Monday, July 31, 2006

Bluff and double bluff..

'San Sanych' Moroz says his Socialist party is ready to take part in any early VR elections: "Our party is always ready for elections, [always] was, and remains [so].

However, he expects that the President will not dissolve parliament, but will submit Yanukovych's candidate for PM by 2nd August.

According to a report in the pro-BYuT 'Obozrevatel', Rinat Akhmetov is ready to take PoR into fresh elections too, and the President Yushchenko is aware of this.

'Oboz' claims other sources tell them that Yushchenko will not issue an ukaz to dissolve parliament, but will return Yanukovych's candidature to the VR unapproved, on account of its 'polico-legal unacceptability'. Dissolution will then take place 'of its own accord'.[Wishful thinking?] But maybe Cinderella will get her wish after all..

Ukraine deserves better that this bunch of 'same old faces'..

Sunday, July 30, 2006

'Universal' reversal?

In an interview on ICTV, one of PoR's top men, Yevhen Kushnaryov, called the history of negotiations with NSNU an history of blackmail and deception. "The two parties spent 10 days trying to agree a "Pact [or 'Universal'] of National Unity." The President forces PoR to agree to and sign his own program, under the threat of dissolution of parliament and re-elections. PoR are being forced to capitulate their program by the president's political party, which obtained less than half PoR's votes."

The biggest topics of dispute, according to Kushnaryov, are the language question, attitude to NATO and Common Economic Space, federalisation system of the country, and creation of a unified church.

No doubt the president would say, in the words of Basil Fawlty, "Apart from that, everything else OK?"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Con man's convention

So the magic roundabout has stopped turning for the moment - Discussions around the round table are supposed to resume on Monday.

Tymoshenko announced during the first sitting, that BYuT will not sign any 'Universal' agreement.

She exposed the event for the 'ochkovtiratelstvo' [deception] it is, declaring, during the televized proceedings:

"The 'Universal of National Unity' is a wonderful document. Examine any article.....for example, 'Tackling corruption at all levels of government..' Today even children who watch television know about the corruption in parliament. All of the deputies know about this. So parliament is not respected. A month or two will pass, and people will spit at their televisions. So what I want to ask is: why such insincerity? Signing a piece of paper is easy, it will endure anything. So why do it?"

The round table is like a con-man's convention. Yushchenko sacked Tymoshenko last September because her #2 Turchynov was treading on the toes of Yu's 'dear friends' when investigating corruption in Ukraine's energy complex, and in particular, in procurement of gas from Turkmenistan and Russia. [Turchinov's resignation statement is here. ]

Yanukovych and many of his party's leading members [the Klyuyevs, Azarov, Kivalov etc. etc.] were active in the 2004 presidential election steal. Some have a track record of dirty tricks from the days of president Kuchma.

Oleksandr Moroz has been accused by his former #2 in the Socialist party, of switching from the orange 'democratic' coalition to the anti-crisis coalition at the last moment for money. Evidence is being examined by the Prosecutor General. He has gone into a coalition with guys who used the dirtiest of tricks to wreck his 1999 presidential election campaign.

The new Socialist party leader Vasyl Tsushko told journalists today that signing of the 'Universal of National Unity' is being delayed because of the absence of guarantees from President Yushchenko that he will propose Viktor Yanukovych for PM.

Tsushko said that Yanukovych and PoR would approve the Ukraine-NATO plan of action only after such guarantees are provided by Yushchenko. [A man of principle then]

Most Ukrainians know a 'stitch-up' when they see one. In a recent opinion poll, just over a third of respondents said they trust the anti-crisis coalition [ACC], but 43% said they don't. The remainder aren't sure one way or the other. The reasons given for mistrust was the ACC coalition members' actions are determined [1] by personal financial interests, [2] by a desire for lofty positions in government and parliament, and [3] by a wish for revenge after defeat in the 2004 Presidential elections.

Oh for some new faces..

PoR's press service have just released a statement. They are thoroughly fed up with NSNU' s blackmailing tactics. "A party that received less than 14% of votes cast, and which has less than 80 VR deputies, [out of 450] has set out with the aim of tying up the possible wide format coalition with its own ideology, and of dominating the majority...The condition presented to PoR, the party that won the elections, was give up your own program, which was supported by the majority of voters...We will not allow our party, our partners, or each deputy who is in the coalition, to be humiliated."
They sound quite pi$$ed...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Who to listen to?

Tracking events in Ukrainian politics is often confusing because of conflicting and contradictory reports and comments given by the media, and by leaders and spokesmen from different political parties.

From the time of formation of the anti-crisis coalition, PoR spokesmen have frequently 'talked up' the possibility of NSNU, and some BYuT members joining their coalition, maybe to show that it is they that are now dictating the pace of events and have 'the momentum'. Generally speaking, NSNU has been much more cautious and vague in their pronouncements, giving the impression of bewilderment and rudderlessness.

E.g. PoR spokesman Aleksandr Yefryemov in this week's 'Stolichiye Novosti', says, "Part of BYuT is already ready to join our coalition..There is a good perspective that in the near future, when Yanukovych is appointed PM there will be not only a majority, but a constitutional majority."

PoR's Yevhen Kushnaryov, quoted today in "Ekspres', "We are approaching mutual understanding [with NSNU], and are writing out all the points...NU will have the possibility of proposing changes to the coalition agreement. After this, the new edition of the coalition agreement will be published, and possibly the new composition of the coalition."

In the same piece, [2004 election fixer] Andriy Klyuyev says that in discussions with NU, dissolution of the existing Anti-crisis coalition is not being discussed, but "we are talking not of dissolution, but of union."

In an interview with leading press agencies and TV channels today President Yushchenko, made some firmer statements. He said there are two ways of solving the problem in the VR: "agreement, or dissolution of the law-making organ." So he is not eliminating the dissolution 'variant'. According to Yushchenko, "It will bring additional confrontation, but as an answer, it can exist."

Another solution to the crisis, would be the formation of a different coalition, "which would give an answer to all political challenges...negotiations are proceeding in this direction, there is progress, but at the moment [this] is insufficient to remove all questions."

But perhaps the truest picture of how NSNU-PoR negotiations may be going is described in the Donbass 'Ostrov' website, which quotes the head of NSNU's analytic department, Anatoliy Lutsenko.

"Systematic statements by the Party of Regions's leaders about mythical negotiations of this political force with 'Our Ukraine' are nothing other than inventions."

"The press service of 'Our Ukraine' has reported this on numerous occasions, however, the 'Regionals' stubbornly continue talking of swift changes in the negotiation process. Each day Ukrainians get the wrong information from [PoR] 'speaking heads' who are like actors in their invented play,' he said.

Oleksandr Moroz's melodramatic and 'over-the-top' TV statement a couple of night's ago, recalling events of Russia in 1993, when a standoff with the federation's Duma resulted in hundreds of deaths, shows that in his eyes, the threat of VR's dismissal by pressa is still real.

