Saturday, January 30, 2010

VR decisions always influenced by insider business arrangements

Yesterday in the VR minister of internal affairs Yuriy Lutsenko was voted out of office by 231 votes. They included those of virtually all PoR deputies, Hryhoriy Omelchenko of BYuT, president Yushchenko's brother and Stepan Plyushch who is close to the pres, Viktor Baloha's people from 'Yedyniy Tsentr's' part of NUNS, and those of the Communists.

The surprise was the Lytvyn Bloc, who had been part of the ruling coalition, but crucially, had also supported the motion.

By means of some legally dubious smoke and mirrors, Lutsenko is now merely acting minister of interior affairs, who can sit in at cabinet meetings, but not vote, apparently.

Just over an hour later after the VR vote PoR's official website posted a statement by Viktor Yanukovych addressed to law enforcement personnel, judges, prosecutors, and state security officials. He appealed to them to remain on guard to protect the constitution, "when certain politicians are attempting to agitate the nation, to incite brother against brother, provoke civilian unrest for their own ambitions..."

"I assure you I will do everything to create dignified conditions of work for you, so that you have worthy remuneration, so that all of you be calm about your future. As president I will do everything [in my power] so that all of you who today are fulfilling such an important mission to protect the law and order in the country remain at their responsible posts...etc."

Tetyana Chornovil, in an article in 'Lyevyi Bereg' which well illustrates how Ukrainian politicians really operate, provides background to what went on yesterday. Here's a summary:

After the vote, all of the Lytvyn Bloc [BL] deputies carefully avoided the gathered journalists who were eager to learn why they had voted with PoR. Eventually one of BL deputies emerged from the main chamber to make a 'phone call. He was immediately surrounded by journalists and had to beat a hasty retreat through an emergency exit door, striking the writer of the article, [for which he later apologised].

Apparently it was Lytvyn himself who had ordered his tightly disciplined bloc to vote to sack Lutsenko, even though most of his deputies had serious reservations about this. VR speaker Lytvyn, who had started negotiations on his future with PoR immediately after the first round of the presidential elections, audaciously did not vote..

Chornovil speculates that one reason why BL defected to PoR's camp is that one of their main sponsors is Vasyl Khmelnytsky, a PoR deputy, who makes a lot of money from business schemes involving state contracts so it is vital for him to stay on the right side of any government, and heaven forbid, find himself on the opposition side.

In fact, BL have had it good in coalition with BYuT. Lytvyn was appointed VR speaker, his brother remained at head of Ukrainian Customs and border control administration. Other BL sponsors were appointed to allegedly 'lucrative' positions at the state railway company, state strategic reserve, and state land registry.

[Chornovil, in previous articles in 'Levyi Bereg' had revealed a budget deficit of over one billion hryven as a result of 'refreshment' of state strategic reserves, e.g. 'out-of-date' diesel fuel etc. or similar as I recall]

It is unlikely that BL deputies would readily dissolve the government and ditch such lucrative positions. And Tymoshenko, who is hanging on by her fingernails to the PM's chair can't afford to upset BL either.

As for Baloha's 'Yedyniy Tsentr' - Yanukovych had an excellent result beating Tymoshenko in his Transcapathia oblast in the first round of the presidential elections, so no surprise that they voted with one eye on the future..

The Communists had been an 'unofficial' part of the ruling BYuT-lead ruling coalition because until recently this had suited their main sponsor, 'red businessman' Konstyantyn Hryhoryshyn. [But he recently complained that Tymoshenko had not delivered on her promise to return bidders deposits on the aborted privatisation sale of the Odesa Portside Plant. Tymoshenko had accused potential buyers of colluding to depress the sale price.]

Chornovil concludes: "The voting to sack Lutsenko indicates Yanukovych is quite capable of raising a parliamentary majority and he can turn the current government into an 'acting' government. But the formation of a new coalition is problematic - the factions [required] cannot be easily stuck together, there are insufficient positions of power to satisfy everyone. Even a Yanukovych presidential victory will not solve the problems in the VR. It would be a little easier to [successfully] organise the Rada in the event of a Tymoshenko victory. Ukraine's emergence from the political crisis is hardly likely to be easy and is not yet even on the horizon."

p.s. Viktor Yanukovych and other PoR spokesmen adamantly refuse to tell the electorate who their preferred candidate for PM would be in the event of a Yanukovych presidency and the formation of a new PoR-led ruling coalition in parliament.

Their problem could be that NUNS [and perhaps BL] would never accept Boris Kolesnikov or a Mykola Azarov [PoR's leading contenders] for this position. As a price for joining a new ruling coalition NUNS could press for Yuriy Yekhanurov to be PM...or Viktor Yushchenko?

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