Friday, October 31, 2008

Kluyev interview

Andriy Kluyev, one of PoR's leading deputies, was interviewed by the 'Delo' business daily in an article entitled: 'Link-man between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko'.

Here are portions:

Q. Part of Party of Regions became initiator of a coalition with BYuT on September 2nd. How did this arise and why did nothing come of it?

[Note: On that day PoR and BYuT voted together in parliament to reduce the president's powers, infuriating the president Yushchenko. His NUNS bloc broke away from their coalition partners BYuT, and gave Yushchenko a pretext to call snap elections.]

A. Unfortunately, for quite a long time PoR and BYuT were rivals. An enormous mass of problems has sprung up which must be untangled. Naturally, it is physically impossible in a short time to solve these questions. Look, there are a number of questions, on which we reached consensus. We must morally realize that we should trust each other. This is a matter of time. I consider that if after elections, or without them, a coalition between BYuT and PoR is formed on these or other conditions, our country will turn from being a politically unstable, to a stable and viable state.

[Note: Tymoshenko several times recently declared that BYuT would not enter any parliamentary coalition with PoR because they promised not to do so during last year's snap election campaign.]

Q. And on what conditions can such a coalition take place?

A. On the conditions of understanding that we are obliged, at the end of the day, to form an effective authority, which would work in a stable fashion for at least 4-5 years. Surely, besides short-term anti-crisis measures, it is vital we should accept a long-range development program for Ukraine. We need, just as the air we breathe, a packet of reforms on the elimination of structural disproportions in the economy, on the creation of new high gross value addition branches of industry, on improvements in the conditions of conducting business, on improvements in the quality of the life of citizens. [Any] new coalition must be built on the understanding that Ukraine can no longer lose time on conflicts...

Q. Who was the initiator of negotiations [between PoR and BYuT] then?

A. Both sides. Nothing ever happens without mutual wishes. There was mutual understanding of the fact that we should change something in the country. However, this did not lead to any coalition. On one hand, the fact that Yulia Tymoshenko's trip to Moscow went well and she was cordially received there has been actively discussed. They say that Viktor Medvedchuk was involved. On the other hand, Viktor Yanukovych declares, that is possible the remnants of SDPU(o) may join up with Party of Regions. What then is the political role of Viktor Medvedchuk?

Viktor Vladimirovich [Medvedchuk] is my friend. I consider that if he returns to the active politics in Ukraine - the state will only win. He is a competent specialist, dynamic… If he enters PoR's lists of candidate deputy (if elections do after all take place) - this will be very good."

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Kluyev considers any snap parliamentary election will probably be postponed until February next year. He says that early elections was not PoR's idea and they are not a panacea to cure Ukraine's ills.

p.s. 'Ukrainska Pravda' gives some details of VR deputies who failed to support a bill to raise finances for the early elections. The motion was not carried because only 222 votes could be raised, 4 short of the minimum required. Over 40 deputies from NUNS failed to support the motion, and included those from Ihor Kolomoysky's group. Oddly, Ivan Plyusch and Petro Yushchenko's cards did not register a vote either. Although most PoR deputies supported the motion, several big-names amongst their ranks, for various reasons, did not.


PoR seem to have gone 'lukewarm' on the elections. Leading PoR spokesperson Hanna Herman says a PoR conference scheduled for today will not take place.

"We will not hold the meeting because a date for the elections has not been determined and it is not clear at all if there will be elections or not."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chances of December VR election receeding?

Ukraine`s parliament has given initial approval to a package of bills needed to receive an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund, BYuT and NUNS voted together, but only two PoR deputies supported the motion.

But the parliament failed to introduce changes to the budget and provide 400 million hryven for elections even though NUNS deputies, voting with PoR to support the motion, used the voting cards of absent colleagues. The voting result indicated 170 out of 172 PoR deputies supported the motion, but only 35 Nasha Ukraina deputies voted with them. The NUNS bloc won 72 seats in last year's VR elections. [So 'heap big' problems in the presidential camp - opinion poll ratings show most if not all of the NUNS deputies would lose their seats in any early election - turkeys voting for Christmas??]

