commissions.

The CVU recommends the former faction leaders to nominate candidates
against their own signatures saying that the given person headed the faction
with the Verkhovna Rada of the 5th convocation.

The CVU also appreciates efforts of the President’s Secretariat facilitating
organization of the snap election. In particular, they have assigned
representatives of the Secretariat to regions for inspection of premises
allocated for election commission, activities of the voter registration
groups and production of posters.
Nomination of candidates for national deputies —–
During the first week of the campaign, all major political forces conducted
their congresses, where candidates for national deputies were nominated. In
the CVU’s opinion, major drawbacks of nomination was lack of open
inter-party discussion on formation of election lists and violations of some
procedural moments of nomination.

First, individuals affiliated with other parties were put on election lists
of some parties and blocs, which is prohibited by the law. In particular,
the Congress of the Party of Regions approved their election list on
August 4.

Among persons nominated for national deputies were Anatolij Kinakh and
Vasyl Hurjev, Head and the Deputy Head of the Party of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs, respectively. Election list of the Party of Regions was
approved about 2.00 p.m.

At 3.00 p.m. of the same day the Congress of the Party of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs started its work in the Ukrainian House. Anatolij Kinakh
presided over the Congress, and Vasyl Hurjev participated in its work.

The Congress terminated the party membership of the above persons upon
proposal of the Head of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs after
5.00 p.m.

Only after that A.Kinakh and V.Hurjev lost their party affiliation.
Therefore, the Party of Regions could not nominate individuals who were
affiliated with other party as of execution and approval of the list.

Similar infringement was committed at approval of the election list of the
Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc. In particular, Oleksandr
Omelchenko, number 13 in the election list, was elected head of the Unity
Party on June 23, 2007. On August 4, 2007, the second stage of the Unity’s
Congress was held.

There, they resolved that the Party should not take part in the snap
election on its own; instead, they decided to support the Our Ukraine –
People’s Self-Defense Bloc. However, the Congress did not consider
replacement of the Head and termination of his affiliation with the party.

Therefore, the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc should not have put
member of another party on their election list. The same is true for another
candidate from the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc, Yevhen Hirnyk,
who was the Deputy Head of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists as of
conduction of the Bloc’s congress.

It is confirmed with resolution of the Main Board of the CUN, which expelled
Yevhen Hirnyk from the party after the Bloc’s congress.

Another procedural violation was committed by the Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc.
On August 2, congresses of individual parties made resolution on creation of
the YTB.

Immediately after execution of the agreement, representatives of Yulia
Tymoshenko’s Bloc informed the Central Election Commission about that
and filed all required papers with the CEC, including notification on the
inter-party congress to be held on August 5.

Subject to paragraphs 8 and 9 of Article 57 of the Law of Ukraine On
Election of National Deputies of Ukraine, heads of parties comprising the
election bloc should inform the CEC on time and venue of the inter-party
congress no later than in five days prior to such congress.

Mass media should be informed on the event no later than in three days prior
to the congress. Therefore, the YTB infringed requirements of the law on
informing the CEC and mass media on convocation of the supreme executive
body of the Bloc, when announced on August 2, that the Congress would be
held on August 5.

In compliance with the law, the Bloc should have conducted the Congress no
earlier than on August 6. Although two members of the Central Election
Commission (elected by quota of the Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc) witnessed
the inter-party congress, such minor violation might impede registration of
candidates for deputies.

Subject to sub-paragraph 1 of paragraph 1 of Article 62 o the Law, the
Central Election Commission shall refuse in registration of candidates, if
laws on creation of an election bloc and nomination of candidates are
Challenges of the Election Campaign —–
Despite the fact that the election process started on August 2, and
agitation may start upon registration of candidates with the Central
Election Commission, many political parties and block continue their
hidden campaigning.

There are many big boards with slogans of the leading political forces. Such
advertisements do not contain full names of political parties, names of
publishing houses and other details. The CVU believes that such agitation
violates principles of fair election.

Another problem is participation of officials of executive agencies and
local self-government bodies in the election campaign. Although the law
does not contain the explicit requirement that officials should go on leave
during the election campaign, they can not participate in the campaign
during working hours.

The President of Ukraine delivered a speech to the inter-party congress of
the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc on August 2. In his address,
Viktor Yuschenko touched upon political, personal and other qualities of
candidates, which could be treated as agitation subject to Article 66 of the

Also, other top officials – Head of the Secretariat of the President of
Ukraine, heads of local state administrations – were present at the congress
during working hours.

Also, address of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yuschenko on cancellation of
deputy immunity, which was broadcasted by private TV channels on September
9, may be regarded as campaigning in favor of the Our Ukraine – People’s
Self-Defense Bloc, because the President mentioned the Bloc’s name in his

At the same time, members of the Cabinet of Ministers and other officials
witnessed the Congress of the Party of Regions on Saturday. However, the
Party of Regions filed documents on registration of candidates with the CEC
on Monday, August 6. Among persons, who handed over documents to the
CEC, was Nestor Shufrych, incumbent Minister of Emergencies.

The CVU urges all officials of governmental agencies and local
self-government bodies, involved in the election campaign, to go on leave.
Other officials should refrain from participation in the campaign during
working hours.
All-Ukrainian referendum on constitutional

Amendments Initiated by Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc —–
Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc held meetings of steering groups and filed
documents on registration of such groups with local councils in many

However, the CVU expects problems with registration of some groups,
as in some cases they failed to observe the procedure and did not execute
documents in due course.

At the same time, the CVU believes that the national referendum should not
be conducted simultaneously with the parliamentary election. Organization of
the referendum would complicate the election process. In addition, the
legislation on referenda in Ukraine is ambiguous and controversial.
Milena Zherdiy, International secretary, Committee of Voters of Ukraine,
Kyiv; tel./fax: (044) 492-27-67; E- mail:; Ukrainian
version is available on the CVU web-site

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

OPINION: By Alexei Pankin, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, August 21, 2007. Issue 3725. Page 9.

I was in Ukraine last week sitting with an old friend in his kitchen. We
were talking about politics, recalling the Moscow barricade of 1991 after
the coup attempt against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the 2004
Orange Revolution in Kiev. About 200 meters away from us, a few
thousand supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko were happily picketing the
Central Election Commission building.

Local residents hurried past without showing any particular interest in the
gathering. The bored faces of the few unarmed policemen on the scene
contrasted sharply with the events in Moscow in April, when heavily armed
riot police broke up the Dissenters’ March. At that demonstration, the
police outnumbered the protesters by a margin of at least three to one.

“I think Ukraine is not threatened by disintegration,” my friend said. He
explained that among Ukraine’s nationalist political elite there are
individuals who are willing to let the Russian-speaking eastern half of the
country break away and form their own Donetsk republic.

But for Renat Akhmetov, that isn’t enough. He wants all of Ukraine, and that
is why he will be negotiating with both Viktor Yushchenko and Tymoshenko
regardless of the election’s outcome.

Akhmetov is Ukraine’s top oligarch. He is also the brains and financier
behind the Party of the Regions, also know as the Blues, headed by Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Among other things, Akhmetov puts big money into the development of the
largest daily newspaper, Sevodnya, which enjoys a national readership. The
paper supports the Blues, but not so much as to turn readers away to other

Immediately following the Orange Revolution two years ago, the city’s mayor
and supporter of former President Leonid Kuchma, Ruslan Bodelan, was
ousted from office on charges of falsifying the mayoral election.

The mayor was replaced by his “losing” election opponent, former Odessa
Mayor Eduard Hurvits, who was connected with the Orange movement.

Those with political and business connections to Bodelan were in a panic and
expected to be persecuted. Today, those people are counted among Hurvits’
admirers. Serhiy Kivalov, founder of a law academy in Odessa, especially
benefits from his patronage.

This is the same Kivalov who was chairman of the Central Election Commission
in 2004 and was accused by Orange Revolution leaders to be one of the worst
perpetrators of election fraud.

Nonetheless, prominent members among both the ruling authorities and the
opposition bought land on a Black Sea beach, erected a fence around it, and
built their resort palaces there.

True, townspeople must now make a large detour to visit one of the most
popular beaches, but is that too high a price to pay for peace and harmony
among the elite?

This recent trip to Ukraine has left me with the impression that regardless
of how strongly political passions may have raged there, most of the
political establishment — regardless of its “color” — is basically
peaceful and ready to strike a bargain with anyone as long as its own
interests are honored.

A publisher from the “Orange” city of Rovno in western Ukraine had a huge
desire to do something nice for me because I was a publisher and because I
was from Russia. He first expressed his gratitude to the Western embassies
that supported him in his conflicts with local authorities.

