Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lytvyn returning into the spotlight

'Kommentarii' run a story shedding light on Volodymyr Lytvyn's attempt to return to the top flight of Ukrainian politics.

Here are some [loosely] translated portions:

Volodymyr Lytvyn has begun a p.r. campaign to regain his status as the all-Ukrainian peacemaker, but this time he will try to reconcile not the 'white and blue' Party of Regions and the 'Orange' camps, but rather NUNS and BYuT. The Lytvyn Bloc [LB] press-service has hinted that the Lytvynites are prepared to take part in the reformatting the ruling coalition.

The LB have been speaking about possible participation in the reformatting of the coalition for a long time already. Lytvyn not unreasonably hopes that his engagement as a peacemaker between BYuT and NUNS may improve his national image.

The reality is that the conflict between the prime minister and the President has reached deadlock. On the one hand, Yulia Tymoshenko leads a semi-legitimate minority coalition from which could leave, at any moment, tens of deputies linked to the President's Secretariat on Bank Street. On the other hand, the President's Secretariat, even though it has the means to bring down the 'democratic' coalition, is absolutely not capable of creating a new majority. So both the President's Secretariat and Tymoshenko are looking ever more often toward Lytvyn as a possible ally in their coalition. Both think that Lytvyn would rather help them than the other.

Until recently the LB fraction has operated more closely on political policy with head of the Pres's Secretariat, Viktor Baloha; however the refusal of the Lytyvynites to support the vote of no confidence in PM Tymoshenko in the VR, tends to indicate that the prime minister has began to work more closely with Volodymyr Mykhaylovych [Lytyvyn]. The government in their changes in the budget has satisfied a number of policy positions lobbied by the Lytvynites. The prime minister is also ready to promote one of Lytvyn's pet schemes - an all-Ukrainian forum with the participation of the President, the government, members of parliament and heads of local governments and local authorities. After the forum is held, at which he, of course would play the major role of chief moderator, a public contract would be signed. Lytvyn has also recently contemptiously called Baloha's 'Yedyniy Tsentr' project as 'an immature party', which should please Tymoshenko also.

Bank Street is, of course, concerned by the warming of relationships between Lytvyn and Tymoshenko and under no circumstances would agree to the entry of the Lytyvynites into a coalition as covert allies of BYuT. But for the prime minister, reformatting the coalition to include the LB fraction is not too favourable either— in that case she would not be able to restrict the small concessions to LB as mentioned above. After signing of any new coalition agreement several Lytvynites could enter the cabinet, while some NUNS ministers close to her, e.g. Yuriy Lutsenko, could depart. It's no secret that Lytvyn would very much like to return to the VR speaker's chair, which would benefit neither Bank Street, nor Tymoshenko who has now sorted out her relationship with Arseniy Yatsenyuk again. Neither Yulia T, nor Yushchenko and Baloha wish to see Lytvyn as head of the VR because he would use this position to play his own game by all means possible. So at the moment tentative links with Lytvyn, and situational help from his party in exchange for certain concessions suits both Bank Street, and Tymoshenko.

In turn, Lytvyn also benefits from the current situation. Volodymyr Mykhaylovych is not rejecting the strategic possibility of participating in the coalition with BYuT and NUNS with all the benefits accruing from this, but is taking into account possible public relations benefits. He is hoping to gain favour amongst the orange electorate as the leader of a third force and a wise moderator placed between a warring prime minister and President. In this respect he could even forgo his desire to be VR speaker if a tripartite coalition were to be formed.

Lytvyn may also be aiming for higher things. He may be setting himself up for participation in next year's presidential race, hoping to eclipse the the current president, Viktor Yushchenko, whose ratings continue to steadily fall, by presenting himself as the main moderate orange alternative to Yulia Tymoshenko.

According to 'Kommentarii', Lytvyn is also being encouraged by people from within the Kremlin who have promised to give him their blessing rather than to Yanukovych, Tymoshenko or Yushchenko. In this regard, Lytvyn's statements about postponing decisions on the debatable questions separating society, e.g.relations with NATO, language and religious questions, the Black Sea fleet and the historical past, do not appear arbitrary. All these policy messages from Lytvyn, and support from Moscow could be useful not only in presidential, but in parliamentary elections. Lytvyn believes that an early parliamentary election, as well as President election may take place soon, and he would like to start his election campaign before anyone else. For this reason the Lytvynites have disturbed the summer political calm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An alliance with Lytvyn would bring a degree of stability to the governing coalition. But the ongoing power struggle between the Office of the President and the peoples democratically elected Parliament will still continue to destabilize Ukraine. The best outcome is for Yulia to reach accommodation and understanding with Party of Regions and resolve this perpetual divide once and for all. Move to a full parliamentary democracy is the only way forward. The sooner the better. Yushchenko's reign of terror against democratic values must come to an end.