Yushchenko admitted that elections cannot take place without funds being first approved by parliament.

Tymoshenko now claims the Orange coalition can be brought back to life again.

Is this part of [alleged] pre-arranged set-up for a possible deferred parliamentary election in the Spring?

p.s. The general director of the huge Ilich Mariupol MetKombinat, Volodymyr Boyko, declared his plant is in severe economic trouble and that he would agree to its nationalisation. Boyko said that the situation is bad in all of Ukraine's metallurgical plants, and gloomily predicted "Hundreds of thousands of workers could find themselves on the street in the near future."

Update: Even PoR big-wheel Andriy Kluyev considers elections could well take place February next year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yushchenko's plan - Spring elections?

The proUA website carries an interesting piece claiming that last Sunday president Yushchenko and PM Tymoshenko met secretly at his dacha outside Kyiv and agreed to postpone the snap VR elections, currently pencilled in for December 14th, until Spring next year.

In order that the president does not lose face and is not seen to be caving in to Tymoshenko's demands, his excuse will be that the recently-agreed IMF credit of $16.5 billion for Ukraine is to be granted on the condition that political stability is returned, i.e. no early elections to take place.

After many weeks of claims from the president that the only one way out of the current crisis is early elections, deputy head of the president's secretariat Maryna Stavniychuk said, "[VR] Deputies should urgently determine a way out of the political impasse : either [agree to] extraordinary elections, or to the formation of a new parliamentary coalition."

A new BYuT/NUNS/Lytvyn bloc [BL] coalition had been proposed but NUNS did not see any point in giving Lytvyn the VR speaker's chair. Arseniy Yatsenyuk has pretended to have forgotten about his own resignation declaration.

Sources of proUA believe that delaying the elections until Spring suits both presidential and prime minster's teams. Despite major problems being faced by the KabMin, Tymoshenko nevertheless remains in charge of government.

The delay gives the presidential camp time to plan and prepare a new political strategy. If after the elections Yushchenko decides to enter into a coalition with Party of Regions this could be done indirectly via new political groupings led by Yatsenyuk, Chernovetsky, and possibly Baloha, or combinations of these, thus reducing the damage to his own political image before the presidental race begins.

There are already signs that the president and PM's agreement was very loose and not all details were 'nailed down'. Had everything been agreed, an anti-recessionary package should have been introduced in the parliament agenda signed by speaker Yatsenyuk or Yushchenko. After the collective voting of BYuT, NUNS and BL, a new coalition could have been created between them.

However Yatsenyuk proposed that the first point of the agenda would be NUNS deputy Ksenya Lyapina's bill ensuring funds for the early elections would be provided. BYuT deputy Roman Zabzalyuk admitted that he and fellow BYuT deputies blocked the parliamentary podium as the first words of the speaker had been uttered: "as a reflex reaction." There had been no instructions previously contrary to this from above.

After this a presidential anti-recessionary project appeared, which BYuT agreed to support in the evening, but it did not mention money for elections, so there is currently no threat of dispersal of parliament.

proUA suggests that the following Yushchenko-Akhmetov post election plan is gradually coming into focus:

Snap election in the Spring.

Viktor Yanukovich to be dumped by Party of Regions so that he does not get the PM's chair, and later the presidential chair, enhancing Yushchenko's chances of a second term.

Creation of a broad coalition of PoR and pro-presidential fractions possibly headed by Baloha, Yatsenyuk, Bohatyryova, Chernovetsky,and Lytvyn.

Formation of a Cabinet of Ministers led by a 'technical' prime minister, e.g. Raisa Bohatyroyova or Yuriy Yekhanurov. The president receives the 'humanitarian' ministries and the Ministry of Finance, so retaining control of taxation, customs, etc.

Andrey Klyuyev, who has been spotted in the last few days in the company of Rinat Ahmetov, to be first deputy-premier. Yuriy Boyko to head the 'fuel-energy complex'. Akhmetov man Volodymyr Kozak, who two years ago was chairman of the Ukrainian State Railroad, to head the ministry of transport and communications.

