Monthly Archives: September 2007

AUR#873 Sep 28 Will Political Deadlock Be Broken?; Orange-Blue Divide; Rivals Show Unity; Populist Card; No Promise Of Change; Who Lost Ukraine?

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

Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer
Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
Return to Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article
The Orange Revolution parties, mired in infighting, reached an impasse with
pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, spurring emergency elections.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Friday, September 28, 2007
Similar to the red-blue political split in the US, it has brought the
government to a standstill – forcing emergency elections Sunday.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Friday, September 28, 2007


Vakarchuk defends Orange Revolution ideals, asks people to be patient
Kostis Geropoulos, New Europe Issue 749
Brussels, Belgium, Wed, 26 September 2007

Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

By Ron Popeski, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Thu Sep 27, 2007

Daniel McLaughlin in Lviv, Ukraine, Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland, Irish Times, Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

Country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls.
Commentary: By Bruce P. Jackson, The Daily Standard

Washington, D.C. Thursday, September 27, 2007

By Roman Olearchyk and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, September 27, 2007

Analysis: By Jim Davis, Business Ukraine magazine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 24, 2007

By Conor Humphries, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

Commentary: Peter Dickinson, Business Ukraine magazine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 24, 2007

Associated Press (AP), Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Sep 27 2007

By Jan Maksymiuk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, September 27, 2007


Feature: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 27 September 2007

‘September 30 Elections Vital to Advancing Democracy’
U.S. Helsinki Commission, Washington, D.C., Mon, Sep 24, 2007


October 16-17, 2007, Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC
Steering Committee, Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood
Roundtable VIII, Ukraine-EU Relations,
New York, New York, Friday, September 28, 2007

17ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE: ORANGE OR BLUE?, Brussels, Belgium, Thu, 27 Sep 2007

Ukrainians can expect the discord to continue
By Jan Maksymiuk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, September 27, 2007

Briefing: Oxford Business Group, London, UK, Tue, 25 Sep 2007

Analysis & Commentary: By Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

Analysis: By Yaroslav Varyvoda, UCIPR project expert
“Civic Education in the 2007 Parliamentary Elections”.
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 17, 2007
By Sebastian Smith, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday September 27, 2007
Commentary: Andrei Levkin,, Moscow, Russia, Thu, Sep 27, 2007
Real test for Ukraine’s warring parties will come after this weekend’s election
The Economist print edition, London, UK, Thu, Sep 27, 2007
Commentary: Samuel Charap, International Herald Tribune (IHT)
Paris, France, Thursday, September 27, 2007
Political problems run deeper than another set of elections can possibly fix.
Analysis and Commentary: by Ivan Lozowy, Transitions Online (TOL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov discusses the early parliamentary
election on Sunday, the unfulfilled promise of the Orange Revolution
and the real powerbrokers in Ukraine.
Opinion: By Andrey Kurkov, Ukrainian Novelist
Der Spiegel Online magazine, Germany, Thu, Sep 27, 2007
By Stefan Korshak, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The Orange Revolution parties, mired in infighting, reached an impasse with
pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, spurring emergency elections.

By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Friday, September 28, 2007

LVOV, Ukraine – A little thrill swept through the thousands assembled on
Lvov’s main square when Yulia Tymoshenko, dressed in a flowing pink robe
and her hair in her trademark peasant braids, took the stage.

To warm up, the heroine of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” sang a patriotic
song with one of the country’s top rock groups.

Then she launched into a passionate, 85-minute speech to convince skeptics
that Ukraine remains on the path to democracy and integration with the West,
despite the past three years of debilitating political crisis.

A victory for her Fatherland Party (BYuT) in this Sunday’s emergency
parliamentary elections could bring a breakthrough, she insisted. “I will do
what needs to be done, I promise you that,” she said, to scattered applause.

Ms. Tymoshenko is not alone in billing this campaign as a battle for
Ukraine’s soul, between the Western-leaning Orange parties led by herself
and President Viktor Yushchenko, and the pro-Russian “Blue” Party of
Regions headed by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

But some voters say they’re exhausted, and increasingly skeptical, because
this is Ukraine’s fourth election in less than three years, and most surveys
suggest the lineup in the 450-seat Supreme Rada is unlikely to change.

“It’s impossible not to feel disillusioned,” says Nikolai Zhupylo, a social
psychologist with the independent Socionika Center in Lvov. “There is a
growing part of the population that will never again be interested in
politics. Now people are more concerned with solving their own personal

All surveys taken in early September, before a ban on publishing preelection
polls came into effect, put Mr. Yanukovich’s party in the lead with about a
third of the votes.

Tymoshenko’s BYuT comes second with up to 23 percent, while Mr.
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine coalition trails with under 15 percent. Of 20 or
so small parties in the running, only the Communists appear poised to hurdle
the 3 percent barrier for winning seats in the Rada.
Recent elections in Ukraine have been deemed clean and fair by international
observers, but concern about voter fraud – thought to have been banished by
the pro-democracy Orange Revolution – have resurfaced during the current

Under Ukraine’s election system, voters cast their ballots for a national
party rather than a locally-based candidate. Thus, authorities in the
heavily Orange west and Blue east have inducements to maximize their party’s
showing by any means possible.

“Half of Ukraine supports Orange, and the other half Blue, so a tiny
additional margin added by cheating could make all the difference,” says
Roman Koshovi, Lvov chairman of the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, an
independent monitoring group. “The temptation to fix some ballots will be
very strong on all sides.”

Last week Ukraine’s SBU security service, which is controlled by Yushchenko,
accused regional authorities in the eastern region of Kharkov of registering
almost 100,000 nonexistent persons on the voter rolls.

Tymoshenko has alleged that recent amendments to election laws introduced by
Yanukovich’s government could deprive more than 1 million Ukrainians of
their right to vote and enable corrupt local authorities to stuff ballot
boxes. “Ukraine is again facing the threat of massive falsification,” she

All three big political parties are already pitching tents and positioning
supporters on Kiev’s central Maidan square – where the Orange Revolution
unfolded – in order to launch mass protests if Sunday’s results show any
suspicious gains for either side.

To avoid such turmoil, Ukraine’s nongovernmental groups intend to carry out
four separate nationwide exit polls, and the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe has sent 600 election observers to monitor the
Many Ukrainians blame Yushchenko for fumbling the opportunity handed to him
by the Orange Revolution, which vaulted him into power with a mandate to
introduce sweeping market reforms, take Ukraine into NATO and prepare it for
eventual membership in the European Union.

Instead, the Orange coalition dissolved as Yushchenko quarrelled with, then
fired, Prime Minister Tymoshenko. Parliamentary polls last year brought
Yanukovich back as president. Most of the time since has been consumed with
infighting between president and parliament.

Though Ukraine’s economy boasts an estimated growth rate of 7 percent this
year, reforms are on hold pending resolution of the political deadlock.

A recent survey by the Kiev-based Institute of Social and Political
Psychology found that corruption is rampant, with over half of Ukrainians
reporting that they regularly pay bribes to officials to get things done.

“A lot of public money is supposedly directed at fixing up this city’s
infrastructure, but the results suggest that much of that money just goes
missing,” says Igor Gulik, editor of the liberal daily Lvivskaya Gazeta in
If the Orange and Blue forces are evenly matched, experts say, much will
depend on the ability of the fiery Orange populist, Tymoshenko, to cobble
together a large enough parliamentary coalition to become prime minister; if
not, the pro-Moscow technocrat Yanukovich is likely to return.

Both rivals of Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yanukovich are already angling
for the main prize: to unseat him when the next presidential polls roll
around in 2009. Some experts suggest that it might be better to get that over

with sooner.

“I don’t see the outcome of these elections solving Ukraine’s crisis of
power,” says Anatoly Romaniuk, a political scientist at Ivan Franko
University in Lvov. “If the crisis deepens, it will push Ukraine toward
early presidential elections, and that might provide a clear resolution and
a way forward.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Similar to the red-blue political split in the US, it has brought the
government to a standstill – forcing emergency elections Sunday.

By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Friday, September 28, 2007

It’s similar to the red-blue political divide in America – except it’s
orange-blue. And there’s a much longer history behind it.

Ukraine’s bitter west-east schism is reflected in the political deadlock
between its “Orange” and Blue parties that has nearly paralyzed the state
for the past year.

As the country of 50 million heads into parliamentary elections Sunday
intended to break the stalemate, the two sides remain separated by language,
religious traditions, societal histories, and geopolitical preferences. Some
analysts suggest that, given such divisions, political standoffs could
perpetually reoccur.

According to the independent Kiev International Institute of Sociology,
people in Ukraine’s eight western provinces, who make up about a quarter of
the electorate, are eight times more likely to vote for the “Orange” parties
headed by President Viktor Yushchenko and former Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko, which stand for integrating with the European Union, joining
NATO, and keeping Moscow at a distance.

In the three eastern provinces, also containing a quarter of the electorate,
people are eight times more likely to vote for the “Blue” Party of Regions,
headed by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, which wants to make Russian
the second official language, forge closer economic ties with Russia and
stay out of NATO.

“The electoral forces supporting the two sides are almost equal, ensuring
that any parliamentary majority will be small and fragile,” says Oleksander
Shushko, an analyst with the independent Institute for Euro-Atlantic
Integration in Kiev.

“These deep divisions in the country ensure that the political standoff will
keep returning, and the best way to deal with it is to hold more elections.”
The western part of Ukraine, known as Galicia, was part of the Catholic
states of Austria-Hungary and Poland for hundreds of years before Soviet
dictator Joseph Stalin forcibly annexed it to the Soviet Union after World
War II. Decades of brutal Soviet repression have left powerful anticommunist
and anti-Russian feelings that still linger here.

Oleksandr Gumeniuk is a veteran of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which
fought a desperate guerrilla war against Soviet forces in the forested
Carpathian mountains near here – with covert help from the US – for more
than 10 years after the end of World War II.

Though the USSR vanished 16 years ago, Mr. Gumeniuk and a dwindling
handful of survivors from that shadowy conflict remain one of the most
explosive issues on a list of flashpoints that profoundly divide Ukrainians
and have kept the country in a state of rolling political crisis for the
past several years.

While many here in the Ukrainian-speaking, nationalist west think the
anti-Soviet veterans should be given military pensions and treated as
Ukrainian patriots, their demands provoke fury in the heavily Russified east
of Ukraine, where most accepted Soviet rule and millions served in the Red

“Ukrainian independence today is a direct consequence of our struggle,” says
Gumeniuk, head of a local veterans’ group, who was captured by the Soviet
secret police and spent 12 years in a Siberian prison camp after the war.
“We just want to be recognized. History should record that we fought for
Ukraine’s freedom.”

Three years ago, when news came that then-presidential candidate Mr.
Yanukovich of the Blue side may have stolen the election from the Orange
champion Viktor Yushchenko, thousands of people in Lvov boarded buses and
headed for the capital, Kiev, to protest.

“I was one of the first to arrive in Kiev, and the streets were already full
of people passionately supporting Yushchenko,” says Anatoly Romaniuk, a
political scientist at Ivan Franko University in Lvov. “For many of us, it
was the moment when we would finally begin to build a truly independent and
democratic Ukraine.”

The Greek-Catholic Church, an amalgam of Orthodox rites and Catholic dogma
that was banned during Soviet times has since revived, now holding the
allegiance of more than half of religious believers in western Ukraine, says
Andriy Yurash, a religion specialist at Lvov State University.

Along with two Ukraine-based Orthodox sects, the Greek-Catholic Church came
out in full support of the Orange Revolution. “During the Orange Revolution
the church held daily services in the main square of Lvov to pray for its
success,” says Mr. Yurash.

In Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, the predominant Russian Orthodox
Church, which is led by the patriarch in Moscow, opposed the Orange
Revolution and has given its official blessing to Yanukovich in the current

“It is gradually becoming clear to us that this split between east and west
Ukraine has very deep civilizational roots and will not be easily overcome –
if ever,” says Yurash.

Though Mr. Yushchenko was vaulted into the presidency in fresh elections
following the Orange Revolution, the hope that he might find ways to heal
Ukraine’s divisions has fizzled out amid squabbling in the Orange camp and
persistent political crisis.

Following parliamentary polls last year, Yanukovich’s party came roaring
back with a plurality of the Supreme Rada’s 450 seats and, after a lengthy
Blue versus Orange struggle, a dispirited Yushchenko was compelled to name
Yanukovich prime minister. Opinion surveys suggest the current elections may
do little more than reproduce the same lineup.

Some experts fear popular exhaustion with democracy may play into the hands
of extremists, such as the radical nationalist Svoboda party, whose support
is growing rapidly around Lvov, or the old-line Communist Party, which is
still strong in the east.

Ruslan Koshulinsky, Svoboda’s deputy chairman, says people in Lvov
increasingly want to see the half-hearted measures of Yushchenko and
Tymoshenko swept aside.

“In a spiritual sense, we are still under Russian occupation,” he says. “We
respect freedom, but steps must be taken to unite the [Ukrainian] ethos, or
we will never be independent.”

But, surprisingly, some of the toughest characters from Ukraine’s tragic
past insist that the only route to salvation lies through compromise and

“In other parts of Europe people who were on opposite sides of the
barricades in civil conflicts have long since shaken hands and moved on,”
says Gumeniuk. “When is it going to happen here?”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Vakarchuk defends Orange Revolution ideals, asks people to be patient

Kostis Geropoulos, New Europe Issue 749
Brussels, Belgium, Wed, 26 September 2007

As tired Ukrainians voters go to the polls on September 30 for the fourth
time in three years, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, front singer of the Ukrainian
band Okean Elzy, who is also on the list of Our Ukraine bloc (Nasha
Ukrayina), told New Europe “the main task of Ukraine is to unite everybody
no matter what the colour of flag they have” to avoid another political
stalemate after the parliamentary election.

What Ukraine needs is young blood in politics, he said. “In the nearest past
we saw that some political leaders do not treat agreements between different
parties as something saint. Today they sign it, tomorrow they resign, after
that the sign it one more time.

“That is the morality of the politicians and it’s not a problem of one
party; it’s a problem of this generation of politicians,” he said in Athens
on September 24, the first stop of his musical tour titled “Ya yidu do domu”
(I’m going home).

“At this time I don’t see a great difference between politicians in all the
political camps. And that’s why our task is to take to the politics new
coming leaders who will solve this problem and unite all the people no
matter on what language they speak, no matter on what church they go, no
matter what historical past they had. We are all Ukrainians and we need to
be united,” Vakarchuk said.

The leading band singer and ardent ‘Orange’ supporter was one of the first
people to gather with thousands of young Ukrainians in Kiev’s Maidan Square
during the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Despite the mistakes of ‘Orange’ teams and people’s disappointment in the
following years, Vakarchuk defended the ideals of the Orange Revolution.

“The lessons of history teach us the revolutions never yield immediate
results. We have many, many examples where at first the revolutions were
treated by people as a panacea for all problems but then came some

“It was the same in Ukraine with the Orange revolution. Certainly your
demands for the revolution are very high and then, if it doesn’t work out,
you are disappointed, but what I think is that in spite of this
disappointment, we have done a great job because the mentality begun to
change. Before that we were a typical post-Soviet society.

“That was a society partly breaking the rules of the Soviet country, but not
breaking the Soviet mood. And after the Orange Revolution, people began to
understand that from this time they were the masters of their future and
that is very, very important and that may be the main goal of the

“Talking about political and economic changes, they certainly don’t come
immediately after the revolution,” Vakarchuk said.

“Now we have this unstable situation. That is why we have different
elections because there is internal fight in Ukraine for the future.”

The Okean Elzy singer laughed when New Europe pointed out that during a

July journalists’ trip to Ukraine a 75-year-old woman, Maria Tsymbal, in the
village of Viktorivka, said she would vote for the Yulia Timoshenko bloc
because of its leader’s notorious hairstyle.

“Yes, people like leaders. It’s normal for every country,” he said. “But the
problem is that sometimes the parties give you the same things in their
programmes. The problem is not that people don’t know the content of these
problems, the problem is this content is the same.”

He said that Regions Party, Yulia Timoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine block, are
more-or-less centrist parties with left or right leaning tendencies. He said
that unlike Europe there is also a second dimension in addition to right or
left and that is pro-European or pro-Russian.

Vakarchuk said the party he supports, Our Ukraine, wants to build a strong
country that participates in European structures. He explained that while

most Ukrainians are familiar with the EU, they are confused over NATO.

“About the EU they are more certain. About NATO the situation is even funny
because if you ask them: ‘Do you like NATO?’ They say, ‘no.’ But if you ask
them: ‘Do you like North Atlantic Treaty?’ Sometimes they say, ‘yes.'”

He said the issue of NATO in Ukraine is very complicated. “Firstly, there
were 50 years of Soviet propaganda. It’s absolutely normal that for Soviet
people who were born at that time NATO was treated like an enemy.

“It was the same thing like for Americans when the Warsaw Treaty was treated
like an enemy. It is normal. But after 1991 what happened?

