Monday, July 31, 2006

Ukraine's Party Of Regions Threatens To Impeach President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions said Monday it would impeach President Viktor Yushchenko if he did not register the candidacy of party leader Viktor Yanukovych for the post of the prime minister.

Vyacheslav Chernovol

President Yushchenko currently faces a dilemma between confirming his "orange" revolution rival Yanukovych as prime minister or dissolving parliament, following its failure to form a government.

"The talks with [pro-presidential] Our Ukraine party are still failing, and if Viktor Yushchenko does not confirm Yanukovych's candidacy for the post of prime minister, the Party of Regions will have reason to resort to the harshest measures, and launch an impeachment [procedure]," Vyacheslav Chernovol, a spokesman for the party, said.

He added that if another parliamentary election were held, the Party of Regions would win a majority in the Supreme Rada.

"We could win 300 seats at an election, and this whole story would come to an end," Chernovol said.

President Yushchenko received the right to dissolve parliament after the assembly missed a 60-day deadline for forming a new government on Tuesday. He has until August 2 to decide how to respond to Yanukovych's nomination.

Source: RIA Novosti

Betting on Democracy

WASHINGTON, DC -- A year ago the jewels of President Bush's democracy policy were the Cedar and Orange revolutions of Lebanon and Ukraine, which had ousted autocratic regimes backed by Russia and Syria and seemingly ushered in pro-Western democracies.

Reversals for fragile new governments mean hard choices for Bush

Last week their unforeseen and unpleasant consequences presented Bush with a critical pair of choices. He could abandon his faith in a new democratic order -- or double his bet on it.

The crisis that has the world's attention is Lebanon; though most people don't perceive it as a test of Bush's democracy agenda, that is how the administration sees it. Oddly, Hezbollah's astute leader, Hasan Nasrallah, also gets it: "The main obstacles in the path of the new Middle East are the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon, and, on the level of the regimes, mainly Syria and Iran," he said in a television interview last week, accurately summarizing Bush's view.

"What is required, then, is to eliminate these obstacles and to remove them from the path of the historic American plan for this region."

The parallel crisis in Ukraine -- yes, there is one -- is far from American television screens. The fight there is being waged in smoke-filled rooms, and is as obscure as Lebanon is dramatic.

But the essential problem for Bush is similar: The new democratic system he so strongly supported has been skillfully exploited by the revolution's erstwhile losers.

After months of Byzantine maneuvering, the thuggish politician Moscow tried to install as Ukraine's president though electoral fraud in 2004, Viktor Yanukovich, is on the point of taking office this week as prime minister -- with powers that equal or exceed those of President Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the Orange Revolution.

From the viewpoint of traditional U.S. interests, Yanukovich is still a menace. He opposes Ukraine's integration into NATO, a step the Bush administration has been pushing, and he may well be willing to sacrifice his country's sovereignty to Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. He favors the Russian language over Ukrainian.

But, in contrast to 2004, Yanukovich won his votes fairly in March's parliamentary elections, drawing on the disaffected Russian-speakers of eastern Ukraine. So far he's done nothing to undermine the democratic system -- in fact, he's trying to persuade Yushchenko's party to join his government.

For Bush, the question is: Should the United States accept a democratic Ukrainian government that turns its back on the West, or encourage its allies to twist the political system to prevent that outcome?

Was the Orange Revolution about installing democracy or shifting Ukraine from Moscow's orbit to that of Washington and Brussels? Yushchenko is being urged by some pro-Western politicians to dissolve the parliament, a technically legal but democratically questionable maneuver.

By some scenarios, he would then postpone new elections -- which Yanukovich would probably win -- and rule the country on his own.

Last week the president demanded that Yanukovich accept a number of conditions, including continued steps toward integration with the West, in exchange for being designated as prime minister. That left open both the option of parliament's dissolution, and that of a national unity government.

The Bush administration has been working for months to keep Yanukovich out of power. A few weeks ago it urged Yushchenko not to seal a pact he was about to make with his pro-Russian rival. But by the end of last week, officials were saying that Bush had decided to accept any democratic outcome in Ukraine -- including a government that rejects the West -- as long as that government preserves free elections and free markets.

If he takes office, there's a risk that Yanukovich could once again try to turn Ukraine into an autocratic Russian satellite or that a country the size of France, with a population of nearly 50 million, will be stranded for years outside an integrating Europe.

Ukraine, like Lebanon, could be lost. But then, this year's reversals have already demonstrated that the color revolutions of 2004 and 2005 were the beginning, rather than the end, of the transformation Bush seeks.

Source: Washington Post

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Ukraine Agreement After 10-Hour Talks

KIEV, Ukraine -- Talks to end Ukraine's four-month political paralysis broke off over the weekend without any agreement between President Viktor Yushchenko and the pro-Russian parliamentary majority that has nominated Viktor Yanukovych as prime minister.

Yanukovich (L) and Yushchenko (R)

Yushchenko spent more than 10 hours in closed-door negotiations Friday night with Yanukovych, whose fraud-tarnished run for the presidency in 2004 sparked the Orange Revolution protests that helped sweep Yushchenko to power, and the country's new parliament speaker, Oleksandr Moroz.

The rivals were trying to negotiate a national unity agreement that Yushchenko hopes will lock Yanukovych into the president's pro-Western and reformist policy goals, and could open the door for Yushchenko's party to join a parliamentary coalition.

The agreement would commit Ukraine to work toward joining NATO, the European Union and the World Trade Organization, and would safeguard Ukrainian as the sole national language.

The accord would represent a significant compromise for Yanukovych.

The all-night negotiations ran into difficulties over disagreements about the state language, Yushchenko's pro-Western ambitions and whether Ukraine should cooperate in a "common economic space" with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, said Yushchenko's deputy chief of staff, Ivan Vasyunyk.

Source: The Moscow Times

Ukraine Parties Fail To Agree On NATO, Russia And The Status Of The Russian Language

KIEV, Ukraine -- At talks on overcoming the Ukrainian parliamentary crisis the country's political parties cannot agree on issues related to Ukraine's admission to NATO, on relations with Russia and the status of the Russian language, deputy chairman of the Party of Regions faction Yevgeny Kushnarev has said.

Yevgeny Kushnarev

"We don't object to the cooperation with NATO, but only the Ukrainian people in a referendum can solve the issue of the country's entry in NATO," Kushnarev said. According to him, attempts are being made to "make the party sign the formula of the agreement on Ukraine's admission to NATO."

"They are trying to force on us a formula under which the Russian language will further lead a miserable existence in our country," the parliamentarian said. According to Kushnarev, the Party of Regions is "for legal equality of the Ukrainian and Russian languages."

"And, finally, we are offered to go to Europe totally forgetting about the existence of Russia," the Party of Regions official pointed out. "However, we suggest that the text should contain mentioning of and clear-cut stance on good neighbourly relations with Russia and on continuation of talks on the Common Economic Space," Kushnarev said.

The Party of Regions accused the Our Ukraine faction in the Ukrainian parliament of blackmail that is used "as an instrument of pressure and intimidation by early elections."

"Our Ukraine has set the task to force on the possible wide-format coalition its ideology and lead the majority," it is said in a statement issued by the Party of Regions.

"We shall not tolerate blackmail and ultimatums. Any threats of the parliament dissolution are violation not only of the Constitution and the country’s legislation, but also a departure from the foundations of the world and European democracy," the statement says.

"Any unconstitutional actions will only aggravate the political crisis in the country," the party states. "The responsibility for this will fully rest with the Ukrainian president," it is said in the document.

Source: ITAR-Tass

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yushchenko Does Not Want To Share Coalition With Communists

KIEV, Ukraine -- New ruling coalition was almost formed in Ukraine yesterday. Party of Regions, Our Ukraine, Socialists, and Communists brought into line the final text of the “universal treaty on national unity” suggested by President Viktor Yushchenko.

BYuT leader Yulia Timoshenko and People's Deputy of Ukraine, Our Ukraine leader Roman Bessmertny before the round table of leaders of deputy factions with participation of the President of Ukraine.

Having agreed upon all controversial issues, politicians nearly reached agreement on forming new coalition. Yet, the president vetoed the document late in the evening. The talks go on.

Talks between leaders of political forces which want to join the ruling coalition lasted almost all day in Kiev. The round table continued since yesterday. Its participants were trying to agree upon the fundamental principles for the new coalition.

Yulia Timoshenko refused to join it, thus neither she, nor her followers took part in the discussion. However, members of Our Ukraine, the Party of Regions, Socialists, and Communists had enough differences between each other.

The most arguable point of the “universal treaty” is that of Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO. This point is fundamental for President Yushchenko, while all other parties of the anti-crisis coalition are against this idea. A compromise was eventually found: it was decided the issue should be solved by a referendum.