He then went on to praise President Vladimir Putin for his hard political
line with the West, saying that was the only way Putin could get the West to
respect him.

Is this the same Orange Revolution that so frightened Russian authorities?
Kuchma labored so hard to build a power vertical that finally collapsed —
and nobody suffered as a result.

Just the opposite happened: The thieves and the honest folk are all living
much better these days, and they love Ukraine more than they ever did.
What’s so scary about that?
Alexei Pankin is the editor of Strategii i Praktika Izdatelskogo Biznesa, a
magazine for publishing business professionals.

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

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: by Zoltán Dujisin
Inter Press Service (IPS), Rome, Italy, Monday, August 20, 2007

BUDAPEST – The political crisis that has ravaged Ukraine since President
Viktor Yushchenko decided to dissolve parliament is not likely to end with
the early elections scheduled for Sep. 30.

On Apr. 2 President Yushchenko issued a decree dissolving parliament and
calling for fresh parliamentary elections, which was disobeyed by the
pro-governmental majority. The President claimed the government was usurping
power after some opposition parliamentarians moved to the ruling coalition.

The number of pro-government deputies was getting dangerously close to 300,
and that would be enough to make constitutional changes that could weaken
the President’s power and set aside any presidential veto.

With both sides feeling that the slightest concession to the opponent meant
a public admission of guilt, finding a compromise became a daunting task.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and the President bickered for weeks over
the legality of their actions, and even over the loyalty of Ukraine’s
uniformed agencies, creating widespread fears of a violent escalation of

Unlike on previous occasions, both the West and Russia refrained from
intervening in Ukraine’s domestic affairs, opting to adopt the stance that
the post-Soviet republic should sort out its own problems.

Yushchenko’s decree raised many eyebrows among legal experts, and the
country’s Supreme Court was expected to rule against him.

Repeated dismissals of judges by the President, and what the head of the
Ukrainian Supreme Court Vasyl Onopenko termed as “unprecedented pressure”,
presumably from both sides of the conflict, contributed to paralysing the
court’s procedures.

Nevertheless, Yanukovich was likely to accept the early election anyway,
using it as an extra trump card in negotiations with the opposition.

While the May 27 agreement to hold an early election in September is a
victory for the national-liberal opposition, the date of the election is to
the ruling Party of the Regions’ liking.

The government will have time to increase its support ratings by raising
pensions and the minimum wage.

“The Party of the Regions agreed to the election because they think they can
play this game and win even more votes,” Ivan Presniakov, political analyst
at the Kiev-based International Centre for Policy Studies told IPS.

On Jun. 27 Yushchenko temporarily agreed to suspend his decree dissolving
parliament to allow deputies to approve amendments to the election law which
are needed to conduct the elections.

After the session one-third of the members of parliament gave up their
mandate, giving Yushchenko legal grounds to sign a fourth decree dissolving
parliament on Aug. 1 and legitimising the upcoming election.

Experts have, however, warned that inconsistencies in the law will provide
fertile ground for any losing force to contest the election result,
something which populist opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko, leader of

the bloc named after her, has already begun to suggest.

Ukrainian politics remains shady and closed, and the multitude of
behind-the-stage deals and possible alliances are the subject of constant
and often contradictory speculation by Ukrainian journalists and pundits.

The uncertainty over the election outcome and the similar support rates of
both sides gives strength to the idea that more important than a few more
votes will be the coalition-forming negotiations.

The Party of the Regions will run on its own, but leaving open the
possibility of re-enacting the coalition if communists, socialists or both
make it into parliament.

Much of the Ukrainian media has speculated on dissension within the ruling
Party of the Regions, but the recent publication of the Party’s list did not
indicate any significant power loss for Yanukovich, who was also confirmed
as the Prime Minister candidate for the party.

A grand coalition has also not been excluded by Yanukovich’s party, which is
striving to be seen as a mainstream pro-European force, and has to cope with
the socialists loss of popularity and the communists’ radical demand of
eliminating the presidency altogether.

But so far opposition forces are dismissing a joint cabinet with elements of
the current government. The question in the ‘orange’ liberal camp backed by
Yushchenko remains which party will put forward the Prime Minister candidate
in case of victory.

Yuliya Tymoshenko’s bloc is expected to take the biggest chunk of opposition
votes, but Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine Party has strengthened its support base
by joining forces with the People’s Self-Defence bloc, a popular movement
set up by former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko.

Moreover, pro-presidential forces are hoping that thanks to the President’s
recent bold steps, Tymoshenko can be outplayed by presenting an “image of a
strong President who is struggling against Yanukovich, which is also a good
start for his presidential campaign in 2009,” Presniakov told IPS.

In the meantime, the public continues to grow cynical as the idealism of
past years fades away. Ukrainian media speculates that television channels
might refuse to allow key political figures to debate on television, and
instead expose their populist tendencies.

Some claim that behind the ideological battle lie purely economic interests.
Kost Bondarenko, a Ukrainian political analyst, wrote in the local media
that “it is precisely the economic factor that was definitive in sparking
the crisis” after the government prevented the ‘orange’ side from benefiting
from privatisation deals.

Still, in Presniakov’s view, “there is no single reason for the conflict; on
all sides there are different people with different goals and incentives.
The structural conflict between the Prime Minister and the President is more

The existence of a structural political problem has been admitted by all
main sides in the political conflict, and there is relative consensus on the
need for a new constitution.

The opposition and the pro-presidential forces want to introduce a binding
mandate in parliament to avoid future desertions, whereas the Party of the
Regions would like to see the new constitution envisaging that only
parliament, and not the President can initiate the legislative branch’s
dissolution. Both sides have also suggested that high-ranking officials
should be stripped of immunity.

There is no unanimity on how and when to approve a new document, but
Tymoshenko is demanding a referendum on the same day as the elections, and
is collecting signatures in support of the idea. Nobody will be surprised if
Ukrainian politicians fail to agree once again. (END/2007)

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
Three years after the Orange revolution, reform is glacially slow
and may yet prove too painful.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Lawrence A. Uzzell,
President, International Religious Freedom Watch
The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA, Tue, Aug 21, 2007

FISHERVILLE, Va. – Americans should look at reality rather than
Hollywood-style happy endings when they gauge the progress in Ukraine
and other post-Soviet states.

Many Americans still prefer the memory of Boris Yeltsin’s stirring 1991
speech atop a Moscow tank, but they ignore the aftermath: the suppression
of legislators and journalists.

More than two years since the electrifying “revolutions” in Ukraine,
Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, it is time to reflect on the results.

The reality is disappointing in contrast with the hopes of Ukraine’s 2004
“Orange Revolution.” The bad news: Ukraine is moving at a glacial pace in

The good news: At least Kiev has avoided any major deterioration. Ukrainians
can be grateful that they won secession peacefully in 1991 from
hypercentralized Moscow.

According to a draft report published by Washington-based Freedom House,
the overall “democracy score” in Ukraine became slightly worse from 2006 to

Ukraine’s current performance in economic freedom is declining, as rated in
the free-market report published annually by The Wall Street Journal and The
Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

In fact, Ukraine’s economy is seen as slightly less free than Russia’s. The
January report stated, “Ukraine is ranked 40th out of 41 countries in the
European region, and its overall score is much lower than the regional

However, Ukraine’s freedom in terms of civil society had improved
significantly from the 1990s to 2005. Freedom of the press has clearly
improved since the “Orange Revolution.” Ukraine has far more religious
freedom than Russia.

The Freedom House report concluded that in Ukraine, “nationwide television
channels in most cases provided balanced news coverage; representatives of
the ruling parties as well as the opposition had equal access to the media.”
Nevertheless, many local governments still dominate the local news media.

According to a nongovernmental organization specializing in monitoring the
media, at least 14 journalists were attacked or intimidated in Ukraine in
2006. Last year a Ukrainian court issued a guilty verdict for five murderers
after the 2001 death of a television journalist.

This is in dramatic contrast with post-Soviet Russia, where not one murder
of a high-profile journalist has been solved. Nine Russian journalists were
killed in 2006 alone.

Ukraine’s freedom of the press improved significantly from 2004 to 2005,
then again from 2005 to 2006 – but failed to improve during the 12 months up
to the spring of 2007.

Ukrainians and Russians enjoyed the end of state-enforced atheism in the
late 1980s. However, their paths have diverged since the mid-1990s. Russia’s
1997 law formally reestablished state control over religious life, brazenly
contradicting its own 1993 constitution.