In some countries like the three Baltic countries or Central European
countries like Poland or the Czech Republic the propaganda stopped and
people were allowed to have a lot of information about then real situation
in the North Atlantic Treaty and that’s why in some years after that they
managed to take the right decision,” Vakarchuk explained.

“In our country we have lack of information about NATO. It doesn’t matter if
the information negative or positive but there is a lack and people do not
know different things.

“Sometimes I have meetings with students…and I ask them a question: Do you
know if the NATO forces are present in Iraq or not? And 95 percent of
students with high education, they think that NATO is present in Iraq as an
organisation. Only five percent thinks that is not.

“And when I say to them that they are absolutely incorrect and only the
United States separately or British armies are present there and not NATO
they are very surprised.

“If students are surprised, imagine other people…We are not ready for a
professional discussion. We need to have much more time top learn about
NATO. But it is very strategic thing about Ukraine.”

Regarding the EU, Vakarchuk told New Europe it is not as controversial from
the point of view of Ukrainian structure. “European Union is clear because
it is a union of economic and political union of western countries,” he

He noted that joining the EU and NATO are fundamentals of Ukraine’s foreign
policy. “This discussion needs to be treated as a civilisation choice.

“That’s why I think the first problem for us is the problem of NATO and only
the second is the problem of the European Union because we are very far from
the European Union.

“I’m absolutely honest and clear about that and it’s not a question of some
politicians from Europe like (EU External Relations Commissioner) Benita
Ferrero-Waldner or somebody else who need to say to us that it is an unreal

“We need to understand it ourselves…We are Europeans and that’s why we
need to solve such unpleasant problems like visa problems,” he said.

He lashed out at western embassies denying Ukrainians visas for convenient
excuse. “In our country some people are very angry about what some embassies
of European Union countries do, especially Schengen countries about visa.
Sometimes the behaviour of these embassies is not the behaviour of
 partners,” Vakarchuk said, adding that the EU should step up and solve this

He stressed that it is in the interest of the whole Europe to have a strong
Ukraine. “Europe must be interested in a strong Ukraine and if somebody is
not interested, it’s because of internal European problems and when Europe
will be absolutely strong by itself, the next step will be to take Ukraine
in,” he said.

Regarding relations with Russia, Vakarchuk said Moscow often tries to use
gas prices to influence Ukraine. “It concerns not only Ukraine, it concerns
all of Europe especially Eastern and Central Europe,” he said.

“In the highest level, Russian politicians they don’t accept the 100 percent
independence of Ukraine. They understand the political independence of
Ukraine because they understand that the time has come and we are a separate
country. But they do not want to accept the whole independence.

“That is why they try to influence us with economic rules, but the stronger
they do it, the stronger we become. I’m very happy that two years ago Russia
gave us market prices for the gas because the earlier they do it the earlier
we will become stronger and we manage to do something without these
dictations,” he said.

The Okean Elzy lead singer downplayed concerns about divisions between
Ukraine’s east and west. “We are an ethnical country,” he said. “Other
problems are historical and maybe sometimes political but these problems can
be solved with the help of new leaders,” he said.

And the Ukrainians are going to the polls this Sunday to do just that!
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

KIEV, Ukraine – President Viktor Yushchenko and sometimes ally Yulia
Tymoshenko called for unity Thursday, staging a televised meeting just days
before Ukraine’s crucial parliamentary elections.

The two politicians, who joined forces during the tumultuous 2004 Orange
Revolution, have repeatedly indicated they are trying to mend fences.

Top officials with their political parties had agreed that whichever of
their two parties won the most votes in Sunday’s election would name the
prime minister.

In an apparent effort to woo liberal-leaning voters, Yushchenko warmly
greeted Tymoshenko and he tenderly kissed her hand in the televised meeting.
“We have only one option and that is forming a democratic coalition,”
Yushchenko said.

Polls have suggested a three-way split among the country’s main parties,
raising the prospect of protracted coalition talks.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, along with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych,

are all calling for changes in the constitution to break the political

The pro-Western Yushchenko and the more Russian-leaning Yanukovych have

been wrestling for dominance since 2004, when Yushchenko led the Orange
Revolution – massive street protests denouncing fraud during the
presidential election in which Yanukovych was initially declared the winner.

The Supreme Court threw out the results, and Yushchenko won a rerun.
Tymoshenko became his prime minister until he fired her in 2005 amid
widespread disillusionment.

In March 2006, Yanukovych’s party gained the most seats in parliamentary
elections, propelling him back into the prime minister’s post and ushering
in a Cabinet that has opposed Yushchenko and brought forth the current
political paralysis.

Despite Thursday’s meeting and their similar politics, it remains unclear
whether the fragile relationship between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko will

In a statement released earlier by Yushchenko’s press service, he again
conjured the image of the Orange Revolution and the thousands of protesters
jamming Kiev’s Independence Square in calling for solidarity with his former

“All the forces of democracy, including those that stood shoulder to
shoulder on Independence Square have drawn serious conclusions from

our most  recent history,” Yushchenko said according to the press service.

The task “we’re faced with today is to send a clear signal to the people
that the democrats are ready to act together and to implement national
priorities together.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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By Ron Popeski, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Thu Sep 27, 2007

KIEV – President Viktor Yushchenko, newly reconciled with “Orange
Revolution” heroine Yulia Tymoshenko, embraced her on Thursday and urged
liberals to set aside past quarrels and unite to win a weekend parliamentary

The early election on Sunday is intended to end months of political deadlock
pitting Yushchenko against the rival he defeated in the 2004 upheaval, Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Yushchenko was shown on television embracing Tymoshenko, the prime minister
he sacked from his first “orange” government, and making it plain she could
return to office if voters returned an “orange” majority.

“We have only one option and that is forming a democratic coalition. Period.
And I mean period,” Yushchenko said.

The “orange” camp, he said, had to “agree on an effective and fast policy
for people … so that voters understand that victory would justify all
their expectations.”

Hoarse and sporting her trademark braid, Tymoshenko looked moved. She

said the alliance was a logical step after the 2004 rallies when they stood
together in Kiev’s Independence Square.

“What we started together in the square was only the beginning,” she said.
“It is certain the democratic forces will win … I support your thinking
300 percent.”

Sunday’s election is certain to produce a close finish and spawn long,
difficult negotiations to form a stable majority in the 450-seat assembly
able to form a government.

Polls put Yanukovich’s Regions Party, its support based in Russian-speaking,
eastern Ukraine, in the lead with 30 percent support. His communist allies
are also likely to win seats.
But the combined tally of “orange” groups – Tymoshenko’s bloc followed by
the pro-presidential Our Ukraine party – is right behind, backed in the
nationalist west and the centre.

No other group among 20 on the ballot is likely to clear 3 percent of the
popular vote to enter parliament. Some polls give an outside chance to a
bloc led by a centrist former parliamentary speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Yanukovich, blunt in addressing crowds, denounces Tymoshenko as reckless
while sparing the president from criticism.

On Wednesday, he told television viewers in eastern Ukraine: “Everything
that happened after the Orange Revolution has been a nightmare … It is
clear to us that the orange hordes want once again to use their populism to
dupe the Ukrainian people.”

Both Yanukovich and Tymoshenko plan mass rallies in central Kiev for Friday,
the final day of campaigning.

Yushchenko took office in early 2005 after mass pro-Western “orange”
protests helped overturn a rigged presidential poll initially won by
Yanukovich, backed at the time by Russia.

He appointed Tymoshenko prime minister and embarked on an ambitious plan to
move Ukraine closer to the West. But the two fell out and she was dismissed
within eight months.

Yanukovich rebounded to become prime minister after his party took first
place in last year’s election, leaving advocates of the revolution divided
and disillusioned.

Yushchenko dissolved parliament and called the election after accusing
Yanukovich of an illegal power grab.

This campaign has removed nearly all distinctions of orientation towards
Moscow or the West. Both sides pledge to uphold national interests and boost
living standards.

Yanukovich, whose government presided over growth of 7.1 percent in 2006,
describes himself as pro-European.

Many analysts, remembering four months of coalition talks after last year’s
election, suggest Yushchenko may opt for a “broad coalition” between Our
Ukraine and the prime minister’s party to bridge Ukraine’s east-west gap.

Tymoshenko denounces such a pact as “betrayal” and the president backed

away from the notion as the campaign closed.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Daniel McLaughlin in Lviv, Ukraine, Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland, Irish Times, Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

UKRAINE: Beneath the broad trees that line Lviv’s main boulevard, the old
men played on, regardless. Nothing interrupted their chess or their
dominoes: not the falling chestnuts that bounced around them nor the sensory
bombardment of a Yulia Tymoshenko campaign rally.

At one end of the boulevard stands Lviv’s grand opera house, at the other,
the square that was taken over yesterday by Tymoshenko’s final appeal to
voters in her western Ukrainian stronghold to deliver victory in Sunday’s
general election.

If the old men had looked up from their games, they would have seen a huge
stage flanked by screens and loudspeakers, fluttering banners and booths
handing out Yulia merchandise to all – from toddlers to pensioners – in this
city of 650,000 people.

Her party’s symbol, a red heart on a white backdrop, was everywhere, on
flags, T-shirts, stickers, postcards, balloons and, until a tousled rocker
in a white suit appeared to warm up the crowd, it was displayed on screens
that glowed through the mist.

Tymoshenko would cut a striking figure on any political scene, let alone the
turgid post-Soviet stage, and she has presence to match her looks.

Her speech in Lviv, delivered in a voice husky from weeks on the hustings,
was clear, impassioned and witty, in contrast to the dry and sometimes
dithering efforts of President Viktor Yushchenko and the monotonous drone of
prime minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Tymoshenko focused on deriding Yanukovich’s Regions Party – which leads
opinion polls on the back of overwhelming support in largely
Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine – and calling for a ruling alliance with
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party.

“With one voice, we must vote against this anti-Ukrainian party, these
anti-Ukrainian politicians,” said Tymoshenko of the bloc led by Yanukovich,
who capitalised on disputes among his rivals to bounce back from defeat in
the 2004 “Orange Revolution”.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were at loggerheads after he fired her from the
post of prime minister and eventually accepted Yanukovich as her
replacement – but she vowed yesterday to do her utmost to forge a working
alliance with the president.

She also vehemently denounced suggestions that Yushchenko’s party could form
a “grand coalition” with the Regions Party, something she said would be a
betrayal of the Orange Revolution, which overturned Yanukovich’s fraudulent
election “victory”.

Tymoshenko attributed the orange team’s shambolic post-revolution efforts to
govern to “too much political optimism and romanticism”, but asked for
another chance with an imprecation for “everyone who loves Ukraine to unite
as one team”.

However, as dozens of white- and-red balloons swirled up over Lviv, and
Tymoshenko waved her goodbyes, many people left for home still weary of
Ukraine’s politics.

“We were all for Yushchenko and Tymoshenko in 2004, but nothing improved,”
said Roman (44) who refused to give his surname.

“Our politicians promise everyone the earth but, when they get power, they
just squabble among themselves.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls.

COMMENTARY: By Bruce P. Jackson, The Daily Standard

Washington, D.C. Thursday, September 27, 2007

THIS SUNDAY’S parliamentary election in Ukraine shares at least one thing in
common with next year’s Presidential election in the United States. During
overlong campaigns, in the parade of political personalities and the
blizzard of distortions and half truths, it is nearly impossible to remember
what either election is all about.

Although our candidates use the campaign to show off what they imagine to
be their attractive qualities (toughness, trustworthiness, and often only
good looks), the 2008 American election is about the foreign policy crisis
which this country has entered.

Basically, the average American is questioning his country’s role and
purpose in international politics. The war in Iraq is the proximate cause of
this loss of national self-confidence, but the underlying question of what
the United States should do and not do both at home and abroad has been
simmering since the end of the Cold War.

In a nutshell, our Presidential debate is between those who think the United
States is like Winston Churchill’s England in 1940: beleaguered, but brave
and fundamentally on the right side of history.

And others who think the United States should come to resemble Sweden;
well-adjusted, graciously multi-lateral, and content to spend more time at
home. But you would never know that to listen to our candidates this year.

In Ukraine, it is even harder to identify what underlying question will be
addressed in the upcoming election.

Some of the confusion lies in the truly staggering amount of political
shouting and personal vitriol which passes for campaigning in Ukraine, but
the fact that the elections were triggered by presidential fiat and not by a
constitutional schedule further confused the issue.

And none of Ukraine’s candidates have gone very far out of their way to
explain to the voters how complex and difficult the challenges any
government in Kiev will face are.

Various theories have been advanced to explain the prolonged political
crisis in Ukraine, all of them at best partially true and most completely

[1] The original explanation was that Ukraine’s frequent, indecisive
elections were part of the process of building a Ukrainian nation.

While there may be some superficial truth to the perception that people from
Lvov, Odessa, and Dnipropetrovs’k are not overly fond of each other,
everyone believes (even politicians) they are part of a Ukrainian nation and
are fiercely patriotic.

[2] About a year ago, a second theory appeared which held that the elections
would be a decision on whether Ukraine would be a pro-Russian state or a
pro-European state. This theory is demonstrably false and intentionally

The culture and history that Ukraine shares with Russia is a matter of
historical fact, and history cannot be rewritten by election or referendum.
Similarly, the intimacy of Ukraine’s relations with Europe is established by
history, geography, and shared economic interest.

Ukraine will always be close to and independent of both Russia and Europe,
and there is nothing any of Ukraine’s parties can do about it. We can be
confident that this election is not about violating the iron laws of

[3] The final theory and the one with the greatest following today is that
this parliamentary election is about political stability, and there is some
truth to this. We all hope that the next government of Ukraine can, well . .
. govern.

The government of Yulia Timoshenko performed poorly on the economy and was
dismissed after only seven months. The government of Victor Yanukovich did
better on the economy and joining the WTO, but failed to maintain the trust
of its coalition partners and was also dismissed.

Indeed so many ministers, judges, and parliaments have been dismissed since
2004, only Khmelnytskyy still holds his original position on St. Sofia

Certainly, Sunday’s election is about political stability, but stability is
only a condition, not an objective. It seems to me that for the Ukrainian
voter the choice of the next prime minister and the coalition that provides
his government a political mandate is fundamentally a choice about Ukraine’s
economic future.

Ukraine is on the threshold of entering the World Trade Organization, which
is the gateway to the global economy. Europe is prepared for the first time
in at least a century to consider opening a free trade zone with Ukraine,
something the European Union did with Turkey 40 years ago.

Moving Ukraine into international markets and opening European markets for
Ukrainian goods would make a far greater difference for the average family
in Ukraine than the distant possibility of NATO membership or whether
Ukraine’s bureaucrats speak Ukrainian or Russian or both.

Today, major Russian companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange,
where they can attract investment and raise capital. No major Ukrainian
company is listed on any European or American exchange.

Over the last ten years, Ukraine has attracted a small fraction of the
foreign direct investment its neighbors, Poland and Slovakia, were able to
bring in. This factor alone has curtailed growth, depressed salaries and
cost Ukrainian workers job security.

In a few short years, students and workers from the Baltics, Poland, the
Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria will travel freely
throughout the European Union and the United States without visas.

But the next generation of Ukrainian students will be denied these
educational opportunities, and its workers will be prohibited from
exercising the mobility of their labor.

As a result, over the next generation, Ukrainian families will be
significantly poorer than they should be–unless, of course, the next
government in Kiev gets serious and gets to work.

These are the stakes on Sunday. The Ukrainian voters have to choose the
party list which they believe will best be able to get their wives and
husbands and children out of the economic trap into which Ukraine and

all of Eastern Europe fell after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Much of the campaign ignored the issues that affect the lives of ordinary
citizens: jobs, education, and growth.

The real question that will or at least should be decided on Sunday is who
is most capable of driving through the economic reforms and opening the
international markets that are essential if the sons and daughters of
Ukraine are to prosper in the 21st century.
Bruce P. Jackson is President of the Project on Transitional Democracies,
a bi-partisan non-profit organization based in Washington, DC.

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

By Roman Olearchyk and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, September 27, 2007

When Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s prime minister, hits the Black Sea port
of Odessa in the last days of campaigning before Sunday’s parliamentary
elections, the crowd greets him with cheers, applause and a mass of blue

President Victor Yushchenko has called elections early, only 18 months after
the last parliamentary vote, to try to resolve his bitter three-year power
struggle with Mr Yanukovich.

Speaking in the city’s Greek square, Mr Yanukovich urges voters to reject
his two main rivals: Mr Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, the firebrand
ex-prime minister, who together led the 2004 Orange Revolution.

His voice hoarse after weeks of speech-making, he says: “We need to unite
and once and for all say No to this Orange horde. . . . to wipe them out of

The 3,000 supporters respond with a shout. But all is not what it seems.
Prominent among those with the blue flags of Mr Yanukovich’s Regions party
are students who say they were paid to attend.

Alongside stand elderly people transported from the countryside, happy to
participate in ex­change for a day out. The Regions party denies mak­ing
such payments, saying the claims are “black PR”.