Another stumbling block was the issue of religion. The president has been dreaming for a long time of uniting all Christian Orthodox churches, subordinate both to Moscow’s and to Kiev’s patriarch. Almost all members of the round table confronted the idea of creating united Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The third controversial issue was that of the language. The Party of Regions and the Communists stand for making Russian a second national language. However, they decided to give up this condition during yesterday’s talks. The “universal treaty” says there can be only one national language, according to Ukrainian Constitution.

The worst stumbling block was the last point of the “universal treaty”, which says the parties are creating a new parliamentary coalition. This point is important for Our Ukraine because it needs to emphasize that it is creating a new alliance, and not joining the already existing Regional-Socialist-Communist union.

Another demand of Our Ukraine is to exclude the Communists from the coalition. The Party of Regions was completely against the idea, as well as the Communists themselves. Both parties insisted, and the Communists were allowed to remain in the coalition.

When all members of the round table were returning to the president, they were sure the matter is over and the coalition is created. Yushchenko, however, was dissatisfied with the edited text of the “universal treaty”. The politicians remained with the president till late evening. Apparently, the process will be finished as early as today.

Source: Kommersant

Shevchenko Plans Stamford Bridge Retirement

LONDON, England -- Andriy Shevchenko has revealed that he wants to finish his career at Chelsea.

The Ukraine international swapped AC Milan for Stamford Bridge this summer and, having started off his career at Dynamo Kiev before heading for Italy, he is a loyal man.

“I have only played for two teams and this will be my third,” said Shevchenko.

“I hope in my head this is where I end my career. I hope to be happy here and hopefully that will be the last one.”

Shevchenko left behind the corruption problems in Italy but he insisted he was as surprised as anyone by the match-fixing allegations which involved Milan as well as Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio.

“It is very difficult for me to understand what occurred in Italy,” said Shevchenko.

“Reflecting back on games I find it very hard to believe that there was something sinister going on with the players on the field.

“I feel all the players gave their all and myself I know I gave maximum on the field so for me I cannot get my head around how this happened. I cannot really grasp the situation in Italy.

“From a personal point of view I am happy that the sentence was reduced for AC Milan and they will play in the Champions League.”

With Italy now behind him, Shevchenko is relishing a new challenge with the Barclays Premiership champions.

He said: “It is very difficult in life to reach a certain level but it’s even more difficult to stay there at that high level.

“I have lived every single day with that philosophy and I need to maintain that level of excellence.

“So this was the motivation I needed to carry myself forward.

“It was just important that I was able to come to a club that had the same type of level I have.

“It is a great opportunity for me and the family but it was also important I came to a club that were a great team.

“Chelsea are already at the highest level and I hope I can help maintain Chelsea’s level of excellence.”

Shevchenko is also looking forward to going head to head with Arsenal hitman Thierry Henry but he has dismissed any comparisons.

The Ukraine international said: “He is a great player and certainly it is a nice thing to play in the same league as Thierry Henry.

“It’s not fair to make comparisons because the characteristics of football players are quite different.

“But as far as playing in the same league as him it will be fine but we are two very different players.”

Source: Ireland Online

Ukraine In Deadlock As President's Party Opposes Pro-Russian Premier

KIEV, Ukraine -- The marathon crisis talks to end Ukraine's four-month political paralysis broke off early Saturday without any agreement between President Viktor Yushchenko and the pro-Russian parliamentary majority that wants to put together the next government in this ex-Soviet republic.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, left, and parliamentary faction leader Yulia Tymoshenko are seen during the round-table in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, July, 27, 2006

Yushchenko spent more than 10 hours in closed-door negotiations with his former Orange Revolution rival Viktor Yanukovych and the country's new parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz in a bid to reach agreement on a memorandum of national unity.

The agreement is an effort to lock Yanukovych, who has been nominated to become prime minister, into the president's pro-western and reformist policy goals, and could open the door for Yushchenko's party to join a new coalition.

Ukraine has been in political turmoil since Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions won the most seats in the March parliamentary elections, besting the pro-Western reformers who backed Yushchenko, but falling short of a majority.

The Party of Regions formed a majority coalition earlier this month with Yushchenko's one-time partners, the Socialists, and the Communists. They proposed Yanukovych, whom Yushchenko defeated for the presidency in 2004, as prime minister.

"The negotiations ended because the leaders of the Socialist Party and the Party of Regions want to discuss the text of the memorandum with their political parties," said the president's spokeswoman Iryna Gerashchenko.

The draft memorandum, which consists of 24 points, commits Ukraine to working toward NATO and European Union membership, safeguarding Ukrainian as the sole state language, joining the World Trade Organization, advancing liberal economic reforms and promoting transparency in government.

While it is not considered legally binding, the agreement would represent a significant compromise for Yanukovych, who campaigned on making Russian a state language, expanding power to Ukraine's regions and improving ties with Russia. There was no specific mention of Russia in the original agreement.

Gerashchenko said the main areas of disagreement were over the question of language, NATO membership and the Party of Regions' support for decentralizing power in the country.

Yushchenko had been determined to reach agreement overnight, but after nearly nine hours the talks broke off early Saturday with no breakthroughs. The president appealed to the exhausted leaders to return to the table, and the talks continued for another two hours, before breaking again.

Gerashchenko said Yushchenko would summon the party leaders back later Saturday after they had time to consult with their parties.

Meanwhile, it remained unclear if any progress had been made on the two biggest stumbling blocks: Yanukovych's candidacy to be prime minister and the refusal by the president's party to cooperate in a coalition that includes the Communists. Neither is directly addressed in the draft memorandum.

Yushchenko has until next Wednesday to decide whether to approve Yanukovych, whom Yushchenko defeated for the presidency in a court-ordered revote in 2004. The revote was held after mass protests, known as the Orange Revolution, erupted over Yanukovych's fraud-marred victory.

Earlier Friday, a top member of Yushchenko's party made it clear that such a prospect was still unwelcome.

"We need to find a person who can consolidate the country. Yanukovych's is not such a candidacy," said Anatoliy Kinakh.

The standoff has highlighted the split between the largely Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, where Yanukovych's support is strongest, and the more nationalistic, Ukrainian-speaking west.

Yushchenko has previously warned that he could use his right to dissolve parliament and call new elections, a move that some warn could trigger civil unrest.

Source: AP

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yushchenko Lays His Conditions For Accepting Yanukovich

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who is reluctant to approve the parliamentary majority’s choice for prime minister -- his 2004 presidential election rival Viktor Yanukovych -- has decided to explain his reluctance to the nation.

Yushchenko has made public a set of conditions, making it clear that he will call new elections if Yanukovych and his allies do not meet them. Yushchenko has the constitutional right to call early elections after July 25, when two months have elapsed since the entire cabinet resigned and no replacement has been formed.

He gave a press conference on July 26 and convened an unprecedented roundtable meeting with all major parties on July 27 to explain his position.

Speaking on July 26, Yushchenko reiterated that he would not hurry in appointing Yanukovych, as the constitution gives him until August 2. Yushchenko made it clear that he would use this time to persuade the parliamentary majority and Yanukovych to accept the conditions that, Yushchenko believes, he has the right to set as the winner of the 2004 presidential election.

He also hinted that the format of the majority may be changed, as his Our Ukraine bloc is in talks with Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (PRU), about possibly joining the majority.

Yushchenko urged the future government to continue Ukraine’s current domestic and foreign political course, which includes market transformation and European integration, and urged preservation of sovereignty -- which reflects popular fears about the PRU’s pro-Moscow sympathies. Yushchenko also repeated his earlier demands to seat the Constitutional Court and revise the constitutional reform of 2004.

Those changes, he believes, unbalanced the political system by inconsistently depriving the president of a set of levers, such as giving him no right to dismiss the defense minister and foreign minister, whom he appoints.

Yushchenko confirmed the rumor that he would like to appoint the interior minister in addition to appointing foreign minister, defense minister, prosecutor-general, and the Security Service head -- all of which are up to the president to nominate, according to the amended constitution. Other top posts are up to the majority to fill.

Yushchenko makes no secret of wanting to keep Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, whom the PRU dislikes for his radicalism during and after the Orange Revolution of December 2004.

Yushchenko repeated his main conditions to Yanukovych on the following day, when he gathered parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz and the leaders of all five parliamentary factions for an unprecedented roundtable discussion that was broadcast live on several TV channels for several hours.

Yushchenko suggested signing a document that would confirm the need for national unity and list the points on which the main political players agree, preparing the grounds for a coalition possibly wider than the one formed around Yanukovych.

Roman Bezsmertny, the formal leader of Our Ukraine, and Yushchenko listed several positions on which the Ukrainian government should be based, according to Our Ukraine, and some of which may be hard for Yanukovych to accept.

These are European and Euro-Atlantic integration, including EU and NATO membership, and dropping the idea of raising the status of the Russian language.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the eponymous bloc, was the only political leader present at the discussion to reject the unity declaration proposed by Yushchenko.

