Tomorrow morning the VR is supposed to be reconvening, but PoR deputies will most likely block any proceedings by "rearranging" the chairs and tables again in the session hall. They are highly disgruntled because President Yushchenko, Prime Minister Tymoshenko, and VR speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed a letter "calling for consideration on Ukraine's entry into the NATO membership action plan" during the NATO heads' summit in Bucharest later this year.
Information that such a letter was sent dribbled out at U.S. senator Richard Lugar's press conference when he visited Kyiv last Tuesday,
There is a last-minute meeting scheduled between opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and VR speaker Yatsenyuk tonight. PoR are demanding that the full text of the letter, written to NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on 11th January 2008, be revealed, and are also calling for their supporters to picket the VR, the presidential secretariat, and the KabMin tomorrow at 9 a.m. Nevertheless speaker Yatsenyuk rather optimistically hopes that the VR will function "constructively" tomorrow.
Today's "Obozrevatel' carries a story entitled: "There is such a party - [called] the President's secretariat", describing how the entire matter of "the letter" has been bungled, particularly by the secretariat; but explains that there may be ulterior motives for this.
Some paraphrased or loosely translated portions:
"The ease with which our so-called political elite drags society into conflicts, yet again illustrates that they are not capable of anticipating the consequences of their decisions.
The need for writing this letter has been belatedly explained, but its contents have not, giving rise to many rumours and much speculation. There has been no explanation why it is that Ukrainians only got to know about the letter from a U.S. senator, and not from its signatories, several days after it had been sent.
It looks as if the prime minister and speaker have been 'set-up' by the strongly pro-NATO president.
VR speaker Yatsenyuk is going to find his job even more difficult now - the VR has hardly started to operate in any systematic way, and the ruling coalition has the slenderest of majorities. This latest flare-up was the last thing he needed.
PM Tymoshenko is highly pi$$ed about about all of this too. Any personal gains in popularity she may have made due to reimbursement of Oshchadbank savings to millions of savers will have been lost, particularly in the Eastern and Southern regions of the country. Being despatched to NATO headquarters by the president next week does not help at all. And there are more similar controversial proposals from the president to come.
Some observers consider (with a worrying sense of 'deja vu') that a 'parallel' cabinet of ministers is being formed under the roof of the National Security and Defence Council - a 'presidential party' which, together with some of the country's largest industrial moguls, could support him during the next presidential elections.
LEvko thinks signing such a letter to NATO was inopportune to say the least, particularly at a time when perhaps less than 20% of the population support joining that organisation; when important legislation needs to be pushed through parliament (on at least some of which there could be a degree of unanimity); and when there are delicate negotiations to be held with Russia on the gas business.
"That's another fine mess you've got me in Stanley"
p.s. Yanukovych met U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Daniel Fried today.
And thanks to everyone for their authoritative comments to my last few blogs.