Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tymoshenko seeking new allies

Since the formation of the new government and new VR ruling coalition late last year, major Ukrainian players, in their struggle maintain or re-establish power, have been reassessing their relationships with their allies and foes.

Raisa Bohatyryova, one of PoR's big hitters, is now secretary of the influential National Defence and Security Council, and is actively working with the president's team.

Viktor Baloha, head of the president's secretariat, has, together with several of his NSNU cronies in the VR, left his party, apparently to start a new political project aimed at securing Yushchenko a second presidential term in office, possibly assisted by some of 'big name' Donetsk oligarchs.

The respected 'Kommentarii' now claims that BYuT may be tightening its ties with one of PoR's Orange Revolution 'villains' - Andriy Klyuev, in order to compete with Yushchenko in the south-eastern part of the country.

The 'business- wing' of PoR, formed from competing financial-industrial groups, has begun to seek not so much political, as political and economic diversification. A new political orientation may be being taken up by Klyuev, who was vice-premier responsible for Fuel and Energy in the Yanukovych cabinet.

It is customarily assumed that he is one of Yanukovych's closest associates. In principle this is true if one considers internal opposition to Viktor Fedorovych is now provided by the "right deviationists" - Rinat Akhmetov, Boris Kolesnikov and Raisa Bohatyreva; but these people have moved closer to President Yushchenko, and now have little interest in Yanukovych's political problems. They are the same people who squeezed out Klyuev from the management of the 2007 PoR VR election campaign.

Klyuev and Tymoshenko's mutual relations in the past have been difficult, but they have abstained from personal mutual recriminations. Klyuev was allegedly the chief fixer accused of buying BYuT deputies last year in parliament. These deputies' switch of allegiance drove Yushchenko to dismiss the VR - for which Kluyev had to 'carry the can' in his party. Ironically Tymoshenko can thank Klyuev for precipitating the crisis which resulted in early VR elections, enabling her to return as head of government.

Klyuev was always an enemy of the so-called Boyko-Firtash group in the government of Yanukovych, and had hinted in the past that gas middleman RosUkrEnergo should be removed from Ukraine's gas business. There has some speculation that Boyko-Firtash may, in the future, take over sponsorship of PoR.

Both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko will be fighting for votes amongst the eastern 'elektorat', in future elections, and therefore are ready to participate in the redistribution of the political assets of Party of Regions. No major shifts are imminent, but the improvement of relations between Klyuev and Yulia T. may be part of a larger game, in which all the main political players in Ukrainian politics are participating.

In another 'Kommentarii' article, entitled 'Premier gaves chance to enemies', one reason is proposed for possible political reorientation amongst Ukraine's leading oligarchic figures.
Cadre reshuffles in the state electric-power generating sector may suggest that Andriy Klyuev, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, and Tymoshenko-favourite Konstantyn Zhevago, and will collaborate more closely in the future.

The association of these previously irreconcilable opponents makes it possible for their financial-business groups to restore their individual influence on power-generating enterprises, and also enables them to become the owners of new enterprises.

Designations amonst Ukraine's energy companies could hardly be possible without tacit approval from Tymoshenko, for whom it is important to improve relations with 'Donchany'. The presidential 'vertikal' is strengthening its ties with the Akhmetov-led group in PoR, so it is logical for Tymoshenko to seek friends amongst another Donetskiites: in particular with the Klyuev brothers, who have had 'run-ins' with Akhmetov's group in the past.

p.s. I can recommend this piece by distinguished BBC journalist Jonathan Dimbleby on 'master-manipulator' Vladimir Putin, from today's 'Sunday Times' from London.

It ends:

"As we wandered through the labour camp where he [Sergei Kovalev, a distinguished biophysicist, who was charged in 1974 with “antiSoviet agitation and propaganda”] had been held in solitary confinement, he was in despair: “The state today is much more powerful than it was in the time of the Soviet Union. Indeed, it was better under Stalin because at least everyone knew that it was a sham. I am now convinced that our government will never be changed through the electoral system. Today Russia is like a Liars’ Kingdom. We are ruled by liars.” That thought has not left me since.

1 comment:

DLW said...

I think lasting changes come from the bottom-up, never the top-down...

As such, if voters develop habits of voting that make them harder to spin, they will make the elections harder to control and make those in power need to hedge their bets and compete in their ability to provide benefits to Ukrainians and otherwise compromise...