Tymoshenko, who prefers dissolution of the parliament and early elections to a Prime Minister Yanukovych, refused to sign the text offered by Yushchenko, urged her counterparts not to be afraid of early elections, and quoted figures from a public opinion poll suggesting that Ukrainians are unhappy with the pro-Yanukovych majority.

Yanukovych sounded pacifying in his speech, clearly signaling a readiness for compromise with Yushchenko. He thanked Yushchenko for not taking sides in the current crisis, and he went as far as to praise the ideals of the Orange Revolution, in which he was Yushchenko’s main protagonist.

When Communist leader Petro Symonenko questioned the need for Euro-Atlantic integration, spelled out in the text offered for signing, and Moroz backed him, Yanukovych kept silent.

Several hours before the roundtable, the anti-crisis coalition comprised of the PRU, the Socialists, and the Communists officially asked Our Ukraine to start negotiations to expand the coalition. Also on July 27, Our Ukraine for the first time openly recognized that talks with the pro-Yanukovych majority were underway.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, an Our Ukraine leader who has consistently backed the idea of a grand coalition between Our Ukraine and the PRU, said at the roundtable that Our Ukraine should join the majority and form the next cabinet on the condition that the Communists should be dropped from the majority as a party whose ideology is at variance with Yushchenko’s.

He said that the Communists should be compensated for that by allowing them control of the parliamentary committees whose chairmanships they secured as part of the anti-crisis coalition deal.

Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor

Viktor Yushchenko Unites The Coalition

KIEV, Ukraine -- A round table of the leaders of all major political parties of Ukraine was held in Kiev yesterday. It became clear that Viktor Yushchenko agreed to uniting pro-president Our Ukraine to the governmental coalition.

Yulia Timoshenko does not imagine herself in one coalition with Viktor Yanukovich (L) and Alexander Moroz (R).

His supporters, as well as the Party of Regions, Socialist and Communist parties, are ready to sign the so-called universal treaty on national unity, and this will begin the formation of the new cabinet.

Only Yulia Timoshenko will remain outside the universal treaty, the coalition, and the government.

Vicious Circle

“We need to leave the course of indecision, take a clear-cut position in these prospects, important for the future of Ukraine. We need to give up the political revenge and confrontation, confirm that Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy are permanent and irreversible, and give up personal ambitions,” Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was diligently reading the text which he had prepared for the long-awaited meeting with deputies.

All TV cameras were recording him, and two TV channels were broadcasting his speech.

To the left of the president, there sat Prime Minister Yuri Ekhanurov. He was either reading something in his notebook, or rubbing his eyes, or yawning, trying to overcome sleepiness.

To the right of the president, there was Rada Speaker Alexander Moroz. The next was Viktor Yanukovich who was carefully looking through the speech, apparently, which he was to deliver. Next to Yanukovich, there sat Yulia Timoshenko. She scrutinized her black and white dress with frills, and frowned.

Politicians were waiting for this meeting with the president for a long time, but Yushchenko avoided them. Deputies wanted to see him on Monday, and came to work on their day off.

That Monday the members of the “anti-crisis coalition” expected the president to nominate their candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, for prime minister. Then followed Tuesday with the same expectations, but the president did not come either. Each time he gave new reasons for his absence—either his being busy, or the working hours of the Rada.

Finally, Yushchenko summoned the main characters of Ukrainian politics to his front office on Bankovaya street. The round table was scheduled for 4 p.m. By the way, the most important persons had visited the president before, individually.

For instance, Rinat Akhmetov, deputy of the Party of Regions and the richest man in Ukraine, visited Bankovaya street a few times quite recently. Yulia Timoshenko arrived to the front office on yesterday morning, several hours before the round table. Her talk with the president lasted two hours.

The subject-matter of all talks with President Yushchenko is clear. Ukrainian president does not want to nominate Yanukovich for prime minister and thus surrender to his old enemy. Yushchenko expects that his party Our Ukraine will nevertheless join the coalition and occupy a good position in it.

According to sources close to the president, his greatest wish is that the post of prime minister goes to Our Ukraine (he supports Yuri Ekhanurov or present Minister of Economy Arseny Yatsenyuk). At least, Yushchenko wants the positions of the first deputy prime minister for Petr Poroshenko, of the minister of justice—for Roman Zvarych, and of the minister of internal affairs—for Evgeny Chervonenko.

Yushchenko wants a different kind of concessions from Yulia Timoshenko. He understands that uniting Our Ukraine with the anti-crisis coalition will bring his party down in popularity and take away the trust of the voters. The best scenario would be to involve Timoshenko into the joint broad coalition.

Round Table

It became clear whether Yushchenko will get what he wants during the round table. Observers were shocked by the sitting arrangement of the president’s guests. For instance, Yanukovich found himself sitting next to Yulia Timoshenko.

Having discovered her ideological enemy and the subject to her mockery, Timoshenko outstretched her hand to him with a smile. Shyness suddenly came over Yanukovich, and for some time he seemed not to know what do, but eventually shook Timoshenko’s hand.

Yushchenko was the first to speak. He presented the document called “universal treaty of national unity”. His idea, which he expressed quite confusedly and broadly, is that the representatives of different political parties will unite Ukraine and put an end to dissent by signing the document.

“Some political forces will have difficulty when explaining it to their voters,” said Yushchenko, apparently meaning joining the broad coalition, and, apparently, addressing his followers and Yulia Timoshenko. “However, it is possible.”

The second to speak was Alexander Moroz. He turned out to be among those few who read the universal treaty and even criticized it,--he did not like the point concerning free sale of land. Yanukovich, as usual, made funny slips of the tongue in his speech, but spoke of uniting as well.

Then it was Timoshenko’s turn. She waved her hands and refused to speak. The floor was given to Our Ukraine leader Roman Bessmertny. He began with uniting, then switched over to carping against Socialist party leader Alexander Moroz, saying the greatest problem of modern Ukraine is “the problem of July 6”. He said Moroz secretly abandoned the “orange” coalition on that day, and openly joined the “anti-crisis” coalition.

When Bessmertny finished his speech, Yushchenko tried to give the floor to Yulia Timoshenko once again. But she waved her hands again. It became clear she wants to speak in the end, so as to finish the discussion.

However, she was forced to speak earlier. Having listened to Socialist Vasily Tsushko, Yushchenko began insisting again that Timoshenko speaks, and immediately. And she began talking, as if she was at a demonstration, and not at a round table.

She let off sharp jokes about her neighbor on the left—Yanukovich—several times. The latter raised his arm, like a schoolboy, every time, but the president gestured to him to keep calm. Leader of the Party of Regions was not supposed to speak for a second time.

The last to speak was Prime Minister Yuri Ekhanurov. He was the only one who raised the issue which troubled everyone,--the new governmental coalition. He even suggested his scenario for it: “Our Ukraine should join the coalition, the Communists should be excluded, but those parliamentary committees which they already have should be left to them, so that they do not feel offended.

The alliance of the Party of Regions, Our Ukraine and the Socialists should receive the name of the Coalition of national unity.

Joint Responsibility

The fact that Yushchenko eventually met with the deputies—members of the anti-crisis coalition, although not in the Rada but in his front office, might prove the compromise has already been reached.

Forming the new government out of members of Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions is already decided upon and will happen in a few days. Kommersant sources in the Party of Regions and in the Socialist party unanimously admitted the universal treaty suggested by President Yushchenko was worked out by anti-crisis coalition participants in cooperation with Our Ukraine members.

According to Alexander Moroz’s spokeswoman Natalya Mezentseva, the document speaks about creating a broad coalition on the basis of the existing anti-crisis one. In fact, it gives details of the entry conditions of pro-president party Our Ukraine to the triple alliance of the Party of Regions, Socialists, and Communists.

Accepting BYuT into this alliance is no longer discussed, because Timoshenko’s followers did not participate in writing the universal treaty. Moreover, the four factions ready to create the broad coalition agreed not to break up BYuT faction in the future, but to allow it to exist as the only opposition party.

Natalya Mezentseva told Kommersant the fundamental agreement on extending the coalition by means of Our Ukraine is reached, because the participants of the talks have already begun carving up the posts in the government.

“Our Ukraine is most interested in re-distributing the posts,” said Mezentseva. “It was Our Ukraine who did not join our coalition in time and were left out in the cold. Now they are trying to secure a bit of power for themselves in the future government.”

Yanukovich’s advisor Anna German assured Kommersant the president will nominate the candidate for prime minister as soon as the universal treaty is signed. She said this can be Yanukovich only.

“Tens of thousands of people in Kiev will not allow to nominate anyone else. After all, it is our right. If we make concessions here, we will lose the trust of the people. We won our presidential campaign by means of Yanukovich, and he is the most popular politician today,” believes Anna German.