On the same day as Mr Yanukovich’s campaign, hundreds of students and rural
pensioners are gathered outsi de Odessa’s Opera house waving orange flags to
welcome Mr Yushchenko.

The students at both events say the going rate is $10 – quite an incentive
in a country where the average wage is less than $200 a month. Mr
Yushchenko’s bloc made no comment about the alleged payments.

The Russian-speaking city of Odessa has in the past been a hotbed of support
for Mr Yanukovich but years of pol­itical infighting have caused voters to
become disillusioned and apathetic.

Odessa is a significant city for election candidates, with a population of
1m against Ukraine’s overall 46m, an estimated 20m-25m of whom vote.

Across Ukraine, politicians are struggling to generate enthusiasm. Voters
are not only jaded by three years of political turmoil but also frustrated
with business oligarchs manipulating politicians, and angry that rapid
economic growth is not, as they see it, benefiting ordinary people.

Back in Kiev, however, pre-election tensions rose this week. In an apparent
attempt to emulate the Orange Revolution of 2004, Mr Yanukovich’s party took
control of Kiev’s main square, setting up tent camps guarded by hundreds of
supporters to protest against electoral fraud.

Opinion polls, however, suggest Mr Yanukovich’s Regions party could still
win 30-35 per cent of the vote and remain the largest parliamentary

Mr Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine People’s Self Defence bloc is fighting hard to
retain the 14 per cent it won last year but may be losing support to Ms
Tymoshenko, who could see the share of her party, BYuT, rise to 25-27 per

She is concentrating her attacks on Mr Yanukovich, hoping to use electoral
success to secure the prime ministership and persuade the president to
recreate the Orange alliance.

Ukraine’s political landscape reflects an east-west divide. Mr Yanukovich, a
former lorry driver, hails from the industrialised east, where support is
stronge st for close ties with Moscow, for caution in relations with the
west and for wider official use of the Russian language alongside Ukrainian.

Mr Yushchenko, a former central banker, stands for rapid integration with
the European Union, Nato and the global economy. He is strongest in the
west, where anti-Russian sentiment flourishes.

Ms Tymoshenko is a maverick, who supported Mr Yushchenko in 2004 but then
fell out with him, partly owing to personality clashes and partly over her
populist anti-big-business policies.

Now she has toned down her rhetoric and built up her contacts in the EU and
the US, trying to supplant Mr Yushchenko in the west’s affections.

All three main leaders have attempted to renew their appeal with help from
top US political advisers. At times the campaigning has changed in tone from
previous years, with less vitriol and more positive messages, such as
promises of econ­omic growth.

All three parties have retained a strong dose of populism, competing with
pledges to raise pensions, salaries and social payments.

But, as the vote has neared, Mr Yanukovich has resorted to divisive old
tactics to shore up his support in eastern Ukraine. In recent speeches he
has promised a combined referendum on Nato membership (which he
opposes) and on granting official status to the Russian language.

With a third of voters undecided, some fears of localised election fraud and
smaller parties picking up support, the result is unclear. As Renaissance
Capital, the investment bank, says in a report, “The political campaign has
brought no clarity on the likely outcome.”
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


ANALYSIS: By Jim Davis, Business Ukraine magazine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 24, 2007

Ukrainian politicians are always sure to turn their attention to the
agrarian sector when elections are near – albeit temporarily
This year’s crop of electoral promises is bountiful on the Ukrainian steppe,
but just which way the agricultural vote is headed is as uncertain as
tomorrow’s weather forecast.

Ukrainian agriculture has never fully recovered from the horrors of
collectivisation under Stalin in the 1930s, but remains of enormous
strategic importance for all parties.

Even today, 16 years since independence and eight years past the time that
then-president Leonid Kuchma decreed the extinction of all remaining
collective farms, most major political parties continue to talk about the
village and agriculture as if one might be synonymous with the other.
Although the Our Ukraine website sets out the bloc’s agricultural policies,
perhaps a recent visit by the president to Cherkasy gave greater clarity to
the presidential party’s views.

Yushchenko’s rhetoric naturally had a familiar ring as he told the crowd:
“Wheat for Ukraine is like oil for Russia. I see it as the nation’s
strategic course.”

Just as at all agricultural meetings, the president pushed his political
agenda with a statement that the government, “constantly interferes” in the
agricultural sector.

He called many of its grain policies, “remarkably absurd and negative,” and
reprimanded the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych for using
non-market methods.

He went on to say a state that does not promote commercial interests in
agriculture often has to import grain. He further derided the government’s
administrative and restrictive measures as, “.unprofessional and

Our Ukraine’s website gets into much greater specifics with talk of
“renewing Ukraine’s villages.transparent registration of property rights on
land. decreasing land taxes for villagers.”

As with most campaign manifestos, the site has a laundry list of goodies,
including a promise of UAH 20,000 in state aid and social housing for
university graduates who agree to work not less than three years in

In addition, there would be a 20% monthly salary bonus for village teachers,
doctors, cultural and social sphere employees; and every village can count
on a village dispensary or medical-aid station with a car.

Finally, the site says that Our Ukraine would assure that every pupil living
three kilometers away or more from school would get paid bus transport and
every village school would get Internet access by 2010.

Yuriy Lutsenko, leader of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence Bloc, is
even bolder with his acknowledgements, telling a recent Vasilkiv news
conference that the moratorium on land sales must be abolished. He also said
pointedly that in spite of leftist opposition to land sales, “.nevertheless
it is on sale.”

He added: “It is necessary to put agricultural land up for sale on an open
and fair market and pass the corresponding laws that will secure the peasant
from predatory buying of [agricultural] lands.” A few years ago, a statement
of this type would have been a scandal; today it is considered to be
relatively normal campaign rhetoric.

The Party of Regions’ platform statement on agricultural is very broad in
nature and rings many of the bells that resound with agriculturalists.

However, the Regions party is considered more industrially oriented and
bears the burden of having over the last year taken what many in the farming
community would consider very negative decisions about grain exports.

Echoing the historical concentration on the village as the center of
farming, the Regions manifesto calls for new effective forms of management,
wider implantation of rent and land mortgage policy, plus support of native
producers and products.

It goes on to call for modern equipment provision on a leasing basis;
formation of land and mortgage banks; support for private farmers, and
solving the price disparity between farm and industrial production.
Perhaps unique among Ukraine’s politicians, Yulia Tymoshenko has a talent
for picking issues and pleasing crowds. Her website and campaign materials
make much of her support for agriculture, but where she lists specific
priorities, agriculture hardly receives mention.

However, in her frequent visits to villages in out-of-the-way places, she
seems to know the right buttons to push to get farmers and villagers

During recent village visits, she has claimed that residents pay four times
more for imported gas than locally-produced gas, saying that a solution
would only require a decision at governmental level. This suggestion of what
would in effect be subsidised gas prices for farm villages is a very popular
item on the rural hustings.

Tymoshenko continues to play the populist card when it comes to the sale of
land, telling villagers in one case: “Today they try to start a negative
plan for Ukraine, which, obviously, was worked out by non-Ukrainians, after
which they intend at first to distribute land, then cheapen it and sell it
so that common people could never again own this land in Ukraine.”

“We consider that it is necessary to give land to peasants. If they lease it
out, they must get the payment they deserve from leaseholders,” she added.

Tymoshenko has also promised that peasant farmers must be recipients of
cheap credit at interest rates of 3-4%, which she claims to be already the
case in western Europe.

On other village visits, she has made much of the fact that average salaries
in the agricultural sector are below the national average. She proposed

levelling this disparity with lower taxes for agricultural workers.

In some regions where the dairy farming tradition is strong, Tymoshenko has
complained that large dairies, which she refers to as “monopolists,” control
the dairy industry. They buy milk from farmers for “kopecks.A litre of milk
is cheaper than a litre of ordinary water,” she recently told one crowd.

When it comes to working the crowds who attend her frequent village
meetings, Tymoshenko is clearly skilled and she hopes to pick up a large
number of votes in spite of the fact that she is preaching an economic
policy that many see as being out of step with current Ukrainian realities.
The Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) remains true to its traditional
principles, with government control of agriculture and high subsidisation of
peasant farmers forming the policy bedrock.

The CPU agricultural manifesto begins with a statement that at least 50% of
agricultural production would be subject to government order with funds to
support such orders earmarked at no less than 10% of the gross national

The CPU wants soft credit facilities, with interest rates not to exceed 5%
for support of the development of the country’s agro-industrial complex.
Unsaid, but clearly implied, is that these soft credits would go only to
state-owned enterprises, as was historically the case.

State ownership of, “. land, mineral wealth, the atmosphere, forests, water
resources and other natural resources within the territorial boundaries of
Ukraine” remains a key part of the Communist agenda, with special emphasis
on opposing the sale of agricultural land.
Like the Communists, the Socialists have added no new strings to their
political bow and still argue for a return to a greater role for government
in the economy and increased ownership of essential elements of the nation’s
productive capacity.

In particular, the buying and selling of agricultural land is anathema to
the Socialists, and control of priority branches of the economy remains part
of the Socialist manifesto, but according to polls it seems unlikely that
they will get the chance to implement their well-worn agricultural agenda
following the elections.

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

By Conor Humphries, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

KIEV – Ukraine’s political scene has weathered three years of mass protests,
fights in parliament and the president ignoring the government. The business
world, meanwhile, has had an uncannily smooth ride.

Far from complaining that politicians aren’t tending to the economy, many
are grateful they’re too busy squabbling to get in the way.

“It has really had zero effect,” Kiev-based magazine publisher Jed Sunden
said of the ongoing political crisis. “The disagreements … have the
positive effect of limiting the government’s caprices,” said Sunden, the
American general director of KP Media and a veteran of the local business

Political turmoil has led to a third national election in three years, which
will be held Sunday. But the country’s economy is booming, with chic cafes
vying for space with designer clothes shops on the capital’s streets.

Growth rates are set to be more than double those of the European Union at
around 6.5 percent for this year, estimated Yekaterina Malofeyeva of the
Renaissance Capital investment bank.

Apartment prices in Kiev have more than doubled in two years, while direct
foreign investment was up 50 percent in the first six months of this year.

“I don’t see any reason for a slowdown in the economy,” Malofeyeva said.
“People in Ukraine are very much used to the levels of political risk. “The
government is weak, disorganized, so it can offer relatively few surprises,”
she said. “Things are predictable and in this sense rather stable.”

Campaigning ahead of Sunday’s elections, which are seen as unlikely to solve
the protracted crisis, has focused on how to share out of the proceeds of
the boom, boosted by high prices for the country’s metal exports.

Despite the rapid growth, the average wage remains 250 dollars per month,
according to official statistics, just over half of the level in
neighbouring Russia and a fraction of those in the European Union, which
Ukraine eventually wants to join.

“All parties have social development at the top of their agenda,” said
Yevhenia Akhtyrko, an economist with Kiev’s International Centre for Policy
Studies. “Everyone is competing to promise the most.”

Part of the reason for the largesse is the fact that many in the country
have tired of the endless political battles between pro-Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovych and western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko.

The political strife dates back to the “Orange Revolution” in 2004, when
hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko supporters took to the streets to
overturn an election rigged in favour of Yanukovych.

Yushchenko’s victory helped convince foreign investors that Ukraine was on
the way to eventual European integration, sparking an inflow of investment,
Malofeyeva said.

“Knowledge of Ukraine has expanded much more than before,” she said.

“People see Ukraine as a country with political and economic problems, but
one that is moving in the European direction.”

The picture is not all rosy, however.

Small businesses complain of stifling bureaucracy and rampant corruption,
while rapid changes in power mean it is difficult for businessmen to secure
the necessary contacts with those in power to quickly resolve conflicts,
Malofeyeva said.

Big business, meanwhile, is bracing for the possible return to the prime
minister’s office of the firebrand Yulia Tymoshenko — fearing a repeat of
her campaign to revise shady privatisation deals from the regime of
Yushchenko’s predecessor.

And then there are the unlucky few who have to deal with the thousands of
political activists, often living in hastily pitched tents, who surround
government buildings at regular intervals.

“The unrest is very negative: we get fewer businesspeople, less tourists
come,” said Larisa Trofimenko, General Director of the Kiev Hotel,
unfortunately located at the heart of the government district, overlooking
the parliament. “As soon as the political situation calms down, the hotel
fills up, people are calm again.”

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

COMMENTARY: Peter Dickinson, Business Ukraine magazine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 24, 2007

With less than a week to go before Ukraine goes to the polls, there remains
much muttering and resentment that an election is being held at all. There
is, however, more cause for optimism than many believe

At first glance the election has all the makings of a serious setback for
Ukrainian democracy.

A worrying percentage of the population remain adamant that they will not
be voting at all, while others seem to be viewing their vote as a social
to their regional chieftains rather than a moral obligation or opportunity
to stand up for their personal beliefs or initiate change for the better.

The old mantra that the political classes are all the same has gained new
currency and campaign promises are largely regarded with unconcealed

There is little here that needs explaining, given the steady stream of
disappointments that followed the euphoria of 2004. However, the fact
remains that amid all the moans and groans, the fires of Ukrainian democracy
continue to burn despite numerous attempts to quash the flames with
bucketfuls of cynicism and sabotage.

Three years since the Orange Revolution shook the populace out of its
apathetic slumber, the idea that Ukraine’s great democratic breakthrough
could somehow be reversed now lies in tatters.
At every level there have been indications of an emerging democratic culture
which holds promise for the country’s European ambitions.

The election campaign has been well covered by the increasingly professional
and unhindered Ukrainian media, and the various parties have been accorded
their fair share of airtime without the mysterious electrical blackouts and
blatant propaganda of yesteryear.

Meanwhile, the institutionalised spoiling tactics and administrative
manipulation of previous campaigns have made random but mercifully brief
appearances, much like the fading symptoms of a once-sick patient well on
the road to recovery.

Whereas in 2004 Viktor Yushchenko found himself barred from landing at
airports throughout the country and his activists were harried and harassed
wherever government support was considered sufficient to allow it, this
year’s campaign has seen opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko holding

massive public rallies in city centres throughout the government strongholds
of south-eastern Ukraine, an unthinkable development just a few years ago.

We will still doubtless be treated to all sorts of polling day tricks and
accusations, but the very fact that such irregularities are now seen as
potent political weapons by all sides of the political spectrum is evidence
in itself that fraud and falsification are no longer regarded as a valid
part of post-Soviet politics in today’s Ukraine.

The historical fissures that scar the Ukrainian landscape remain a factor in
any political debate, but the move away from Soviet-style them and us
rhetoric towards policy issues that has marked this campaign suggests that
the ugly politics of ethnicity is losing its potency as a tool to divide and
polarise the Ukrainian population.

Ukraine has yet to reach the level of political maturity where ideas can
genuinely triumph over personalities, but this is nevertheless progress
worth noting.

If they are to entertain hopes of staying in office, Ukraine’s politicians
must now reinvent themselves in line with the national dynamic.

Viktor Yanukovych will have to do a lot more than learn how to smile and
refrain from swearing in public if he wants the electorate to take seriously
the spin that he is somehow a new man.

Likewise, his party will have to add substance to the oft-cited refrain that
they are interested in embracing international business practices and moving
out of the shadows.

Attempts by the Regions-led coalition to return to the practices of old led
directly to the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada this year and if this
lesson is not taken on board there is no reason to assume that the exercise
could not be repeated.

Despite their long and loud protestations, the governing coalition
eventually accepted the president’s decree and faced up to the inevitability
of new elections. They now need to demonstrate that other lessons have also
been learnt.

The shaky Orange alliance will have to overcome its childish infighting and
perceived populism if it is to regain power and, crucially, hold onto it for
any meaningful period of time.

Yulia Tymoshenko has responded to criticism over empty promises by focusing
much of her bloc’s campaign on concrete policy objectives that have been
painstakingly spelled out for voters and others have found themselves forced
to follow her lead or be left behind in the process.

Ultimately, as they decide whether to vote or not, Ukrainians should bear in
mind that a healthy distrust of their political classes is part and parcel
of just about every functioning democracy in the world. It is a sign of a
strong, open society, not an indication that the situation is hopeless.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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Associated Press (AP), Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Sep 27 2007

KYIV – Ukrainians vote this weekend in the fourth national elections in
three years, attempting to break a political deadlock that pits seekers of
cautious change against bold reformers, Russian against Ukrainian speakers,
guardians of Slavic heritage against champions of European integration.

The cast of characters vying for control is the same as during the 2004
Orange Revolution: the Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko; his
archrival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych; and the glamorous opposition
crusader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Gone, however, is the hope that swept the nation three years ago when
thousands of protesters gathered in the bitter cold of Kyiv’s main square
and stood up for democracy and reform.

In its place is a widespread sense of the futility of the political process.

“I am disappointed in everybody – they have no programs, they have no
shame,” said Zinaida Ivanova, a 70-year-old retiree who supplements her
monthly pension of about $100 by selling cigarettes in downtown Kyiv.