Rinat Akhmetov is taking an ever-more important role in the negotiations with the president.

The poker game continues.. Some say Rinat Akhmetov started his spectacular career as a highly successful gambler and card-sharp..

Yanuk & Rinat [Photo: Ukr Pravda]

Monday apartment sales

We were talking to a broker and he said that he got no calls at all on Monday from people looking to buy apartments. He usually gets a number of them every day but on Monday, no calls at all. On Tuesday, he started getting some again.

Monday was the first deadline for the government and maybe people were waiting to see what was going to happen. Or maybe it was just a fluke. The broker didn't think so but it could have been.

There is a history of uncertainty around here. Things are better than they were and the economy is purring along better than most people thought it would this year. But memories persist of people losing everything.

The problem is that the big risk right now is a currency devaluation it seems to me. In the face of that risk, people should be racing to buy something that would be a hedge. Right now, apartments would be that. They could buy dollars too of course. I haven't seen any figures on it to see if they are. But maybe they're just waiting to see what happens.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The cleanest elections?

You live in a country where state surveillance and gathering of 'kompromat' on highly placed politicians has a long tradition; where blackmail has been regularly used as a political tool.

Your political enemies have a track record of bending the rules and cheating over several election campaigns.

You are in power and have [some] control over law enforcement agencies.

Fresh elections are to take place. Do you trust your enemies to be honest because they 'obitsyaly popravytysya?' [promised to mend their ways].

Or do you keep an eye [and an ear] open, to see what they are getting up to, just in case they cheat again?

Last time, it was the votes and the vote-counters that were 'bought'. Maybe this time they figured it would be easier to buy-out the newly-elected deputies?

Stories of bribes and 'slush funds' have been circulating for quite a while ..Will more evidence come to light soon, or used later, when the time is right?

Or maybe it's all being made up. What do you think?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Klyuyev implicated again..

On Wednesday 12th July, the deputy head of President Yushchenko's secretariat, Ivan Vasyunyk, claimed the President is angry because "the latest decisions taken in the VR by deputies took place under duress and were influenced by bribes".

On the same day several members of the Anti-Crisis coalition, including Andriy Klyuyev, met with the president.

My Saturday posting included links to an article in the [pro-BYuT] 'Obozrevatel' publication, which contained a video clip, shot in parliament, of Klyuyev gesticulating to the 'top knobs' of PoR, possibly explaining how Moroz and the Socialists were bought off. [Or maybe explaining how he bribed a traffic cop, after receiving a parking ticket?!]

There is, however, a stack of solid evidence - the Zoryany recordings, showing that Klyuyev was one of the main financial bag-men and organizers of the attempted steal of the 2004 Presidential elections.

In a press conference today, ByuT deputy and newspaper editor, Oleh Lyashko claims that two telephone intercepts were given to him by a member of state special services last night. On one, Andriy Klyuyev is heard speaking to one of the Socialist's leaders, Mykola Rudkovskyi.

On the other Klyuyev is speaking with a 'Ruben' in Moscow. When asked if matters are OK, he is apparently heard to reply, that everything is well, because, "Moroz has been bought for $300M." He explains the figure is high, because it includes an advance for assistance in the impeachment of the President, being planned for December this year.

A brief TV clip of Lyashko, and Klyuyev's denial here. Lyaskho has submitted the tapes to the 'black hole' that is Prosecutor General's office, but has promised to put them into the public domain.

My suspicion is that there is plenty more of this stuff about. Whether the President will use it as an additional reason to dissolve Parliament is another matter.

PoR play 'for keeps.' It is they who are now setting the agenda. Taking command of the VR for them is only the first step. Rendering Yushchenko [and the parliamentary opposition] impotent will be the next...

Yushchenko is increasing looking like a doomed British PM, who was described several years ago by a colleague as being, "A lame duck... in office but not in power"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Evidence of how 'the dirty deed' was done?

Despite constant rumor, accusations and innuendo that the Socialists and Communists were 'bought off' by PoR to join the anti-crisis coalition, there has been no serious evidence of this presented - until now.

An article in Friday's 'Obozrevatel' has something interesting.

On the night of 6th July when Moroz was 'turned', and the PoR-Communist-Socialist anti-crisis coalition brought into being, TV cameras broadcasting events from the VR picked up a curious scene played out in a corner where PoR's Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest businessman, 'hangs-out'.

Andriy Klyuyev, PoR's financial 'fixer' about whom I've previously blogged, approaches Akhmetov.

Boris Kolesnikov, Yevhen Kushnaryov, and Vladislav Lukyanov also join them. This is the small, tight circle of guys, who together with Yanukovych, run PoR.

The video footage has been examined by 'Oboz' lip-readers and body language experts. Klyuyev's gestures and gesticulations are revealing - he indicates to the others with one hand, some pen strokes, negotiations, documents being signed; and then, using both hands, the counting off of money while saying, "Yanukovych settled everything". Readers can watch the clip in slow motion themselves from a link in the 'Oboz' piece'.

A few minutes later, an 'Oboz' reporter witnessed Akhmetov in conversation with Communist leader Petro Symonenko, probably bringing him 'up to speed', telling him about his conversation with Klyuyev moments previously, and letting him know that Moroz and the Socialists had decided to join them and 'rat' on the oranges.

The 'Oboz' piece mentions Akhmetov's, and then Yanukovych's refusal to categorically deny the payment of bribes to the Socialists, about which I have also blogged previously.

The guys who may be running Ukraine Inc. soon. [Photo from the 'Oboz' article]

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some good news on the economy

ICTV reports the Ukrainian economy in self confident mood, even thought there is no proper government, no parliament or Constitutional Court.

GDP grew by 5% in the last half year, and in June by 9%. Inward investment has increased - and all this despite greatly increased hydrocarbon fuel costs.

A report in the normally staid Unian website indicates that NSNU may be preparing to work with a Yanukovych government, while the solid Korespondent site quotes Anatoliy Kinakh, #2 on NSNU's list, as saying they are ready to work in a Yanukovych government too, as long as the activities of the new cabinet are directed to the consolidation of society, and not the deepening of [mutual] opposition. [And as long as they are for mums and dads and happy families, apple pies, and sunny weather, being nice to older folk, protecting the birds and bees, nice flowers and trees, and so on...

Unian adds that Yushchenko may have had a secret meeting with Akhmetov, PoR's 'main man' - Poroshenko may be first vice-PM.

And Yuliya Mostova, one of the most respected Ukrainian political commentators, suggests in a piece in today's 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya' that Yushchenko more likely than not, will propose Yanukovych's candidature for approval by the VR next week.

Malyarenko finally goes..

The VR today granted Vasyl Malarenko's request to resign his position as head of the Ukrainian Supreme Court. Addressing parliament, he explained that it was due to personal family circumstances.

