Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tymoshenko's 100 days

Prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has completed 100 days in office, a period, according to 'Gazeta po Kiyevski' characterized by conflicts with the President and his secretariat.

Here are some loosely translated portions:

Pre-election promises by Tymoshenko to return saver's deposits lost in the Soviet-era Sberbank were called crude populism by the supporters of the President, and the President hinted as much himself. But when he saw how much the premier's rating improved as a result of this action, the President tried to claim the credit for himself.
There were even attempts to replace the chairman of the State Oshchadbank of Ukraine, Anatoliy Huley, by one of the president's men but Tymoshenko fought off the attack, and Huley stayed. After realizing that he could not control the process of repayment of deposits, Yushchenko began to pressurize the premier into making the repayments as quickly as possible, but then criticised her, declaring it would all lead to higher inflation.

Privatization wars

The KabMin had hoped that increased social payments would be funded by the sale of remaining large state enterprises such as "UkrTelekom", and several Oblenergo's [regional power generators]. The 2008 budget envisaged receipts of 12 billion hrn. from privatizations that would be used to reimburse depositors of the Soviet Sberbank. But Bank Street [where the president's secretariat is located] did not allow the head of the state property fund, Valentina Semenyuk who was the main enemy of Tymoshenko's privatization initiatives, to be removed from her post, And Yushchenko continues to speak of the impermissibility of the sale of strategic enterprises. Until now the privatization of enterprises planned to be sold this year, has not even yet begun. This it plays to the hand to opponents and it can seriously affect the plans of the government.

"Gas friend" of Putin

Premier Tymoshenko tactically outplayed the President at the "gas front". The February Yushchenko-Putin agreement allegedly solved the problems of the Ukrainian gas debt, and was supposed to show that Ukrainians, and particularly Viktor Yushchenko, could come to an agreement with Moscow on cheap gas. Tymoshenko was clearly instructed to carry out the President's orders, but, by using tactical maneouvres, riding through a hail of criticism for breaking agreements, and surviving a brief gas blockade by the Kremlin, a stable price and formal elimination of mediators from the market was achieved. However, the agreement signed with Gazprom still leaves unanswered questions.


It seemed for a while that after the formation of coalition Tymoshenko's pre-election pledge to replace Kyiv's mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy was forgotten, but in March Tymoshenko succeeded in forcing through a motion in the VR on early elections for Kyiv mayor and city council. Again Yushchenko mishandled the situation - first Bank Street publicly protected mayor Chernovetskiy, then they agreed to Chernovetskiy's sacking in exchange for BYuT's support of presidential law about the KabMin, which restores some of the President's powers. Now presidential strategists hope the extraordinary mayoral elections in Kyiv will not return a Tymoshenko loyalist.


Since the middle of 2007 the President's secretariat has begun to prepare the ground for adopting a new version of the Constitution, further intensifying the authority of the President. Tymoshenko remained silent for quite a long time, providing Yushchenko with a hope of her loyalty. But in March, when she was in Brussels, Tymoshenko categorically stated there will no presidential form of administration in Ukraine, clearly indicating that BYuT will not vote for the presidential version of the fundamental law.

After being appointed premier, Tymoshenko occupied a rather defensive position, avoiding conflicts, and accepting public rebukes and humiliations from Yushchenko, but already in February she began to publicly disagree with the President, and, in the final analysis, she outplayed the president almost on all fronts in her first 100 days in office.

However, the presidential camp has sufficient possibilities to regain lost ground. There could be a blocking of budget, or a blocking of the adoption of the program of government entitled "Ukrainian breakthrough". Or maybe there will be a failure to agree on a united "orange" candidate for the capital's mayor.

p.s. BYuT won another victory today when the Central Election Commission permitted the registration of new BYuT deputies to the Kyiv city council, replacing those who switched their support to mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy - so from now on he can no longer command a majority,

Ukraine's constitutional court are to decide by Wednesday whether the CEC's actions are constitutional. New mayoral elections are to be held soon in any case, but if things go Tymoshenko's way on Wednesday, there is speculation thay BYuT may ask these be postponed.

p.p.s. In a FT interview, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s incoming president, has warned that granting Nato membership to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia could threaten European security.


Nicholas said...

Accelerated economic growth and slower inflation are conspicuously absent from this list

UkrToday said...

O March 25, 2008 Ukraine's supreme administrative Court ruled the President's decree interfering in the operation and independence of Ukraine's constitutional Court illegal and Judge Stanik was reinstated. if this was in the west it would have made front page headline news, in Ukraine it barley got a mention. If in the US the President interfered in the operation of the courts there would have been a congressional inquiry and possible commencement of impeachment.

The decision of the court comes as no surprise as it was clear that the president had acted unconstitutionally and illegally i that Yushchenko breach Ukraine's constitution and sought to prevent the course of justice in order to prevent the Constitutional Court from ruling against his dismissal of Ukraine's previous Parliament.

Yes, the allegations against Ms Stanik are serious, but never the less due process is very mujch a part of a rue democracy and as such is required. Questions need to be asked about the motive of the president's actions. When did he become aware of the allegations against members of the constitutional court and what about the other two judges who were illegally pressured to resign?

The findings of Ukraine's Supreme Administrative Courtm which is final and not subejct to further appeal, are serious and provide grounds for Yushchenko's impeachment.

The President, unlike Parliamentarians and members of the courts, holds absolute immunity and as such will not be held accountable for this serious breach of his oath and voliation of Ukraine's Constitution.