Such a scenario would be very attractive to Yushchenko and one for which he may well be striving.

p.s. There has already been speculation that a workable new parliamentary coalition could possibly be assembled by individual deputies, even though such coalitions are supposed to be formed by political fractions.

p.p.s. For those interested on what really happened in South Ossetia check out this BBC article with links to follow-on video and radio programme.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bad news for Donbas

PoR leader Viktor Yanukovych has announced that the Mariupol Metallurgical Plant [Mariupolskiy met-kombinat im. Illicha], the largest in Ukraine, has stopped production.

The plant, a workers' collective, has about 60,000 employees on its books. They have been put on 'reduced wages'.

LEvko fears this is a significant indicator of the economic crisis facing the country - maybe the greatest in the country's short independent history. Wind-down and start up at plants such as MMK im. Illicha are major operations - they cannot be switched off and on at will. There could be a possibility now that it will never restart.

The value of last year's production at the plant was nearly 18 billion hryven.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elections to be moved back yet again?

"I considered, and consider early elections during a world financial crisis to be a crime against the state. And I, by all possible means - legal, absolutely open and political, will not permit these elections to take place, because this is practically a war of everyone against everyone else. There will be no time for political forces to defend the country from political crisis, but there will be only a fight for every percentage point during the parliamentary elections," PM Tymoshenko said today.

And deputy head of the Central Electoral Commission, Andriy Mahera claimed that it would be impossible to hold early parliamentary elections before 21st December. The president had moved the nominated date for elections forward by one week to the 14th, but according to Mahera: "52 days remain until the 14th, but the time [required] for the election process for extraordinary elections should be from 54 to 60 days."

The president has nailed his colours to the mast. Today he told the BBC that he expects a new coalition and government to be formed by January 1st 2009. Recent political history in Ukraine, drawn out, tortuous negotiations in forming parliamentary coalitions, their instability, and recent opinion polls on how any future parliament would stack up, all suggest he is out of touch with reality.

If elections are postponed again until after the Christmas recess, calls for combined early parliamentary and presidential elections will grow ever louder..

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shuba died with smile on his face..

Today's 'Segodnya' has a melodramatic write-up on Volodymyr Shuba's funeral [so soon? - see previous posting for more on this guy] entitled:

"Eyewitnesses: Shuba's face says his death was not an accident"

"A sarcastic smile was frozen on it, as if he knew who shot him," a colleague from the prosecutor's office who wished to preserve anonymity told us... "and the corners of his lips were unnaturally turned down".

"People got a shock," a colleague agreed - "Volodymyr Vasylyevich has a strange strip on the cheek, like a twisted jaw".

Rumours about the non accidental nature of the death of the city prosecutor strengthened after the funeral. "The death of Shuba was a slap to the law-enforcement system," said former-colleague, Ministry of Internal Affairs Colonel Aleksey Goncharov.

A person, who knew Shuba well gave 'Segodnya' a gloomy prediction: "The prosecutor is not the first nor the last victim of battle for power in the Dnipropetrovsk, or of raiders' seizures of property. He got involved wherever it was necessary and wherever it was not - in any building site, any market."

The source criticises the investigators of Shuba's death for constantly changing their story, and ends: "Accident? Don't be stupid. They rang me and told me: "That bent-barrelled gun of Kushnaryov's has been fired a second time…"

The article describes the official version of events surrounding Shuba's death, but the head of "International Anti-terrorist Unity" Colonel of the Reserve Alexander Dichek, expressed himself on this version thus: “Yes, the investigation must establish the cause [of death]. But the trajectory described resembles, please excuse me, circus tightrope walking”. [tsirkovuyu ekvilibristiku]

P.S. This from Bloomberg: The global financial crisis is hitting more vulnerable emerging markets as investors shun riskier assets in countries with big current-account deficits in a flight to safety. Ukraine has the worst creditworthiness of Europe's emerging markets, based on the cost of credit-default swaps, which protect bondholders against default.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Prosecutor Shuba slain in Robin Hood restaurant riddle

Yesterday the Dnipropetrovsk chief prosecutor Volodymyr Shuba was shot dead in an 'accident' at the 'Berkut' firing range near the "Robin Hood" restaurant in his home town [see photo in the 'Segodnya' link below.]