This man's recent past strikingly illustrates the abuse of power and stinking corruption that swirls around Ukraine's ruling elites
Malyarenko, [see photo] a close confidant of Yanukovych, is implicated in audiotapes in which former President Kuchma and PoR leading light Mykola Azarov are heard conspiring to frame a former bank executive on tax evasion and other charges.

He abused his position, together with Azarov and former Prosecutor-General, and now PoR deputy, Svyatoslav Piskun, in nepotistic insider business dealings .

In his address today he declared that he had strived to be honest and objective all of his life, and so wanted to tell the truth today.

He was given a standing ovation... Sickening..

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Theatricals in VR, and some speculation

Yuliya T announced in the VR that BYuT will not take part in any further pleniary sittings until 25th July, the day on which the President has the right to dismiss parliament - something BYuT are demanding.

"We have ceased using megaphones and horns [to disrupt proceedings] to enable society to hear the rustle of dollar bills in this parliamentary hall. So that [everyone] can hear, that they [i.e. Socialists and Communists] sold out everything that people voted for," declared Tymoshenko. Then BYuT placed a blue and yellow flag to cover their seats in the VR, and left.

[Photo from Ukr. Pravda]

Later today, when Yanukovych was asked after a meeting with Yushchenko, if he was certain the President would submit his candidature for PM to the VR, he replied: "I saw in the eyes of the President a great desire to unite our efforts, and for me, this is sufficient."

It seems then, that Yanukovych shares with President Bush, that special gift of being able to read someone's mind, merely by looking into their eyes.

"I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul," said Bush profoundly, after a meeting with Vladimir Putin several years ago.

All the speculation at the moment is about whether Yushchenko will submit Yanukovych's candidature to the VR for approval, and Yanukovych becomes PM; or whether he will dismiss the VR on the 25th July, and possibly call fresh elections.

According to a well-researched piece in 'Obozrevatel' though, there is a third possibility. Yushchenko may do neither, and the VR will continue their activities, just as acting PM Yekhanurov is doing, even though it could be said Yekhanurov's employment as PM has been terminated twice already.

One of the few unequivocal statements Yushchenko has made these last few months was, "The VR coalition has to submit its candidature for PM, for consideration [by the President]. I will propose the submission [for approval by the VR] only when the activity of the Constitutional court is renewed." However, there is no knowing at the moment when this will be.

In my opinion, for many months Yushchenko has favored a 'wide' coalition, with Yekhanurov as PM and head of the cabinet of ministers. Some analysts seem to think that Yushchenko will never accept Yanukovych as PM, but apart from Yanukovych and his party, many may be happy with this 'third possibility' arrangement, now that Moroz's fervent aim to be VR speaker has been achieved.

So maybe the man knows how to get what he wants, after all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Truth spoken in jest?

According to an interesting article* in Ukr Pravda, on Tuesday, the day when NSNU decided that 'the game was up' in the VR, BYuT deputy Oleksandr Abdullin jokingly asked Andriy Klyuyev, one of Yanukovych's closest PoR associates, "Andryusha, [I know] we're too late for the ten, but how about taking us 'on board' for three?"

The numbers they were talking about were millions of dollars.

During the 2004 Presidential election campaign Klyuyev was head of Yanukovych's election campaign team, and together with Eduard Prutnik, co-ordinated finances. Election funds of several hundred million dollars were channeled from Gazprom, via Naftohaz Ukrainy and shadow structures, for the campaign. Klyuyev was deputy prime minister with responsibility for the energy sector.

Also, Klyuyev, and his brother Serhiy, where at the heart of the attempted 2004 'Presidential election steal' campaign, as exposed on the so-called Zoriany recordings.

Whatever happened to those, I wonder?

It would be no surprise, therefore, if 'Andryusha' is still PoR's money-bag man, in the VR today.

It was widely rumored at the time that Andriy Klyuyev was the last person to see railway minister Hryhoriy Kirpa before Kirpa's mysterious suicide on 27th December 2004, when neigbours had apparently heard several shots. Yanukovych had knocked out several of Kirpa's teeth a few weeks before after an argument...
You couldn't make it up....

Source: Andrew Wilson's 'Ukraine's Orange Revolution, and elsewhere.
A bit more on Klyuyev here.

The sun may shine and the winds may blow.
The women may come and the women may go,
But before I say I love you so, I want

Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey,
If you want to get along with me.

Sung by Elvis Presley c.1956

*Also now In English

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A brave speech in VR

This report from today's RFE/RL of Yuliya Tymoshenko's brief address in the VR, [which can be seen here] gives no impression of the emotionally charged 'dressing down' she gave the Socialists and Communists for selling out to the clans and business elites.

"..corruption of the magnitude that even this sell-out parliament has never seen before...that which is constructed by big money and great betrayal will never bring joy and wealth to our country...our independence gained in 1991 is also being betrayed.."

Photo from 'Ukr Pravda' showing Yuliya Tymoshenko addressing the VR today, encircled by PoR 'heavies', including Yanukovych Jr., out of their seats 'protecting' the 'tribuna'.

Oranges squeezed 'till the pips squeak'

Lots of OP's conducted in the last few days.

This one, from NTN television, predicts that in the event of fresh VR elections, the results would be:
PoR 38%
BYuT 16%
NSNU 7.5%
Socialists 2.6%
Communists 2.1%

PoR would have an absolute majority - Yanukovych must be a 'happy bunny' at the moment.

ps Excellent concise briefing paper on Ukraine's current crisis by James Sherr here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Out of the frying pan

I should have said this last week when I came out of my hole and commented on what was happening, but LEkvo has done us all a real service in keeping us well informed about what is going on in Ukraine. And he has been even-handed in it which is often a tough thing to do. But he deserves our thanks and probably more.

I agree with the astute commenters who think that a re-vote would be a bad idea. I am torn though because I am of the “who controls the buildings” school. I have posted on this before, but in a country where there is no rule of law, and Kushnaryov’s statement that they would install Yanukovych s PM no matter what the president did is just more evidence of this, it matters who controls the buildings. If you control the right buildings you control the bureaucracy, the documents and the stamps. That is the key to power here. If you control these, you control a lot of what goes on in Ukrainian life. The document with the proper stamp is a necessary thing here. It’s the permission to live, move and breathe. To get anything done you have to have them and that often means paying a “fee” to get them. So the coffers begin to fill up again as your cronies are entrenched in centers of power. Just like it used to be. Power means more money and more money means more power. Disgusting.

And no court order and no presidential order, nothing short of a revolution, will dislodge these people from their positions of power, that is, from the buildings. (Pora’s focus on the buildings was the right intuition.) That is what it took last time, but the people have no stomach for it again, I’m afraid. So I would be a bit leery of letting these people in again.

That Akhmetov wants to court the West because he wants his companies to be thought well of and because he needs the West to legitimize those companies is utilizing what I call the fallacy of self-interest. I have posted on this before so I won’t post on it again. But what I may think is in a person’s rational self-interest to do doesn’t mean anything. It’s what that person himself sees as being in his self-interest to do that is the issue. And that means it ain’t an objective thing.

