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06KIEV400, UKRAINE: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER SEES POSSIBILITIES

January 31, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV400 2006-01-31 16:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 000400 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2016 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER SEES POSSIBILITIES 
IN PARTY OF REGIONS 

Classified By: Political Counselor Aubrey Carlson for reasons 1.4(b,d) 

1. (C) Summary:  During a January 31 conversation with 
visiting Project for Transitional Democracies President Bruce 
Jackson and PolOff, Presidential Security Policy Adviser and 
National Security Institute Chairman Volodymyr Horbulin said 
the electoral list of ex-PM Yanukovych's Party of Regions, 
most notable for its inclusion of criminal and anti-democracy 
figures, also included progressive businessmen who wanted the 
party to become more modern and democratic.  Horbulin 
predicted that Party of Regions' would maintain its lead in 
the polls (25-30% support, compared to 15% each for the 
parties of President Yushchenko and ex-PM Tymoshenko) through 
election day (March 26).  End summary. 

A Changing Party of Regions 
--------------------------- 

2. (C) Presidential advisor and eminence grise of the 
Ukraine's strategic thinking set who also served President 
Yushchenko's predecessor, Horbulin said the Party of Regions 
was, first and foremost, a regional bloc that represented the 
large enterprises and financial structures of the Donbas 
region (note:  Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).  To an extent, 
the party also united the coalmining regions of Ukraine by 
drawing support as well from neighboring oblasts Zaporizhzhya 
and Dnipropetrovsk.  The party of former PM and losing 
presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych was united, had 
decided not to join other opposition forces, and enjoyed deep 
pockets, being largely financed by billionaire Donetsk boss 
Rinat Akhmetov. 

3. (C) Party of Regions, Horbulin claimed, had appropriated 
tactics for the 2006 parliamentary (Rada) campaign that had 
served then-opposition candidate Yushchenko well during the 
2004 presidential election campaign.  Regions was claiming 
that the government in power had promised much, but delivered 
nothing.  The party was saying that, if its candidates were 
elected, it would deliver.  Acknowledging that he might be a 
"great optimist," Horbulin added that, while Party of Regions 
included some "pure criminals," it was not just a collection 
of corrupt individuals.  The party's Rada electoral list 
included several strong directors of former Soviet 
enterprises, such as Vyacheslav Bohuslayev, chairman of 
Zaporizhzhya-based Motor Sich, which produces aircraft and 
helicopter engines.  Another such person was Heorhiy Skudar, 
one of the owners of the Novokramatorsk Engineering Works. 
Concluding that the list was an interesting mixture, Horbulin 
said he personally knew about 50 of the first 100 on Party of 
Regions' electoral list.  Of the 50, he felt that half wanted 
Party of Regions to be a modern and democratic party.  While 
they were reluctant to surrender the favorable business 
conditions that first provided their wealth, they also 
understood the times were changing. 

The Race is On 
-------------- 

4. (C) In reply to Jackson's question, Horbulin said that, 
while approval ratings would fluctuate in the two months 
before the March 26 parliamentary elections, one result was 
definite -- no single party would be able to claim a ruling 
majority.  Party of Regions enjoyed the highest ratings now 
for two reasons.  First, Party of Regions had gathered 
together much of the political opposition to President 
Yushchenko during the disputed 2004 presidential campaign. 
Second, public disappointment over first the Tymoshenko 
Cabinet's performance and now Yekhanurov's Cabinet had been 
mounting over the past year.  The September dismissal of 
Tymoshenko had seen a rise in Party of Regions' ratings, 
evidence that Party of Regions had been buoyed by evidence of 
a split in the "Orange team." 

5. (C) The natural gas dispute with Russia, however, had 
brought down Party of Regions' popularity ratings, Horbulin 
continued.  In the latest polls, Party of Regions' ratings 
were around 25 percent, down from 30 percent earlier.  The 
ratings of Yushchenko's People's Union Our Ukraine (PUOU), on 
the other hand, had gone up from around 15 percent to as high 
as 20.  This blip did not necessarily constitute a trend, 
Horbulin noted. 

6. (C) Horbulin said PUOU and Bloc Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT) 
would each garner a minimum of 15 percent and a maximum of 20 
percent of votes in the parliamentary election, coming in 
second and third to Party of Regions.  The Socialist and 
Communist parties would come in fourth and fifth places, but 
neither party would get more than 7-8 percent of the vote. 
The remaining bloc that would definitely get over the three 
percent threshold to enter parliament was Ne Tak, based on 
the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) of former 
President Kravchuk, former presidential chief of staff 
Medvedchuk, and oligarch MP Surkis.  Other parties that might 
get into parliament were Rada Speaker Lytvyn's bloc, the 
Pora-Reforms and Order bloc and Nataliya Vitrenko's 
Progressive Socialist Party.  (Note:  A former National 
Security and Defense Council Secretary and perhaps Ukraine's 
foremost strategic thinker, Horbulin has in the past proved 
an astute and relatively neutral observer of domestic 
politics as well.  His is the first confident prediction we 
have heard that Ne Tak/SDPU(o) would get over the 3% 
threshold.) 

7. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
HERBST

 

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