According to two witnessess, the Saiga hunting rifle he was using dropped from his hands, its stock hit the ground, and a bullet round was accidentally discharged from the weapon ripping through his heart. The bullet was found embedded in the roof of the premises. [PoR big-shot Yevhen Kushnaryov was allegedly shot with a similar weapon a couple of years ago]

Today 'Segodnya' provides background and speculation surrounding this Dnipropetrovsk 'avtorytet's' death in an article entitled: "Death of the boss of Dnipropetrovsk Shuba could be start of bloody realignments"

According to the official version, Shuba, who was one of the most prominent persons in the region, died during firing practice, but many do not believe it was an accident. .

'Segodnya's' sources claim that the rifle which caused his death was a gift with which he had been presented with the day before. Others claim a very close friend was demonstrating his own rifle to him. There were allegedly two of Shuba's colleagues from the prosecutor's office present with him at the time of the 'accident', but several present and former high-ranking officers of the Prosecutor-General's office have expressed doubts that his death was accidental.

In the opinion of one 'Segodnya' source, Shuba may have been eliminated by those who did not want his further promotion - he had been tipped to be a future Prosecutor-General of Ukraine. Unofficial sources confirm that people close to prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko were actively striving for this.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergiy Vinokur said the circumstances surrounding Shuba's death would be thoroughly checked, but he was inclined to think it was an accident - nothing in common with intentional homicide.

Until his death Shuba was considered a major figure of authority in the region - "No-one in law enforcement agencies could even sneeze without his permission in Dnipropetrovshchyna," according to one source. He was a most significant figure in the resolution of questions concerning property, said another.

Politologist Kost' Bondarenko says that the death of Shuba appears suspicious. "He had numerous enemies. He was undoubtedly the top dog in the city. Without his approval, no serious matter e.g. on land allocation or on the purchase of property could be decided. He feared neither governor, nor mayor, nor local oligarchs." But recently he had been involved in land disputes, the losers of which were deputies from BYuT…

Influential Dnipropetrovsk journalist Vladislav Romanov does not exclude, that after his death, new 'realignments' could take place. "It wasn't by accident that this shot sounded, when the attention of everyone in Kyiv was drawn to the re-elections", he said.

Shuba was a former chief of the prosecutor's office in Crimea, and simultaneously deputy Prosecutor-General of Ukraine.

One of Mykola Melnychenko's tapes allegedly includes a conversation with Kuchma of the-then head of the Tax Administration Mykola Azarov, charging Shuba with providing 'krysha' or 'roof' for liquor and vodka businesses in Crimea.

Shuba arrived in Dnipropetrovsk in year 2000. In 2003 the new Prosecutor-General Gennadiy Vasil'yev (from Donetsk) sacked him but he was restored in his post after the Orange Revolution when the Svyatoslav Piskun returned to the Prosecutor-General's post.

When asked whether Shuba was a man of Tymoshenko, Yushchenko, or of the local oligarchs, those in the know in Dnipropetrovsk answered: "Shuba was a man of Shuba - he didn't bow to anyone."

Should has stuck to bows and arrows.

"Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains" Philip Marlowe.."The Big Sleep"

p.s. Borys Penchuk, author of "The Donetsk Mafia", and a former key witness in the now-closed extortion case against senior opposition MP Borys Kolesnykov, has now been taken into custody himself by a Donetsk district court decision on suspicion of extortion and perjury against Kolesnykov.

Penchuk, who had been feared kidnapped, was arrested in Kyiv on 10th October by officers of the Donetsk organized crime directorate and delivered by force to Donetsk. Penchuk's lawyers are preparing an appeal against his detainment in custody before any trial.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

History repeating itself

BYuT parliamentary deputy Andriy Kozhemyakin today claimed that the state security service [SBU] and State Defence Administration [UDO] are 'planning the realization of a force scenario and establishing direct presidential rule'.