So I don’t know which is worse, new elections or letting the goons back in the door. Between two bad ideas, which one?

NSNU caving in?

According to creepy PoR honcho Mykola Azarov, 'Nasha Ukraina' are withdrawing their demand that the Communists be dumped from the 'anti-crisis' coalition, as a condition for NSNU to join it.

In their negotiations with PoR, NSNU have also agreed not to tackle the thorny question of who the PM is to be be. "We have already proposed a candidate...[and] I am very pleased that our partners [NSNU] are ready to continue the dialogue understanding this fact," stated Azarov.

The Communists with their 21 deputies in the VR had said previously that if NSNU as a full block are to be in on the anti-crisis coalition deal, then they will re-assess their position in the coalition.

Somehow I don't think the President has the stomach for a major struggle - it is he who is getting blamed by most Ukrainians for the current crisis.

Update: NSNU's press spokesperson, Tetyana Mokridi announced today that Azarov was speaking through his ***hole when he claimed yesterday that NSNU were caving in.

"Nasha Ukraina is not conducting negotiations with PoR and is not withdrawing its demands," she said. [I'll bet they are really, though..]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Mummy Returns?

Here's some speculation on how things may develop in Ukraine in the following days and weeks. Two possible scenarios are described in an article by Mykola Pysarchuk, which he claims are envisaged by PoR political advisers and strategic planners in documents they have prepared for the PoR leadership.

PoR is run by just a handful of people - their total control over their party was demonstrated when Socialist Moroz was elected VR speaker, receiving every single PoR vote. Mykola Azarov, PoR's official nomination, did not receive one vote, not even his own..

In the peaceful alternative, Yushchenko meekly submits Yanukovych's name to the VR as PM for their approval. A portion of NSNU joins the anti-crisis coalition, gaining a 'few crumbs off the table' in parliamentary commitees and so on. The President loses significant power in the process.

However, the president may dissolve parliament on the 25th July, ostensibly because 60 days have elapsed from the winding up of the previous government, without a new government being appointed. If this were to occur, then a grimmer alternative is predicted .

Thousands of blue supporters would arrive in Kyiv, staging demonstrations of support for Yanukovych and the anti-crisis coalition. Moroz declares in parliament that the presidential ukaz dissolving parliament is unlawful, and that it is an act of treason. Parliament starts proceedings to impeach the Yushchenko. The anti-crisis coalition forms a 'government of national consolidation and stability' headed by Viktor Yanukovych. Once the Constitutional Court is re-activated and its currently depleted seats filled by the 'right people', the events described would naturally receive the Court's approval.

PoR will certainly not wait for months for re-elections to take place and allow their political enemies to regroup, as the oranges did after the March elections.

Pysarchuk claims that the financier deputies in BYuT would rather cut their losses, switch over to the anti-crisis coalition and throw their lot in with PoR, than fund and organize further street actions of protest against the 'anti-crisists'.

Latest opinion polls indicate that most Ukrainian citizens do not really favour dissolution of parliament - more bad news for Yush..

Ukrainians may soon be governed by the likes of Yanukovych and Azarov, who when they were previously in power, systematically abused their positions, continuously using sinister means to neutralize their political opponents, including, astonishingly, their new-found allies the Socialists and Communists.

I gave a brief description last January of the type of guys who now sit in the PoR seats in the VR.

As for Yushchenko, slightly misquoting a song by Boz Scaggs, "You had it in the palm of your hand...and baby you lost it.."

Friday, July 14, 2006

A few thoughts..

So, what happens next?

Yushchenko's predicament reminds me of an old joke about a tourist on a driving holiday in Ireland. Having become hopelessly lost, he stops in a remote village and asks an old local, "Excuse me old fella, how do I get to Ballygilligan?"
The old guy, thinks..and thinks. After a while he replies, "You know what, If I was you...then I wouldn't be starting from here.."

Yushchenko must take the blame for astonishing missteps after the March parliamentary elections. The truth is though, the election results for the Oranges didn't pan out as well as they had hoped, so their position was always weak - an highly vulnerable overall majority of only 17, in a 450 seat parliament, where bribery and corruption is endemic. NSNU in particular, with only 14% of the vote took a beating.

This perhaps explains why NSNU began double-dealing from the start - and have fallen between two stools. Maybe Moroz is correct: the position Ukrainian politics finds itself in now, would have probably come to pass anyhow, after just a few months of an NSNU/BYuT/Socialist coalition.

Who know? Maybe Moroz himself was given assurances by PoR regarding allocation of ministerial positions for possible NSNU defectors, in order to make it easier for him to go over and join the 'anti-crisisists'. He probably hoped that his switching from democratic coalition to anti-crisis coalition would improve matters, that a grand coalition would be quickly formed, and that his betrayal of his orange partners quickly forgotten.

If the country does spin out of control, he will be aware that his actions may have caused this to happen..Will he now be having second thoughts or regrets?

PoR know their anti-crisis coalition is not particularly stable either, so despite all of the confident talk, they will be desperately trying to poach as many NSNU and BYuT deputies, hence the rumors of $5M and $10M inducements mentioned in my previous blog. Messy protracted battles with the President in the weeks to come will not suit them either. Maybe early re-elections would suit them best too? Former president Leonid Kuchma, once called a red cockroach by Yuliya T, has crawled out from under his stone and said as much.

Prominent Socialist and Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko, tore up his Socialist party card yesterday, so there's some turmoil there too, as well as in NSNU. Even the Communists are worried that NSNU will join PoR in the new coalition, and that they will be dumped. You just can't trust anybody these days..

Maybe the President will come up with something in his regular Saturday radio address..

Some comments

I have been at a loss for anything to say about the events of the past week. What has happened is simply stunning. Here are some comments though:

--How incompetent is the leadership of Our Ukraine? What did they think Moroz would do if they courted PR? Did they really think he was going to stand still and not make his own deal when it looked like Our Ukraine was looking out for its interests alone by negotiating with PR? Moroz has to answer for his actions and if there is an election, from some of the things I have heard around from people, the goodwill he and the Socialists have had with Ukrainians may be at an end. He might find himself out of a job if it were put up to a vote today. But that said, the Our Ukraine leadership must have thought that they were free to do anything they liked, to push anyone they liked, and to court anyone they liked without any consequences. Looks like we’ll have to count them part of that Ukrainian elite for whom there have never been any consequences because of power or money or both. How else to explain it?

--Yulia is Yulia. She is pretty effective in opposition. But she and the rest of the coalition sat in the VR and watched what happened on Friday unfold without the slightest protest. To have done it then would have reinforced the idea that what was happening was illegal. Now the protests make it look as if they just don’t like the result. That's what comes over from what’s going on in the Rada. All the noise and storming of the rostrum look like attempts to stop the proper functioning of government. And this by so-called guardians of democracy. If they had stood up and protested at the time, they could have made their case that it was extra-legal, unconstitutional, immoral, not cricket, whatever. Now it looks like they are just crummy losers and undemocratic at that.