In contrast, Ukraine is essentially observing its own constitutional
guarantees for rights of conscience. Unlike Russian bureaucrats, both in law
and in practice, Ukrainian bureaucrats do not suppress freedom of religious
speech – nor do they expel foreign missionaries.

Nevertheless, during the past decade, Ukrainian leaders of all traditional
religions have complained about the government’s glacial progress in
restoring worship buildings confiscated by the Soviet regime – including
Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish properties.

Also unsatisfactory has been the continuing record of provincial or
municipal bureaucrats harassing religious minorities. For example, the Roman
Catholic Church’s charitable activities have experienced difficulties with
Odessa’s city council. Evangelical Protestants have had difficulties trying
to buy real estate in order to build new churches.

Observing Ukraine’s lack of progress during the past two years, the US State
Department’s annual reports about religious freedom have concluded, “There
was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the
period covered by this report.” (The 2006 report repeated those identical
words from the 2005 report.)

Paradoxically, post-Soviet Ukraine’s sluggishness in reforms is linked in
some ways with Ukraine’s lack of Russian-style despotism. Many would-be
reformers instinctively assume that strong, centralized presidencies are
preferable, while legislatures or provincial governors are nuisances.

Washington’s Beltway mentality likes the domestic policies of leaders such
as Lyndon Johnson, producing huge federal programs and detailed regulations.

During the 1990s, the Beltway usually found excuses for the “excesses” of
Moscow’s self-proclaimed “reformer” Boris Yeltsin. Washington looked the
other way when the Kremlin decided in 1993 to crush the legislature by means
of tanks.

Fortunately, Ukraine’s three post-Soviet presidents have not imitated the
Kremlin’s most extreme methods, and Kiev’s legislature now has genuine

In the real world, the model of “tough-guy” leadership has both advantages
and disadvantages. The principle of the rule of law can obstruct radical
reforms. Constitutional checks and balances can impede a president.

The majority of Ukrainians may decide that reforms seem too painful. With
popular elections, antireform opposition candidates may win against
pro-reform incumbents. Democracy has real tensions with freedom.

A continuing global temptation has been the myth of “revolution” inherited
from 18th-century France. Revolutionaries have often expected their
victories to be swift and unambiguous, but they have usually turned out to
be wrong.

Ukrainians recall all too vividly the past century’s experiences of
revolutionary Marxism. We should understand that Ukrainians may prefer
evolution, not radical upheavals – without Hollywood-style myths.

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

By Anastasia Smagina, UCIPR analyst
Research Update. Vol. 13, No 24/496,
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Officially the election campaign is starting in August, though we can
observe all-out false starts of the political actors. One of the many signs
of the impetuous start of the premature election campaign is the process of
formation of the lists of potential deputies of the future parliament.

Besides, we can observe immense increase of social and political
commercials, TV reels and street ads, as well as leaders’ tours to regions
with their pre-election program and KPU and PSPU fight against NATO

training exercises.
Regular discussions about “immunity of deputies”:
election periods —–
As a rule, every election campaign in Ukraine is marked by discussions
concerning “cancellation of immunity of deputies”.

For example, at the beginning of the year 1998, just  before the
parliamentary elections, there were some attempts to bring a new public idea
asserting that immunity is injustice as it contradicts the principle of the
equality of the constitutional rights of the citizens.

The justification was the following: “ordinary citizens must be arrested
even for insignificant crimes, but deputies-criminals can walk in a halo of
immunity” (“Independence”, January 14, 1998).

The start of the election campaign of 2006 was marked by the same
discussions and actions. For the first time the then elections were held by
the proportional principle and by the system of closed lists.

On September 2005 the Verkhovna Rada in fact decreed to renew criminal

and administrative immunity of deputies of the local councils.

The paradox was that in October of 2004 this draft bill was initiated by the
Our Ukraine party, and later the draft bill was given its first reading. 234
deputies voted for the bill on immunity of deputies.

Some time later immunity of deputies of the local councils was cancelled,
but the process of formation of the lists could not be stopped. As a result,
a number of Ukrainian citizens with quite complicated past but immense
possibilities and resources won seats in party tickets.

Immunity of deputies is guaranteed by the article 80 of the Basic Law of
Ukraine, which did not get any amendments during the process of introduction
of changes to the Constitution on December 8, 2004.

People’s deputies of Ukraine do not bear legal responsibility for voting
results or for declarations in the parliament and in its departments, except
for responsibility for insult and slander.

Deputies cannot be called to criminal account and cannot be arrested or
detained without the permission of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. To the
point, this resolution was supported by the constitutional majority of the
then Verkhovna Rada at that night.

Vyacheslav Chornovil recalled in his letter published in “Chas/Time” of
March 5-11, 1998: “During the process of adoption of the Constitution, at
first the variant of the coordinating commission was given its second

It provided for that in some cases a criminal action can be brought against
a deputy and without the permission of the Verkhovna Rada. In fact, it meant
cancellation of immunity of deputies.

However, in 15 minutes after adoption of the resolution the VR speaker
Oleksandr Moroz suddenly proposed to revise the article 80 and to pass an
amendment”, which now is the letter of the present Constitution.

Almost all members of the factions of Communist Party headed by Petro
Symonenko and Socialists Party headed by Oleksandr Moroz voted for that

For the whole time of existing of the newest parliament, the Verkhovna Rada
decreed to deprive immunity of five deputies.

Later there were numerous attempts to cancel immunity of deputies for
certain people, but such attempts could have been partly treated as
repressions against political or business rivals in the country, where
politics and business are Siamese twins.

We can also recall those predictable 80 percents of “yeses” for cancellation
of immunity of deputies during the Kuchma’s referendum of 2000, results of
which remained the “expensive public poll” for the country- partly for good.

At present the Ukraine’s Constitution guarantees immunity not only for
parliamentarians, but for judges as well. The Constitution also determines
authorities of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. It reads that “the
Constitutional Court of Ukraine is the only body of constitutional
jurisdiction in Ukraine.

The Constitutional Court decides conformity of laws and legal acts of the
Constitution of Ukraine and gives official definition of the Constitution
and its laws” (article 147). The President of Ukraine also has immunity.
Feel the difference…
The present situation concerning immunity of deputies differs from the
previous discussion in the idea that real cancellation of immunity of
deputies will lead to the complicated and durable process of introduction of
changes to the Constitution of Ukraine, in case if the politicians will not
be engaged in demagogy, of course.

A regular initiative on introduction of changes to the article 80 was
brought by the President Yushchenko, who assured that he would do his

best “to realize this  initiative at the political level first and then by means
of introduction of changes to the Constitution.”

On June 13 the Our Ukraine party declared that it included the subject
concerning cancellation of immunity of deputies into its party program.

Our Ukraine explained that cancellation of immunity of deputies would be

the first political initiative of the OU faction in the Verkhovna Rada of the
fifth convocation, as according to the logic of this document “deputies’
privileges were often used by dishonest politicians to cover private and
clan interests.” BYuT and other political forces also supported this

The key theses provided by Yushchenko concerning cancellation of immunity

of deputies are “clearing of the deputy corps and fight against the political

“I am convinced that it is the way to normalization of the political order
and political life in our country…the parliament must have honest
politicians who do not divide the society into an inviolable caste and
violable one,” he said.

However, the political proposition to make the corresponding decision during
congresses of the party does not have real mechanisms for implementation. We
had many precedents concerning the declaration about voluntary refusal from
the immunity of deputies, but it resulted in political dividends and
populism only.

To the point, if to remind the pre-election campaigns of the winners of the
parliamentary elections-2006 we can see that the majority was talking about
necessity to cancel immunity of deputies. For example, the pre-election
program of BYuT said that they would “immediately cancel legal immunity of
politicians and state officials.”

Before the then elections information was spread about that Yulia Tymoshenko
charged the bloc to prepare amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine as
regards to cancellation of immunity of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of
Ukraine. The logical question arises: “How forward have such initiatives
moved for the period of work of the VR?”

Our Ukraine was consistent both in its pre-election program of 2006 and
today: “Political grounds of corruption will be liquidated. Deputies will be
deprived of immunity. Officials will report both their incomes and
expenses…” And SPU assured in its program that “the power will be cleared
from corrupted officials, embezzlers of public property and bribetakers,”
which was done immediately after the elections on April 4, 2006.

The official pre-election program of the Party of Regions did not say a word
about immunity of deputies, though on the eve of the presidential election
of 2004 then candidate Victor Yanukovych stood for holding a referendum on
limitation of immunity of deputies.

“…if in the near future the deputies do not make decision concerning
deputy’s ethic, immunity of deputies and compliance with the legislation of
Ukraine we will have to appeal to the nation, to hold a referendum and make
a decision together with the public,” Yanukovych declared at that time.

