One of the most surprising political events that took place 2007 was the appointment last month, by President Yushchenko, of Raisa Bohatyryova, as Secretary of the influential National Security and Defence Council. She was #2 on the Party of Region's VR early election list, and is considered a leading member of Rinat Akhmetov's 'young Donetskiite' wing of PoR.
The appointment caused much dismay in the party's ranks, and there was serious talk of her being excluded as a turncoat.
Today's 'Segodnya' daily, owned by Akhmetov, includes this story. parts of which I include below:
"Bohatyryova sings Christmas carols with Yushchenko on her birthday
The head of the NSCD is 55 years old - she celebrated her birthday with her sisters from Kramatorsk [Donetsk]. On 6th January, "regionalka" ['Segondnya's' inverted comas] Raisa Bohatyryova, who several days ago received a gift from the President in the form of the NSDC secretary's chair, celebrated her 55th anniversary. 'Segonya' have discovered that Raisa Vasylivna [Bohatyryova] spent this evening with her family.
Greetings from the Secretariat
Several days before her birthday, the President's press-service had announced that two women would be invited to his traditional Christmas Eve dinner at his residence: Raisa Bohatyryova, and prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Bohatyryova's press secretary confirmed to 'Segodnya' that she had flown to the President, but that this was during the day. Together with Yushchenko, she had visited a childrens' orphanage in Vorokhta [in the Carpathian mountains] and they had sung Christmas carols together with the President.
A source in the President's secretariat confirmed that that Bohatyryova spent some time at the presidential residence, where she was congratulated on her birthday by the Head of The State and the leader of presidential secretariat, Viktor Baloha.
Raisa Vasylivna's party colleagues did not forget to wish her happy birthday either, despite her recent "demarche" and disobedience. (As 'Segodnya' has already written, this despite the majority of "regionalov" expressing themselves to be against Bohatyryova accepting the proposal of the President and becoming leader of the NSDC, and the presidium of the party 'politsovyet' recommending she refuse Yushchenko's proposal.)
For example, 'Regional' Mikhail Chechetov, told 'Segodnya' that he had sent her a government telegram "with wishes of health, and success in the sphere of government, for the good of Ukraine". But another 'Regional', Vasyl Khara was unable to greet her over the telephone. "I got the impression, that she was isolated from all calls," he explained.
Yet another 'Regionalka', Yelena Bondarenko, did manage to contact her, though. "I sent her an 'sms' message, and she called me herself. In the course of the conversation I wished her the same courage, which she possesses now," revealed the VR deputy."
What does all of this mean? LEvko considers this to be a 'planted' story - an impimatur from Akhmetov, on the day after orthodox Christmas day. [Journalists call such a day a 'bummer' news day because there is often not much to write about.]
If Tymoshenko's government, against the odds, does have a reasonable run, then the 'young Donteskiites' have someone in a position of authority to protect their interests from the worst ravages of the new government. If the government soon disintegrates and a grand coalition is formed, then they will have gained more leverage with the president by co-operating with him at this time. And the president, by reaching out to Regionaly, is showing what a reasonable man he is, thus increasing his appeal in the east of the country.
UNIAN, quoting tomorrow's 'Ukraina Moloda', a newspaper close to Yushchenko, reports that Bohatyryova did spent part of orthodox Christmas Eve "around a table with PM Yulia Tymoshenko, presidential secretariat head Viktor Baloha, NUNS leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko [I wondered where he had got to], constitutional court head Andriy Stryzhak, and others. The paper says "this was her first private 'vechirka' [non formal meeting] in the company of the 'oranges', and a warm and friendly atmosphere reigned.
Maybe the thought of Bohatyryova and Tymoshenko sitting around a table, enjoying a traditional festive meal together in the Carpathian mountains was just too much for 'Segodnya's readers to bear..