He claimed the president's secretariat is planning a Pinochet-style "Chilean scenario"' and appealed to the power structures not to give in to provocations and not to obey illegal orders of their leadership.

He quoted the words of Salvador Alliende: "They have the power and they can crush us, but the social process cannot be stopped either by force or by criminal means."

All of this may sound alarmist, but it has to be remembered Kozhemyakin rose through the ranks to become, in 2005, deputy head of operations of the SBU and head of the administration for fighting corruption and organized crime. His father was a lieutenant-general in the SBU.

The press service of the SBU have responded calling Kozhemyakin's claims 'rubbish'.

About 60 fully armed special forces personnel have also been 'protecting' the Central Electoral Commission building. The SBU denied that any of the 20 or so BYuT deputies present today had been beaten up..

The country is sliding into the same kind of mess as last year when the president dismissed a PoR-led parliament, except last year Tymoshenko was cheering the president on.

Tomorrow Tymoshenko is flying to Brussels where she is to meet Javier Solana - the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orange battle of attrition continues

President Yushchenko has decided that if a judge doesn't decide in his favour then he can be hassled and possibly even have criminal proceedings instituted against him..Courts that support BYuT appeals to annul his decree on dissolution of parliament can themselves be liquidated by decree.

PM Yulia Tymoshenko is adamant - "I know that they [early elections] will not take is necessary to do everything so that there will be no elections," she said in a TV interview yesterday.

To underline this, her cabinet refused to allocate funds from state budget reserve funds to the Central Electoral Commission for conducting early elections, despite a 5 p.m. deadline set by the president.

The State Control and Audit Administration have warned the PM that if the cabinet permits early elections to be funded from the state reserve fund they may be acting illegally. The fund has recently been boosted in order to make good infrastructure losses caused by last June's severe floods in Western Ukraine.

What will the struggle of wills between the pres and PM bring next? Ukrainians like a lengthy New Year and Orthodox Christmas break. If the VR elections were to be switched to some time after this it would be late Spring before parliament would reconvene - about the time the presidential elections would be gearing up... A deal clincher could be combined VR and presidential elections..Maybe PoR would buy this...but the pres?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

President's 'heavies' in court..

Ukrainian Security Service [SBU] personnel in the Administrative appeal court in Kyiv today.

Earlier a group of BYuT parliamentary deputies had blocked the hearing of a complaint from the president's secretariat on the earlier decision of the Kyiv District Administrative Court to annul the president's ukaz calling for early parliamentary elections.

BYuT has accused the president's secretariat of applying undue pressure on the court to force them to restore the President's ukaz, and claim their deputies were in court merely to protect court staff "from pressure applied onto the court body". According to one of deputies, the court has no right to consider the secratariat's appeal until Thursday of next week in any case.

Other sources claim it is the SBU are that are affording 'protection' to three judges of the Administrative appeal court

Deputy head of the Central Electoral Commission Andriy Mahera has said in an interview that his commision has suspended any preparatory work arranging the proposed December 7th elections.

p.s. In a TV debate on 'Shuster Live' PM Yulia Tymoshenko claimed on several occasions that the December 7th parliamentary elections ordered by the president will not take place.
See a lively video of her full performance together with that of Viktor Yanukovych [and transcript] here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yushchenko's untenable position

As Mustafa Nayem and Serhiy Leshchenko point out in an article in U.P. any Yushchenko-led party standing for election in the proposed December 7th elections will be in an untenable position.

The president in his address to the nation on Wednesday explained that the reason for calling early elections was BYuT's 'betrayal' of its partner NUNS in the democratic coalition.

On returning from the summer recess on September 2nd BYuT promptly voted in concert with PoR to enact laws weakening the president's authority.
Yushchenko said: "The events of 2nd September and those decisions which were accepted in parliament, unconditionally made the [further] existence of the democratic coalition impossible. And from 3rd September, de jure, the collapse of the coalition was announced [by NUNS].

In early VR elections any President-led party will most likely come in third, or worse, the first two places being fought over by PoR and BYuT.