But holding the post of the Premier of Ukraine, now on June 2007 he
“considers the appeals to cancel immunity of deputies to be populism on the
eve of the election, and if the deputies have dead earnest either they must
solve this issue now or the new parliament will take care of the question in

case the early elections take place.”
The pros and cons: political activity, expediency
and Constitution —–
The main argument against cancellation of immunity of deputies is a
potential possibility to press on deputies with the purpose of paying of old
scores, which may have no connections with the politics. So, it is a
question of the social traditions, ethic and political culture.

The guarantee of immunity of deputies exists in other democratic countries.
For example, a  German deputy may be called to account for violation of the
laws only with the permission of the Bundestag or in case of catching in the

However, such scenario of a “direct arrest” in Ukraine may only look
democratic. There is no guarantee that someone, for example, will not put
drugs or weapon in someone’s pocket as it happened with Grygoryshyn,

though he was not a deputy.

The main argument in support of cancellation of immunity is confirmation of
the principle of equality of all citizens to the law.

According to the article 3 of the Basic Law, a person, his life and health,
his honor and dignity, inviolability and safety are the highest social
values in Ukraine, and according to the article 29, every person has a right
to personal freedom and nobody can be arrested or taken into custody without
a justified decision of a court and only on legal grounds established by the

Another argument in support of cancellation of immunity is to make it
impossible for criminals to use immunity for avoiding punishment, that is to
say the cleaning of the Verkhovna Rada’s ranks.

Though, the fact of cancellation of immunity looks rather doubtful as
regards to the fight against the political corruption, which, as a rule, is
shadow. Owning to the native traditions there always will be “more equal” to
the law.

To sum up we can note that before cancelling immunity of deputies, the
European Union’s countries’ experience should be thoroughly explored as
regards to this question, and not only concerning the procedures but the
political culture and behaviour as well.

The fight against the corruption, first of all the political one, should
envisage complex measures which are initiation of changes to the
Constitution and to the criminal and procedural code, reformation of the
legal system, creation of real conditions for transparency of the power and
for distribution of budget resources, actions aimed at increase of influence
of the public institutions and mass media.

Methods do exist but are not sufficiently effective, unfortunately.

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

Kyiv Post Senior Journalist, based in Ukraine.
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 28, 2007

On June 28, Ukraine celebrated its Constitution, with every politician and
his brother demanding that the much abused document be altered yet again.

It was only eleven years ago that lawmakers had worked through the night
to reach a compromise on the creation of a supreme law for the newly
independent state.

Independent Ukraine’s first and only Constitution was hailed as a guarantee
of individual rights for all Ukrainian citizens. But right from the start,
it was clear that lawmakers had borrowed a lot from their Soviet

One by no means unique example is the Ukrainian Constitution’s proud
proclamation that every citizen has the right to free medical treatment. In
practice, this means mostly dirt poor facilities with underpaid doctors who
receive their fees under the table.

The promise of generous rights, unsupported by detailed laws underpinned
by proper financing, only mocks the privilege of citizenship.

Indeed, it takes time to draft, debate and approve legislation.

But few doubt that Ukraine’s lawmakers are more interested in making laws
for the benefit of themselves, as well as the businesses and media that many

The most glaring example of their separation from the rest of society is the
immunity from prosecution that they continue to enjoy. More recently,

the country’s lawmakers have begun attacking the law itself.

It all started in December of 2004, when then opposition leader Viktor
Yushchenko was challenging the fraud-filled victory of his opponent for the
presidency, Viktor Yanukovych.

Yushchenko succeeded in calling a new election, which he won, but the
victory for the rule of law was short lived.

In order to shore up support for his presidential bid, Yushchenko had a
collection of hastily drafted constitutional amendments foisted on him by
opponents and supporters alike.

The essence of the amendments was that the president would have to give up
many of the significant executive power that he had inherited from his
predecessor, Leonid Kuchma. It was Kuchma who had reigned over the
passage of the country’s first Constitution.

But while ordinary Ukrainians eked out a living, and his fellow politicians
gorged themselves on the country’s industrial assets, Kuchma went about
quietly consolidating a king-sized portion of power throughout the late

By the time his second term was coming to an end in late 2004, Kuchma was
in control of the country’s courts, governors, law enforcement, army and a
majority in parliament.

And as the opposition continued to gain momentum toward deposing him and
his supporters, Kuchma unexpectedly announced the idea of constitutionally
transferring presidential powers to the parliament in mid 2002.

It was a hybrid form of the amendments originally proposed by Kuchma that
Yushchenko ended up signing during the peak of the country’s Orange

The amendments came into force in 2006, just in time to see one of
Yushchenko’s key Orange allies, Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, defect to
the camp of Viktor Yanukovych. The former became speaker and the latter
returned as prime minister.

Bolstered by a parliamentary coalition they formed with the Communists,
Yushchenko’s opponents went about muscling away his executive authority,
interpreting the poorly drafted constitutional amendments as they liked.

Not only was the country’s highest law crumpled up and shredded in the
ensuing political battle, but the Constitutional Court lost what little
respect it had enjoyed, as justices took sides with the president or

If Yanukovych and Moroz couldn’t be president, they were going to assume

all executive and judicial power for the parliament they controlled, regardless
of what the Constitution said.

Last August, the parliament even passed a bill prohibiting the
Constitutional Court from ruling on whether the amendments passed in late
2004 were constitutional.

Now with snap elections scheduled for this fall as a way to break the
political gridlock, the calls for more constitutional reform are again on
the agenda.

This time, Moroz and Yanukovych are trying to steal the wind from
Yushchenko’s sail. It was the president who first tabled the idea of challenging

the amendments that limited his authority, proposing that his countrymen
decide the issue in a referendum.
Now Moroz and Yanukovych have jumped on the band wagon – for a
different purpose. Moroz said on June 28 that he supports changes to the
Constitution to transfer more power from the center to the regions.

“The Constitution of Ukraine will always be an open book, into which
corrections will be made and supplements added by future generations of
Ukrainians,” he announced during a Constitution Day speech.

Members of Yanukovych’s team have echoed similar sentiments. Since taking
their respective positions as premier and speaker last year, Yanukovych and
Moroz have mostly tried to limit presidential power by pushing bills through
the parliament.

Now that a new parliament is soon to be elected, they have again turned
their attention to changing the Constitution.

The empowerment of regional government, which would be beneficial for the
country if conducted without political motives, is one of many initiatives
that Yushchenko’s foes have tabled.

However, members of Yanukovych’s Regions party have often used regional
autonomy as a synonym for separatism in the country’s Russian-speaking south
and east.

European bodies such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
of which Ukraine is a member, have attempted to help Ukraine find its way
along the path toward parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

But although each side has attempted to legitimize its claims through
European approval, Western advice often goes unheeded.

A resolution taken by PACE on April 19, during the latest constitutional
impasse in Ukraine, reads “The Assembly deplores the fact that the judicial
system of Ukraine has been systematically misused by other branches of power
and that top officials do not execute the courts’ decisions, which is a sign
of erosion of this crucial democratic institution.

“Independent and impartial judiciary is a precondition for the existence of
a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Hence the urgent necessity
to carry out a comprehensive judicial reform, including through amendments
to the Constitution.”

But judging by the way Ukrainian officials have used and abused their rather
innocent Constitution in the past, no one in Europe should get their hopes
up about meaningful constitutional change, as the country’s supreme law
turns 11.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
Moscow and Kiev are interested in each other’s upcoming elections

Versiya, No. 32, Moscow, Russia, Mon, August 20, 2007

For the first time in many years, Russia and Ukraine have parliamentary
elections scheduled at almost the same time. But Ukraine’s election will
happen slightly earlier – thus giving Kiev time to interfere in Moscow’s

Ukraine is showing strong interest in Russia’s election campaign: hoping to
re-establish contacts with Russia’s political elite.

In Moscow, almost all participants in the campaign process will attempt to
secure support from the Ukrainian parties which are considered pro-Russian.

The Ukrainian factor in Russian politics became particularly significant
after the Independence Square protests in 2004; alarmed by events in Kiev,
the Kremlin launched a desperate battle against the Orange Revolution.

In order to prevent Orange forces from developing in Russia, the Kremlin had
to make every effort to discredit them in Ukraine.

In general, Moscow’s efforts have succeeded. The Orange forces are nothing
more than a small radical sect in Russia these days. Besides, most Russian
citizens are highly skeptical about events in Ukraine and don’t want
anything similar to happen in Russia.