This is not very good strategy, I’m afraid. But Our Ukraine has shown itself to be very poor in that department. The better strategists—you have to hand it to them-- are in PR. Since they were so poor at it before, maybe they have bought better?

--There are tents cities going up from PORA and others but PR has them too. If there’s a
call for protests now, what will it be for? Corruption? After the allegations that accompanied the dismissal of Poroshenko and Tymoshenko? People think that Our Ukraine is as corrupt as PR. And making Poroshenko the poster boy for Our Ukraine puts the problem front and center. People don't like him. They think he’s corrupt. That he is a powerful figure in Our Ukraine just taints the whole party.

So what we would be left with is a call for protests over what amounts to political differences. "Come out and protest their forming a different coalition!" To paraphrase a quote from a movie, that’s a helluva a concept to have men die for. It just ain’t gonna work.

--How is this playing in the east? Think of it for a minute. Your elected representatives put together a coalition to govern when Our Ukraine and BYuT couldn’t. And when they start to govern, Our Ukraine and BYuT won’t let them. From their point of view it looks like democracy is about getting the right result, and, if you are in the east, anything you want is going to be the wrong result. How is that any different from what has happened in the past here? And is that going to make them willing to participate in elections and in democratic processes? I don’t think so.

Not all the people who voted for PR are criminals and corrupt, not nearly. And it was to the people who aren’t that Yuschenko and Our Ukraine should have been appealing all along. But they haven’t and that is a spectacular failure.

Tymoshenko, to her credit, has tried harder at this but there hasn’t been the wholesale courting of the east that there should have been.

--The truncheons have come out again. A reporter was beaten by a group of four men including a Rada deputy from PR at the PR tent city. The deputy in question, Oleg Kalashnikov is the name I have, said he was provoked. [Correction: He's the spokesman for PR and wasn't involved. But they still maintain he, whoever it was, was provoked. "But we're sorry."] [Correction correction: Looks like I was right the first time. It was Oleg Kalashnikov. I'll stop now.] Here's hwo it must have gone: The reporter held up this thing that looked like a shoulder fired missile launcher—the reporter said it was a camera but you never know about these things—and the deputy feared for his life. So he and his buddies, who were simply minding their own business, subdued the assailant and took the launcher-that-looked-like-a-camera from him. When they opened it up they found a missile, a rectangular missile about the size and shape, that is, exactly the size and shape of a video tape. With video tape in it. Since you never know, they had to destroy it to prevent any harm to the rest of the tent community. This is what any good public servant would do, no? A few well placed temniki would make this version stick.

Anyway, this was what came out second. A complete denial was what came out first. Finally, later in the day, Kushnarov, the great statesman from PR, came out and said that they were sorry for what happened. They would, of course, return the tape but it had been destroyed—the danger thing I guess.

This is the sort of thing that happened before. One of the results of the Orange Revolution is a free press. That is endangered now by the thugs and criminals that PR has brought in its wake. If that goes, there’s really nothing left but corruption, status, power, and a willingness to use it against anyone who gets in the way. Exactly like it used to be. I can’t say how sad this makes me.

--Where’s Yuschenko? I have been a supporter of Yuschenko and still am, at least for now. But that has not stopped us here from detailing the failings of his administration. And they are there for all to see. All of what happened this past week has come about not only because of the failings of the past few months but because of the failings of the past year and some of the Yuschenko administration.

I'm not so sure that he is the head of Our Ukraine anymore. Their party lost and in any other country that would result in a no confidence vote for the party leader. Maybe that has happened and Our Ukraine now has a de facto other head?

Some of his waffling on the issues I think comes because he is trying to be non-partisan, to keep the presidency above the fray. That would make him the anti-Kuchma and maybe that’s it. The problem with it is that it isn't helping. The real problem around here now is that the system is breaking down and it could lead to people taking to the streets, this time without the higher sensibilities of the Orange Revolution. Someone’s going to have to steady things and people are looking to Yuschenko to do it. But he’s not looking steady.

Other people have a different view of Yuschenko. That’s fine. Either way, he’s been the reason for the problems. Now he’s going to have to deal with it.

--The courts. The courts could provide some stability in this situation but they are not credible. They could have been but there hasn’t been the kind of reform there that has been needed. So there’s no confidence in them. And now that Tymoshenko wants to pursue remedies in the courts, it would be a good time for them to have credibility. But they don’t.

Problem is that no institution in Ukrainian society has any credibility, not the presidency, not the Rada, not the courts. And this is a catastrophe. More work that should have been done but wasn’t.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Oranges and blues 'digging in', constructing d.o.t.s*

Yesterday's talks between NSNU, PoR, and the President were fruitless, and president Yushchenko refused to validate either Moroz as speaker, or the anti-crisis coalition.

NSNU are demanding exclusion of the Communists from any broad coalition, and nomination of a representative of the Our Ukraine bloc as the coalition's candidate for the post of prime minister.

Experts are predicting events may develop in three different ways.

There is only a slight chance that a broad coalition with NSNU's participation could be formed, i.e. if the above-mentioned conditions are met by PoR. The Communists are getting nervous about this though - their leader Petro Symonenko, on returning from Moscow today said that he would not work with the 'anti-crisis-ites' if NSNU also joined this coalition; but Yanukovych quickly assured them there are no plans to dump them. [The support of the Communists last week possibly cost a lot of 'brown envelope' money, so PoR want to 'get their money's worth']

Another possibility is that BYuT go in opposition together with loyal NSNU deputies, against the 'anti-crisis' coalition. There are snags here because the President has several levers to pull to prevent the VR and ministers working. E.g. there is a deadline before which the cabinet must be formed, but as the President himself appoints the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, can a cabinet be considered complete without these two important ministers being in place?

The president has the right to veto laws passed by the VR, which can only be overcome by 2/3 of deputies' votes, i.e. 301 votes. The president can redirect decisions made by the VR to the constitutional court, which is not functioning at the moment. Hindering the work of the VR could cause a reshuffle after just a few weeks amongst the ranks of the 'anti-crisisists'.

A final, quite realistic possibility is the dissolution of parliament by the President, which has to form a government by 25th July, or face dissolution, according to the constitution.

Yanukovych reiterated a statement made by one of PoR's 'top bananas,' Yevhen Kushnaryov: If the president does not submit the VR's chosen candidate for PM for their approval, then the anti-coalitionists will confirm this candidate for PM themselves. In other words, Yanukovych will 'self-coronate' himself as PM.

And Yuliya T, in an emotional impromptu press conference said that BYuT are going into opposition, and are demanding early parliamentary re-elections. She alleged that some of her deputies are being offered bribes of between $5 and $10 million, for their votes by the 'anti-crisisists' - serious money by any standards. She looked quite tired and stressed out, as do the other leading players. But she's a 'class act' on TV.

