Last Monday, 1st deputy PM Mykola Azarov, and deputy head of the VR PoR faction Boris Kolesnikov attended a meeting in Moscow with the 'top bananas' of the pro-Putin 'Yedinaya Rossiya' party which completely dominates Russian politics.
Azarov is considered to be a loyal Yanukovych man, whilst Kolesnikov is close to Rinat Akmetov. There has been some speculation recently on a possible split into two camps led by Akhmetov and Yanukovych, in PoR .
An article on the 'Novosti Donetska' site, entitled 'Moscow tea for Boris Kolesnikov' highlights the significance and possible consequences of Monday's meeting. As usual here are some paraphrased portions:
The chairman of the committee on international affairs of the Russian Federation State Duma and member of the presidium of the general council of 'Yedinaya Rossiya', Konstantin Kosachev said, follow the visit of the 'Regionaly': "Without interfering in the internal situation in the Ukraine, I would like to say that we welcome the manifestation of good will from the leading political forces of Ukraine, and especially PoR, for acknowledging the inevitability of conducting extraordinary parliamentary elections in Ukraine and participating in them". In other words, the early elections have now received official blessings from 'upon high' from the Russian 'vlasti'..
Gazprom, for political reasons, has set Russian enterprises the task of of ramping up production of large diameter pipes to completely satisfy its requirements by 2010 and practically eliminate the need for pipes manufactured in Ukrainian plants owned by Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk, even though the Ukrainian-made pipes would be cheaper. But anti-dumping investigations against Ukrainian suppliers of flat cold-rolled steel stock has been dropped as a consolation prize.
Ukraine's attitude to NATO, the RF Black sea fleet and its leased base in Sevastopol were discussed.
According to Russian political scientist Aleksey Ivanov, "Today's encounter between the 'Yedynorossy' "and PoR in Moscow shows that the process of providing support to Yanukovych has already began. The recent meeting has legalized a reciprocal appearance of Russian deputies in Kyiv on the eve of the early VR elections. Without it they could not really appear there." The propaganda will start from 2nd August, when a delegation of "Yedinorossov" arrives at the 'Regiony' congress to which they have been politely invited. 'Regionaly' have been invited to October's analogous 'Yenyna Rossiya' congress also.
Ivanov forecasts that after arriving into Ukraine, the Russian guests: "Will begin to tell voters from the eastern and southern regions, that they see in Yanukovych a defender of the Russian language and an advocate of the idea of dual citizenship". "They will say this whilst standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Yanukovych, who will remain silent. Political responsibility will be taken away from Yanukovych – after the elections he can say he made no promises - it was just statements by the Russian deputies."
[What Ukrainians really think are important issues are described in an article in 'Kyiv Post' here ]
All this means that the Kremlin has let Akmetov know, in no uncertain terms, that it will not allow any reorientations in the 'Regionaly' camp. "Russia will not support anyone else but Yanukovych in Ukraine," concludes Aleksey Ivanov. "Yedinorossy simply cannot remain detached from the political process in Ukraine."
So if Akhmetov and Kolesnikov actually planned to take leading roles in the party, they will now have to yield 'pole position' to Yanukovych. The maximum they can expect, while preserving loyalty to Russian attitudes, is to push more of their supporters into the higher, more influential places on the PoR election list.
The writer predicts that Yanukovych may even make an 'unofficial' trip to Moscow, ostensibly for medical consultations, and meet Vladimir Putin, to decide how matters develop further.
A slightly different interpretation is given in an article, in English, in 'Kyiv Weekly'. It concludes:
"The most important thing is that over the past two years the Kremlin understood that the Orange forces are not as scary as they are depicted. After coming to power, the heroes of Maidan visit Moscow with the same enthusiasm and intensiveness as the white-and-blue fundamentalists do. That is why, this summer there will be clearly less Russian rubles in the Ukrainian politics."
LEvko thinks that it is the big Ukrainian businessmen and oligarchs who have understood that the Orange forces are not as scary as they thought back in 2004. So these captains of industry will do what is best for their enterprises..