In a poll done by the Levada Center this May, 38% of respondents said that
“the anarchy and chaos that accompany democracy” now reign in Ukraine, and
27% said that the permanent state of crisis is evidence that “Ukraine’s
democracy is immature.”

The political passions raging in Kiev, and power-struggles among Ukraine’s
leaders, have formed a convenient backdrop for Russia’s political democracy;
the endless quarreling among Ukraine’s parties make United Russia’s
dominance look good by comparison.

The Supreme Rada election is unlikely to put an end to Ukraine’s political
crisis; so the ongoing political conflicts in Kiev could become a campaign

advantage for United Russia, especially if the Ukrainian confrontation intensifies.

And that’s why the Kremlin doesn’t really have an interest in seeing either
side – Blue or Orange – achiev an unconditional victory. Moreover,
negotiating with Kiev is much easier when the Ukrainian elite is divided.

But even as Moscow has its own designs on the Ukrainian election, Kiev is
showing significant interest in the election campaign in Russia.

There is no hop of a change in the policy course; but Ukrainian politicians
are still hoping for some changes in the composition of Moscow’s negotiation

Contrary to widespread opinion, the Ukrainian elite found it easy to lobby
for its interests in Moscow – until recently. That applied to specific
economic issues (like the pipeline wars or import quotas on Ukrainian
goods), and to big-time politics.

This was partly achieved by tales of great friendship between fellow Slavs
(Lukashenko came to excel at this form of sport), and clever use of
corruption scandals and media techniques; it was also partly due to the
common Soviet background of the Russian and Ukrainian elites.

But after the Orange Revolution won, Kiev’s influence on Moscow weakened.
Aside from the Kremlin’s annoyance with the Orange Revolution’s outcome,

the situation was also influenced by substantial changes within the Russian
elite: those who were at the forefront in the Yeltsin era departed, and
Putin’s closest allies took the lead.

Kiev celebrated the Orange victory, then distributed jobs, and then turned
around to find that its previous contacts in Russia had vanished, but no new
contacts had been established. And this isn’t easy to do in the middle of a
political confrontation. (Translated by Elena Leonova)

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

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Vyacheslav Nikonov
President of the Politika Foundation.
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, August 16, 2007

MOSCOW –  Today many experts agree that the Russian factor will

not be as influential in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Ukraine
as it was in 2004 and 2006.

I believe this shows that Ukrainian statehood has become more mature.
Before, Russia found itself in the center of the election race largely
because the main question was why Ukraine was not Russia.

Now that it has been answered, Ukraine will have its own agenda for the
election campaign. But the early elections to the Rada (parliament) are not
likely to change the situation. Domestic political life will most likely
remain unstable.

The system by which the government is formed by the parliamentary

majority, with stable majority lacking, will automatically program instability
into any Ukrainian cabinet of ministers. It is not clear whether the future
government will be Orange or White-and-Blue.

Moreover, strictly speaking, the current political crisis, as well as many
events prior to it, is taking place outside the legal field.

Different political forces are still disputing the legitimacy of the
previous Rada’s dissolution and the announcement of new elections.

The future government’s legitimacy may be also called into doubt.

Last but not the least, a serious cultural split will persist in Ukrainian
society regardless of who is elected. That is more important than any
political differences or financial affiliations.

The main question is what comes next. Will the opposing political forces
come to terms? How long will the new Rada exist, considering that the
dissolution procedures have not been forgotten?

As for the Russian position, I believe that any Russian participation is
somewhat exaggerated and is obviously used against Russia, although
different political forces will not conceal their preferences in Ukraine
this time, either.

The Russian communist party will express solidarity with its Ukrainian soul
mates, Pyotr Simonenko and Mrs. Natalia Vetrenko.

I’m sure that the Kremlin will continue supporting Viktor Yanukovich. Our
Liberals will back Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko.

In short, the preferences of the Ukrainian electorate and Russian political
forces have long been established. But there are also dislikes.

Tymoshenko’s article in the American journal Foreign Affairs, in which she
suggested an anti-Russian coalition, has not made her more popular in the
Russian corridors of power.

Needless to say, those who want to see Ukraine part of NATO as soon as
possible do not have many admirers behind the Kremlin’s walls.

Likewise, we have reasons to oppose Ukraine’s de-Russification because it
harms local Russians and our national language. But for all that I’m
confident that the Kremlin will deal with any government that the Ukrainians

This is Russia’s position. In this respect, it is different from the stance
of those Western countries, which prefer dealing with pro-Western
governments that fit their notion of democracy.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Russian-Ukrainian Relations Remain Difficult; Presidential Meeting Postponed
Meat and dairy trade wars announced by Russia at the beginning of 2006

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow, Russia, Wed, August 15, 2007

The meeting of Presidents of Ukraine and Russia, which had been postponed
since April and announced by Viktor Yushchenko for 15-20 August, may not
take place. This was reported to Nezavisimaya Gazeta by a source in the
Ukrainian government.

Commenting on the results of Wednesday’s blitz-visit to Moscow by head of
the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine Viktor Baloha, high-level
officials noted that Kiev has chosen an aggressive line of behavior. The
Russian side is ignoring the ultimatums.

Sources in Kiev are convinced that the most difficult and current topic for
Ukraine at the upcoming negotiations are the trade wars announced by the
Russian side at the beginning of 2006.

“Since that time, the direct losses of Ukrainian agricultural enterprises
have reached approximately half a billion dollars, and the dairy sector has
been especially hard hit.

After all, around 60 percent of Ukrainian dairy export traditionally went to
the Russian market,” political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko confirmed to
Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The expert believes that, from the standpoint of the parliamentary elections
in both Ukraine and Russia, politicians are forced to enter the question of
cessation of the trade wars onto the list of immediate issues, because
voters have already felt the negative result of the “political sanctions.”

In Russia, according to official data, prices on dairy products have
increased by 10-20 percent, while in Ukraine the purchase prices on raw

milk have sharply dropped.

In the expert’s opinion, the search for an acceptable way out of the
situation that has arisen was Baloha’s main task in the course of his visit
to Moscow.

Sources in the Presidential Secretariat are commenting on the results of the
negotiations in general terms. However, government officials are
confidentially reporting that the president’s representative torpedoed the
Moscow talks.

“Yushchenko’s inner circle had tried to exert pressure on Moscow, so as to
unblock the deliveries of agricultural products,” says a source in the

In his words, it was with this purpose in mind that the Ukrainian side had
adopted the decision to tie in the topic of the dairy war with the regimen
of gas deliveries and with the question of Ukrainian-Russian cooperation in
the nuclear power industry.

At the moment when Viktor Baloha was meeting with the Russian Federation
President’s Chief of Staff, Sergey Sobyanin, the Security Service of Ukraine
(SBU) was in fact announcing its apprehensions about the protocol on
cooperation between the Ukrainian state concern “Ukratomprom” and the
Russian Federation Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, which had been
signed in June.

Parallel with this, a structure subordinate to the president–the Council on
National Security and Defense of Ukraine–had published recommendations on
increasing the cost of transit of Russian gas over Ukrainian territory.

Ukrainian government officials consider the attempt at pressure on Moscow to
be futile. They insist that the Cabinet of Ministers, in preparing
recommendations for the second meeting of the Yushchenko-Putin Interstate
Commission, had placed the emphasis on the fact that the topic of the meat
and dairy war must be viewed separately, and that its soonest possible
resolution is in the interests of both states.

In an interview with our Nezavisimaya Gazeta correspondent, a representative
for the Ukrainian part of the agriculture subcommittee of the interstate
commission complained: “This is an awkward situation: A most important

trade sector is regulated not by legislative standards, but by non-systematic
directives of public officials.”

He explained that, since the beginning of 2006, many Ukrainian enterprises
that had successfully passed inspection of Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service
for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight) had formally received the right
to supply products to the Russian Federation.

However, permit documents were issued only to some of them. “A huge

shadow niche has been artificially created in Russian-Ukrainian trade relations,
which may only be compared with the gas affairs of previous years,” noted
the representative of the Ukrainian subcommittee.

The head of the Ukrmolprom Association, Vasiliy Bondarenko, confirmed to
Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the problem should be resolved at the political
level, because the reason for the dairy war that has lasted for a
year-and-a-half is also concealed in politics.

He explained that, in 2006, Rosselkhoznadzor had filed complaints only
against the re-export of meat from Ukrainian territory. “For what reasons

they banned the import of dairy products, no one has ever explained,”
Bondarenko complains.