Apparently, the government will soon be formed. Yushchenko gave in to Yanukovich, coming up with a new name of “universal treaty of national unity” for his act of capitulation. The division into “orange” and “blue” no longer exists.

However, it does not mean there is no more demarcation so much discussed at the round table, that is into West and East banks of the Dnieper river. Now the entire West bank simply goes to Yulia Timoshenko who said: “We shall join no broad coalitions under no circumstances.”

Source: Kommersant

Ukraine's Yushchenko Chairs Crisis Talks, No Deal

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Yushchenko backed away from a threat to dissolve parliament at crisis talks with his opponents on Thursday but there was no sign of an imminent deal on forming a new government.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko speaks during the round table meeting in Kiev, July 27, 2006

Ukraine has been in political turmoil and without a fully fledged cabinet for four months as rival parties try to clinch a coalition deal and form a government following an inconclusive parliamentary poll in March.

Yushchenko faces a dilemma: to dissolve parliament or bow to his opponents and nominate his old rival Viktor Yanukovich -- the man he defeated in the 2004 "Orange Revolution" -- as prime minister.

"We have moved further away from a dissolution of parliament and closer to creating a coalition," Roman Zvarych, a senior member of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party, said at the marathon talks in the Marinsky Palace presidential residence.

But the party leaders who took part in the six hours of negotiations -- shown live on television -- appeared a long way from agreeing on what shape that coalition should take.

Yanukovich, who controls a slim majority in parliament, is proposing a government that he would head and would include his Regions party and his allies the Socialists and Communists. He has invited Our Ukraine to join as a fourth partner.

Yushchenko's supporters are pushing for a "coalition of national unity" that would include Our Ukraine, the Regions party and others but would exclude the Communists. Yanukovich has rejected that option.

The party leaders and Yushchenko spent the six hours discussing topics including the Ukrainian language, religious unity and democracy.

They plan to boil the discussion down into a declaration of principles which may be signed after further talks on Friday.

Source: Reuters

Ukraine's Yushchenko Holds Crisis Talks Over Political Stalemate

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko held crisis talks to find a way out of Ukraine's political stalemate, but his appeal for compromise was shattered when lawmaker Yulia Tymoshenko lashed out against what she termed calls for artificial unity.

"In not a single democratic country in the world is it possible to unite all political forces," said Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution, in an angry speech during the round-table discussions. "As a rule, there are those in power and the opposition."

The ex-Soviet republic has been locked in turmoil since Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions won the most seats in a March parliamentary election, besting the pro-Western reformers who backed Yushchenko, but falling short of a majority.

Yushchenko's allies teamed up with Tymoshenko's bloc and the Socialist Party to create a majority coalition in June, but the Socialists defected before it had time to form a new government. The Socialists united with the Party of Regions and the Communists in a new coalition that proposed Yanukovych as prime minister.

Fraud allegations during Yanukovych's run for the presidency against Yushchenko in 2004 triggered the massive protests known as the Orange Revolution; the Supreme Court declared the vote invalid, and Yushchenko defeated Yanukovych in a rerun.

Yushchenko so far has not forwarded Yanukovych's nomination as premier to the parliament. But because the parliament convened more than 60 days ago without forming a government, Yushchenko technically has the right to dissolve the legislature and call new elections.

Faced with the equally unattractive prospects of calling new elections or allowing his foe to become prime minister, Yushchenko has been casting desperately for a solution as the Aug. 2 deadline to decide on Yanukovych's candidacy approaches.

"The moment of truth has come, we need to make a decision," Yushchenko said at the start of the round-table, which was televised live.

Yushchenko proposed that all the parties sign a memorandum of national unity that which would safeguard freedom of speech, Ukraine's territorial integrity, liberal economic reforms, European integration efforts and support for a single national language, Ukrainian.

But when the leaders began discussing the memorandum, discussion over whether Ukraine should join NATO sparked heated debate. The Socialists and Communists oppose NATO membership, while Yushchenko countered that cooperation with the alliance was the only way to provide security to Ukraine.

After Yushchenko and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko exchanged barbs over NATO and the issue of creating a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Tymoshenko said the sharp disagreements were an example of why a broad coalition would not work.

"Why should we have two centers of power that rule the country with different courses ... it is only a matter of time before they clash," she said.

But Yanukovych, who is seeking Yushchenko's support, appeared eager to find a compromise. He said that "cooperation with NATO is natural."

However, after six hours of talks, the party leaders failed to reach an agreement on the text of the memorandum. Yushchenko ordered a working group to hash out differences and prepare a final document by Friday morning.

The tension in the room was obvious, even without the main issue — of Yanukovych's premiership — being addressed. When Yanukovych went into a long-winded speech, Yushchenko pointedly interrupted to tell him he had been speaking too long.

Yushchenko ally Roman Bezsmertny said that the president's bloc was willing to work with Party of Regions, but only if a new coalition of national unity was formed. "Today all of us must think first of all about unity," he said.

Ukraine remains deeply divided between the Russian-speaking east, which supports Yanukovych, and the Ukrainian-speaking west, which considers a Yanukovych premiership a betrayal of the Orange Revolution.

Tymoshenko pressed the president to reject any union with Yanukovych, urging him to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Yushchenko has appeared reluctant to take such a drastic step.

The Party of Regions suggested earlier Thursday that it was ready for some compromises, but would refuse to discuss dropping Yanukovych.

Source: Fox News

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yushchenko Sees Moment Of Truth In Ukraine's Political Life

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko said Thursday "a moment of truth" had come about in the country's political life.

"We must make a decision," Yushchenko said at a meeting with Parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, representatives of all parliamentary factions, and leading politicians.

Yushchenko said there were only two ways out of the deadlocked situation, either confrontation or the real unification of the nation.

He added that it was up to politicians to choose the nation's strategy.

Yushchenko is now facing a dilemma between confirming Viktor Yanukovych, his "orange" revolution rival, as prime minister or dissolving parliament - the right he received after the assembly missed a 60-day deadline for forming a new government on Tuesday.

He has until August 2 to decide how to respond to Yanukovych's nomination.

Source: RIA Novosti

Ukraine's Regulator To Auction 5 WiMAX Licenses

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's National Commission for Communications Regulation, or NKRS, plans to auction five frequency licenses for WiMAX broadband services sometime in September-November, the regulator's spokesman Vladimir Oleinik told reporters.

The regulator plans to auction three national and two regional licenses in the 5.47GHz-5.67GHz frequency range with a 40-MHz frequency band for each license, Oleinik said, adding that the regulator was accepting comments on tender conditions until August 1.

The starting price of a national license will amount to 1.088 million hryvnas ($217,000), Oleinik said, adding that about 30 operators indicated their interest in obtaining the license.

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL connections.

Source: Cellular News

Yushchenko To Nominate PM Candidate Before Constitutional Deadline

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on Wednesday that he would nominate a candidate for prime minister before the the constitutional deadline.

Yushchenko called on lawmakers to stop pressuring him on the issue, according to reports from Ukraine's Interfax News Agency.

The president said he hoped the majority party in parliament would address some pressing issues, such as the formulation of policies, maintaining consistency in government, and strategic planning.

He said that there must be a clear definition of the relations between the president, parliament and the government.

It was important to maintain a consistency in applying the country's policies, Yushchenko said, adding that particular bodies such as the interior ministry, the defense ministry, the foreign ministry, the national security service and the supreme procuratorate should not be topics up for discussion in the establishment of a coalition government.

Yushchenko added that while the president had the power to dissolve parliament, it may well cause conflict in society. He said he would not forswear the possibility of using that power in order to counterattack some actions.

Under Ukraine's new constitutional amendment made in January, the country's parliament has 60 days from its first plenary session, which was held on May 25, to form a new government. Otherwise, the president has the right to dissolve parliament and call for new elections.

However, a resolution passed by Ukrainian lawmakers on Monday warned that it would be illegal for the president to dissolve parliament unless under very clear, proscribed conditions.

Yushchenko said his power to dissolve parliament was a right and not an obligation.

Ukraine has been mired in a political crisis since the parliamentary elections in March this year, in which Victor Yanukovych's Party of Regions was defeated by Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc.

The Party of Regions formed a parliamentary majority coalition with the Socialist Party and the Communist Party earlier in July, and nominated Yanukovych as the new prime minister. However, Yushchenko has not yet submitted Yanukovych's nomination to parliament.

Source: People's Daily Online

Vice Governor Sentenced For 2004 Election Fraud

MUKACHEVO, Ukraine -- A high-ranking official involved in the wave of fraudulent elections that led up to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution at the end of 2004 has been sentenced to prison, but the closed court proceedings and the lack of information about the fine print of the sentence casts the justice promised by President Viktor Yushchenko and his Orange allies in doubt.