Any rapprochement between BYuT and NUNS is most unlikely as this would mean returning to Tymoshenko powers that president has taken from her by dismissing parliament. Furthermore Tymoshenko and Yushchenko will be slugging it out for the orange electorates' vote in next year's presidential elections.

On the other hand, any hint of movement by the presidential bloc toward PoR will be fully expoited by BYuT as indication of an oligarchic conspiracy between PoR money-bags Rinat Akhmetov, and the president.

LEvko thinks that just over a month ago BYuT and PoR launched a plan that had clearly been prepared during the summer recess to truncate the president's authority. Now PoR are quite keen on early elections because they have a good chance of winning and returning to government. If PoR are back in power after the election how can the president be sure they will not revert back to that same policy as agreed with BYuT during the summer and 'shaft' him again? He knows that as president he could probably live with one opponent..but not with two..hence the presidential secretariat's vicious campaign to destroy the weaker.

It was a PoR-led parliament that was dismissed kicking and screaming by Yushchenko last year. This year it is BYuT. My guess is that there is a lot of capital deposited in PoR's 'grudge bank' last year waiting to be cashed in by PoR if they return to power in the snap election... particularly as there are huge differences on policies between the president and PoR on such key topics as relations with Russia and the Georgia/South Ossetia crisis, NATO, Russian as a second state language etc. And Yulka T. will be hovering to finish off the job too..

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sick of politics

Not a bad little video from 'The Guardian' here on reactions to Yushchenko's calling of snap parliamentary elections.


Oh come on Elmer. You're being entirely too modest. Your check cashed just fine this month and what with the CIA money coming our way we have enough to start investing in Russian oil and gas--as soon as they let us in...Yuschenko and his boys, I mean. You know Yuschenko; he's the one responsible for the demise of democracy in Ukraine (parties engaged in personalities because they are... personality parties!), the demise of the rule of law in Ukraine (was there ever any?), the rise in the dollar, the capital outflight this past month (anybody heard Yulia's latest proposal on land? it's a beaut and will go a long way towards clouding every single title in Ukraine) and the crowded electric I ride into town on some mornings. At least it's so crowded I don't have to pay sometimes because the collector can't force his way through. And that has to be Yuschenko too.

Anyway, it's a pleasure doing business with you and we, all the staff, just wish good on ya.

Here we go again..

Tonight on TV president Yushchenko announced that he is terminating the activity of the sixth convocation of the Verkhovna Rada and calling for early parliamentary elections.

"I'm convinced, deeply convinced, the democratic coalition was ruined by one thing - human ambition - the ambition of one person [Yu.T]. A greed for power, a divergence in values, the preference of personal interests over national interests," explained the president.

A date for the new elections has not yet been determined.

Earlier today BYuT parliamentary deputy Ostap Semerak, on BYuT's official site stated that early elections would only be possible on the condition that parliament accepts a decision on their financing and on changes to election law.

"The signing of an ukaz on conducting [parliamentary] elections does not mean they will take place....If there is no concensus amongst deputies about fresh elections then they will not take place." he said.

Another BYuT deputy claimed that the decision to dismiss the VR will only take effect after the official publication of the president's ukaz. "There's an abyss between the ukaz of the president and its realisation. To hurdle over it some people will have to work very hard," he said. BYuT intend to mount a legal challenge on Yushchenko's decision.

Viktor Yanukovych announced that PoR were against fresh elections, but it seems they have they agreed to go along with them. "Having lead the country to ruin, today's authorities have driven society to early parliamentary elections again. PoR were against this...PoR proposed coming to an agreement, not about government posts, but about improving the lot of our people and developing the economy. However, the 'oranges' were only interested in chairs. They wanted so many governmental chairs that a whole furniture factory couldn't satisfy their needs," said Yanukovych [not a bad quip]

'Segodnya' speculates that at least students will not be complaining. During last summer's VR elections those who were employed to wave party flags, attend meetings and distribute election leaflets were paid 100-150 hryven per day. This year, because of the seasonal factor, they will be demanding 200-250 hryven.

LEvko says 70 - 80% of the electorate do not understand the need for fresh elections. Most realize they will not change much anyhow. Any president who ignores this widely-held views of the electorate is taking a big risk..

