Since Yulia Tymoshenko was appointed PM, she and president Yushchenko have waged a continuous cold war over many matters. He wants to sack the head of Oshchadbank, she wants to get rid of RosUkrEnergo. He wants to prevent privatizations of the Oblenergo's, she's not keen on NATO. And there's a battle over the Prosecutor General.
But today yet another, maybe even more serious conflict has occurred over the KabMin's removal from duties of the head of the State Property Fund, Valentyna Semenyuk.
A detailed account in English from Reuters here.
The president's chief of staff, Viktor Baloga, immediately denounced the KabMins' ruling, calling it illegal, and said Yushchenko would overturn the decision if the government did not rescind it.
"This is not an issue of personalities. The removal of V. Semenyuk violates the constitution," he said in a statement posted on the official presidential website. "Changes at the head of the Fund clearly amount to lawlessness...The head of state cannot simply close his eyes to violations of constitutional norms."
Yet again the president is hiding behind the head of his secretariat, who is doing his dirty work for him.
An article in 'Ukrainska Pravda' by the excellent Viktor Tsyvokunya explains why this latest spat could be really serious.
The KabMin made their decision to suspend Semenyuk after a deputy GenProkurator had notified them that a previous decision not to open a criminal case over the privatization of Luganskteplovoz [about which I have posted several times] had been over-ruled.
Tsyvokunya makes the following points:
The presidential secretariat itself is not a constitutional organ, so that body is not qualified to make such statements. The president should have made the declaration himself.
The president has acted unconstitutionally several times in recent months too, e.g. when dismissing the V.R. and sacking members of the constitutional court.
Whether Semenyuk was suspended according to the consitution is a matter for the constitutional court. The secretariat's statement is highly prejudicial.
Just a day before, the president appointed an old crony of Baloha's from his home oblast of Transcarpathia to the constitutional court.
The true reason for the secretariat's instant response to the KabMin's decision on Semenyuk is simple: While Semenyuk remains head of the State Property Fund she provides a guarantee that the businesses of Yushchenko's new oligarchic pals are safe.
Tymoshenko needs her man, Andriy Portnov to start the privatizations in order to replenish state coffers depleted by the partial return of savings lost during the fall of the Soviet Union.
First piece of business would be obtaining a fair price for Luhanskteplovoz..and second, for Dniproenergo which was purchased at a knock-down bargain price by..Rinat Akhmetov.
"The tension in relations between the prime minister and the president and his team is growing day by day, which for many evokes a feeling of imminent denouement. The situation is complicated by the crisis from which the VR is unable to extracate itself." says Tsyvokunya.
LEvko thinks Yulka is playing a high-stakes poker game, but her popularity in the country is increasing, so in some ways she is in a win-win situation.
p.s. Today, significantly, big political beast Vitaliy Hayduk was appointed head of Tymoshenko's group of advisors. A V.R. session is needed for him to be appointed a deputy PM.