The Sunday, Sept. 30 election “is not going to liquidate the deep crisis,”
predicted Vadim Karasyov, head of the Kyiv-based Institute on Global

Polls suggest a three-way split between the country’s main parties, leading
to the prospect of protracted coalition talks. After the vote, all three
political leaders are calling for changes in the Constitution to break the
political paralysis.

Ukraine’s Constitution, hastily revised during the Orange Revolution,
divides executive powers between the president and prime minister – leaving
it unclear who has the power to do what.

Last year, Yanukovych’s allies blocked Yushchenko’s choice for foreign
minister from attending Cabinet sessions for several weeks, provoking his
resignation. In the spring, Yushchenko fired his prosecutor general, a
Yanukovych ally. But police loyal to the prime minister prevented the
prosecutor’s removal.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko want Ukrainians to decide in a referendum who
should hold more power, the president or the premier. Yanukovych, meanwhile,
wants to change the constitution to make Russian the second official
language and block any NATO bid.

But it seems unlikely Ukraine’s bickering politicians will find it any
easier to rewrite the constitution than to govern together.
Ukraine’s voters will pick from 20 parties, but no more than six are
expected to pass the 3 percent threshold needed to win seats in the
450-member Verkhovna Rada.

Of those six, just the parties led by Yushchenko, Yanukovych and Tymoshenko
are expected to gain enough seats to form the base for a potential governing

Yushchenko’s ambition to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union and
implement pro-market reforms suffered a major blow in 2006, when his
plummeting popularity opened the way for the once discredited Yanukovych to
take over as prime minister.

Since then, neither has been able to impose his vision for Ukraine, with
Yushchenko putting his dreams of quickly joining the EU on hold and
Yanukovych moderating his pro-Russian stance.

Tymoshenko could hold the key to the hopes of Western-looking, self-styled
reformers. She aims to unite with Yushchenko’s forces in Parliament and
return as prime minister – a post she held briefly until Yushchenko
dismissed her government in September 2005.

Smaller parties such as the communists and the socialists are likely to
drive hard bargains for their support, if they get in.
International observers praised last year’s elections as Ukraine’s most
democratic ever, but some fear this vote will not be as free and fair. It is
being run by the government of Yanukovych, whose 2004 presidential election
victory was declared fraudulent by a court.

The Orange Revolution that swept Yushchenko to power despite the Kremlin’s
open backing of Yanukovych sent shock waves through Russia and the rest of
the former Soviet Union.

The image of Yushchenko – his face disfigured by dioxin poisoning – battling
on for victory inspired millions around the world. Yushchenko’s victory led
some to predict that a tide of non-violent revolutions would turn out a
number of governments with strong links to the Soviet past.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of other former Soviet
republics tightened controls on opposition groups and planned for ways to
prevent their own political upheavals.

In Ukraine, Yanukovych has staged a stunning comeback since the days when he
suffered the double stigma of being linked to a rigged election and seen as
a Kremlin tool.

Aided by Western consultants, Yanukovych reinvented himself. He began
courting the West, distanced himself from Moscow and praised the very mass
protests that denied him the presidency in 2004.

As Yushchenko’s fortunes dimmed, Yanukovych’s grew brighter. Korrespondent
magazine called the prime minister Ukraine’s most powerful politician of

In the current race, Yanukovych, 57, has promised to raise pensions and the
current average wage of $258 (?190), increase child support benefits and
improve health care. His message: The Orange forces of Yushchenko and
Tymoshenko can only quarrel, but his team means business.

Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and heroine of the Orange Revolution
who wears her blonde hair in a halo braid, has led an aggressive campaign
dubbed “the Ukrainian breakthrough.”

The steel-willed politician – sometimes described as “the only man in
Ukrainian politics” – describes herself as the only leader able to rein in
corrupt businesses and end what she called “the carving up of Ukraine.”

The 46-year-old vows to tackle corruption, raise living standards, build
homes for young families and help Ukraine quickly catch up with the rest of

She has also vowed to annul the sales of a number of major enterprises,
which she contends were stolen from the state.

That drive alarmed investors when she was prime minister. But Tymoshenko
insists she will pursue recovery of state property to resell it in honest

Yushchenko’s team has struggled. Faced with sinking support, his bloc has
sought to rebrand itself by paring an embattled business tycoon and other
unpopular figures from its list of top candidates. It has replaced them with
what it portrays as energetic reformers.

The days when the 53-year-old Yushchenko, a former central banker, might be
seen as a martyr to democracy are long gone. This time around, he has not
managed to inspire much enthusiasm.

His bloc promises to strip lawmakers of immunity from prosecution, with a
bespectacled president proclaiming from billboards that “there is one law
for all.”

Voters don’t seem impressed. People are too preoccupied with their
pocketbooks, analysts say, to worry about loftier concerns.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.

By Jan Maksymiuk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, September 27, 2007

KYIV – If Ukrainians are to believe the promises being made by the parties
participating in the country’s early parliamentary elections, their lives
should improve regardless of who wins.

The major players in the September 30 polls have all made generous pledges
to the electorate. The question is how they plan to overcome the
mathematical impossibility of paying for all that has been promised.

There are three clear frontrunners among the 20 parties and blocs registered
for Ukraine’s September 30 parliamentary elections — the ruling Party of
Regions led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and the pro-presidential
Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc — two
former allies in the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Opinion polls suggest that none of the three forces is set to win an
outright majority in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada. They also indicate that,
as in the March 2006 elections, the Party of Regions’ performance will
likely be matched by Our-Ukraine-People’s Self Defense and the Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc combined.
If such predictions turn out to be true, the fate of a future ruling
coalition may hinge on the performance of two other parties that pollsters
envision being in the next parliament: the Communist Party and the Lytvyn

Most polls forecast that the Socialist Party, which obtained 5.7 percent of
the vote in 2006, will not overcome the 3 percent threshold for
parliamentary representation this time around.

In contrast to the 2004 presidential and 2006 parliamentary elections,
traditionally divisive foreign-policy thorns like Ukraine’s potential NATO
membership or domestic irritants like making Russian the second state
language have been conspicuously muted or even eliminated as campaign

Instead, the election frontrunners have focused on outdistancing one another
in promises of socioeconomic windfalls.

Four expenditure items are present in the election manifestos of each of the
three frontrunners: substantial payments to families bringing new Ukrainians
into the world and monthly child support as a way to reverse the country’s
demographic decline; an increase in student allowances and stipends; the
development of rural areas; and a considerable increase in military spending
as part of the effort to develop a professional army.
In addition, each party has added its own unique promises to the mix. For
example, the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense wants to increase the
minimum wage and the average monthly wage by some 60 percent in 2008.

The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc vows to return, within two years, more than $25
billion of savings lost by Ukrainians as a result of the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991.

The Party of Regions pledges to provide workers with apartments upon the
conclusion of 20 years working for the state.

The Communists want to increase the minimum pension level to 70 percent of
the average monthly wage, a measure that would cost the state an extra $20
billion per year. The Lytvyn Bloc proposes a dramatic wage hike that would
cost an extra $60 billion per year.

Four Ukrainian economic experts commenting in the September 22-28 issue of
the Kyiv-based weekly “Zerkalo nedeli” took the election promises at face
value and tallied them up.

Promises made by the Party of Regions would cost $40 billion, while those by
the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc
were estimated at $20 billion each.

The most generous were the Communists, whose election program entails an
extra $60 billion in spending, and the Lytvyn Bloc, which would need no less
than an extra $90 billion to follow its program to the letter.

Adding a dose of reality to the situation, the four experts noted that
Ukraine’s consolidated budget revenues in 2007 were expected to be just $40
A somewhat more realistic — and no less populist — goal is the solemn vow
of both the current parliamentary opposition and the ruling coalition to
cancel parliamentary immunity from prosecution, which is widely seen in
Ukraine as a shield for corrupt politicians.

But even on this tricky constitutional issue, the Ukrainian political class
could not avoid inflating the situation in an effort to garner cheap

The proposal to strip lawmakers of immunity initially came from President
Viktor Yushchenko and the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense.

But this sound idea was subsequently blunted by the ruling coalition through
their calls for the abolition of immunity not just for legislators, but also
for the president, the prime minister, and other high-ranking officials,
including judges.

Making the initial idea appear even more incongruous, the ruling coalition
held a controversial parliamentary session earlier this month (which was
condemned as illegal by the opposition) during which it voted to abolish
immunity for parliamentarians and the president.

For whatever reason, the prime minister and other government officials were
ignored in the coalition’s rush to contribute to the elimination of
corruption in the country.

But it would be wrong to condemn Ukrainian politicians for exploiting the
gullibility of the electorate to achieve political goals. As long as voters
fail to hold politicians accountable for their promises, such practices will
continue — and not just in Ukraine.

However, what remains of utmost importance in Ukrainian politics is the
continued perception among Ukrainians that, following the 2004 Orange
Revolution, elections offer them genuine political choice.

such circumstances, one day Ukrainian voters may also develop a taste for
distinguishing between empty pledges and practical ideas.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


FEATURE: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 27 September 2007

KIEV – The first vote in Ukraine’s election Sunday has yet to be cast – but
irrespective of who wins, the country’s warring political clans intend to
object strenuously to the result.

On Thursday afternoon on Kiev’s Maidan Square, site of Ukraine’s dramatic
pro-democracy Orange Revolution in late 2004, campaign workers in green
military tents were girding for the long haul, a good 60 hours before voting

“We are here because the Oranges (opponents of the pro-Russia Regions
Ukraine party) will do anything to win,” said Halina Kotovska. “We will
fight for Democracy – and stay right here until the votes are honestly

During the 2004 mass marches, some 15,000 pro-Democracy activists took up
residence in tents and public buildings in central Kiev to protest a rigged
presidential election.

Hundreds of thousands of Kievites took to the streets as well, forcing the
government to hold a repeat vote, eventually installing reform president
Viktor Yushchenko.

Modern Ukrainian protesting on Thursday was, by comparison, modest. The
warmly-dressed Regions faithful in the Maidan encampment was hugely
outnumbered, and quite ignored, by Kievites going about their daily
business. Police presence was negligible.

Two hundred metres from the Maidan down Kiev’s main street the Khreschatyk,
some seventy students milled next to ten camouflaged dome tents pitched in
front of the Kiev city administration.  They had pitched their tents to
protest the protest, students explained quite seriously.

“Those people on the Maidan are pitching tents in the centre of our capital,
how does that look to foreign visitors?” asked Oksana Vorobei. “So we are
demonstrating to force our mayor to force the protestors on the Maidan to go
away, and then we will go away too.”

The Kiev mayor is a Regions supporter – and Regions, with its pro- Russia
and pro-oligarch programmes, is unpopular with many liberal- leaning
Kievites, especially students, who generally support market reform and
closer Ukrainian relations with Europe.

Vorobei, like Kotovska, denied she was being paid to demonstrate – a common
practice in Ukrainian demonstrations this election season, allowing some
activists to earn as much as twenty dollars a day.

All of which would be a tempest in Ukraine’s political teapot, except that
the country’s powerful political clans, all apparently preparing to
challenge the results of the upcoming vote, first by mobilising street
protests, and then in courts.

Oleksader Moroz, the speaker of the last parliament and notorious for
deserting an Orange coalition in 2006 and thereby bringing the pro-Russia
Regions to power, on Thursday declared his party lawyers already had
prepared suits contesting the outcome of the election, and that the
challenge could be filed as early as the Monday morning after the Sunday

Ukrainian election law allows any party gaining 3 per cent or more of the
popular vote seats in the legislature, but Moroz’s Socialists, once the
country’s political kingmakers, now stand at about 2.5 per cent, according
to the most recent polls. “We will challenge the results in any case,” Moroz

said, according to a Korrespondent magazine article.

More worryingly for hopes of Ukrainian political stability, Viktor
Yanukovich, Prime Minister leader of Regions, earlier this week alleged his
pro-Europe opponents “are buying every single vote with money”, and warned
that the only way Regions could lose big, is if the competition cheats.

But Yanukovich main opponent, the anti-corruption Yulia Tymoshenko of the
eponymous Block of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), in campaign speeches this

week has been promising just that: a Regions tumble at the polls, because
Yanukovich’s party allegedly lacks widespread popularity.

And if Regions cheats, or even if there is a sign of Regions cheating, of
course she will go to the courts, Tymoshenko told the Interfax news agency.

Ukrainian political analysts almost without exception are predicting weeks
if not months of political gridlock, once the Sunday election is complete.
“We are are not going anywhere anytime soon,” Kotovska said.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

‘September 30 Elections Vital to Advancing Democracy’

U.S. Helsinki Commission, Washington, D.C., Mon, Sep 24, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission)
and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), issued the following
statement regarding Ukraine’s parliamentary elections that will be held on
Sunday, September 30.

A longstanding political dispute between President Viktor Yushchenko and
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich – rooted in weak constitutional
delineations of their powers – resulted in a political crisis in April and
May.  After weeks of tense standoff, agreement was reached calling for early
elections to be held on September 30.

 “Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, Ukraine has continued to make real
democratic gains.  And yet, one cannot turn a blind eye to the serious
political uncertainty that has unfolded within the past year.

“Prolonged instability is neither in Ukraine’s best interest nor in the
interest of the region and it is our sincere hope that, following the
elections, its political leaders can find solutions that will advance
political stability and democratic development.

“The consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine will further
strengthen its independence and sovereignty, enhancing Ukraine’s aspirations
for full integration with the West and serving as a positive model for other
former Soviet countries.

“It is our hope that these elections are free and transparent in keeping
with Ukraine’s OSCE commitments.  We wish the people of Ukraine much

success and look forward to continuing to strengthen U.S.-Ukrainian bilateral
relations,” said Hastings and Cardin.

In July, Congressman Hastings, Senator Cardin and House Majority Leader
Steny Hoyer (D-MD) led a Congressional delegation to Ukraine for the 16th
Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s
(OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.

During the trip, the delegation met with Ukraine’s President Viktor
Yushchenko and other prominent Ukrainian officials, where they received
assurances that Ukraine would not backtrack on the path to political reform
and good governance.

The U.S. Helsinki Commission plans to hold a briefing focusing on Ukraine’s
September 30 parliamentary elections in October, details for the event to
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the
Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in
the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The
Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from
the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of
State, Defense and Commerce.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
October 16-17, 2007, Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC

Steering Committee, Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood
Roundtable VIII, Ukraine-EU Relations,
New York, New York, Friday, September 28, 2007

Dear Friend of the UA Quest RT Series,

You are respectfully invited to be a participant in the eighth annual
roundtable of the Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood series,
to be held at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in
Washington, DC on Oct 16-17, 2007. This year, the forum will be
entitled “Ukraine-EU Relations”.

The two day conference will bring together government and key non-
government representatives of Ukraine, the EU and the US as well as
experts from the world of academia to examine and evaluate Ukraine’s
capacity to “thrive alongside” its great Western neighbor as well as its
readiness, if asked to join, to eventually “thrive inside” the European

To facilitate the said examination, the event will run four regular sessions
featuring eight panels, six highlight focus sessions, two working lunches
and two conference receptions. In total, nearly seventy speakers are
expected to address the conference proceedings. The list of invited
speakers is provided below.

Former participants of the UA Quest Roundtable series include:
UA:  B. Tarasyuk, O. Rybachuk, Y. Yekhanurov, A. Kinakh, V. Yanukovych,
I. Plyushch, A. Yatseniuk, V. Pustovojtenko, A. Hrytsenko, I. Mitiukov, Y.
Pavlenko, Y. Chervonenko, H. Nemyria, Y. Lutsenko, R. Shpek

EU & RU:  P. Naimski, G. Jeszensky, J. Sherr, E. Koelsch, G. Burghardt,
A. Gross, C. Hartzell, J. Steinoff, R. Kacer, Y. Liuk, H. Wujec, V. Usackas,
M. Riekstins, P. Zurawski vel Grajewski, V. Igrunov, A. Lebedev

US: M. McConnell, C. Levin, P. Wolfowitz, J. McCain, R. Lugar, Z.
Bzrezinski, R. Holbrooke, P. Dobriansky, D. Fried, A. Wayne, D. Kramer,
C. Weldon, S. Levin, M. Hinchey, B. Taylor, C. Pascual, S. Pifer, W. Miller,
J. Herbst, K. Smith, W. Courtney, B. Futey, M. Kaptur, N. Lowey, C. Smith,
A. Cohen, M. Williams, C. Wallander, A. Aslund.

You are welcome to attend all of the specified plenary sessions.  Your
presence will certainly enhance the proceedings you may choose to join.

In addition, you are welcome to partake in Roundtable’s traditional
evening receptions. There is no registration fee for the Roundtable but
donations are encouraged to help cover the considerable expenses
necessary for such a Roundtable.

Tuesday, October 16 (Day One); Wednesday, October 17 (Day Two)
DAY ONE: Oct 16, Tuesday, Registration & Coffee: 8:00-9:00am
Opening Remarks: 9:00 a.m., Last Session: 5:00 p.m.
Conference Reception: 7:00 p.m.
DAY TWO: Oct 17, Wednesday, Registration & Coffee: 8:00-9:00a.m.
Opening Remarks: 9:00 a.m., Concluding Remarks: 5:00 p.m.
Patron Reception: 7:00 p.m.