Mukachevo Castle

Just over two years ago, Ukraine and the international community were stunned by the the April 18, 2004 repeat mayoral elections in the otherwise sleepy western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo.

Mukachevo’s election was widely interpreted as a dress rehearsal for Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, in which large-scale fraud and voter intimidation ignited the massive nationwide protests known as the Orange Revolution in November and December of that same year.

The distressing cocktail of vote rigging, scare tactics and outright violence in Mukachevo not only blurred the distinctions between criminal gangs, law enforcement agencies and election officials, but also ranked the election among the worst in independent Ukraine’s recent history.

Over two years later, Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (PGO) announced that the district court in Mukachevo sentenced a former deputy governor of Transcarpathia Region to five years imprisonment on June 30 for his role in falsifying the results of the Mukachevo’s mayoral election.

However, the PGO’s July 3 press release did not provide detailed information about the court’s decision, name the convicted former deputy governor, or reveal what statutes of the criminal code he violated, apparently because of confidentiality requirements in Ukraine’s court system.

Moreover, according to the release, the sentence stipulates that the first year of his prison term be “postponed.”

In early 2004, Mukachevo and all of Transcarpathia Region had become a fierce battleground between the then oppositionist Our Ukraine bloc led by Viktor Yushchenko and the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) led by the former head of the presidential administration under former President Leonid Kuchma – Viktor Medvedchuk.

Candidates from these two political factions battled not once, but twice, for the mayor’s seat: on June 29, 2003 during an election held after Viktor Baloha, (current emergencies minister) vacated his seat to become a member of parliament following the 2002 parliamentary elections, and again on April 18, 2004, after a lengthy court battle and a decree by then President Leonid Kuchma declared the June 29 elections illegitimate.

The April 18 repeat election pitted Our Ukraine’s Viktor Baloha against the SDPU(united)’s Ernest Nuser. Unofficial vote tabulations and exit-poll results gave Baloha a commanding lead over Nuser, with a margin of over 5,000 votes.

The exit-poll conducted by Democratic Initiatives (DIF), in conjunction with SOCIS, the Kyiv International Institute for Sociology, “Social Monitoring”, the Razumkov Center and the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), showed that Baloha received 62.4 and Nuser obtained 29.99 percent of the vote. With a 60 percent response rate, 1,694 voters participated in the poll, which was enough to guarantee the validity of the results, according to DIF’s April 18, 2004 press release.

Nonetheless, a series of violent attacks by locals toughs (with their uniform closely-cropped hair and black leather jackets) on polling stations throughout the day and during the vote count, as well as drastic changes made to the protocols at the polling stations and the district electoral comission, rewrote the results of Mukachevo’s mayoral election, and Nuser was announced the winner at about 4:30 a.m., by the very same margin of 5,000 votes.

The election results were robustly criticized both in Ukraine and abroad.

Mukachevo attracted national and international attention not only because of the mobilization of hired thugs, who were involved in scuffles with observers, people’s deputies and journalists on voting day, and ransacked polling stations at night during the count, but also because the involvement of regional and local government officials and law enforcement in the orchestration of election fraud appeared to reach unprecedented levels.

In 2004 and 2005, a number of high profile criminal investigations were opened in connection with the Mukachevo elections.

In 2005, just a few months after Yushchenko had been sworn in as president, the PGO announced that it had opened a criminal case against former deputy governor of Transcarpathian Region Viktor Dyadchenko on April 26.

According to its April 28, 2005 press release, the PGO alleged that Dyadchenko, as a government official involved in organizing the elections, “deliberately made false changes to the protocols submitted by the polling station committees.” The PGO also charged that the former deputy governor had abused his position of power by forcing the heads of polling station commissions to make changes to already formulated protocols – the document that officially reports and records the result of the vote.

Furthermore, the PGO alleged that the group organizing the elections, of which Dyadchenko was a part, stole (and later destroyed) the ballot papers and protocols from the offices of the city executive committee, with the intent to cover up evidence of vote fraud.

The former chief of Mukachevo’s city police, Valeriy Dernoviy, was also detained in April 2005 pending an analogous set of charges, according to the same PGO news item from April 28, 2005.

Another high-profile criminal case was opened against Ivan Chubirko, then deputy to Mukachevo’s city council, on August 10, 2005, on allegations of giving bribes to heads of polling station commissions to ensure the victory of SDPU(united) candidate Nuser.

According to Yevhen Poberezhniy, vice president of CVU’s board of directors, the sentencing of the former deputy governor “is notable because they got to a high-level official, one who himself did not carry out rigging, but was involved in the technical organization of the process…which is why this case, in my opinion, sets a much more important precedent.”

Ukrainian law, however, curtails the amount of information available regarding court rulings – information must be presented in a way that does not identify the person who is the subject of the case. Therefore, although quite a number of criminal cases have been opened regarding the Mukachevo elections, information regarding the results of these investigations is not accessible to the public.

In a 2005 publication entitled, “Criminal Accountability for Violating Voting Rights,” Prof. Mykola Melnyk notes that the same holds true for criminal cases opened regarding the 2004 presidential election.

He wrote that an analysis of judicial practice in criminal cases opened based on evidence of violations during the 2004 presidential election shows that in most cases investigations and court hearings were limited to those who had directly carried out fraud – that is, the average polling station commissioner.

“The organizers and instigators of these violations were, as a rule, considered ‘persons not identified by the investigation’ and thereby avoided responsibility envisaged by legislation,” he wrote.

During the Ukrainian parliamentary election on March 26, 2006, the pro-Russian SDPU(united) didn’t overcome the three percent hurdle and so is no longer represented in the country’s Verkhovna Rada.

Source: Kyiv Post

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Parliament On Brink Of Dissolution Amid Crisis

KIEV, Ukraine -- Amid calls this week for national unity and reconciliation by parliamentary factions on both sides of the country’s latest political divide – the remnants of the Orange Revolution camp and a recently forged alliance between leftists and pro-Russian interests.

A supporter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko gestures during a demonstration near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev

All eyes are fixed on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, and whether or not he will move to dissolve the legislature just four months after it was elected and days before it is due to take its summer recess.

Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, the emboldened parliamentary speaker who just weeks ago was allied with the Orange camp, openly challenged the president’s authority to dissolve parliament on July 24, saying that he would not obey a decision to do so even if Yushchenko took such a decision.

As of midnight on July 24, 60 days had passed since the government of acting Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, appointed by Yushchenko, formally resigned, following the March 26 parliamentary elections. As lawmakers have been unable to form a government before the two month deadline,President Yushchenko has the option of dissolving the Rada and calling fresh elections.

However, with the popularity of Yushchenko and his pro-presidential Our Ukraine party at an all-time low among voters, the hero of the Orange Revolution is unlikely to risk going through another general election.

In the meantime, the so-called Anti-Crisis Coalition – consisting of the Communists, the Socialists and the Donetsk-based Party of the Regions, who recently put together a surprise parliamentary majority – continues to push for the president to submit Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych for the post of prime minister.

Yanukovych was Yushchenko’s opponent in the 2004 elections, which were widely criticized as fraudulent, leading to the country’s Orange Revolution.

The formation of a government, which the parliamentary majority appoints in the main but in which the president also plays a role, has been the prerogative of lawmakers following controversial constitutional changes that came into effect at the start of 2006.

With lawmakers holding up the swearing in of new judges, the Constitutional Court cannot form a quorum and so ongoing problems in the formation of a new government and its policy agenda can only truly be settled by an agreement between the president and the parliament.

And without an operational Constitutional Court to adjudicate conflicts between the executive and legislative branches, the repercussions for what is widely perceived as inaction by the president remain unclear.

Another legal nuance coming into play is that the Anti-Crisis Coalition repeated its submission of Yanukovych’s candidacy for premier on July 18, which gives the president until Aug. 2 to consider the candidacy, and more time for him to negotiate for additional influence in the next government.

According to parliament’s schedule, lawmakers are due to start their summer recess on July 28.

Observers and political opponents have blamed the current crisis in parliament on Yushchenko’s reluctance to form a coalition with former Orange allies, the Socialists and the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, for fear of the popularity of Tymoshenko, whom Yushchenko fired as premier last fall.

But the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc continues to negotiate with the Anti-Crisis coalition, in order to secure key positions in a government formed by either a broad coalition that includes Our Ukraine, or one in which the rights of opposition parties are secured.

Roman Besmertniy, faction leader of Our Ukraine, has called for a tight dialogue between parliamentary factions during the Rada’s July 24 session, one that “would ensure the rights of the majority and its ability to work, and no less the rights of the minority to criticize the majority.”

However, Our Ukraine’s bargaining position, largely based on its image as the president’s faction, has been weakened over the last four months, as its public support steadily declines.