Yanukovych, in contrast, is embarrassingly clumsy and oafish - always rolling his eyes and looking for words - very uncomfortable in front of cameras. It's looking like stalemate until the 25th.. but you never know..

*d.o.t. - dolgovremyennaya ognyevaya tochka - a permanent military defensive position or structure.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nobody trusts nobody no more

The deputy head of President Yushchenko's secretariat, Ivan Vasyunyk, claims the President is angry because "the latest decisions taken in the VR by deputies took place under duress and were influenced by bribes".

Yushchenko apparently, has appealed to all political forces in parliament to give up such methods, "because this is the road to the devaluation of democracy and the continuation of corruption in parliament."

When Vasyunyk was asked on what basis his assertion was made, he replied, "There is a lot of information. This information should either be checked out, or handed over to court authorities," adding, that the press had written a lot about this. "In the format of various coalitions, the first, and the second, there have been serious unconfirmed rumors circulating."

When a journalist commented that this declaration sounded quite categoric, Vasynuyk replied, "I said this as a warning."

In any decent democracy, such grave accusations would be thoroughly investigated and followed up by law enforcement agencies. We are talking about how newly-elected parliamentary deputies, preparing to run Ukraine for the next 5 years, are being accused by the President of taking bribes to switch from one coalition to another. In Ukraine this warrants just a little warning from the Pres - a tap on the knuckles - nothing out of the ordinary..

What happens next? Well.... lots of talking.
PoR and Our Ukraine commenced discussions in Presidential Secretariat today. The usual creeps were there: Raisa Bohatyrova, Volodymyr Rybak, Andriy Kliuyev [from PoR], new Socialist boss Vasyl Tsushko, and 'our old friends' Roman Zvarych, Mykola Martynenko, Borys Tarasyuk, and Anatoliy Kinakh from NSNU. Yuriy Yekhanurov joined the talks later.

PoR are now in the driving seat. And NSNU have two options - each of which will probably cause splits their party. On Monday their party council formally decided to prepare for early re-elections, and yet their leaders are acting as if entry into the anti-crisis coalition is on the cards too.

NSNU's people, in the talks going on at the moment, have always been keen on a 'wider' coalition, and now, after Moroz's betrayal, probably a 'mini' coalition of just PoR and NSNU. Assuming, say, 20 of NSNU's 81 deputies would rather go into opposition, this would give PoR-NSNU coalition a not impregnable 241 votes in a 450-seat VR. PoR would probably be happier with this arrangement too, rather than depending on the Communists as now; but NSNU will demand their man Yekhanurov be PM, and Yanukovych be appointed speaker - a big 'ask', requiring a hell of a climb-down now for PoR, after last week's victory.

The alternative for NSNU is to go into opposition with BYuT against a rather unstable anti-crisis coalition of PoR-Socialists-Communists. PoR could probably 'entice' some defections from NSNU and BYuT- they optimistically claim over 40.

Yuliya T has accused 'Nasha Ukraina' of betrayal, and is urging the President to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. "NU has sat around a negotiationg table with Communists, Socialist who betrayed us, and with Viktor Yanukovych and his mafia who we pulled out of their offices by their arms during the Orange Revolution." BYuT are running out of partners...
The truth is, just as with the mafias, 'nobody trusts nobody no more'.

Photo of Raisa Bohatyrova, and Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest oligarch, and 'the money' behind PoR. [From Ukr.Pravda]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The rules are..there are no rules..

Amid the turmoil of the VR morning session today, 233 anti-crisis coalition deputies voted to propose Viktor Yanukovych for PM.

The anti-crisis coalition at the moment comprises 186 PoR parliamentary deputies, 33 Socialists, and 21 Communists, providing them a small overall majority of only 14. This gives the Communists and Socialists great leverage for financial gain.

Assuming there were no turncoats from BYuT or NSNU, 7 of the anti-crisis coalition apparently, did not vote. How one of the procedural votes during the day was achieved is a mystery, because at the time of voting, most of their deputies were in the VR corridors and around the speaker's podium. One of their 'big names', Raisa Bohatyrova directed [piano-players] where to run to press the voting buttons. [Against the rules]

Newly-appointed VR speaker Moroz said during the session, "Earlier, [i.e for the last week and a half before last Thursday], [PoR] deputies blocked the podium, because the reglament [rules] were not being adhered to. Now the reglament is being adhered to the letter..."

BYuT and NSNU claim Moroz and the Socialists 'broke the rules' on formation of coalitions, by dumping on the orange coalition last Thursday, and joining the anti-crisis coalition without giving them 10 days notice, as required, during which time they. theoretically, they could look for other partners.

Abdymok's reports of today's events have put professionally run Ukrainian language sites to shame [Where are you guys?] It looks as if the afternoon session was pretty ugly too.

The capos of PoR, Yanukovych, Kolesnikov, Akhmetov in their smart suits, bouffant hair, and massaged and burnished faces are not used to this messy way of doing business.

They may try resolve these matters in a Donetsk manner. However Kyiv is a long way away from Donetsk.

If they did, this would also suit the 'street-fighters' amonst the oranges, possibly giving Yushchenko a reason to dissolve the VR, and call for fresh elections. The sponsors of all the main parties put big money up front for the March 2006 elections; those from PoR will feel robbed, and who knows what the consequences could be. Yushchenko's own NSNU party could be 'wiped out' in any re-election.

Leaders of the anti-crisis coalition are already accusing the new opposition of leading the country to chaos, which, they claim, could result in civil conflict.

According to Moroz, Yushchenko himself still wants a broad coalition [probably has from the start.] So this may avert nastier scenarios from being realized, but both sides of the conflict know there is a lot at stake, and are 'digging in'.

It is still not clear how many more NSNU and BYuT deputies are prepared to join the anti-crisis coalition, apart from two that have apparently done so - PoR say it could be 40 or more. The treatment Moroz is getting now, and the rowdiness in the VR is probably dissuading some of them from 'flipping over', so they are waiting to see 'kudy viter viye' [which way the wind is blowing]. The actual number will influence how events develop in the weeks to come.

p.s. During the Orange Revolution, President Kuchma 'phoned Putin for advice on what to do when matters became heated. Putin replied, "In general..presidents introduce a state of emergency, or there is a second possibility - you have an elected president [Yanukovych] - you could transfer power."

At that moment, Kuchma made a fantastic statement, "Well how on earth can I hand over power Vladimir Vladimirovich? He's just a Donetsk bandit."
[From Andrew Wilson's 'Ukraine's Orange Revolution'.]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Double dealing opportunists in the VR..

At a press conference today Oleksandr Moroz, the new VR speaker who 'betrayed' his orange colleagues last Thursday, gave a brief and candid explanation why he chose to 'rat' on them.