ENTIRE PROGRAM OUTLINE: The entire Ukraine’s Quest

for Mature Nation Statehood, Roundtable VIII, Ukraine-EU Relations
program outline can found at the following link:

Due to the time constraints involved with organizing such a large forum,
we kindly ask that you respond by Wednesday, October 10, 2007
concerning your acceptance to participate.

SUGGESTED DONATIONS: There is no registration fee for the
Roundtable this year but donations of 50 US dollars per day are
encouraged to help cover the considerable expenses necessary for
such a Roundtable. If donating, please make out your check to:
“CUSUR-UA Quest RTVIII” or use the system online when you
register to make a donation.

Fill out the online registration and submit online or print out registration
form and fax to 212 473 2180 or print-out registration form and mail.

All completed registration forms [and donations] need to be sent online,
by fax or by mail to: Center for US Ukrainian Relations
43 St. Mark’s Place, New York, NY 10003
For further information, kindly contact Marta Kostyk, UA Quest RTS
Technical Coordinator, by phone: (212) 473 0839, fax: (212) 473 2180,
or e-mail:, at your convenience.

William Miller, Co-Chair; Bob Schaffer, Co-Chair
Oleh Shamshur, Co-Chair; Walter Zaryckyj, Program Coordinator
Olexandr Aleksandrovich;  Ilan Berman
Nadia Diuk;  Olga Fishel
Katie Fox;  Nadia Komarnycky McConnell
Elizabeth Knight;  Ilko Kucheriv
Nico Lange;  Orysia Lutsewych
Lewis Madanick;  Marta Matselioukh
John Micgiel;  Jan Neutze
Steven Nix;  Ulyana Panchishin
Jan Pieklo;  Herman Pirchner
Jeff Smith;  Morgan Williams
Bob Schaffer (AFMC)
Paula Dobriansky (US Under Secretary of State)
Oleh Shamshur (UA Ambassador to the United States)
Andrii Veselovski  (Dep. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine)
Orest Deychakivsky (CSCE)
Hryhoriy Nemyria (BUT)
Ellen Bos (Andrassy University)
Nelson Ledsky (NDI)
Steven Nix (IRI)
Bohdan Futey (US Court of Federal Claims)
Fred Kempe (Atlantic Council)
Kostyantyn Hryshchenko (RPU/APM)
Borys Tarasyuk (OU/IEAC)
Pawel Zalewski (FRC/Sejm)
David Kramer (DAS/EEA/DOS)
Adrian Karatnyckyj (Orange Circle)
Oleksandr Todiychuk (MOU/UA-EC)
Igor Chalupec (PKN-Orlen/Fmr. Pres.)
Friedemann Muller (Inst. for Int’l & Sec. Affairs)
Keith Smith (CSIS); Tom Spellman (Halliburton)
John Micgiel (Columbia University);
Janusz Reiter (PL Ambassador to the US)
Morgan Williams (SigmaBleyzer, US-Ukraine Business Council)
Yuri Yekhanurov (Fmr. UA Prime Minister);
David Sweere (Kyiv-Atlantic Farms)
Urszula Gacek (Senat Rzeczpospolitej)
Anders Aslund (Peterson Institute)
Nadia McConnell (USUF)
Mykhajlo Volynets (CITU/UA)
Robert Fielding (AFL-CIO/UA)
Marek Matraszek (CEC)
Keith Crane (RAND)
Jan Bugajski (CSIS)
Klaus Scharioth (DE Ambassador to the US)
Vitkor Nikityuk  (UA DCM to the US)
Ilko Kucheriv (DIF)
Joao De Vallera (Ambassador of Portugal to the United States)
Jan Pieklo (PAUCI)
Yuri Sergeyev (UA Ambassador to the UN)
Audrius Bruzga (Lithuanian Amb. to the US)
Steve Pifer (CSIS)
Nico Lange (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
Roman Shpek (UA Delegation to EU)
Michael Gahler (FRC/Euro-Parliament)
Ariel Cohen (Heritage Foundation)
Herman Pirchner (AFPC)
Zbigniew Brzezinski (Senior Counselor/CSIS)
F. Steven Larrabee (RAND)
leksandr Biletsky (European Movement/UA)
Oleksandr Sushko (CPCFPU)
Vooldymyr Dubovyk (CIS/ONU)
Yuri Scherbak (Kyiv Mohylian University)
Hryhoriy Perepylytysa (Dipl. Academy/UA)
Lewis Madanick (Open World/LOC)
Bohdan Sokolovski (State Secretariat)
Bogdan Klich (Euro-Parliament)
Steven Sestanovich (Columbia University)
Ilan Berman (AFPC)
Yevhen Kaminsky (IWE/NASU)
James Sherr (Sandhurst)
Celeste Wallander (Georgetown Univ.)
William Courtney (CSC/Dyncorp.)
Angelos Pangratis (Dep. Head of the EC Delegation to the US)
William Miller (WWIC)
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE)
Robert Bensh (Cardinal Resources)
American Foreign Policy Council; Atlantic Council of the United States
Center For US-Ukrainian Relations; Congressional Ukrainian Caucus
Columbia University/ECEC; Democratic Initiatives Foundation
Embassy of Ukraine to the United States; Harvard University/BSSP
International Republican Institute (IRI); Johns Hopkins University/SAIS
National Democratic Institute (NDI); New York University /LAP
UA Center for Strategic Studies; U.S.-Ukraine Business Council
(USUBC); US-Ukraine Foundation (USUF)
CONTACT: Marta Kostyk, US Quest RTS Technical Coordinator
Center for US Ukrainian Relations, 43 St. Mark’s Place, NY, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 473 0839, fax: (212) 473 2180, E-mail:

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
17.  ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE: ORANGE OR BLUE?, Brussels, Belgium, Thu, 27 Sep 2007

On Sunday, the Ukraine, one of the European Union’s most important
neighbors, goes to the polls and a delegation from the European Parliament
will be there to observe whether or not the elections are up to
international standards.

The three main parties are led by President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and
an ally of the President during the 2004 “Orange Revolution”. The President
and Prime Minister agreed to hold early parliamentary elections in May after
a mounting political crisis.
European Parliament to observe elections
A delegation of 14 MEPs heads to the Ukraine on Thursday to observe the
elections. Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, the deputy head of the Ukraine Mission to
the EU, who participated in preparations for the visit said, “Ukrainian
society and politicians listen very attentively to what the EP is saying
(and would be) grateful if EP delegation would not only observe but also
articulate a message and give advice.”
Recent political developments
In 2004 Ukraine underwent the “Orange Revolution”, when large-scale popular
protests broke out after the presidential elections, which were officially
won by Viktor Yanukovich, who was backed by the outgoing president. The
result of the unrest was a re-run of the presidential election sweeping Mr
Yushchenko to victory in early 2005.

Yulia Tymoshenko, his close ally became prime minister. However their
alliance soon fell apart and the President sacked the Tymoshenko govenment
in September 2005.

In March 2006 Yanukovich´s party won the new parliamentary elections and he
eventually took office in August. He has since built a majority in the

Amid concerns that an increased majority would allow Mr Yanukovich to reject
presidential vetoes, make changes to the constitution, and impeach the
president, President Yushchenko dissolved parliament on 2 April and called
early elections.

Initially Parliament rejected his authority do so, but eventually the
President and Prime Minister agreed to hold elections on 30 September.
EU focus on Ukraine
After the EU-Ukraine Summit in September, EU leaders said that Ukraine’s
move towards strengthening democracy, the rule of law and the respect of
human rights will reinforce political and economic links between the two. If
elections are free and fair, it’s the best evidence of the country’s ability
to accomplish the goal, they said.

In a July resolution, the Parliament called for the adoption of political
reforms, a fight against corruption and a reform of the civil service. It
has closely followed political developments in Ukraine.

It was among those denouncing irregularities in the 2004 election and a
Parliament delegation was in Independence Square in Kiev, which was at the
epicenter of the Orange Revolution. It subsequently sent an observation team
to monitor the re-run election. The EP was among the first of President
Yushchenko’s foreign trips.
An important neighbor
Ukraine, a former constituent republic of the Soviet Union, became an
independent country in 1991 and is one of the EU’s most significant
immediate neighbors.

It has a population of about 47 million and covers a geographical area of
603,700 square kilometer – about 10% greater than metropolitan France. The
country borders four EU Member States: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and
Romania. Its capital is Kiev.  (
[return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
Ukrainians can expect the discord to continue

By Jan Maksymiuk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, September 27, 2007

If the mood in the days ahead of Ukraine’s parliamentary vote is any
indication, voters have little reason to expect a reversal from the
political discord that led to the call for early elections in the first

As Ukraine’s major political parties busy themselves accusing one another of
intending to falsify the September 30 early elections, fears have increased
that the postelection period could be mired in protests and litigations.

The Socialist Party has already announced that it will challenge the
validity of the vote in court whatever the results, and election monitors
have warned that some 1 million voters may find it difficult or even
impossible to cast their ballots on election day.
Earlier this week supporters of the Party of Regions started pitching tents
on Kyiv’s Independence Square (Maydan) as part of their self-proclaimed
effort to ensure an honest vote.

In November and December 2004, the square served as the main venue for
protests against the falsification of the presidential vote in favor of
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Now Yanukovych’s supporters are turning the tables by claiming that his
rival, President Viktor Yushchenko, intends to resort to falsifications in
order to prevent the Yanukovych-led Party of Regions from scoring a
“crushing” victory.

On September 20, the Party of Regions issued a statement accusing its
opponents of preparing “provocations” and threatening to boycott the

According to the statement, opponents of the Party of Regions intend to
“sabotage” the work of constituency election commissions in the party’s
traditional strongholds of eastern and southern Ukraine.

By refusing to sign constituency voting reports, the statement claims, the
opposition seeks to declare voting in those regions invalid and strip the
Party of Regions of a hefty number of votes.

The opposition Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc
promptly cited the Party of Regions’ accusations as proof that Yanukovych
and his supporters plan to contest election results they are certain to find

Exchanging vote-falsification accusations is an essential course on the
Ukrainian electioneering menu, but Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz’s
declaration that his party will question the elections in court regardless
of their results is a new ingredient.

“We will appeal to the courts. This is necessary in connection with the
number of violations that occurred during the previous elections and that
are committed now,” Moroz said at an election meeting earlier this week. He
did not elaborate.

Some of his party colleagues explained that the Socialists question not only
the fairness of the election campaign but also the legitimacy of
Yushchenko’s decrees calling for preterm polls.
In April, Yushchenko issued two decrees on early elections, citing as
grounds the ruling coalition’s acceptance of defectors from other factions.
Coalition lawmakers appealed against the decrees in the Constitutional Court
and Yushchenko subsequently retracted them.

The September 30 polls were decreed by President Yushchenko in June and
confirmed by another decree in August. These two decrees became possible
thanks to a political deal in late May between Yushchenko, Yanukovych, and

Nevertheless, the June decree was also challenged by coalition lawmakers in
the Constitutional Court, which has so far made no ruling on it.

Under the deal, more than 150 opposition deputies gave up their mandates in
the Verkhovna Rada, reducing its numerical strength to below 300 deputies
and thus making it illegitimate.

But Moroz insisted that in quitting the legislature, the opposition deputies
violated legal norms and procedures, thus casting doubt on the legality of
the preterm polls.

Moroz then continued to organize parliamentary sittings after the
opposition’s withdrawal, despite the fact that Yushchenko and the opposition
deemed them illegal.

Some observers of the Ukrainian political scene predict that Moroz, whose
party has little chance of overcoming the 3 percent voting threshold, will
fight until the bitter end in order to prevent the installation of a new
legislature — or at least to delay this as long as possible.

And some observers assert that Moroz may be not without supporters in his
fight, especially if at least one of the three election frontrunners — the
Party of Regions, the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc, and the Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc — post election results that fall below expectations or

Pessimists even assume that if election complaints fail to prevent the
legalization of a new Verkhovna Rada, it can nevertheless be dissolved by
the same maneuver as the current one — a party dissatisfied with a
postelection government might just ask its legislators to quit.

According to opinion polls, the Party of Regions and the Yulia Tymoshenko
Bloc both stand a chance of winning enough seats to make them singularly
capable of making parliament illegitimate by withdrawing deputies.
How long might it take for Ukrainian courts to deal with potential election

Serhiy Kyvalov, who was the head of the infamous Central Election
Commission that wanted to award the presidential victory in 2004 to
Yanukovych, explained publicly earlier this week that such a process of
postelection litigations could take as long as 55 days. Thus, official
election results may be announced no sooner than in the last week of

On top of all that, according to the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (KVU),
an NGO monitoring Ukrainian elections, problems with the current electoral
law — which was hastily amended in June — could lead to nearly a million
Ukrainians losing the right to vote.

Under the law, 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 by September 27, which
subsequently strike them from the list of eligible voters.

This scheme is questionable for at least two reasons. According to the KVU,
an estimated 400,000 voters returning to Ukraine within three days of the
election may be disenfranchised.

Second, there is no central registry where departures from Ukrainian border
checkpoints are recorded. Thus, the provision intended to eliminate voting
by absent voters opens the way for new manipulations.

President Yushchenko questioned this provision in the Constitutional Court,
which has so far not issued any ruling. What if a court decision qualifying
this provision as unconstitutional comes after September 30? Will the
elections be repeated?
The amended electoral law bans absentee voting. Again, the provision,
which was originally intended to reduce vote falsifications, potentially
disenfranchises an estimated 500,000 voters, including students and
domestic migrant workers, who are away from their home constituencies.

The electoral law also toughens the rules for voting at home, which is
believed to have been a major source of vote falsifications in the 2004
presidential polls. But it does not eliminate the possibility of
falsification in such voting completely.

With more than 33,000 polling stations opened on September 30, mere handfuls
of ballots stuffed in mobile ballot boxes — a move that would be very
difficult to detect — could decide the outcome.

According to some election experts, the race is expected to be very tight,
and just 300,000-400,000 votes may decide who will win enough of the few
seats required to form a parliamentary majority.

Thus, the postelection period, instead of the restoration of political
harmony that is so craved by President Yushchenko, may bring more political
turmoil and an outburst of legal wrangling.

It is clear that in coming months both the Ukrainian political elites and
ordinary voters are facing a very demanding test of their maturity and

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

BRIEFING: Oxford Business Group, London, UK, Tue, 25 Sep 2007

Controversies swirling around the upcoming general election have again
brought into focus the strong links between Ukraine’s political parties and
the business oligarchs who fund them.

The recent part-privatisation of Ukraine’s largest thermal power plant,
Dniproenergo, sold to Rinat Akhmetov, a member of parliament who belongs

to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions and is Ukraine’s
acknowledged richest man, has drawn sharp criticism from Yanukovich’s
prime rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc and a rumoured candidate for the presidential election
expected in 2010.

In response, Yanukovich’s supporters have drawn attention to controversial
deals made by the government during Tymoshenko’s eight-month spell as prime
minister in 2005, and her own alleged ties to big business. Tymoshenko had
formerly been allies with President Viktor Yushchenko in the Orange
Revolution, which swept him to power in 2005.

Yushchenko had faced Yanukovich in the presidential election at the end of
2004, with the latter declared winner. However, after months of street
protests claiming corruption and vote rigging, a recount revealed Yushchenko
as the real winner and he was confirmed as president.

The election was seen as a victory for pro-Europeans over pro-Russian
factions in the government. However, others have interpreted the result
merely as the triumph of one group of business interests over another.

Tymoshenko was appointed prime minister in January 2005 but was dismissed

by Yushchenko in September, with allegations of her interference in a
privatisation deal cited as the reason for her dismissal.

There has been some behind the scenes rapprochement between the two

and she is likely being considered by the president for the post again.

Akhmetov has been a major sponsor of Yanukovich, who was appointed

prime minister after his party’s victory in elections last year.

The tycoon is seen as a potential future president for the Party of the
Regions and is counted as part of the “Donetsk clan” of oligarchs, the
steelmaking and machine building city in the east of the country from which
he and Yanukovich originate.

A BBC profile of Yanukovich commented, “Some see him as the figurehead

of Donetsk’s political and business groups and associate him with local
oligarch Rinat Akhmetov,” adding, “Supporters say Donetsk secured
unprecedented levels of investment during his governorship.”

Rinat Akhmetov increased his stake in Dniproenergo in a debt-for-equity
deal. In late August, representatives of the state’s interest in the company
agreed to a 52% increase in share capital, which increased Akhmetov’s share
of the company more than four times to 40%.

His share is now estimated to be worth between $400m and $500m. Supporters
of the deal say it was necessary, given the plant’s debts, but opponents
point to Akhmetov’s close ties to Yanukovich.

In a recent comment piece in the local press, Tymoshenko attacked Yanukovich
and Akhmetov over the process of privatisation of Dniproenergo.

She slammed the actions of “Yanukovich and Partners” in allegedly fixing the
sell-off to Akhmetov, saying the company was undervalued and the tycoon
could now move to control the country’s energy sector and increase
electricity prices significantly.