At this stage, according to Vadym Karasiov, the director of the Institute of Global Strategies, the president is currently “negotiating over his candidates for key positions from Our Ukraine in a government with Regions … to ensure that they get key positions, including the budget committee, the minister of internal affairs and the first vice president of [state oil and gas company] Naftogaz Ukrayiny.”

It’s doubtful that Regions would reconsider its submission of Yanukovych as premier, even though political experts have suggested that the post could be leveraged by both sides as part of the bargaining process. Moreover, Regions will hold onto some of its more controversial July 18 parliamentary committee appointments, such as former Kharkiv governor Yevhen Kushnaryov as the chairman of the committee on legal policy, and former head of the Central Election Commission Serhiy Kivalov, as the chairman of the justice committee.

“This will not change … the Party of Regions will not give up these committees,” said Karasiov, adding that these committees give the party significant control over the formation of the legislative branch of government.

As chair of the justice committee, Kivalov would exercise significant influence over the list of Constitutional Court judges that will eventually be submitted to parliament for a long-awaited vote and swearing in ceremony.

Kivalov headed the Central Electoral Commission and Kushnaryov was the governor of Kharkiv Region during the 2004 presidential elections, in which widespread fraud was recorded in Kyiv and the country’s eastern regions.

Parliament challenges president

Despite ongoing negotiations between the pro-presidential Our Ukraine, and the Anti-Crisis Coalition, some coalition members have made pronouncements that appear to be an attempt to force the president’s hand.

At parliament’s July 25 session, one day after Moroz had announced that he would not honor a decision by the president to dissolve parliament, in a strange twist, 239 deputies retroactively overturned the previous parliament’s resolution to dismiss current acting Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov’s government on Jan. 10, 2006.

The dismissal was supported by Orange and other parties following a controversial gas deal with Russia that Yekhanurov’s government oversaw.

The July 25 decision came after Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych, Our Ukraine’s Beszmertniy, and Ivan Bokiy from the Socialist party had called for national unity and reconciliation in the interests of the Ukrainian people.

MP Yuriy Kliuchkovsky, the president’s representative in parliament, called this maneuver a political game and said that those initiating it were hoping that they’d removed one of several legal pretexts that allow the president to dismiss parliament.

Kliuchkovsky further stated that the initial decision to dismiss Yekhanurov’s cabinet on January 10 violated “a whole series of norms in the old constitution,” and that the Verkhovna Rada made the decision on the basis of norms and regulations in the new constitution.

Fedir Venislavsky, assistant professor of constitutional law at Kharkiv’s Yaroslav Mudriy National Law Academy, noted that not only was this decision legally groundless, the last parliament’s decision to dismiss the Yekhanurov government also violated procedures outlined in the constitution, “and that anyone of sound mind would overturn it.”

However, he added, that “the decision to overturn the dismissal was not legally, but politically, motivated … and the president still has the right to dissolve parliament.”

Moreover, he said that constitutional experts consider “that the discontinuation of a government mandate, regardless of the terms, or rather whether it had been dismissed or resigned its mandate, is effectively a dismissal,” adding that from a legal perspective President Yushchenko has grounds to dismiss parliament under any circumstances if there has not been a government formed within 60 days.

In this context, the decision by the Anti-Crisis coalition to overturn the dismissal of Yekhanurov appears to be a public relations move, perhaps to give the appearance that they are narrowing the set of options left to Yushchenko for resolving this political crisis.

All the while, the faction of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is continuing its boycott of parliament, which it began July 20. Tymoshenko said July 26 that “we will not return to the session hall unless the president endorses a relevant decision and the situation is cleared.”

After four months of protracted coalition negotiations it appears that political proclamations, however impassioned, have little potential to speed up the process, and that Yushchenko may very well take all the time he needs to negotiate a coalition better suited to his overall policy agenda.

Source: Kyiv Post

Ukrainian Parliament, Cabinet In Limbo

KIEV, Ukraine -- No cabinet is emerging in Ukraine to replace the outgoing one of Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov. Meanwhile, President Viktor Yushchenko may disband parliament at any time and call new elections.

Viktor Yanukovych

This uncertainty is apparently Yushchenko’s conscious choice, as he delays the appointment of a new cabinet, waiting for concessions from a parliamentary majority that is hostile to his party.

The majority coalition of Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (PRU), the Socialists, and the Communists submitted for Yushchenko’s approval their choice for prime minister -- Yushchenko’s bitter rival in the Orange Revolution of 2004 Viktor Yanukovych -- on July 18.

Yushchenko has 15 days to endorse Yanukovych -- the constitution leaves him no choice -- and he has made it clear that he may use this term to the full, waiting until August 2.

At the same time, as of July 25 Yushchenko can at any moment dissolve a hostile parliament. The constitution entitles, but does not obligate, him to do so if no cabinet is in place after 60 days since the previous cabinet’s resignation.

Yekhanurov resigned on May 25, so parliament is now in limbo, as Yushchenko may dissolve it at any minute.

New elections would not benefit Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, however, as its popularity is now under 10% -- even less than it scored in the March 26 election. Opinion polls, however, show that early elections would not harm Yushchenko’s Orange Revolution ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is probably more popular than she was in March.

It is not surprising that Tymoshenko, having lost her chance to become prime minister as the Orange coalition fell apart, is pushing for new elections. The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc has stopped attending parliament sittings, and Tymoshenko said that Yushchenko’s refusal to disband a parliament dominated by Yanukovych would mean the betrayal of the Orange Revolution.

Our Ukraine however, has not followed the example of Tymoshenko’s bloc, continuing work in the session hall and horse-trading with the PRU on its possible participation in a new cabinet.

Leaks to the press suggest different figures -- according to Zerkalo nedeli, which is close to Our Ukraine, Yushchenko would like to secure some 10 posts in the cabinet for Our Ukraine people, but PRU-linked Segodnya said he wants just the posts of first deputy prime minister for his ally Petro Poroshenko and interior minister for Yuriy Lutsenko, in addition to foreign minister and defense minister -- the two ministers that the constitution gives the president the right to nominate.

Speaking in an interview with Stolichnye novosti, Our Ukraine chairman Roman Bezsmertny indirectly confirmed the rumors about horse-trading, saying that Our Ukraine is considering different options, including having its members take part in the cabinet.

Yushchenko’s camp, however, is not unanimous. His chief of staff, Oleh Rybachuk, who apparently speaks for the radical camp, believes that Yushchenko should dissolve parliament if the majority does not offer somebody more neutral than Yanukovych.

Interviewed by Delo, Rybachuk also rejected the PRU’s calls to join the majority in parliament, but he suggested a different coalition format, apparently without the Communists. The PRU, however, insists that the Communists will not be dropped from its coalition.

Both Yushchenko and his rivals agree that the constitutional amendments in force since January 1 are imperfect, which makes the current situation open to different interpretations. Not everybody agrees that Yushchenko can dissolve parliament.

Addressing the nation on TV on July 24, parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz insisted that Yushchenko has no grounds for this. What’s more, he said that parliament would not obey if Yushchenko decrees to dissolve it.

On the same day Moroz’s ally, parliament deputy speaker Adam Martynyuk of the Communist Party, went as far as to say that parliament may solve the issue of the prime minister’s appointment even without Yushchenko if he does not appoint Yanukovych within 15 days.

He also said it is up to parliament to interpret the constitution in the absence of a legitimate Constitutional Court. Various parties for various reasons blocked the appointment of new Constitutional Court judges early this year in place of those whose term in office had expired, so now there is no Constitutional Court in place to resolve the current crisis in favor of either Yushchenko or the PRU and its allies.

Meanwhile, the PRU is at pains to get rid of its image as a pro-Russian and undemocratic party in order to make its possible union with Our Ukraine look more natural both at home and internationally.

Yanukovych has switched from using Russian to Ukrainian in his public statements. The PRU pledged adherence to Ukraine’s European choice in the majority coalition agreement, and one of PRU leaders, Borys Kolesnikov, said in a July 18 interview with Invest gazeta that European integration and NATO membership -- to which the PRU remains hostile -- are “absolutely different things,” as there are “EU members that are not NATO members.”

Yanukovych also said he would expel from the PRU MP Oleh Kalashnykov for using force to retrieve a compromising video from a TV crew earlier in July.

Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor

Ukraine's Future Looks Less Orange

KIEV, Ukraine -- Everything was meant to change in Ukraine as a result of the Orange Revolution in the last three months of 2004.

Corruption and cronyism were supposed to give way to transparency and democracy. "Bandits" were meant to be jailed, dubious privatisations were meant to be reversed. EU and Nato membership appeared to be within reach.

It has not quite worked out like that - though some important goals were achieved.

"The main achievement of the Orange Revolution was freedom of speech," says Taras Berezovets, chief editor of the Ukrainian political website,

"Another benefit has been freedom of business. Politicians stopped interfering, and we now have an economic boom, which has continued despite recent political crises."