The problem of repeal of the trade limitations that are disadvantageous to
both sides has been discussed for over a year now, but its resolution was
put off until the moment of the meeting of the Yushchenko-Putin Interstate

If the meeting once again does not take place, the most profitable and
promising area of the Ukrainian agrarian sector, which has been farmed out
to sectoral officials, will in fact be destroyed, insist representatives of
the dairy enterprises.

Ukrainian government representatives believe that the situation will
negatively affect the rating of the pro-presidential bloc at the upcoming
parliamentary elections.

They surmise that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, on the other hand, will
increase the popularity of his party if, on the background of Yushchenko’s
ultimatums, he proposes a constructive solution to this problem, which is
painful to both countries.

According to sources in government, Yanukovych, who is on vacation in Russia
this week, may perhaps meet with representatives of Russian authority so as
to find a way out of the situation and return to the homeland as a victor in
the dairy wars.

As we have learned, the meeting of Presidents of the Russian Federation and
Ukraine may take place, but only in the Fall, after the elections in
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Alla Yeremenko, Nataliya Yatsenko
Mirror-Weekly 30 (659), Kyiv, Ukraine 18-24 August 2007
A remarkable feature of this snap election campaign is that the leaders of
parties and blocs avoid face-to-face debates. Why is that? On Monday, 13
August, Ukraine Competitiveness Council invited representatives of the Party
of Regions, “Our Ukraine”-“People’s Self-defence” and Yuliya Tymoshenko
Bloc to an open discussion.

Ms Tymoshenko was the only one to turn up. As a result, she presented her
draft National Development Strategy entitled “Ukrainian Breakthrough” for
three hours.

On Tuesday, 14 August, the Party of Regions launched its “public education”
campaign, with Raisa Bohatyriova and Borys Kolesnikov lecturing the press
about the risks and prospects of the current demographic situation in
Ukraine, and the ruling party’s programme “Stability and Wellbeing” which is
geared towards improving it.

On Friday, 17 August, Olexander Kuzmuk presented the Cabinet of Ministers’
anticorruption programme (to enhance its effect, they also included the
Crimean Speaker and Vice Prime Minister Kliuyev in the panel).

All in all, six conferences are to be held to explicate party programmes but
none will eclipse the YTB one in terms of vim and vigour. The Party of
Regions will, presumably, opt for an unhurried campaign with carefully dosed

It is still a question what the “Our Ukraine”-“People’s Self-defence” are
going to promote in their election platform: their presentation is due some
time next week.

However, comments by Volodymyr Lanovy, once well-known economist,
available on the OU-PS website suggest that the measured but realistic
programme “For People, not for Politicians!” and the President’s social
initiatives will be boosted with a couple of exotic economic ideas.

We have made an attempt to describe the political and social programmes of
three campaign leaders – Party of Regions, “Our Ukraine”-“People’s
Self-defence” and Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc – using all materials accessible so
far. Some could disagree with our analysis, and  we welcome other different
opinions on the matter as we are in no way presenting a final diagnosis.

The YTB National Development strategy “Ukrainian Breakthrough: to a Fair and
Competitive Country” is a 319-page document; its Internet version takes up
four pages. So do the e-versions of the OU-PS programme attractively called
“For people, not for Politicians!” and the Party of Regions’ programme with
a neutral heading “Stability and Wellbeing”.

The difference is that the OU-PS and party of Regions presented their
programmes and election platforms, while the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc
positions its strategy as “Ukraine’s road map for the 21st century”, the
presented version being just the first draft.

By election day, and probably after it, the party programmes could be
revised, some of them dramatically. For instance, the Party of Regions’
sweetly unpretentious programme could be replaced with an as of yet
unannounced document prepared by Western experts contracted by the
Rinat Akhmetov Fund.

Those few who read it say it provides for a lot of unpopular measures. Some
skeptics argue the document is a rehash of a policy paper written for
Turkey, but, according to our sources, the “Akhmetov” strategy has been
much-admired by the Prime Minister and commended by the President.

We will not discuss here political aspects of the abovementioned party
platform. For the time being, we will abstract our mind from slogans about
“lawful state accountable to citizens” (OU-PS), about regions as “Ukraine’s
spiritual treasury”    and the second official language (you know whose). We
will focus on several key practical social and economic objectives (again,
leaving alone WTO and EU accession and the like).
We need a breakthrough, In principle, the idea is appealing.
You will remember the total shortage of goods, hyperinflation, massive
salary and pension arrears, in-kind wages at the dawn of independence.
Addressing those challenges prevailed in election platforms of the mid and
late 1990s, together with the reactivation of economic growth.

As the economic situation improves the declarative, middle-of-the-road
nature of “ten steps” and similar projects becomes unbearable. We understand
we have to break through, sweeping away all the squalor and sloth in order
for Ukraine to raise in the world development ratings.
Yet is a breakthrough in 12 directions at a time feasible?
If the pipeline breaks though, the answer is, probably, yes. However, when
it comes to social  transformations, the answer is no.

One does not have to be a management expert to understand that setting five
goals at a time will prevent one from reaching at least one of them
effectively.  Political consultants of the leading parties and blocs do not
seem to be discouraged by this fact.

Their method is to embrace as broad an electorate as possible. Hence two
major sections (“Social Success” and “Ukraine, the country of success”) and
11 items of the Party of Regions’ programme “Stability and Wellbeing”.

Hence eight major tasks found in the OU-PS programme “For People, not for
Politicians!”. The YTB development strategy “Ukrainian Breakthrough: to Fair
and Competitive Ukraine” provides for 12 areas of breakthrough .
Social programmes: who jumps higher?
According to the party platforms, we will be breaking through, first and
foremost, in the social sphere. Social policy objectives in all of them are
so ambitious that even rightist parties look like leftist ones.

The presidential “Social Initiatives” (see ZN #25 of 30 June 2007)
underlying the OU-PS election platform, envisioned allocating about three
quarters of the 2007 budget revenue increment (vs the 2006 budget) for
raising salaries and scholarships, maternity allowance and other purposes of
common good.

Surprisingly, the Party of Regions, which never used to be too
socially-oriented, offers almost the same – only in a 2:1 proportion.

According to Borys Kolesnikov who presented the social-and-demographic
section of the party’s election platform together with Raisa Bohatyriova,
about UAH 20 billion out of UAH 30 billion of the incremental budget revenue
will be spent on social programmes.

We have not found any mentioning of exact ratios in the YTB draft strategy,
but its overall leaning towards solidarism and meeting the needs of various
electoral groups allows us to conclude that the bloc attaches great
importance to social issues.  Suffice it to mention the proposal is to raise
the average pension to 80-90% of an average salary.

It may look pleasing to the laymen’s eye but not to the experts’. In
international practice, 70% (including non-state pension fund money) is
considered a very high replacement rate.  Yet given Ukrainian demographic
situation and one-and-a-half-tier pension system presently in place, 80% or
90% is utopia.

Amazingly, the YTB draft strategy contains a provision on  a gradual
abolition of the pay-as-you-go pension system and a transition to basic
pension funding from the sate budget, with a dynamic development of the
mandatory funded pension system (something like the Kazakh pension
reform model that has, eventually, proved highly problematic).

Well, do not let us be faultfinding: a lot of people must have been involved
in drafting the strategy so nobody must have advised Ms Tymoshenko of
this inconsistency.

Thus retired people, whose pensions increased noticeably before and after
the 2004 presidential elections, should not expect much this time. Perhaps,
the party headquarters have decided the issue is not relevant any more.
Perhaps they have realized how insurmountable the challenge of raising
pensions of 14 million people is.

The new topic of the day is helping families with newborns. The amount
required to fulfill even the most generous promises made by the Party of
Regions (subsidies to families with children up to 18 years of age,
irrespective of the family income) is UAH 2 billion.  Not too much but
rewarding, the party leaders believe.

How far will it take us? In June, commenting on the presidential social
initiatives, ZN reported that, in theory, the state could afford a maternity
allowance of UAH 100,000 per baby, in the long-long run. Now, some forty
days later, it looks like the top limit of UAH 100,000 could be reached by
the launch of the 2009 presidential campaign.

In August 2007, two political forces – the Party of Regions and YTB – have
already overcome the psychological barrier of UAH 50,000 in aid to mothers
upon the birth of their third child.

YTB, though, did it during the presentation of their draft “Ukrainian
Breakthrough”, rather than in their official platform. OU-PS is lagging
behind but, most probably, not for long.

The Party of Regions carried their idea of aiding families with children
farthest of all: they pledge to support today’s newborns throughout
childhood, adolescence, student life up to their first job and first
apartment (sic!).