“It is Akhmetov who decides what the price per kilowatt-hour of electric
power for the population will be …and he will not be engaged in charity
when selling the electric power,” she said.

Tymoshenko claimed the “doomed” Party of the Regions coalition was

involved in a frantic sell-off of state assets before its impending election
defeat, and said, “that’s why they are trying to steal everything that is in bad

Criticism over the Dniproenergo sell-off has been at the heart of
Tymoshenko’s wider broadside against what she claimed has been the
government’s enriching of its allies.

“It appears that it wasn’t for nothing that Forbes wrote that during the
periods under Yanukovych’s management, business circles close to the
government increased their turnover by $17bn.”

However, Tymoshenko herself has come under attack for her alleged close

ties to Privat Group, a group controlled by businessmen including Igor
Kolomoisky. It is claimed that, while she was prime minister, Tymoschenko’s
government favoured Privat. It is also claimed that the group has provided
financial support to both Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.

Meanwhile, Tymoshenko has been seen on the campaign trail riding in a
helicopter with Kostyantin Zhevago, a billionaire with assets in ore mining,
banking, truck manufacturing, hydrocarbons and real estate.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko fell out last year, partly over the latter’s
actions over the ongoing privatisation of Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant. It is
claimed Tymoshenko tried to put the brakes on the sale of the majority of
shares to Interpipe, a long-term and bitter rival of Privat.

Furthermore, Interpipe is run by Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of former
President Leonid Kuchma. Kutchma backed Yanukovich as his successor,

tying Interpipe to the latter’s political fortunes in many people’s eyes.

Tymoshenko’s government also reversed the privatisation of Kryvorizhstal
steel mill, which was sold to Akhmetov for $800m in 2004. The following
year, the mill was sold to Mittal for $4.8bn.

Despite the heat and light, businesses remain confident in Ukraine’s
progress, and its bid to join the WTO is expected to be completed by the end
of the year, further improving its standing.

Yanukovich’s cautious balance between the EU and Russia has been pragmatic,
and critics of Tymoshenko point out that her government took a more populist
stance than the liberal and reforming path urged by the EU and International
Monetary Fund.

The message from the EU, outlined by European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barroso, has been “have the election, then continue with reform” with
whoever is elected.

Whether these encouraging noises will soothe the accusations and counter-

accusations after the election is a moot point.
General Enquiries
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, September 27, 2007

As Ukraine nears the Sept. 30 parliamentary elections, voters are splitting
three ways: one-third  favors the Orange forces led by Yulia Tymoshneko’s
bloc; one-third supports Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of
Regions; and the rest won’t say.

Who will win depends on the undecided voters and their view of frontrunners,
like the Party of Regions. After18 months of parliamentary power, it can
reap the benefits of office.

In this time, the prime minister has projected a respectable image, shedding
the somewhat bumbling, goon-like image he had during the presidential
elections of 2004. Ukraine’s robust economy favors him. Foreign investments
have surpassed $5 billion, almost three times the 2003 figures.

For Western-minded Ukrainians, his negatives include a wobbly stand on NATO
and charges of corruption.  However, the most dangerous aspect of his
candidature is underscored in the taping of a secret meeting last month with
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Realnaya Polityka, a Russian website, reported Mr. Putin saying that “things
will not change in Ukraine. Yanukovych will be prime minister.”

Whether the tape is real or not is a moot point: The issue is real. The
danger to the free election is Russia’s determination to control it through
the Party of Regions regardless of Ukraine’s national will. Why?

Because Russia needs Ukraine for its energy dominance, as a global
counterweight to the United States and the West, and for Ukraine’s strategic
attributes, both geographic – proximity to Europe, the Black Sea, and
economic -agriculture, metallurgy, the space industry. Its empire-building
strategies depend on it.

The alternative to Yanukovych is Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc united with other
Orange parties and supported by one-third of the electorate and advancing.
Her power has grown steadily since being dismissed as prime minister by
President Viktor Yushchenko in the post-Orange Revolution government.

It surged after he signed a unity document with Yanukovych, called him to
form a government, and had his Our Ukraine party serve in his cabinet.

Yulia, as she is popularly called, and her bloc, went into opposition, the
lone standard bearers of the Orange Revolution values until other Orange
parties saw the writing on the wall and joined her.

She articulates Ukraine’s national aspirations and couples them with
good-for-Ukraine economic policies, like promising to re-privatize Renat
Akchmetov’s (on Fortune’s richest list) recently purchased state energy
property. (She’s already made him return a steel plant, reselling it at many
times his price, to bring some $4 billion into Ukraine’s coffers). The
people love such measures of justice.

She is seen by the pro-West-minded electorate, to whom cozying up to Russia
smells of years of terror, economic deprivation and the Gulag, as its
champion. To her credit, she has cobbled a rapprochement among the Orange
forces – Our Ukraine and Yuriy Lutsenko’s Peoples Self-Defense Party.

She achieved similar unity during the Orange Revolution only to see
President Yushchenko, to whom she handed power, turn on her. Many of the
undecided voters must be wondering whether there is a snake in the grass
once again.

There might well be. It’s hard to believe that Russia will let her, and the
West, win outright. In previous Ukrainian elections, fraud occurred at all
three levels of voting, the greatest being in 2004 at the Central Election
Commission’s headquarters, where Yanukovych supporters introduced false
results into the computer to give him a slight win. This precipitated the
Orange Revolution.

At the local poll station level, names of deceased have appeared on voters
lists; corrupt election officials have been taped adding rolls of ballots
during the count, and military academy commanders have insisted students
show marked ballots before depositing them in urns.

Now, there are complaints that the electoral lists vary by about as much as
20 percent from the previous year. Is the accusation real or not? Either
way, it can be used to trip the election.

Any transfer of ballots is open to abuse. Concerns about house voting, where
election urns are carried to the sick, need attention. Moving hundreds of
sacks of ballots and documents from local voting stations to regional
centers is an opportunity for massive falsification.

Political party observers need to be trained (to telephone headquarters
immediately with local results) and the electorate assured that there are
checks throughout the system preventing fraud.

Punishment of corrupt officials could be a deterrent. During the last
election there was only one television advertisement showing that election
law violation – threats of job dismissal for not voting as told- is
punishable with jail.

The real message to offenders lies elsewhere: Serhiy Kivalov, the dismissed
chief of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, went unpunished for running
two fraudulent presidential elections.

Instead, he was appointed head of the Odessa University’s law department.

He also ran and sat as a leading member (Party of Regions) in Ukraine’s
parliament. He is a running for office again.

The ultimate sabotage of the elections could happen after the vote; a
trip-up like the one the Orange forces experienced after their slight win in
the last parliamentary elections. At that time they were prevented from
taking office for months, by which time some of their parliamentarians
crossed over to the Yanukovych side.

This could happen again if there is pressure from outside forces – threats
to life or corruption could be persuasive. The alleged price for switching
sides in the last election surpassed $1 million.

The evidence was there – the extravagantly expensive cars, the giant Rolexes
and snappy Savil Row suits some parliamentarians suddenly boasted.

How to prevent this? The best enforcer of electoral law has been Ukraine’s
free press.  After the sign-language interpreter said she would no longer
spout the lies of the anti-Orange forces in the 2004 election, the
confidence of and trust in the media has been growing.

It needs to keep up the pressure on politicians to keep them honest. Make
them provide assurances that during the transition period Ukraine’s wealth
is protected from raiders; that positions are not being offered to pals or
lubi druzi (good friends). The media needs to keep asking the hard

Will the Orange coalition hold? Will parliamentarians switch parties? Who
will comprise the cabinet? Will there be grand victory celebrations abroad
like there were before or will the new government get down to the business
of governing?

The post-election transition period is ripe with opportunities for Mr. Putin
to make a power play should Yulia and the Orange forces win.

The shenanigans following the last parliamentary elections support that. The
lack of leadership, and the abuses and stagnation that went on for months
was a considerable setback for democratic Ukraine.

It allowed Russia to capitalize by placing its people in high offices and
grabbing control of such crucial sectors as energy. Equally important, the
post-election chaos demoralized much of Ukraine’s electorate – the one-third
that is holding this election in the balance.
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn is the president of U*CAN, a consulting firm
specializing in relations with Ukraine, and a commentator.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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ANALYSIS: By Yaroslav Varyvoda, UCIPR project expert
“Civic Education in the 2007 Parliamentary Elections”.
“Your Vote-2007”. Issue 6. “Social Policy: Vision and Practice of Ukrainian
Political Forces, Represented in the Verkhovna Rada of the Vth Convocation”
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, September 17, 2007

The social issue is always widely used by all political forces during
election campaigns. Though, on the eve of the early parliamentary elections
in September 2007, it has become a key one on the agenda of leaders of the
electoral race. Election programs are full of social promises.

Indicative is the situation with the commitment of parties and blocs to pay
child allowance (the highest stake was made by the Party of Regions ranging
from UAH 10,000 for the first child to UAH 50,000 for the third child).

Furthermore, politicians suggest increasing pensions (Yulia Tymoshenko’s
Bloc), raising the minimum wage (Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense) and
providing young specialists and budget employees with housing (the Party of

In its turn, the IMF forecasts that the focus on guaranteed social payments,
which became a usual practice of almost all Ukrainian political forces,
might lead to the essential growth of both prices for all commodity groups
and the national budget deficit.

By the way, however strange it seems but the Ukrainian law does not give a
clear definition for “social policy”.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy as a respective body in the
executive system is responsible for the implementation of government policy
“in the area of employment and labor migration, social security of the
population, state compulsory social insurance, social-labor relations and
control of compliance with the legislation on labor, payment, work
measurement and promotion, classification of jobs and trades, labor
conditions, pension security, social services, collective and contractual
regulation of socio-economic interests of workers and employers and
development of a social dialogue” (the November 2, 2006 Cabinet resolution
No. 1543 “On the Approval of the Regulation on the Ministry of Labor and
Social Policy of Ukraine”).

Under the Ukrainian law, social security shall be ensured “by means of
timely and address social support, including all types of public social
assistance in case of the loss of job, disability, retirement age and
others” (the November 2, 2006 Cabinet resolution No. 1543 “On the
Approval of the Regulation on the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
of Ukraine”).
Social Policy as Seen by MPs…
Legislative activity of parliamentary factions is focused mostly on the
satisfaction of needs of social groups that serve as a basis for their
voters. Specifically, lawmaking initiatives of the Communist Party’s faction
mainly concern veterans, pensioners and children of war.

MPs from the faction of the Party of Regions basically deal with state
compulsory social insurance, which is probably interesting for wage earners
and employers.

Another aspect of law-making incorporates problems relating to consistent
and sound policy of political parties. An indicative example is Our Ukraine,
whose deputies members of respective committees drafted just 3 bills.

Another example is Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc, whose legal initiatives on
social security of the disabled are launched by its new member MP V.
Sushkevych, who has been engaged in respective problems for long.

A comparative analysis of the declared commitments and the scope of
activities carried out over the year evidences that the most effective were
efforts of coalition party forces (first and foremost, the Party of Regions
and the Communist Party), which worked on legislative regulation of such
issues as state compulsory social insurance and social security of the
disabled and pensioners.

For a number of reasons, activity of the parliamentary opposition was
oriented towards other areas of government policy, whereas work in the
social sphere proved to be ineffective.

Attention must be paid to low effectiveness of social law-making of MPs from
the faction of Our Ukraine – they submitted only 3 bills, of which none has
been enacted (by the way, according to information posted on the official
site of the Verkhovna Rada, this political force appointed just by 1 MP to
sit in respective committees).

Eventually, in 2006, Our Ukraine went to the elections with liberal views
and did not undertake high obligations on social security of Ukrainians,
having limited its program to general declarations.

MPs from the faction of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc paid attention to bills on
youth social protection, child allowance, various aspects of social
assistance to the disabled etc.

For some reasons, among which the faction’s being in opposition is not the
last one, this work is characterized by the low performance factor, since
the parliament supported just 4 bills, inclusive of the Recommendations of
the Parliamentary Hearings on the Youth Situation and amendments to the
three laws.

The Communist Party has a rather high level of law-making due to activity of
MP P. Tsybenko, who performed the Stakhanov’s norm having submitted 61
bills, of which 35 directly deal with the social issues. 6 bills became
normative documents, to say nothing about a number of resolutions on the
withdrawal of some bills and the adoption of others as a basis.

In general, Mr. Tsybenko concerned himself with social security of the
disabled, pensioners and war veterans, which is in line with the Communist
Party’s election platform and confirms its orientation to these categories
of voters. On the other hand, it is rather surprising that the Communist
Party delegated just one deputy to tackle such an important matter as social

Having appointed its three representatives as members of special
parliamentary committees, the Socialist Party also can boast about work of
only one deputy, I. Bondarchuk (59 bills, of which 26 concern social

Nevertheless, effectiveness of the Socialists in the area of social security
was low, for most bills are not enacted, whereas the adopted ones concern
procedural issues (the approval as a basis, defeat, revision etc.).

As for the Party of Region’s faction, a major share of respective work of
its MPs related to state social insurance (10 respective bills were voted
for at once).

The government’s efforts in the social sphere usually become more active
over the election period (this means attempts of a certain political force
to prove the fulfillment of its commitments and widen the circle of

Vision of “social policy” by key political forces of Ukraine is full of

The Communists and the Socialists address mostly their voters (pensioners,
veterans, children of war and others), the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine
guarantee the government support only to those, who cannot care about
themselves, whereas Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc promise to combat total
injustice and ensure equal rights to all citizens without exception.
This article is prepared within the framework of UCIPR project “Civic
Education in the 2007 Parliamentary Elections”. The bulletin is “Your Vote-
2007″. Issue 6. “Social Policy: Vision and Practice of Ukrainian Political
Forces, Represented in the Verkhovna Rada of the Vth Convocation”  is
available on the UCIPR’s site
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


By Sebastian Smith, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday September 27, 2007

KIEV – Ukrainians having nightmares involving a politician’s death ahead of
parliamentary elections this Sunday should wake with a smile: an unexpected
sexual encounter awaits.

That’s just one of a galaxy of predictions provided by astrologers in this
ex-Soviet country as they peer into crystal balls and try to add spice to a
poll mired in apathy.

In another one of his tips, self-described astro-political scientist Igor
Lepshin says anyone dreaming of parliamentary sessions could be in luck:
“There’s a chance for making money.”

But dreaming about sex with a politician is bad: “Your hidden enemies will
trick you,” Lepshin warned this week in Segodnya, one of Ukraine’s leading

Others have found ingenious ways to beat the boredom of Ukraine’s third
national poll in as many years. A beauty salon in the south-eastern city of
Dnepropetrovsk is offering special manicures that leave clients boasting
portraits of political leaders and party logos on their nails.

“People are tired of having so many elections. We’re trying to add some
interest,” manicurist Olena Popova told AFP. The heavy-jowled current prime
minister, Viktor Yanukovych, is especially tricky in miniature, Popova said.

Another client “wanted logos of all the parties on different fingers,”
eventually settling for the top five — with 20 parties contesting Sunday’s
poll she’d have had to bring her toes into play.

Entrepreneurial clothes designer Igor Zaitsev has produced political
shoes — orange for President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party, blue
for Yanukovych’s Regions Party.

Fans of Yuliya Tymoshenko, a glamorous opposition leader aiming to oust
Yanukovych as premier, can squeeze into white stilettos emblazoned with her
trademark red love heart.

Not every money-making scheme bears fruit. The bookmakers Parimatch in the
capital Kiev said there are few punters for betting on the results. “A good
Barcelona-Zaragoza football match would get more bets than the entire
election,” bookmaker Konstantin Zakharich told AFP.

“Betting people are rarely interested in politics and vice versa, especially
when you are talking about elections in Ukraine. I, for example, am
completely uninterested. It’s like something on Mars.”

Still, politicians are trying hard to grab attention. Tymoshenko has been
quoted comparing Yanukovych’s pro-Russian coalition to a male rabbit mating
with a male squirrel.

Yanukovych, an ex-convict who brushed up his image with the help of US media
experts, hit back, describing Tymoshenko as a “cow on an ice rink.”

And chances are they’ll be taking those differences onto Kiev’s main square,
the Maidan, soon after polling ends. In the 2004 pro-democracy “Orange
Revolution” the Maidan was where Tymoshenko and Yushchenko led hundreds

of thousands of people to challenge alleged vote-rigging by Yanukovych.

This time Yanukovych is a step ahead: an advance team of blue-flag waving
supporters has already occupied much of the Maidan. They even have their own
blue Regions Party basketball hoop.

Astrologers shrink from predictions about the country’s political fate.
“Based on a politician’s date of birth we can work out exactly what will
happen,” astrologer Olena Osipenko told AFP.

“But there are others who stand behind these politicians and do not reveal
their identities,” she said darkly. “Many politicians even change their
dates of birth.”

Anyone really fed up might consider decamping to the village of Bakaivka,
east of Kiev. An eccentric group of locals have declared independence for
their vegetable-producing “sovereign municipality.”