A parliamentary election in March, unlike many previous elections, was free and fair - so much so, that the winner was the man who "lost" the Orange Revolution, the pro-Russian former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych.

He has now been nominated again for the premiership, which, under constitutional amendments brought in after the Orange Revolution, would make him the most powerful man in the country.


But many of the Revolution's promised changes did not occur.

Corruption allegations still dog some government ministers. Political parties resemble business clans, bankrolled by tycoons who often double as members of parliament. Reports of vote-buying are rife.

Things started to go wrong from the very start.

Any political goals the leaders of the Orange Revolution may have shared were forgotten during the coalition government headed by Yulia Tymoshenko, which took office in February 2005, and quickly descended into in-fighting.

Ms Tymoshenko accused Mr Yushchenko's inner circle of corruption. He sacked her, and accused her of abusing her position to repay debts.

Mr Yushchenko then outraged many of his own supporters by turning to his rival, Mr Yanukovych, for help in a parliamentary vote to confirm his new prime ministerial nominee.

During the Revolution it had been Yushchenko and Tymoshenko against Yanukovych. Suddenly it was Yushchenko and Yanukovych against Tymoshenko, who voted against Mr Yushchenko's nominee.

Catch 22

In the months since the March election - in which his party came a poor third - Mr Yushchenko has been faced with a choice of which enemy to form a coalition with: Ms Tymoshenko or Mr Yanukovych.

Ukrainian commentators say he negotiated with both simultaneously, dragging the talks out for months in an attempt to extract maximum concessions.

Finally, he struck a deal with Ms Tymoshenko, with the Socialist Party as a junior partner, just as in 2005. But within days the Socialists had second thoughts and opted instead to join a coalition with Mr Yanukovych.

Now Mr Yanukovych has the upper hand, and is inviting Mr Yushchenko's party to join his coalition.

Mr Yushchenko now has to decide whether to agree, or whether it would be better for his Our Ukraine party to go into opposition.

A third option, favoured by Ms Tymoshenko, would be for him to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

"It is a Catch 22 situation," says Taras Kuzio, a senior fellow of the US body, the German Marshall Fund.

"Yanukovych as prime minister would overshadow Yushchenko. Yushchenko would be sidelined. And his supporters would desert him in droves, going over to Tymoshenko. Politically, he would be finished.

"But if he calls fresh elections it could be even worse."

'Anti-crisis' coalition

Taras Berezovets of agrees that new elections held now would simply reduce Our Ukraine's share of the vote from 14% in March to 9% or 10%.

What a new Yanukovych government would mean for Ukraine and for the legacy of the Orange Revolution is an open question.

For example, the "anti-crisis coalition" formed by his Party of Regions, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, pledges to continue moving towards Mr Yushchenko's goal of EU membership and to abide by any result of a referendum on Nato membership.

"Yanukovych claims he is a new man, and is not going back to the bad old ways," says Taras Kuzio. "We simply do not know whether he will have to work within the parameters of the post-Orange system or not."

How long a Yanukovych government would last is also unclear.

The Party of Regions' big business backers do not have much in common with the Communists, and neither group has much in common with the more "Orange" members of the Socialist Party, some of whom have already begun splitting away.

So whatever happens next, Ukraine seems far from a return to political stability.

Source: BBC News

Yushchenko: “Ukraine Is Facing Serious Threat Of Isolation”

KIEV, Ukraine -- “Ukraine is facing a serious threat of isolation as some local political forces want to put an end to democracy and democratic reforms in the country,” Ukrainian President Yushchenko said during his meeting with Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk.

Boris Tarasyuk

He stressed that he would not allow this. The presidential press service reports the sides to note that Ukraine’s foreign policy “will not be changed.”

Yushchenko instructed the Ukrainian diplomatic missions to make this position known to the world countries. “The policy of European and Euro-Atlantic integration will not be changed because it serves the national interests of Ukraine.

I am going to actively exercise my constitutional powers to supervise the country’s foreign political activities. I hope that all political forces in Ukraine realize that,” Yushchenko said.

Yushchenko said that he will promulgate his decision on the fate of the parliament and the government by the constitutional deadline. “This decision will be based on the Constitution and will consider all the factors of the present complicated situation,” Yushchenko said.

He said that the Supreme Rada must also comply with the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, must refrain from undertaking the functions of the other government branches and “must refuse even to think about usurping power.” “This will not be accepted by either Ukrainian society or the world,” Yushchenko said.

During the meeting Tarasyuk reported to Yushchenko on the results of the CIS informal summit. Yushchenko instructed him to consider the proposals made by the acting CIS chairman, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Tarasyuk also told Yushchenko about Ukraine’s talks with the EU for simplified visa regime for Ukrainian citizens.

Source: Regnum

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Political Crisis In Ukraine Enters Critical Stage

KIEV, Ukraine -- The political crisis in Ukraine entered a critical stage today after legislators missed a deadline to form a new government.

Viktor F. Yanukovich, in dark suit at center, at a political gathering in Kiev, Ukraine. He has benefited from dwindling support for President Viktor A. Yushchenko, whose party has been accused of corruption.

Under the constitution, the parliamentary majority had until midnight on July 24 to form a new government. If it failed to do so, the president could dissolve the legislature and call new elections.

But the new, pro-Russian coalition, which has nominated Viktor Yanukovych for prime minister, cannot form a government until the president has formally approved the nomination.

President Viktor Yushchenko says he has until August 2 to consider Yanukovych's nomination.

Yanukovych's fraud-tainted win in the 2004 presidential election sparked the Orange Revolution, the mass street protests that eventually brought Yushchenko into office.

Yushchenko's former Orange Revolution allies have urged him to dissolve parliament and to call new elections to prevent Yanukovych from becoming prime minister.

Source: Radio Free Europe

Ukraine Parliament Restores Yekhanurov As Prime Minister

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's parliament has restored Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov to office, saying his dismissal in January was unconstitutional.

Yuri Yekhanurov

Mr. Yekhanurov has been serving as acting prime minister since parliament voted to dismiss him over a deal to buy natural gas from Russia.

The vote canceling his dismissal came hours after expiration of a constitutional deadline requiring that a government be in office.

This is the latest twist in a long-running political crisis in Ukraine following March elections in which the opposition Regions Party emerged as the leading group in parliament.

A coalition headed by the Regions Party had suggested nominating former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to head a new government.

But President Viktor Yushchenko has until early August to respond to the suggestion.

Source: Voice of America

Ukraine Misses Key Deadline To Form Coalition Government

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's majority coalition has scheduled a special session to discuss the stalemate in forming the country's next government. President Viktor Yushchenko let a midnight deadline pass without deciding on whether to approve his arch-rival Viktor Yanukovych's nomination as prime minister.

Viktor Yushchenko

President Yushchenko remained silent as the midnight deadline to approve the majority coalition's nomination for prime minister came and went. Presidential aides suggest that Mr. Yushchenko has until August 2 to respond to Mr. Yanukovych's nomination, but with parliament scheduled to adjourn by week's end, tensions are flaring.

In comments broadcast on Russian television, Communist party leader Petro Simonenko places the blame for the three-month-long stand-off squarely with the president.

Majority coalition members say President Yushchenko has no reason to override, or ignore, public opinion, noting that the Ukrainian people cast the most votes in the March parliamentary elections for Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Some members of the coalition, most notably the new speaker of parliament, Oleksander Moroz, have suggested that parliament could approve Yanukovych as prime minister, without the president's approval.

President Yushchenko has said he still retains the right to dissolve parliament and call new elections and that any act, without his approval, would be "illegal."

Kiev-based independent political analyst Ivan Lozowy tells VOA Mr. Yushchenko's silence is, as he put it, understandable.

"He faces a very, very difficult choice. That it's of his own choice does not make it any easier for him," said Lozowy. "He can dissolve parliament and face worse results than he received several months ago in the general election. [Or] He can appoint Yanukovych, basically committing political Hari-Kari [suicide] because this is his major opponent, who would come in with additional powers that the prime minister post received at the start of this year."

Those new powers, according to analyst Lozowy, would be enough for Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to basically erode the last vestiges of President Yushchenko's power just 18 months after he was swept into office by street protests during Ukraine's Orange Revolution.

Source: Voice of America

Deadline On Ukraine PM Nomination Expired, President Yushchenko Remains Silent

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s new parliamentary majority missed a midnight deadline to form a new government, with President Viktor Yushchenko giving no indication he is ready yet to nominate his former Orange Revolution rival to be the next prime minister, The Associated Press reports.

Under the Constitution, the new lawmakers elected in the March parliamentary vote had 60 days from their first session to form a government — a deadline that expired at midnight. But the pro-Russian coalition, which has nominated Viktor Yanukovych to be prime minister, cannot act until the president gives formal approval to the nomination.