He reminded journalists that a memorandum had been prepared, between NSNU, BYuT & Socialists, even before the 26th March elections. Once the votes were counted and NSNU realized, to their horror, that they were in third place, well behind their orange BYuT partners, they officially revoked the memorandum.

After difficult discussions lasting several weeks, it was agreed that as NSNU was represented in the orange coalition by the President, and Tymoshenko was claiming the PM's chair, then the Socialists would claim the top position in the VR.

NSNU delayed, putting forward ideas that the coalition needed to be created in a 'broader' format, and started negotiating with Yanukovych's PoR about the creation of this broad coalition, which was to include PoR. Their plans almost came to fruition, but thanks to the determined efforts of a few people from BYuT, a decision was made, nevertheless, to go with the democratic coalition of the three orange parties.

Lots of top NSNU people had demanded a grand coalition from the very beginning. The controversial figure of Petro Poroshenko was nominated for VR speaker by NSNU purely with the aim of causing splits, or to get Tymoshenko to withdraw her claim for the PM's position - Moroz claims he spoke about this frequently with Yekhanurov and Bezsmertnyi.

His impression was that NSNU envisaged an orange coalition that was to exist for a few months only, then it was to be brought down, and a new, broad coalition with election victors PoR constructed in its place. Everyone knew that the candidature of Petro Poroshenko was unrealistic.

So it seems then, according to Moroz, he and the Socialists merely 'switched horses' and teamed up with PoR, before NSNU had the chance to do so. Had he delayed, he could have found himself 'cut-out' of any deals further down the line, and in the opposition wilderness alongside Tymoshenko and BYuT.

Nothing to do with ideology, political aims, keeping one's word, or morality then..

Tomorrow all of the boys and girls are back in the VR. We will see who still has the stomach for a fight. Will BYuT stage a sit-in, just as PoR had done in the days before last Thursday? How many NSNU people will join them? How many BYuT'ivtsi will stay loyal? Could possibly get nasty..Moroz will be the main target for abuse..

NSNU's council have just decided to strive for early re-elections too, something BYuT had already declared was their aim. When their representative was asked if NSNU would go with one election list together with BYuT, he replied this would depend on the results of negotiations with BYuT. Considering the calamity their dithering has caused over the last three months, they have some nerve..

Meanwhile Kinakh and Yekhanurov from NSNU have been conducting talks with Moroz and PoR leaders. A Socialist spokesman said, 'They came to give themselves up as 'prisoners of war'. And PoR are saying they have almost 300 deputies' votes 'in the bag'.

Now BYuT claim Yushchenko may be inclined to dissolve parliament..

So, it's not all over yet for the oranges..

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Voices from the past..

Today Yanukovych was asked by a TV journalist if it was true that PoR had bribed the Socialist deputies with $83M to dump their orange coalition colleagues, and join PoR and the Communists in a new coalition.

He gave a long, rather strange and meaningless reply. "I'll put it this way - those who have done nothing worthwhile in their life, apart from this dirt which is poured on the body of the country, have no future. Evil, provides nothing, apart from [further] evil, and does nothing for people."

When asked to clarify his remark - whether this meant that PoR had not paid any bribes, he repeated the same phrases.

Maybe secret recordings made 1999 and 2000 in the then President Kuchma's office flashed through his mind. Yanukovych is clearly heard* reporting, in a matter-of-fact manner, how political opponents [including Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist and Petro Symonenko's Communist deputies] are being bribed.

In other recordings former President Kuchma and Mykola Azarov, who was head of the Tax inspectorate at the time, discuss pressurizing collective farm heads in the areas where support for Moroz was strongest, in order to reduce his votes in the 1999 Presidential elections.

It is the same Moroz and Symonenko who have now joined forces with Yanukovych in the new parliamentary coalition. And it was Moroz that brought the recordings into the public domain.

Azarov will probably get one of the top ministerial positions in any Yanukovych cabinet.

What leaders, what a country..

*Details in Andrew Wilson's excellent 'Ukraine's Orange Revolution', [Yale University Press], and elsewhere.

BYuT proposes means of resolving of crisis?

Loads of speculation about 'where do we go from here?'

A story I like: PoR leading light Evhen Kushnaryov reveals BYuT have challenged PoR to dissolve parliament and stage a parliamentary election duel, by raising the barrier for entry to the VR to 10%. This would probably mean it would be a straight 'shoot-out' between PoR and BYuT.

I say: 'Go for it Yanukovych!'

"The old gunfighter on the porch..
Stared into the sun.. and relived the days..
Of living by the gun,
When deadly games of pride were played,
And living was mistakes not made..

Ah, the smell of the black powder smoke,
And the stand in the street at the turn of a joke...

It's always keep your back to the sun,
And he can almost feel the weight of the gun,
It's faster than snakes or the blink of an eye,
And it's a time for all slow men to die,
And his eyes get squinty and his fingers twitch,
And he empties the gun at the son of a bitch..

And he's hit by the smell of the black powder smoke,
and the stand in the street at the turn of a joke...

[Guy Clark: 'Ballad of the last gunfighter..']

Friday, July 07, 2006

So easy for PoR..

So the dust has settled after yesterday's momentous events in the VR. Observers who glibly assumed the oranges were back on track got it badly wrong, maybe forgetting how devious the old riders on the Ukrainian political merry-go-round over the last ten or even fifteen years have been over that period, and how politically inept Yushchenko has repeatedly shown himself to be.

It took the oranges 100 days to get their act together, even though some of them are 'almost family', confirming there was virtually no chance of the structure holding together. So it proved. Yushchenko, who on many occasions after the March VR elections, couldn't even bring himself to utter the name of Tymoshenko to journalists, must be held primarily responsible for the debacle.

Yushchenko disastrously sacked both Tymoshenko and Poroshenko last August because of their constant squabbling. Expecting them to work together again after all of their mutual recriminations, as I wrote previously, was totally bizarre.

PoR were never interested in being in opposition. Their unofficial leader Akmetov, and his associates did not get to where they are today by making compromises, but by ruthless cunning, and exploitating opponents' weaknesses to the max. by every possible means. For them it has all been too easy.They will now drive home their victory - they want Yanukovych as PM.

In any coalition, the lesser partners inevitably have a disproportionate amount of power, but are easiest to exploit, and this is true of the Socialists. Moroz was inevitably going to be the king-maker.

Yushchenko has made blunder after blunder. If he really didn't fancy working with BYuT, then until recently PoR would have grudgingly formed a coalition with Yushchenko's NSNU and the Socialists, with Yekhanurov as PM, and a disproportionately large number of NSNU ministers in the cabinet. But PoR, after yesterday's success, will now not be in any mood for that sort of thing. [A PoR-NSNU-Socialist coalition may have made some sense, unifying the country and so on, and would have offered stability.]