“The election does not affect us. We have nothing to do with Ukraine’s
laws,” Olexander Tolstoy, who described himself as a “plenipentory
diplomatic representative,” told AFP by telephone.

But even politicians seem to know they are not wanted all the time. Asked by
journalists how she will spend Saturday, the last day before voting, when
campaigning is banned, Tymoshenko said: “I plan to sleep — all day.”

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

COMMENTARY: By Andrei Levkin,
Moscow, Russia, Thursday, September 27, 2007

Several days remain before the elections in Ukraine, but nothing special can
be said. Certainly, one can estimate chances of one or another candidate,
but no more. There are no changes; the present coalition and other have
even chances, things will become more definite during the very process.

It is quite clear that the result won’t become the end. When votes are
summed up, one will begin forming the coalition, changing the Constitution,
etc. One can’t say about any stability, and in the near future the situation
won’t change.

But elections are a special episode. At least some figures will appear in
the chaos that reigns now, and it even doesn’t matter what they will mean,
just figures. And, perhaps, they will turn out to be quite unexpected. As
for ratings, they changes now and then and sometimes seem to be just

For example, in the live broadcast in Cherson Victor Yanukovich was asked,
why his party had agreed to participate in the pre-term elections in spite
of the fact that they were unconstitutional.

Well, it is impossible that questions appear from nowhere, they are
prepared; so, it was important for Yanukovich that he would be asked this
question. He wanted to answer it.

He did answer. He claimed that the Party of Regions consented to pre-term
elections after Yushchenko had ordered the internal security troops moving
to Kiev.

There was really such an order and even some troops were transferred
somewhere, but in the whole there was a regular situation. The forces move
to Kiev and the entire world can observe Yushchenko playing in Boris
Yeltsin. Then everything would become clear.

Yanukovich came to another conclusion. “When we saw, that this orange
team together with the white fraternity will go to every expedient, even to
a civil conflict and, God forbid, to a civil war, we decided to participate in
the elections.” (White fraternity – it is Julia Timoshenko Block).

“That’s why the elections are the reality and on 30 September the people of
Ukraine will give a response to these populists, carpet-baggers, artists,
like they can be named, to these figures which, as I think, has lost their
political faces and pushed the country to political and economic

There is some discrepancy here. If people are going to give a response, it
will give it. But for what purpose five days before the elections Yanukovich
explains why the Party of Regions has supported this initiative of

Thus, figures can be rather unexpected. There is a statement of Bogatyreva,
the head of the parliamentarian fraction of the Party of Regions. Bogatyreva
decided to refute the information about the rating decline of the party.

The explanation was quite simple: “The increasing rating is eating our
political rivals up. While preparing themselves to the defeat and to work in
opposition, our rivals are searching for new tricks and using manipulating

“Our opposition is well informed that the Party of Regions is in the lead
with wide margin and the defeat of the opposition is inevitable.”

But she didn’t bring any figures proving the “inevitable defeat of the
opposition”. And we all know very well, what can happen with parties fully
confident of their victory relying on ratings having ordered by themselves.

Thus if soon it turns out that just The Block of Yulia Timoshenko (BYT) and
Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense (NUNS) will for the coalition, one
shouldn’t be surprised. Generally speaking, simply arithmetic is in fashion

One should sum up BYT and NUNS and then the Party of Regions and the
Ukraine’s Communist Party (KPU). The Socialist Party (SPU) obviously
won’t pass; but, as it is considered, the Party of Regions and KPU will.
And then (as it is considered) there will be the coalition.

But is it really so? Will KPU really enter the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
(Parliament)? Or it is reckoned that the Block of Litvin will pass, and then
it is added to the Party of Regions. Well, maybe it will pass, but is it
right to add it just there? If to add it not there, a wonderful harmony is

Litvin is the speaker again, Timoshenko is again the prime minister, and
Yushchenko is the president. Then Timoshenko fights for the presidential
post and, sure, loses, since all people of good will will undoubtedly stand
up for their fatherland against her. But at the moment she doesn’t guess
about this.

What will be after the elections? There certainly will be a full benefit of
the president Yushchenko; and he is ready for it. For example, in the
beginning of this week Timoshenko and then Tomenko (also a member of BYT)
began calling on Yushchenko to announce what coalition he wanted yet before
the elections, whether it should be NUNS+BYT or NUNS+the Party of Regions.

Certainly, Yushchenko himself gave cause for such questions. He doesn’t
speak directly about the coalition with BYT, but mentions “wide coalition”,
i.e. one with the Party of Regions. It makes BYT nervous but they understand
rather well, that now the president anyway won’t say them anything.

So, this is just a PR at his cost, since they make the president out a
politician betraying “democratic values” again. And if it is so, BYT is the
only power, which can defend these values. Well, after all BYT and NUNS will
fight for the second place.

But why Yushchenko behaves himself just in that way? Well, it is important
for the coalition, how many votes will get NUNS and BYT, it will determine
who will become the prime minister. But the elections won’t to put an end to
the crisis.

That’s why Yushchenko doesn’t regulate the elections but reflects on what to
do then. First you should understand what you want and only then announce
with whom you want to collaborate.

But at the same time Yushchenko became too enthusiastic about the NUNS, so
that the CEC even called him on ‘keeping himself from agitation during the
election process’.

The CEC reckons that public appeals to vote for NUNS violate the suffrage.
Since Yushchenko doesn’t participate in the elections, his behaviour is a
direct propagation of the administrative resource.

But Yushchenko decided not to explain in details but simply started the talk
off in a more common direction, claiming that he, being a president, must
participate in all political processes.

Well, there is something strange. If he hadn’t become a main teller of NUNS,
the results of the election wouldn’t be so important for him.

If NUNS received few votes, he could just step aside. He could say something
about ‘the terrible defeat of the democracy’, but then encourage teh world
by the fact that he, a true democratic president, is still on his post.

But he decided to participate in the elections as the main figure of NUNS.
Now bad result of NUNS can influence on his personal authority. But may not,
since he considers himself to be such a person for which all these fusses
are utter rubbish.

For example, hi was so indignant at the CEC, that during a pre-election
meeting in Sumy he claimed that he did not call Ukrainians on voting for one
or another political power.

‘I don’t tell anybody for whom to vote. I’m a free president and you’re free
Ukrainian people. I fully confide in your choice and I’ll accept any
challenge that you, being my compatriots will make’.

At the same time on 15 September in Lvov he said: “I ask you to support my
team, Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense. I’m convinced, that, being the
president and a national, I have a right on such a request”.

Evidently there are subtle psychological nuances. He really didn’t say that
Ukrainians had to vote for NUNS, he just asked for it. Probably he sincerely
reckons that he hasn’t made any appeal. And if to assume that he is sincere,
then he just mixes himself and his position up.

Well, in Lvov he called on voting for his team, but he spoke just as a
private person, Mr. Yushchenko. Well, he is always mixing V. Yushchenko and
the president up, and this know-how provides him for absolutely strategic

How else this know-how can be used? For example, on 1 October he can
discharge the government. Discharge, being a president. Because a private
person Yushchenko will count, that there can be a collision.

The Party of Regions and KPU will become the opposition and, treading in
steps of BYT and NU (Our Ukraine, that was before NS), they will refuse the
mandates. The Parliament is incapable, according to the law the next
elections can be held not earlier that in a year. Who rests in the country?

The president and the Cabinet of Ministers. Rada is also incapable, so one
can’t approve another Cabinet. Does Yushchenko, as a private person, want to
find himself in such situation?

Certainly, he doesn’t. but if to remove the Cabinet on 1 October, before the
official results of the elections, he will become the only power in the

And at that moment Yushchenko-the president and Yushchenko-private person
will become one figure. It is certainly rather a pretentious variant, but it
explains the actions of Yushchenko (of both Yushchenkos).

And it is a possible variant. Otherwise for what the Party of Regions has
occupied the Maidan. One won’t occupy the Maidan beforehand because of

good premonitions. Alas, this activity resembles generals preparing for the
past war.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Real test for Ukraine’s warring parties will come after this weekend’s election

The Economist print edition, London, UK, Thu, Sep 27, 2007

KIEV – THE stage on Independence Square is set, the props are out, the
players are ready for the general election on September 30th.

There are blue tents for the Party of the Regions, led by the prime
minister, Viktor Yanukovich; orange ones for Our Ukraine, the party of his
rival, President Viktor Yushchenko; and white tents with red hearts for the
fiery Yulia Tymoshenko, Mr Yushchenko’s first prime minister.

Ukrainians have seen this show several times. This is the second
parliamentary election since the orange revolution of 2004. The past three
years have seen lots of side-swapping, corruption and betrayal.

Much of the president’s power has been transferred to parliament. In April
Mr Yushchenko called a fresh parliamentary election, leaving the country
largely ungoverned for almost six months.

The hope is that Ukraine’s political system will now be rebooted. Yet the
results may be similar to the 2006 parliamentary election, when the big
winner was the Party of the Regions, followed by the Tymoshenko block

and trailed by Our Ukraine.

The real question is not over seats: it is whether the political elite can
create a functioning governing body. And that is also to ask if Ukraine,
with no tradition of statehood, can be a successful country.

From this perspective, the importance of this election goes far beyond
Ukraine. If the biggest ex-Soviet country after Russia can pull itself out
of this crisis, it will be an example for others, including Moldova and

In the 2004 presidential election the picture seemed clear. The orange
forces, led by Ms Tymoshenko and Mr Yushchenko, defeated the vote-

rigging Mr Yanukovich, who was backed by Moscow.

Ukraine was turned to the West. Since then the picture has become blurred.
Ideological divides, at least between the two Viktors, seem less important
and the fight for power and money more so.

As president, Mr Yushchenko failed to break the nexus between politics and
business and turned a blind eye to the murky brokering of Russian gas to

The orange revolution did not create the institutions needed for a
functioning state. Then Mr Yanukovich, the villain in 2004, staged a
dramatic comeback.

Unlike Mr Yushchenko, he never promised to cut links with business tycoons.
He is backed by Rinat Akhmetov, an MP and the country’s richest man.

“We have a different philosophy: we want to draw business into the running
of the country. Akhmetov and Yanukovich complement each other,” says Yuriy
Miroshnychenko, a lawyer with the Party of the Regions.

Mr Yanukovich has also undergone a makeover by American consultants and no
longer takes instructions from Moscow. His main message is of stability and
growth. Demanding official status for the Russian language and opposition to
NATO membership are secondary.

Ms Tymoshenko calls for a revolutionary breakthrough and an anti-corruption
crusade. That inspires awe in her supporters and apprehension among some
tycoons. All three parties want Ukraine to get into the European Union, but
the EU offers little encouragement.

None of the parties will get an overall majority, so a coalition will be
necessary. One possibility is the reunion of Ms Tymoshenko and Mr

Another is a coalition between the Party of the Regions and Our Ukraine. Mr
Yanukovich and Mr Akhmetov have talked to Mr Yushchenko, who has not

ruled out a coalition with his opponents. Now negotiations are intensifying.

The test of this election will be the ability of the parties to do a
post-election deal. Oles Doniy, a supporter of Our Ukraine who fought for
independence in the early 1990s, says that “from the point of view of the
Ukrainian state, victory by Our Ukraine is not enough. The most important
thing is the functioning of the state.”

For the election to be judged a success, he argues, the parties must not
cheat; whoever loses must recognise the victory of the others; and whoever
wins must allow the losers to function as a proper opposition.

Each of the three parties has accused its opponents of rigging the votes,
even before they are cast. None of the parties is ready to admit defeat. If
the Party of the Regions wins the most seats but is excluded from
government, Mr Yanukovich may bring people on to the streets; or simply
boycott parliament.

If the economy keeps growing fast, Ukrainians can afford to take little
interest. But with the world economy faltering, the next few years could be
tougher. A stalemate that blocks further reform could then lose all the
gains from 2004.

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

COMMENTARY: Samuel Charap, International Herald Tribune (IHT)
Paris, France, Thursday, September 27, 2007

NEW YORK: On Sunday, Ukrainians will go to the polls to elect a new
Parliament. In a snap election called only a year and a half after the last
one, voters will be faced with a familiar choice: either President Viktor
Yushchenko’s bloc, that of his erstwhile political ally Yulia Timoshenko, or
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions.

Many in the West mistakenly believe that this contest is merely a rerun of
the Orange Revolution, when the Yushchenko-Timoshenko team prevailed

against Yanukovich in what was seen as a bloodless coup against the old regime.

But they are wrong. The latest public opinion polls suggest that Yanukovich
will be returned to power, inevitably prompting officials in Washington and
European capitals to wonder, “Who lost Ukraine?”

After all, Yanukovich and his supporters were supposed to have been
vanquished by Yushchenko and his allies in the Orange Revolution.

Yushchenko was seen as a pro-Western reformer, his scarred face a
physical manifestation of the other side’s nefarious ways.

The Orange Revolution was considered in the West to have been a victory

of “democratic” politicians over the purportedly corrupt, pro-Russian,
authoritarian forces represented by Yanukovich.

After the results of the next election come in, instead of hand-wringing
about Yanukovich’s likely victory, policy makers in the West must try to
understand the motivations of the electorate. This will require a
reassessment of the Orange Revolution.

It is now clear that the “revolutionaries” were not Yushchenko and
Timoshenko but average Ukrainians revolting against the stagnation of the
post-Soviet period. The politicians’ battles were of secondary importance.

Before 2005, Ukrainian society was typical of the post-Soviet region –
resigned to be ruled from above, incapable of self-organization and somewhat
closed to the outside world. Compared to this “prerevolutionary” period,
Ukrainian society has been transformed.

People debate politics in person, on TV and in the press. Politicians are
held to account by an increasingly active civil society. More and more
Ukrainians from all parts of the country have begun to think of themselves
as European – and to act the part.

Yet this sea change has been overshadowed by what the West preferred to

see as a binary political battle between “democratic” and “nondemocratic”
forces. This public embrace of the “Orange team” was a mistake.

Despite the countrywide movement that initially brought them to power,
Yushchenko and Timoshenko’s power base lies almost exclusively in the
western and central regions. They have little support in the south and east
and never made a concerted attempt to reach out to this half of the country.

The West’s embrace of these leaders alienated the population in the southern
and eastern regions of Ukraine, which overwhelmingly supports Yanukovich.

In our rush to support the Orange team, policy makers seem to have ignored
the fact that Yanukovich is a genuinely popular politician in the south and
east – and current polls indicate that he is now the most popular in the
country as a whole. His electoral base is larger than the other side’s and
produces the lion’s share of the country’s GDP.

While we may not like everything they believe, we must acknowledge that
these Ukrainians are full-fledged and legitimate members of the polity. By
dismissing their leaders as enemies of democracy, Western leaders
discredited themselves.

We should have kept our distance from Ukraine’s political battles but
maintained our solidarity with the real revolutionaries, who can be found in
all regions of Ukraine.

Since Yanukovich’s electoral victory in 2006, the West has been assiduously
cultivating him and his allies, and insisting that we are only interested in
free and fair political competition and a thriving civil society – not the
victory of one side over the other. However, the damage has been done.

In this sense “Who lost Ukraine?” is the wrong question. A more appropriate
one is why the West shunned so many of the heroes of the Orange Revolution.
The answer is that we failed to understand that the politicians’ battles
were just a sideshow to the real revolution in Ukrainian society.
NOTE: Samuel Charap of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, was a visiting fellow

at the International Center for Policy studies in Kiev earlier this year.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Political problems run deeper than another set of elections can possibly fix.

Transitions Online (TOL), Prague, Czech Republic, Wed, 26 Sep 2007

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine is in the final stretch of yet another election
campaign notable for the lack of substantive debate on political challenges
and marred by the deep-seated personal animosities that have dominated
Ukrainian politics since the Orange Revolution three years ago.

The 30 September vote is being presented to the public as the solution to
the ongoing political crisis brought about by feuding between President
Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. This

expectation is bound to be disappointed.

Circling the two antagonists is Yulia Tymoshenko, the firebrand opposition
politician who hopes for another chance to sit in the prime minister’s seat.
The root cause of the friction between the president and the prime minister
is a struggle for power and authority in Ukraine’s political system. During
this election campaign the political struggles have been conducted almost
entirely on a personal level.

The platforms of the three main competing blocs hardly get a mention in the
media. Attention is focused intensely on one question: who will form a
post-election government coalition?

Political sources indicate that the presidential secretariat began preparing
for new elections at least as far back as January this year, when a tight
circle of consultants gathered to discuss the feasibility of dissolving
parliament. But it took three presidential decrees and an eventual political
compromise in May to set a firm election date.

Twenty parties and coalitions have registered their candidates’ lists with
the Central Election Commission. These include the usual smattering of
temporary, minor business alliances, as well as a “Kuchma Bloc.” In an
indication of how low expectations have sunk in the wake of a Orange
Revolution run aground, a Kyiv graffito urges former President Leonid
Kuchma, “Danylich – Come Back!”