With the deadline passed, the president could legally dissolve the 450-seat parliament and call new elections. However, he said earlier that his authority to dissolve parliament is a right and not an obligation. Yushchenko said he also is entitled to time to consider a prime ministerial candidate, giving him until Aug. 2 to decide on Yanukovych’s candidacy.

Yanukovych, whom Yushchenko defeated for the presidency in a court-ordered revote in 2004, suggested his party would be patient, up to a point. “We will wait as long as is specified under the law,” Yanukovych said in televised remarks Monday. “But in my opinion, the question has been dragged out,” he was also quoted as saying according to the Unian news agency.

Adam Martynyuk, first deputy parliament speaker and a member of the new coalition, accused Yushchenko of artificially delaying “to justify himself before society ... and to get more.”

Some members of the coalition have said that parliament could go ahead and approve Yanukovych as prime minister, without the president. The president’s office has warned that would be illegal.

This former Soviet nation has been embroiled in political crisis since Yanukovych trounced Yushchenko’s party in March parliamentary elections and formed a parliamentary majority with the Communists and Socialists. The strong performance of the pro-Russian opposition reflected disillusionment at the sluggish economy and a split within the reformist pro-Western team that came to power after the 2004 mass protests over election fraud known as the Orange Revolution.

The new coalition, with its support base in the Russian-speaking east, could slow down Yushchenko’s efforts to drag Kiev out of Moscow’s shadow and into NATO and the European Union, some analysts say.

Some of Yushchenko’s allies have called on the president to dissolve parliament and on Monday Yulia Tymoshenko, a key Orange Revolution figure, said all 125 lawmakers in her faction — the second biggest in parliament — were ready to surrender their seats.

Tymoshenko has said that if 151 lawmakers give up their seats, it would make parliament illegitimate and the president could dissolve it on that basis. Members of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc, however, have said they don’t support such a move.

Meanwhile, Ihor Markov, head of the Free Choice group, predicted that a new election could cost more than $1 billion and could leave the country even more polarized between the Russian-speaking east, which supports Yanukovych, and the more nationalistic, Ukrainian-speaking west, which backed the Orange Revolution.

Source: MosNews

Ukraine Parliament Standoff Spills Out Onto Streets

KIEV, Ukraine -- Activists of Ukraine's two main political camps confronted each other in central Kiev Tuesday after parliament missed a deadline for forming a coalition government and so faced possible dissolution.

A supporter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko shouts slogans near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine

About 10,000 members of the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the rival Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc blocked the approaches to the parliament building, disrupting traffic.

Both camps were waiting for President Viktor Yushchenko to decide between disbanding the assembly or approving the majority coalition's nomination for prime minister after the deadline, marking 60 days since the legislature's first sitting, had expired at midnight Tuesday.

Elected in March, parliament has been in limbo ever since as one coalition needed to form a government collapsed to make way for a rival alliance amid accusations of treachery, bribery and in-fighting.

The Party of Regions hammered out the "anti-crisis" coalition with the Communist Party and the Socialists earlier this month, nominating its 56-year-old leader, Viktor Yanukovych, as prime minister.

Yushchenko has so far been hesitant to endorse the nomination of his arch rival, whom he defeated in a 2004 presidential rerun following protests against vote rigging that came to be known as the "orange revolution."

The president appears equally reluctant to use his power to dissolve the legislature and hold new elections, despite persistent calls to do so from Yulia Tymoshenko, his main "orange" revolution ally and first premier.

Tymoshenko, the darling of the "orange revolution" and premier-in-waiting in the first post-election coalition, formally withdrew from parliament Monday with her eponymous faction in a bid to block the rival coalition's way to power. Her West-leaning bloc holds 125 seats - almost one-third of the 450-member assembly.

On Monday, 244 MPs supported a resolution stating that if the president launched consultations on dissolving parliament, the assembly should immediately hold a plenary session "to maintain constitutional law and order in Ukraine."

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz said dissolution was an unlikely prospect. "President Viktor Yushchenko has no grounds for disbanding parliament. And I strongly believe he will not venture into risky undertakings," he said.

Source: RIA Novosti

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ukraine: Timoshenko's Ambitions and Yushchenko's Dilemma

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's Yulia Timoshenko led her political bloc out of the Ukrainian parliament July 24. The move constitutes a bid to thwart the formation of a new government that is leaving her out in the cold.

With pro-Russian forces threatening to reconsolidate a hold on Ukraine's political life, and perhaps threatening Timoshenko's political -- and even personal -- survival, the withdrawal means Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko must make an impossible choice between Moscow and chaos.

All but one of Bloc Yulia Timoshenko's 125 members of parliament resigned July 24, urging former Orange Coalition partner Our Ukraine, with 81 members in parliament, to follow suit.

One-third, or 150, of the parliament's 450 members must quit to force a new election. Several members of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party promptly refused to quit, criticizing the bloc's decision.

Timoshenko is acting increasingly desperate as fellow pro-Westerner Yushchenko possibly moves to allow a new pro-Russian coalition government to form under their mutual archrival, Viktor Yanukovich.

Yushchenko is expected to decide July 25 whether to approve Yanukovich's nomination for prime minister, which would put the latter at the head of Anti-Crisis Coalition consisting of Yanukovich's Party of Regions, the Communists and the Socialists. Yushchenko's other options are to try to merge Our Ukraine into the Anti-Crisis Coalition in an attempt to moderate Yanukovich's influence, or dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Timoshenko and Yushchenko came to power together in the 2004 Orange Revolution, but faced mounting political and interpersonal conflict thereafter, culminating in Timoshenko's termination as prime minister in September 2005. The collapse of the Orange Coalition has left a chaotic open space in which the smaller Socialists and Communists have been able to leverage their swing votes and cut a deal with the Party of Regions.

Ukraine has been without a functioning government since its March 26 elections, without a credible government for months and without a stable government for almost a year. Budget issues are languishing, natural gas and other fuel-supply issues need to be addressed and the Constitutional Court of Ukraine is not in session since it just lost its chief but cannot get parliament to approve new members.

Yushchenko, who already has had great difficulty inching Ukraine toward NATO and the West, will be under considerable pressure to accept a Yanukovich Party of Regions government, especially given the lackluster support garnered by Our Ukraine in the last elections.

A Yanukovich government could potentially end Timoshenko's political career and/or subject her to criminal prosecution (or worse), so she can be expected to battle ferociously for another chance at an electoral roll of the dice -- or if need be, to work to undermine the political system altogether.

Despite the bitter enemies she created during her ascent to the top, Timoshenko does have a strong core of popular support. Her task now will be to mobilize this base against a hostile government, whether one emerges immediately or after a new election.

But there has been little if any shift in popular or regional opinion portending a different electoral outcome than the one reached in March, and whether Timoshenko can create enough civil disobedience to disrupt any Yanukovich-led government is unclear.

Though her supporters are highly motivated and often young, they are concentrated in western Ukraine and Kiev. She enjoys almost no support in the heavily pro-Russia east. Should she find herself isolated entirely from government; however, she might have no other option but to attempt the large-scale undermining of Ukraine's political system through public demonstrations, blockades, work stoppages or extra-constitutional maneuvers.

Her decision to leave parliament and gamble on new elections indicates that she considers such isolation increasingly imminent.

Timoshenko depends on her place in the system to keep her influence, fortune, freedom and pride afloat. If she can no longer influence the system in place, she will not hesitate to summon whatever power she has to change or undermine it.

When the Socialists killed the Orange Coalition government by quitting the coalition July 7, Timoshenko reacted procedurally, calling for an increase in the number of votes parties need to win seats in parliament -- a move designed to remove the Socialists and Communists from the national stage.

Though this is unlikely to occur, the stance could foreshadow more radical moves to come. Timoshenko's personal persuasion and public speaking skills, along with her ability to elicit strong emotions, are unrivalled in Ukraine. She has used these abilities before to bring about historic turnout levels among middle-aged and older female voters.

For Yushchenko, permitting or joining a pro-Russian government is appealing because it would allow him to avoid the continuous turmoil threatening Ukraine's economic and political foundations -- and his presidency. Timoshenko's move toward disruption from the outside is designed to remove this option.

She hopes Yushchenko will now see the uncertainties of new elections as preferable to dealing simultaneously with both a hostile Yanukovich government and a screeching Bloc Yulia. Yushchenko has been quite reluctant to choose a short-term political course but, as time passes, his options are becoming hemmed in from all points on the political spectrum.

Just hours after Bloc Yulia Timoshenko quit Ukraine's parliament, the remaining parliamentarians voted to continue legislating even if Yushchenko tries to dissolve the body.

For Timoshenko, this posturing is not about resetting Ukraine on a course toward Europe, nor about gaining concessions on energy or economic policy. It is a matter of personal ambition. Having lost the office of prime minister, she will not rest (or allow her followers to rest) until she is back at the top.

Source: Stratfor