The newly-formed PoR-Socialist-Communist coalition still only provides 240 votes, out of 450, and is vulnerable to attack. Its constituents are strange bedfellows indeed, PoR being densely populated by 'big roller' businessmen. They could all fall out with one another very quickly unless the two small leftist partners are not continuously 'financially' encouraged to behave themselves.

Last summer the oranges were in total command - PoR were in disarray. Now, [if PoR are not too hubristic], all they will offer NSNU is a few crumbs to tempt some of them over to stabilize the newly-formed PoR-dominated coalition.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Orange house of cards collapses..

Turbulent events are taking place in the VR today, even as I write. First PoR boss Yanukovych, in a rather 'wobbly' pronouncement, nervously declared the blockade to be over, so the work of parliament could resume.

Shortly after, a large number of Socialists, the smallest party of the orange triumvirate, said they wouldn't vote for the controversial Petro Poroshenko, the oranges' previously agreed candidate for VR speaker.

Then Yosyp Vinskyi, first secretary of the Socialist polit-rada, resigned his party position, accusing the majority of his party of trying to form a coalition with PoR, so betraying their orange partners. He accused President Yushchenko of being primarily responsible for the current mess because he stalled and dragged out the formation of the orange coalition after the 26th March elections. He also called the Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz a traitor, and accused the turn-coats in his party of taking bribes: "..Although I do not have facts..nor documents, you will soon see who will be driving which automobiles, and who is living in what kind of apartment," he said.

Poroshenko [always a crazy choice for VR speaker because he is deeply unpopular with the electorate] sensationally then removed his candidature, and Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, and the odious Mykola Azarov from PoR, threw 'their hats into the ring'.

Everyone is, no doubt, going round making up lists of names, but it seems that PoR, the Communists, and the Socialist traitors do not have, as yet, sufficient deputies on their list to get their man Azarov elected for VR speaker.

There are rumors that PoR are prepared to support Moroz for speaker, if, in exchange he invites Yushchenko to nominate Azarov for PM.

One small snag - Azarov cannot [will not?] speak in Ukrainian when addressing the VR. Today he was heckled and whistled when he attempted to address the VR in Russian.
Although it is normal practice for some deputies to address the assembled VR in Russian - something that happens very frequently with no problems, clearly, for a prospective speaker, this is not acceptable to many deputies.

Neither BYuT nor NSNU will participate in tonight's vote for speaker, according to their spokesmen..

Tymoshenko for PM is looking a long way away..

Update: Moroz has been elected VR speaker by 238 votes to 0. Looks like the PoR - Socialist - Communist vote was very solid.

So it seems the day the VR was 'unblocked', was the day the backroom PoR-Socialist deal was done. What are the chances the Socialists now vote 'Tymoshenko for PM', and go against their new pals?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Crash dieting in VR?

PoR are continuing their parliamentary sit-in, after the failure of the latest round-table, [or should it be merry-go-round?] talks, and have threatened to stage a hunger strike starting next week.

Apparently 20 of their deputies have already volunteered and put their name on the list, but PoR polit-rada member Yevhen Kushnaryov emphasized, "If necessary, all 188 [deputies] will starve themselves."

Many of these guys are multi-millionaires who conceal their substantial girths behind well-tailored trousers. Their chauffeured limos are regularly seen outside the best restaurants and nightclubs in Donetsk and Kyiv, so I imagine most citizens on hearing this news, will have a wry chuckle to themselves.

[There could possibly be a significant business opportunity here - selling bubliki and pyrozhki at the back door of the VR building.]

Even though some talks are scheduled for tomorrow on distribution of parliamentary committee seats, the coalition and opposition have suspended indefinitely any further meetings with the president.

A clear struggle for power is taking place. PoR are not interested in behaving as a constructive opposition, and are attempting to bring down the orange house-of-cards, particularly by singling out Tymoshenko for her intransigence.

Who will win this struggle will be revealed, not when some deal is announced from behind a bunch of microphones, but when parliamentary voting takes place, and the result flashed up on the board in the VR.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Empty chairs at the round table

Yanukovych didn't show up today to the round table show-down with the President and the 'oranges' - PoR then added further demands to their 'ultimatum'. Maybe an indication of division in their ranks?

However PoR have agreed to conduct a dialogue tomorrow, in the framework of the parliamentary co-ordination council. President Yushchenko has promised to attend.

Mykola Tomenko [one of BYuT's 'three T's'] thinks that PoR are stalling because they are trying to 'recruit or buy-off' 226 deputies' votes, in order to get Yanukovych elected parliamentary speaker. Bribing deputies though, is no guarantee of success, particularly as PoR are also demanding a secret vote. [How can you be sure the recipient has carried out his or her part of the bargain? You can't trust anyone, these days.] And for all of the talk, there never seems to be any hard evidence of underhand dealing.

Some analysts have dragged Russia into all of this, suggesting, "PoR changed its position overnight, and also presented a new ultimatum with 12 points - this is evidence that 'Regiony' have not got rid of external influences. They are now the executors of a destabilization scenario in Ukraine, which primarily, suits Russia."

Russian embassador in Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin called this 'silly'.

Will everyone turn up round the table tomorrow? Many are all 'old friends, after all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pals again tomorrow?

Yanukovych made some conciliatory noises yesterday, in reply to Yushchenko's and the orange parties' offer to stage round table talks on Monday, in order to resolve the dispute in the VR.

PR have been staging a sit-in there for the last week, preventing parliament from operating.

Its getting close to the summer holidays. Everyone is thinking of getting away, so PR's call for mass actions of civil disobedience was probably a miscalculation, and a bluff that could be easily called. PR supporters will not thank their party for dragging them out into the streets in the middle of hot summer. People would rather be 'under a pear tree' at their dachas, or villages.

All the big-shot politico's are looking forward to getting out of the city, and jetting off to the sun, or to their expensive dachas or yachts on the Black sea, so maybe there will be a whiff of compromise [or capitulation?] in the air from NSNU and the President- they want matters resolved quickly.

At first sight, the oranges, who have now registered their coalition, should sit tight, make PR sweat, and give away nothing - at least for a few weeks, because there is 30 days to sort this out. But because a number of deputies in their ranks are not reliable, they are looking weak. Add to the mix the great animosity between Tymoshenko, who the coalition are proposing for PM, and Petro Poroshenko, who is being proposed for VR speaker - it looks as if 'this airplane may not fly'. The Tymoshenko - Poroshenko combination in particular, after last September's crisis, looks bizarre - a recipe for disaster. In the words of the poet, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned.. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

Maybe tomorrow, at the round table, the pressure will really be on BYuT and the Socialists to back a grand coalition, or go into opposition..

One of the PR's leading lights, Vasyl Dzharty was interviewed in 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya'. He denies the rumor that PR's 'banker', Rinat Akhmetov, would support Yushchenko for President in 2009, if Yushchenko's NSNU go into coalition with PR..

Yushchenko, in his Saturday radio address says he does not have any intention of dissolving parliament. If he did, his party NSNU, would be 'wiped out' in any fresh elections.