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More pathetic innuendo from Yushchenko..

Today [Tuesday] president Yushchenko conducted a meeting with the NUNS VR fraction.

According to an official report on the president's website: "At the start of the meeting the head of state again gave his assessment of events that took place in the VR on 2nd September, and called them a national betrayal...The president emphasized that "the scenario, which was delivered from abroad, had as its aim to turn the national course through 180 degrees."

He declared that the democratic coalition in its previous form has shown itself to be, in a current political situation, superfluous, "because the plan which they dreamed up against Ukraine, was much more important than negotiations on the daily parliamentary agenda, the Georgia question, the Black Sea fleet."

'Korrespondent' speculates that matters could now develop in three possible ways.

The orange coalition could be re-established again, or BYuT could join forces with PoR - but neither of these is likely.

Yushchenko could dissolve parliament in the near future. A snap December election would primarily be a two-horse race with a Yushchenko-aligned bloc attempting to overcome the 3% threshold.

Or a majority coalition fails to be formed, but Yushchenko does not dismiss parliament. Dissolution of parliament is an alternative for him, but he is not duty-bound to do this. PM Tymoshenko remains in power.

LEvko thinks that Yushchenko has now all but nailed his colours to the mast. If he fails to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections he will be seen as a weak-willed choker. If he does 'go for it' he faces major challenges on the legality of such a move, and possibly a major consitutional crisis.

With the current economic crisis swirling around the globe a functioning parliament is vital for any necessary economic decisions to be debated and ruled upon. The president and his secretariat, which employs well over a thousand staff have no game plan - apart from trotting out vague innuendo..

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Election in midst of global crisis?

BYuT spin doctors say "An appeal by prominent members of Ukraine's business community, to avoid a pre-term parliamentary election, appears to have gone unheeded as President Viktor Yushchenko declared his intention to hold consultations on the possible dissolution of parliament on 7 October. On Saturday, his press office confirmed he will give lawmakers until next Tuesday to agree a new coalition and thereafter may dissolve parliament and call the third parliamentary election in as many years."

Yulia Tymoshenko, during her 3rd October press conference following her visit to Moscow, commented on Yushchenko's threat thus: "When the world is being torn apart by a financial crisis it is absolutely irresponsible to cast into political chaos parliament, the government, the [Ukrainian] politicum, the country. I will never support this."

In all of the world's major democracies political parties are rallying together to try and save their countries' citizens from what could be the greatest global finacial calamity in over 60 years. But president Yushchenko will probably dismiss parliament soon and create even more political turmoil...crazy.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's steel-makers, vital to the economy, are in deep trouble.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tymoshenko's Freudian slip?

A week or so ago I mentioned allegations that president Yushchenko had been selling and supplying illicit Ukrainian-made arms to his pal Makheil Saakashvili at knock-down prices, and that a recent explosion at an ammunition dump may have provided 'cover'.

The sale of Ukrainian arms to Georgia was a thread that ran through Tymoshenko's otherwise cordial talks with president Putin last Thursday.

At their joint press conference Putin said, " We do not know, who made the decision on deliveries of special [military] technology and arms during the conflict. We do not know..but whoever it was, this person has made a huge is called getting directly involved in an armed confrontation, pitting the Russian and Ukrainian nations against one another. And if we confirm this, we will break-off contacts with those people which permitted this."

Although Tymoshenko admitted all arms sales are under the control of the president and National Security and Defence Council, she was most cautious in her replies, saying that allegations in these matters have not yet been confirmed, and added that the VR had set up a 'special' investigative committee to investigate further.

But whether intentionally or not, she made a significant slip. The VR has in fact set up a 'temporary' investigative committee, not a 'special' one. According to the Constitution, a 'special' committee is created only for one purpose – the initiation of procedures for impeachment..

Commentators agree that following Tymoshenko's visit to Moscow, Putin has a new favourite in Ukraine -Yu.V.T.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The brave rides...the squaw can walk..

