Rada Nixes Yanukovych Human Rights Envoy

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday suffered a major setback when Parliament rejected his nomination for the position of human rights envoy, suddenly exposing his lack of majority control.

Valeria Lutkovska

Valeria Lutkovska, whose nomination was backed by the presidential administration, had secured support from 212 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament, falling 14 votes short of a majority.

The vote was anonymous and conducted through casting ballots, which makes it difficult for the presidential administration to figure out who had exactly rejected the nomination.

The development comes as a cold shower for Yanukovych, whose Regions Party has been already struggling to maintain popular support ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election in October 2012.

“This is extremely important,” Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the opposition Front for Changes party, said last week.

“For the first time in over a year the Regions Party has failed to support the candidacy that in fact had been nominated by Yanukovych.”

“This is a proof that [Yanukovych] has been losing support not only among the people, but also within Parliament,” Yatseniuk said.

Yanukovych has been working hard over 12 months to strengthen his personal power within the government and law enforcement agencies by appointing loyalists to a number of key positions.

The appointments, including Finance Minister Yuriy Kolobov, Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin and SBU security service chief Ihor Kalinin, de-facto reduced influence of other groups within the Regions Party.

The vote suggests that under certain circumstances Yanukovych may not be able to secure legislative support for any of his initiatives, which underscores his vulnerability.

It also shows that the Regions Party appears to be split on key issues, with some groups resisting the others within the party.

“This is the biggest surprise,” Mykola Tomenko, deputy speaker of Parliament and a member of the opposition Batkivschyna group, said in an interview with TVi.

“This is the first failure by the Regions Party on a serious issue.”

“Think about what happened: Yanukovych does not have the majority. This is a disaster!” Tomenko said.

“All this time the president has been telling us that he controls almost a constitutional majority and then suddenly had is not able to get the approval for his candidate.”

“The resistance and unhappiness with Yanukovych’s actions is taking place within the Regions Party,” Tomenko said.

Source: Ukrainian Journal