It does not give any details as to the mechanics of providing those
apartments, it is true; but, after all, the format of election platforms
does not envision any particulars, which voter could remember and hold
politicians accountable for breach of promise later on.

Isn’t it high time to address the root causes of the disease rather than its
symptoms? Can’t the party leaders see that neither UAH 50,000 in maternity
allowance nor UAH 100-200 in monthly child support will do the trick?

Of course, young parents in small depressed towns will be happy to have
those subsidies because there are no job opportunities, modern
infrastructure, schools, hospitals, cultural or other amenities there. Yet a
country where labour remuneration funds are  lower than the amount of
social benefits cannot be regarded as a civilized economy.

What is better – a fishing-rod or fish? Civilized countries choose the
former. Experts call on Ukraine for following suit, as young (and no so
young) parents should be given an opportunity to earn a good living for
their families, rather than children allowances, which corrupt recipients
and create disincentives to pursue successful careers.

Alas! Regretful as it might be, the three most potent election players in
Ukraine have not got  cumulative economic expertise or the creativity to go
beyond minimum salaries/pensions/subsistence levels and restoring wage

Despite traditional slogans about decent payment for good work, Ms
Tymoshenko’s revolutionary promises to promote the distribution of a part of
corporate profits among employees, no one seems prepared to take practical
steps towards reforming the labour remuneration system and creating
well-paid jobs in Ukraine.

Is it the parties’ idea of responsible politics, or the course towards
common European values?
Will the mafia stay forever?
The issue is complex and multifaceted, aligned with judicial and regulatory
reform, as well as respect of law in general.  Even those who earn good
money (in Ukrainian terms) have to give it away in order to obtain numerous
permits, “oil” controlling authorities, maintain “relations” with firemen,
tax inspectors, sanitary services, etc.

Charges go up, undermining confidence in the future. Some choose to give
up and go abroad leaving their children in their elderly parent’s care.

“Due enforcement of laws will reduce the scope of “shadow” politics and
economy and facilitate the elimination of corruption,” – the Party of
Regions promises reservedly. “We will establish an anticorruption bureau to
investigate if the top officials’ expenditures match their declared
 incomes,” – assure “Our Ukraine” and “People’s Self-Defence”.

The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc censures corruption most vehemently and

loudly: “The corruption levels have reached their zenith. According to opinion
polls, corrupt practices permeate all bodies of state power. Not only does
corruption generate poverty, but it also impedes efforts to alleviate
poverty. In the final analysis, corruption endangers the very existence of
the nation.”

Drafters of the “Ukrainian Breakthrough” strategy explain available
anticorruption mechanisms. YTB vows, when elected to Parliament, to spare
no effort in combating this evil. However the question is, why wouldn’t it
start right now, for example, by making public procurement procedures more

Why wouldn’t the Party of Regions, Socialists, Communists, “Our Ukraine”
and YTB strike out of their election lists those persons who pushed through
corruption-facilitating amendments to the law on public procurement and who
were engaged in tender schemes inflicting huge losses to the state budget
and enterprises? Their names are known – just read the recent publications
on most popular Ukrainian websites.

Unless the parties do so, their plans to “form political will to fight
corruption” have no chance of being implemented.   The best they can do is
“introduce an effective system of patriotic, moral, psychological, cultural
and aesthetic education of law enforcement personnel” (see Section
“Anticorruption Breakthrough” in the YTB draft strategy).
Pulling in different directions
That Ukrainian politicians cannot and will not listen to one another,
contrive to smear one another not only in talk shows like “Freedom of
 Speech” but also in news programmes, is an established fact. Ukraine has
become internationally known for that.

We will not discuss the country’s tarnished image and foreign direct
investments which, if not dwindle, at least do not grow in such an
environment. Economic policy loses consistency and continuity; business
loses development prospects. In fact, erratic economic policy is more
damaging for the country than no policy at all.

Examples are plenty: the ruling coalition led by the Party of Regions is
finalizing a new draft Tax Code.  However disapproving some experts could
be of the document, it is almost ready and likely to be submitted to the new
Supreme Rada in the autumn. Is there any hope the Party of Regions’ draft
will be adopted?

YTB and its parliamentary faction (which will exist in the Rada) oppose the
idea of preserving VAT – they suggest introducing sale tax instead.

OU-PS stands for simple and clear taxation rules (at present, they are
neither simple nor clear), for sharp reduction in tax benefits, including in
free economic areas, and for corruption-proof VAT levying system. OU-PS
has a trump card in its sleeve – Katerynchuk’s Tax Code, with which a lot of
party members disagree, though.

At this juncture, it is hard to say what the most important national
legislation document on taxation will look like, if it will ever be adopted,
and if it will, if politicians will rewrite it after every election.

They continue to pull Ukraine in different directions like Ivan Krylov’s
fable personages: “Upward strains the swan, towards the skies above; the
crab keeps stepping back; the pike is for the pond”.

A politically concerned citizen could say: “Never mind the Code, at least
for now. The main task is to have a fair and free election and have things
straightened out”. People in the street are sick and tired of this turmoil,
infighting and lack of clarity.

They do not pay their taxes for politicians to toss the national economy
into extremes, setting controversial, sometimes ruinous rules of the game.

Yet the voters can determine neither the election outcome, nor the policy of
the next Rada. The reason is evident – closed election lists and omnipotence
of a handful of party leaders immersed in demagogy and oblivious of the
people’s needs.

Until political parties cleanse themselves of demagogues, dark horses and
dead weight, until their functionaries learn to listen to one another and
cooperate in a meaningful way, no viable long-term social and economic
policy will be developed.

We will continue to rush from innovation-and-investment priorities to social
ones and back; from abolishing free economic areas to restoring and to
abolishing them again; from setting up a non-state pension fund for
employees of state-funded institutions to forgetting all about it.

As for the energy sector, the stance of governments and political forces
changes so rapidly that one can hardly follow it. First we decide to build
an oil pipeline and announce that once it is in place oil will not be a
problem. Then it transpires nobody except us needs the pipeline.

As a result, instead of diversifying oil supplies we get even more dependent
on Russia. We sell our best oil refineries to Russians, and then understand
we have to build a couple of new ones to have at least some influence on the
domestic petrochemical market and fuel prices.

We sell oblast gas and electricity distributing companies for a song, and
then wonder why they, engulfed in cash flows, refuse to settle their debts
to power generating companies and gas suppliers. We “hand in the keys” to
the domestic gas market to strangers and fail to understand why a monopolist
trader dictates its gas prices and supply terms.

Yes, Ivchenko, former RosUkrEnergo lobbyist, is not on the OU-PS election
list but a dozen of its current lobbyists are on the Party of Regions’ list.

Unless the fashion in which state power has been exercised so far changes,
the country will hardly be able to implement the simplest measures that
voters can understand and identify with, such as combating child smoking
and banning massive advertising of alcohol and cigarettes (OU-PS), or
putting an end to the cutting-down of parks in cities.

Will UAH 50,000 of allowance for the third child help to overcome
depopulation if these measures fail? Children need a healthy habitat, in
every meaning of the word. Will we provide them with it?
NOTE: Article has comparisons of various party platforms at the end.

One can this material at
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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Interfax, Moscow, Russia, Saturday, August 11, 2007

MOSCOW – The last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and members of his
family should be recognized as victims of political reprisals, said the
prominent Russian writer and historian Eduard Radzinsky.

The contemporary Russia needs Nicholas II and his family members to be
recognized as victims of political reprisals, and the fact that this has
still not happened cannot be understood or justified, Radzinsky told
Interfax on Saturday.

“Not the Romanovs need this – this no longer matters to them. This is
necessary for those who live now. The Romanovs were not victims of a
judicial error. They were not victims of some bandits. They were victims
of the new authorities, who executed them in line with their new laws,”
Radzinsky said.

“Why should obvious things be subjected to heated debates?” Radzinsky


“Now a court of the country, which is the successor of the USSR, should

rule that either executing them was the right thing to do, or that this was a
result of political repression. This was surely political repression in
relation to the tsar’s family, his doctor, and his servants,” he said.

In Radzinsky’s view, there are enough documents confirming that the tsar’s
family were executed at the new government’s decision.

“Who are those who were executed by the official Soviet authorities? Are
they victims of a judicial error? Or are they victims of bandits? No, they
are victims of the new Soviet authorities. This seems obvious, but at the
same time this looks incredible. It is incredible because we fail to
understand who are those eleven people whom the Soviet power executed
without a trial,” he said.

“It would be very important to declare that the tsar’s family was a victim
of the state. This would be a verdict on decisions of the past,” Radzinsky

The leadership of the international historical, educational, and human
rights protection society Memorial, which, among other things, deals with
the rehabilitation of victims of political reprisals, shares Radzinsky’s
view on the matter.