The dispute between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko over who would be using 'the plane' yesterday even made the 'London Times'

Tymoshenko was forced to fly for her important rendezvous with Putin in Moscow yesterday in an 8-seater Slovenian-crewed Cessna after the president 'pulled rank' on account of his aircraft being grounded, and used her plane to fly to Lviv.

'Segodnya' claims Yushchenko's plane was airworthy after all, so there was no reason, apart from bloody-mindedness and sabotage, for him to grab the premier's plane. Other newspapers make the same claim.

LEvko says not too many years ago Tymoshenko, during her United Energy Systems of Ukraine days, used to brag about her company owning an entire airline - SES-Avia...Oh happy days..

Yushchenko's real intentions

Persistent speculation continues that despite agreement to reassemble the orange coalition president Yushchenko intends to dissolve the Ukrainian parliament and sack PM Tymoshenko [yet again].

If the coalition deal is not finalized by midnight Thursday, the president could dissolve parliament.

Statements by him during a press conference in Lviv today show how deep is his mistrust of Tymoshenko. When speaking of the BYuT/NUNS coalition he said: "The spirit of coalition agreement had less value for the premier than the paper it was written on. It's disgusting ['Tse nabrydlo' according to one version]."

[The president's own website carries the same quote in a report on his visit to Lviv entitled: 'The president doubts the sincerity of the intentions of coalition partners during today's voting in parliament', but 'Tse nabrydlo' is replaced by 'this is political charlatanism '.. Hmm.. ]

The article claims that although he welcomes today's cancellation of non constitutional decisions accepted in parliament in early September [by the combined votes of BYuT and PoR], he asks, "What is the guarantee that after 10 days the attention of [our] partners will not [again] be turned and they [the resolutions] will be voted in again? Is this not a threat.. such political behaviour?"

"I am convinced that we can return back, but with changes to [our] responsibilities, to our public behaviour... finally, to force the goverment to work productively, not for the cameras, not for constant shows, but to drive the nation, the economy, forward."

In LEvko's opinion Yushchenko is aware that had Tymoshenko had her way during and after the Orange Revolution, former president Kuchma would be behind bars today. If Tymoshenko were to be elected president in the next presidential elections late next year could he be sure that she would leave him in peace? Can he risk her becoming president?

Yushchenko's own statements today only add substance to the speculation on his true intentions.

p.s. Leading PoR deputy, Taras Chornovil, has resigned from the party. In an interview with the BBC he suggests Yushchenko may be cunningly planning early parliamentary elections for the Orthodox Christmas holidays period. The electorates' current disenchantment with politics and the timing of any such election may mean the necessary 50%+ turn-out required for them to be valid may not be achieved.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

BYuT and NUNS agree, but poison remains..

Yulia Tymoshenko has agreed to accept all of NUNS' conditions, and the parliamentary 'Democratic Coalition' now joined by Lytvyn's bloc, are apparently back in business. "We agree to all of the steps which they have proposed..all the conditions, ultimatums, all the arm-twisting," announced Tymoshenko sourly.

Tomorrow, 2nd October, she is going to Moscow for critical talks on supplies of Russian gas to Ukraine. She claimed today that her 'KabMin' had confirmed the directives of both the president and the National Security and Defence Council for the talks.

Just two days ago deputy head of the president's secretariat Andriy Kyslynsky declared on the secretariat's official website that he was convinced that during her visit to Moscow "gas contracts for 2009 are not the #1 topic on the agenda.."

"The first item on the list will be the reciept by Yulia Volodymyrivna of political blessings from the Russian administration. All the rest, including gas contracts, will be just tagged on."

"National interests cannot be the hostages of the premier's political intrigues," emphasized Kyslynsky, in what was just the latest of the secretariat's statements systematically 'rubbishing' Tymoshenko.

Does anyone seriously believe that the new coalition is anything other than the buying of time before the presidential elections get under way? With Tymoshenko around, Yushchenko's chances of a second term of office are extremely low. The never-ending vitriolic criticism of PM Tymoshenko by the President's secretariat is bound to continue..

p.s. a commentator on the current global financial crisis said that when political opponents start agreeing and working together to overcome the crisis, then this is the time to really get worried..