Today President Yushchenko appointed Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, providing, according to some experts, further evidence that the President is strengthening a team around himself in anticipation of early VR re-elections next year.
Vitaliy Hayduk, part owner of one of Ukraine's largest Financial Industrial Groups, Industrial Union of Donbas, was recently appointed NSDC secretary.
Khoroshkovskiy, 37, is also one of Ukraine's richest men. He is executive director of the Yevraz Steel Holding, one of Russia’s largest steel companies. He held the post of deputy head of the Presidential Administration under Leonid Kuchma’s tenure, and was also Economy Minister responsible for the country’s European integration policies. He is co-owner and chairman of the the supervisory council of Ukraine's most popular TV channel, Inter, so...a big beast. Rinat Akhmetov was rumored to have been interested in purchasing Khoroshkovskiy's media interests, but the asking price of $1Bn was too high, even for him.
Presidential Secretariat Chief of Staff Viktor Baloha was recently appointed head of 'Our Ukraine', some say to 'clear a path' for Yuriy Lutsenko to eventually take over the party. One of the main planks in any possible 2007 re-elections would be a cancellation of political reforms, which have weakened presidential powers. A referendum on political reform could take place in conjunction with re-elections.
A recent declaration by the still popular Yanukovych, that he is ready to participate in a presidential campaign in the event of a political reforms being cancelled, may indicate that he is taking these matters seriously. If he were to win, then it would be he who would benefit from any enhanced presidential powers.
Tymoshenko has long supported early re-elections in order to increase the number of BYuT deputies in parliament, but would find the elevation of Yuriy Lutsenko to the position of NSNU leader unsettling.
On the 9th of December she met Lutsenko and discussed the question of co-operation of democratic forces in the event of early parliamentary elections. At a later press briefing she said, "He spoke [with me] as someone who intends to go over to the opposition circle of operation and is currently striving to find his place, so as not to split the democratic forces."
When asked if she proposed a place for Lutsenko in her bloc, she replied, "I think we will work as a co-ordinated, unified team."
Lutsenko has promised to reveal more details of his political plans on December 14th.
A thought: If just over a year ago the Ukrainian government refused to pay a fourfold increase in gas prices, resulting in a massive international furore, then why should Ukrainian consumers pay threefold increases in their housing and utility costs? And, more to the point, will they?