Two established parties are unlikely to do well in the voting. The
Socialists may not even top the 3-percent cutoff to enter parliament, and
the Communists, currently rejoicing at the woes of their former adherent,
now Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, may not do much better.

The real battle will take place between the Party of Regions, headed by
Yanukovych, the Our Ukraine – National Self-Defense coalition supported by
Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko’s eponymous bloc.
The Party of Regions is feeling confident, and for good reason. They are
polling at 36-38 percent, a marked improvement over their 32 percent result
in the 2006 election.

The party is pushing its main theme of dependability in the retro style of
the former “red” directors from the Soviet period who are key supporters.

The party’s campaign chief, Boris Kolesnikov, has said that Regions would
seek a national referendum on Ukraine’s possible entry into NATO and on
elevating Russian to a state language, on a par with Ukrainian. These
initiatives are aimed against the pro-Western Yushchenko and designed to
consolidate support from Ukraine’s eastern, Russian-speaking regions.

Yanukovych’s personal slogan – “What Yanukovych says, he does” – harks back
to Kuchma’s main theme in his race for the presidency in 1994, when serving
President Leonid Kravchuk was lampooned as “all words,” while Kuchma was the
“man of action.”

As in the Kuchma-Kravchuk race, which Kuchma unexpectedly won, Yanukovych
is playing on voters’ disenchantment with the serving president. In 2004,
just before the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko ran for the office proclaiming
“Not with words, but with action.” But two years of Yushchenko’s presidency
and his passivity, detachment, and inefficacy have turned away voters.

Yushchenko’s supporters have gathered in a coalition which largely repeats
the format in which they ran in March 2006. Now, however, their bloc is
dominated by Yuriy Lutsenko, Number 1 on the bloc electoral list and a
politician who has built his political career largely on his animosity,
amply returned, towards the Party of Regions.

Lutsenko’s anti-Regions strategy has allowed him to fill a political niche
thus far dominated by Tymoshenko. However, his personal poll ratings,
currently hovering at 6-8 percent, may not be enough to lift the Our Ukraine
coalition much higher than their dismal result of 14 percent last year.

Nor has the way he meekly entered Yanukovych’s government just weeks after
publicly declaring he would never do so boosted his reputation as scourge of
the Party of Regions.
Tymoshenko, however, remains Ukraine’s premier opposition politician.

In March 2006 the Tymoshenko Bloc won 22 percent of the vote and this time
around her results are likely to improve slightly, but based on the numbers
of people who dislike her hard-headed style – her negative ratings have
consistently been the highest among Ukraine’s national politicians –
Tymoshenko may have reached the upper limit of supporters she can win over.

Tymoshenko’s message is simple: give me another shot at running the country
from the prime minister’s office. The problem with this scenario, however,
is that most people were not very impressed with her first time around, when
a meat crisis was followed by a gasoline crisis and privatized enterprises
were slated for nationalization.

Tymoshenko’s main problem, however, is not so much the election as the
intentions of Yushchenko and his closest allies. The role that will be
played in post-election coalition talks by Viktor Baloha, the powerful head
of the presidential secretariat, will be crucial.

Rumors abound that Baloha himself is interested in the post of prime
minister. Though such an eventuality is somewhat far-fetched, Baloha will be
very reluctant to see in the job given her track record as a solo rather
than team player.
Some analysts are whispering about the possibility of a worst-case
scenario – the Party of Regions garnering more than half the seats in
parliament together with the communists, allowing them to form a government
on their own. The two parties have worked as solid coalition partners in the
Yanukovych-led government.

Others mutter that fraud may cloud the outcome of the voting. The Committee
of Voters of Ukraine, a non-partisan, Western-funded monitoring group, has
issued regular reports listing its concerns about such issues as the use of
central government resources to influence voting, irregularities in voter
registration lists, and inadequate regulation of home voting for disabled

Following the March 2006 elections, independent journalists uncovered
evidence of serious and massive voting falsifications in the Donetsk region,
the home base of the Party of Regions.

Over the past decade, local election commissions have become adept at
election fraud. Since election commission members are dominated by
representatives of local government, manipulation of voting results is

Whatever happens on 30 September will not resolve the ongoing struggle for
power between the Party of Regions and Yushchenko.

A “grand coalition” between these two antagonists looks likely to be
short-lived and the same goes for a Tymoshenko government. One result looks
certain: people will soon start talking about yet another election.
Ivan Lozowy is a TOL correspondent and also runs an Internet newsletter,

the  Ukraine Insider.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov discusses the early parliamentary election
on Sunday, the unfulfilled promise of the Orange Revolution and the real
powerbrokers in Ukraine.

OPINION: By Andrey Kurkov, Ukrainian Novelist
Der Spiegel Online magazine, Germany, Thu, Sep 27, 2007

President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko kisses the hand of the opposition
leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday, prior to talks in advance of Sunday’s
parliamentary elections.

It is January 2013. The new Ukrainian president is meeting for the first
time with his Russian counterpart in Moscow where, of course, Vladimir

Putin is still in power.

This is the first scene of my novel “The President’s Last Love.” The
Ukrainian complains to the Russian about the “nimrods” in his parliament,
whose members vote the way they happen to feel like voting.

“Show them the numbers of their foreign bank accounts!” Putin advises the
Ukrainian president. “Or don’t you know where all the money from the
government’s coffers is disappearing? I have dossiers on 40 of your

I wrote this novel before the Ukrainian presidential election in 2004, that
is, before the now-famous Orange Revolution.

But then some of the imagined events in my book suddenly became Ukrainian
reality: the parliament’s intrigues against their own head of state, for
example; the poisoning of our president, which I anticipated in the book
half a year before it actually happened; and, finally, the conflict with
Russia over natural gas and the Ukrainian communists’ desire to align
themselves with the orthodox members of the Moscow patriarchy.

Almost three years have passed since then. We still don’t know who put
dioxin in Viktor Yushchenko’s food. But the president himself has
highlighted the attempted assassination once again, accusing Russia of
obstructing the investigation into the case.

It’s election time again in Ukraine.

The election Yushchenko called the “most democratic of all parliamentary
elections” happened only a year and a half ago — an election in which the
successful revolutionaries captured the majority.

But then they were unable to agree amongst themselves, helping their
political adversary, the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych, return to power.

It was undoubtedly a setback. But one thing is clear: This victory of
Yushchenko’s opponents will not be more than a temporary one.

It appears to me that Ukraine has entered an era in which all victories are
fleeting. Its politicians may have learned to win, but they still lack the
ability to use their victories in a sensible way.

The next election, an early one once again, is approaching next Sunday.
According to the pollsters, Prime Minister Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions
will capture a majority of votes.

The only problem is that the so-called democratic forces of the Orange
Revolution — Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc and Yulia
Tymoshenko’s bloc — stand a good chance of attracting just as many votes as
the prime minister’s party. In other words, we could see a stalemate.

I don’t even want to think about the possibility that one in four Ukrainians
may not even go to the polls or may choose the “against everyone” option, a
bizarre feature of the post-Soviet election law.

It’s the Ukrainian paradox. Out there in Europe, we win the Eurovision Song
Contest, and more and more foreign capital is flowing into booming Kiev. But
inside the country? Within a breathtakingly short period of time we have
worn out all of our political institutions.

The parliament — 350 of its 450 members are dollar millionaires and brawls
in front of the cameras have become commonplace — is paralyzed, the
Constitutional Court is incapable of action and the president is caught in a
political stalemate.

A few weeks ago, it seemed that the two camps were on the verge of deploying
the police and internal security forces against each other.

Politics in our country is not about seeking compromise. Instead, for our
supposed public representatives it is simply an opportunity to continue
doing business, just by other means. And Ukrainian politics is still
dominated by an eternally unchanging triangle: Yushchenko-Tymoshenko-


The attempt to find deeper ideological differences among these three forces
is fraught with many questions and few answers. The programs of all three
politicians are filled with promises that no one can fulfill.

The most popular promise: Mothers would receive the equivalent of 1,500 for
the birth of their first child, 2,000 for the second and as much as 7,000
for the third.

And this in a country where the average monthly wage is only 180!
Politicians who engage in this sort of populism are in fact apolitical. Our
parties rally around leaders, not ideas.

Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of Nasha Ukraina or Our Ukraine, still has the
best reputation. Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said for his party.
When Yushchenko began his political career, he portrayed himself as the
champion of a European future for Ukraine.

His pro-Western views and the desire to tear Ukraine away from Russia’s
political and economic sphere of influence made him popular, especially in
western Ukraine, where the people have disliked Russia and the Russian
language since the Soviet days.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is poised to win Sunday’s elections.The
center of the country, together with the capital Kiev, supported Yushchenko
as practically the only politician who could not be accused of corruption.

Many were impressed by his intelligence and, even more so, by his gentle
nature, an unusual trait among Ukrainian politicians.

Yushchenko’s intellect became especially apparent during the Melnitchenko
affair of 2000. When Major Melnitchenko of the presidential bodyguards
released secret recordings of conversations within the innermost circle of
power in Kiev.

Every politician whose voice could be heard on the tapes, including then
President Leonid Kuchma, sounded horrifyingly uneducated, with their
conversations consisting of little more than gangster speak.

Fascinated by Yushchenko, politicians from other parties switched sides and
joined Nasha Ukraina, sensing that it had the makings of a completely new
party capable of winning power. But Yushchenko remained a man marked by
hesitation, a trait he retained later on when he assumed the country’s
highest office.

If Yushchenko is a romantic, then Yulia Tymoshenko is the Trotskyite of
Ukrainian politics. The so-called gas princess and second icon of the Orange
Revolution attracted public attention when she was arrested and detained for
a few weeks in 2001.

She was accused of corruption related to business transactions involving
Russian natural gas, probably at Kuchma’s instigation. She had hardly been
released before becoming his most ardent enemy.

Her bloc now has more support within the population than Yushchenko’s,
mostly as a result of Tymoshenko’s radical views on the country’s oligarchs.
She promises a new, “honest” privatization of the assets that the “new
Ukrainians” acquired illegally in the 1990s.

When one considers that virtually all plants, factories and small businesses
were privatized illegally in the Kuchma era, the fulfillment of Tymoshenko’s
current campaign promise would lead to total chaos in the Ukrainian
economy — an economy that is finally enjoying an upswing.

Yulia Tymoshenko has never adhered to any concrete ideology. The words “In
God We Trust” recently began appearing on the masthead of the newspaper she
publishes in Kiev.

It’s the same inscription that appears on every dollar note. She prefers the
Europeans over the Russians, even though she promises a radical improvement
in relations with Moscow.

Some of her ideas even give the Yushchenko supporters in her camp an uneasy
feeling, such as her promise to abolish compulsory military service by as
early as Jan. 1, 2008. Her motives are completely transparent: She wants to
capture the votes of parents whose sons are about to be drafted.

For Yulia Tymoshenko, next Sunday’s election is nothing more than a
milestone on the road to victory in the 2009 presidential election. This is
far from impossible. She is more popular than ever and Ukrainians yearn for
a decisive leader and — unlike the Russians — would also accept a woman as

And what about Yanukovych, the last figure in this triangle? The man Kuchma
groomed as his successor, who represents the interests of big business in
southern and eastern Ukraine and who, in 2004, lost the presidential
election to Yushchenko amid charges of election fraud.

Yanukovych hasn’t disappeared. On the contrary, he has learned new lessons.
He skillfully used divisions within the democratic camp last year to his
advantage, garnering the support of the parliament and thereby winning the
office of prime minister.

He hired American advisors, purged his speech of profanities and finally
acquired a Ukrainian, and public, sense of humor. His key campaign promise
is economic stability.

He has transformed himself from a “pro-Russian” into a “pro-Ukrainian”
politician but, more importantly, into a pragmatist. While Yushchenko wants
to see Ukraine join the European Union and NATO as quickly as possible,
Yanukovich says that Ukraine isn’t ready for NATO and that the EU isn’t even
interested in having Kiev as a member.

The real reason for the early election next Sunday has faded into the
background in recent weeks: the dramatically limited powers of the
president. Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko want to reverse the 2005
reform, a concession to their opponent at the time, which gave substantial
political power to the dollar millionaires in the parliament.

Now they want to see everything go back to the way it was. The two
politicians would push even harder for the plan if they could be certain
that Yanukovich wouldn’t suddenly become president.

We still have the battle over the role of the president ahead of us. The
parliament is the issue for now, and the most astonishing thing is that for
once the country is behaving quietly and modestly.

The usual demonstrations and loud meetings are absent. Upon closer
inspection, what looked like political chaos from afar in recent months is
in truth merely a carefully controlled game of chess.

The oligarchs are the players and the politicians the chess pieces. Without
men like coal and steel barons Rinat Akhmetov and Sergey Taruta from the
Donetsk basin, or Kuchma’s son-in-law the pipeline builder Viktor Pinchuk,
Ukraine would have fallen apart long ago.

These are men who need stability to keep their businesses thriving. As long
as they control the economy, the political theater in the country will have
no serious effects. (Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan)
NOTE: ANDREY KURKOV, 46, is Ukraine’s most popular and well-
known writer. He has written 19 books and has been translated into 32
languages. His most successful novel, “The President’s Last Love,”
caricatures the real lunacy of Ukrainian politics.

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

By Stefan Korshak, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, September 26, 2007

KIEV- Her Luis Vuitton suits fit to a tee, her toilette is exquisite, she
tears about the country in a convoy of limousines, and she campaigns as

a defender of the poor and downtrodden.

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s top opposition politician and by all accounts
the country’s best-dressed and most politically-powerful woman, is out to
get the rich and influential. She is taking no prisoners.

Tymoshenko, 46, is criss-crossing the land in, arguably, the former Soviet
republic’s first-ever nationwide whistle-stop election campaign.

Wearing pure white down to her designer shoes and pearl earrings, she says
she is on nothing less than a crusade against corruption – a theme with
considerable resonance in Ukraine, by many accounts Europe’s most corrupt

‘Yulia,’ as most Ukrainians call petite Tymoshenko, has spent the last 45
days on the campaign trail, mostly on the road, talking to voters, speaking
at rallies, and sleeping at best five hours a day.

‘I have travelled the country from end to end, and people are getting tired
of getting lied to over and over again,’ Tymoshenko told Fakty newspaper.
‘And that is going to bring us support, far more than any one expects.’

Certainly her rallies are drawing them in. Since July the Tymoshenko
campaign cavalcade has rolled into hundreds of town and city squares, and
sometimes the crowds number in the tens of thousands.

Tymoshenko’s ability to draw in listeners is unmatched by any other
Ukrainian politician, who in any case as a group prefer buying TV ads and
smear news reports, over active campaigning.

The Tymoshenko stump speech is, by the standards of modern electioneering,
surprisingly simple. There is a stage with red-and- white bunting, a
medium-power public address system, and booths with campaign workers

handing out brochures.

During the warm-up party functionaries appeal to the crowd for volunteers
and contributions, and – critically as Ukraine is a country where relatives
count – remind listeners that whatever they heard today, please, please tell
a family member.

Tymoshenko appears, as always her coiffure in a traditional, museum-perfect
Ukrainian peasant braid. Her oratory perhaps mesmerises some, but mostly,
Tymoshenko holds her listeners by saying out loud, what a substantial
majority of Ukrainians think about their politicians and their government.

Often, she rubbishes conventional wisdom on Ukraine in the process.
Throughout, she relentlessly hammers her thesis: Corrupt government must

The division of Ukraine into two supposedly incompatible ethnic halves,
Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking, get this treatment:

‘Ukraine is not a country divided into Russians and Ukrainians, that is an
artificial divide invented to frighten people … Ukraine is divided into 47
million honest people, and a few hundred clans out to steal from the honest

Her intention to become the next Prime Minister, touted by her opponents as
unseemly ambition for a woman, received this broadside, recalling jail time
stemming from 2001 tax evasion charges, which were subsequently dropped: ‘If
I had set myself the goal of being Prime Minister, I would have had that job
years ago, and held it still.

The thing is, the business clans gave me a choice, either stop making their
life difficult, or go to prison. I went to prison, but at least my integrity
stayed intact.’

The crowds have been friendly, supportive, and almost always either
unwilling or too polite to bring up unpleasant issues like Tymoshenko’s
notoriously failed attempts to freeze petrol and food prices while she was
Prime Minister in 2000, her fortune made in government natural gas imports
during the 1990s, or the two dozen or so very wealthy businessmen on her own
party list.

‘We are all tired of the rich clans using government to steal from us, and
making us poor,’ her speeches often conclude. ‘It needs to stop, and with
your help we can stop it together. Glory to Ukraine!’ In town after town,

village after village, that sentence has received standing ovations.

Ukrainian pollsters are a bit sceptical, usually predicting Tymoshenko’s
eponymous political party Block of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) stands to

gather in 25 to 30 per cent of the popular vote, in a clear second place to the
currently ruling Regions Ukraine party, currently on track to take between
32 and 40 per cent of the vote.

‘Do not underestimate the Ukrainian people,’ Tymoshenko countered in a
recent interview. ‘They have had enough.’
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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

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