“We believe that Nicholas Romanov, members of his family, and his retinue,
who were assassinated along with him in Yekaterinburg, are victims of
political reprisals,” Arseny Roginsky, chairman of the Memorial board, told
Interfax on Saturday.

“We don’t see any reasons to deny their rehabilitation. We deem unconvincing
the arguments that some documents are missing. All materials available show
that this was repression based on political motives,” he said.

The Prosecutor General’s office is supposed to make a decision by September
25 regarding a petition from Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna seeking to
recognize members of the last Russian tsar’s family as victims of political

German Lukyanov, a lawyer for the grand duchess, told Interfax that
Moscow’s Tverskoi Court had issued corresponding explanations on Friday.

He said that, in line with the law on the rehabilitation of victims of
political reprisals, the Prosecutor General’s Office should complete its
probe, draw conclusions and, in case of a negative decision, send the case
to court by September 25.

The Prosecutor General’s Office earlier refused to rehabilitate the last
Russian emperor and his family. It recognized that they had been victims of
repression but found no legal grounds for seeking their rehabilitation
through the courts.

“The prosecutor’s office does not have the slightest doubt that Emperor
Nicholas II, his family and closest entourage, were repressed. If the
prosecutor’s office had the slightest legal grounds for taking the matter to
court, this would have been done long ago,” a spokesman for the office said
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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, August 10, 2007

August 8 in Moscow marked the conclusion of a two-week religious
procession that began in Solovki to commemorate the 70th anniversary
of the start of one of the most horrific episodes in Russian history — the
mass Stalinist repressions known as the Great Terror.

The 12-meter wooden cross involved in the procession, specially made from
trees native to the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, was transported
from the Solovetsky Monastery to Moscow by sea and erected on the Butovo
Polygon, where on August 8, 1937, the first mass executions were carried out
by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the secret police
organization responsible for Stalinist political oppression).

During these repressions, tens of thousands of people of different ages,
professions, and convictions lost their lives.

Notably, the official Russian leadership did not in any way express its
observance of this event, except in stories on central television stations
typically describing logistics regarding the making of the cross and its
symbolism in the epoch of Russia’s extraordinary rebirth.
RFE/RL’s Russian Service spoke with Archpriest Kirill Kaleda, deacon of the
Butovo Church, whose grandfather, a priest, was executed here in Butovo in

“For us, people who have entered the 21st century, it is essential to
preserve the memory of those who suffered in the previous, 20th century.
This is necessary especially for us.

“We need to acknowledge these events now, when our society is divided into
various groups, when very often between people there is no mutual
understanding, we need to remind ourselves of this horrible lesson that our
history brought us, so that we can try to find the path to reconciliation,
the path to harmony.”

Those who came to Butovo are primarily the children and grandchildren of
those executed here 70 years ago. This is Galina Ivanovna Priakina, whose
father Ivan Ivanovich Priakin perished here:

“That night 136 people were shot to death with him. Among them was the
Leningrad Archimandrite Vladimir. Prior to execution, they were
photographed, and before being led to the ditch, undressed. My grandfather
was a priest, and father was just a carpenter at the silicate factory in

“He was accused of spying for Romania, but really he was shot to death
because grandfather was a priest. We looked for father for 60 years, and
only three years passed since we found him. Father is recorded in the fifth
volume of the Book of Memory here. The first time I came and saw this
meadow, I really lost consciousness for a moment. How many of them lie

The latest list of 20,000 names is considered incomplete; it is said that
hundreds of thousands were shot to death here.

This is the director of the Butovo Memorial Center, Igor Garkavy: “Possibly,
this isn’t all. But investigating this possibility is constrained by certain
difficulties. We don’t know whether the FSB [Federal Security Service]
archives contain documents about executions that may have taken place here
after 1938.”

Behind the cross lie the ruins of the former commandant’s office, even
earlier the office of the manager of the horse-breeding farm of the village
of Drozhzhino stood here. Today, rumor has it that the cottage belonged to
Lavrenty Beria, Stalin’s chief of police, and his descendants won’t let it
be wiped off the face of the Earth.

This isn’t the case, explains Garkavy: “Here stood the commandant’s office
of the Butovo shooting polygon. Prisoners were brought to this building.
They were announced their verdict and were led away from here to have their
sentences carried out.

“And after the end of the ‘Yezhovschina,’ [the period during which NKVD
leader Nikolai Yezhov brought systematic political repression to
unprecedented heights,] here, next to the graves of their brothers — this
is especially ironic — employees of the MGB [Ministry of State Security,
predecessor of the KGB] set up a sanatorium. Maybe Lavrenty Pavlovich
[Beria] vacationed here himself.”
During these days, mourning ceremonies took place on the Solovetsky Islands.
The center for commemorative events, opened in Medvezhyegorsk and
Sandarmokh, was moved to Solovki, the site of the first Soviet political
concentration camp. Among others, the site was visited by human rights
activist Sergei Kovalyov:

“Never in history since the times of ancient barbarism during the earliest
Middle Ages has there been such absolute contempt, such total disregard for
the value of human life and human freedom, and such deification of the
state. The state in the middle of the 20th century in our country ceased
even to feign public service.

“The state became the metaphysical purpose of the society and of each of its
citizens, the ultimate metaphysical value. We are suffering the traces of
this even now. It’s a very strong legacy.

“We found ourselves in an atmosphere of former officially accepted values.
We are constantly told that we need to remember the heroic triumphs of our
history and to quietly forget the filth and moral depravity of that history.

“This has become the official line, and it’s no accident that our
contemporary sensibility reproduces the basic values of the Stalinist epoch
in a different, somewhat evolved, more sanctimonious form.”

This is a major cause for alarm for many politicians, public
representatives, human rights activists — lessons are not derived from 1937
and other horrible pages of history.

This was discussed in a conversation with Radio Liberty correspondent
Andrei Sharyi by Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky:

“Many representatives of today’s Russian leadership, to whatever extent,
declare themselves to be the successors of that time and that style of

“Besides, one can say about the leadership in all levels of government that
in Russia there is a pseudo-democracy: manipulated justice, manipulated mass
media, manipulated interpretation of laws.

“The reproduction of various mechanisms, for example, the execution of some
economic reorganizations or reforms in this manner, so that everyone who
participated in them is subsequently always under the threat of arrest,
deportation, imprisonment, and punishment. This relates to practically all
of our business.

“Polls show that up to 20 percent of the population is ready to vote for
Stalin for the country’s president, and they excuse what happened back then.

“There obviously needs to be a huge, thorough investigative study, but
besides that, there needs to be a clear unequivocal official identification
of everything that happened then as state crimes, and on the basis of that,
we need to determine how to write textbooks, how to explain history to
schoolchildren and in the universities. Otherwise, sooner or later, this
will lead to repetition of those events in some form or other.”

This was discussed by Dmitry Katayev, former deputy of the Moscow City
Duma, with the host of the program “Facets Of Time,” Vladimir Kara-Murza:

“It’s a disgrace, after all, that in Moscow there still aren’t any
memorials. How many of them are there in the world, in Russia, and in the
former Soviet Union! But there aren’t any in Moscow. There is the Donsky
Monastery, the cemetery, there are three graves of unmarked ashes,
unrecorded in the cemetery records. In one of these are the ashes of my
father, Ivan Katayev, shot to death on August 19, 1937.

I found out that my father was executed on this day only after August 19,
1991, thanks to the Memorial. Here is the Donsky Cemetery, and, of course,
Lubyanskaya Square. Where is the memorial plaque on the KGB building?

“How many were spontaneously shot to death in the basements of this
building? Portraits of [Cheka founder Feliks] Dzerzhinsky hang there, I
know, but there’s no memorial plaque.”

The discussion was joined by president of the foundation Holocaust, former
State Duma Deputy Alla Gerber:

“I was in the FRG [Germany] — there is no city there without a museum about
the history of the Nazi party, about repressions, about concentration camps.
Children are taken there.

“But here recently at a convention of historians, [President] Vladimir
Vladimirovich Putin said that we don’t have any complex of guilt. ‘Why are
we feeling so bad about our past?’ he said, ‘we didn’t have any
concentration camps.’ Maybe he forgot about Gulag? Anything can happen

What happened, for example, with [imprisoned oligarch] Mikhail Khodorkovsky
was purely a political process. The fact that scientists are periodically
put behind bars, that many journalists are periodically stripped of their
right to work in their profession. The fact that this is happening now —
it’s already a danger.”
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