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February 16, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV641 2006-02-16 15:57 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 03 KIEV 000641 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2016 

REF: KIEV 610 

Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 


1. (C) Party of Regions' leader Viktor Yanukovych told 
Ambassador on February 15 that Ukraine had to coordinate 
its WTO entry with Russia and said that President 
Yushchenko would be making a "huge mistake" if he formed an 
"Orange Coalition" with ex-PM Yuliya Tymoshenko before or 
after the March parliamentary elections.  Such a coalition, 
Yanukovych asserted, would divide Ukraine, empower the 
charismatic Tymoshenko, and turn Yushchenko into a lame 
duck.  Yanukovych acknowledged that Regions was conducting 
separate talks with both the Tymoshenko and Yushchenko 
camps about forming an "Orange/Blue" coalition.  He 
complained, though, that discussions with Yushchenko's team 
were being complicated by what he alleged was the 
continuing "repression" of his supporters.  In particular, 
separatism charges against former Kharkiv Governor Yevhen 
Kushnaryov and Luhansk Oblast Council Chief Viktor Tykhonov 
were a needless thumb in Regions' eye.  In a follow-on 
conversation with Ambassador, Presidential Chief of Staff 
Oleh Rybachuk said he would not be surprised if, "in 
certain areas," Yushchenko supporters were going after 
Regions officials.  Rybachuk denied, though, that there had 
been any "instructions from the top."  Separately, former 
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hryshchenko, running as part of 
the SPDU(o)-led Ne Tak! bloc, told Ambassador on February 
16 that former National Security and Defense Council Chief 
Petro Poroshenko had recently visited Donetsk and urged 
local officials to "resume cases" against Regions 
politicians.  Hryshchenko claimed that Poroshenko appeared 
to be working hard to scuttle a possible deal between 
Yushchenko and Yanukovych, because such a coalition would 
likely freeze out the disgraced oligarch.  End summary. 

Proffesor Yanukovych on WTO... 

2. (C) During a February 15 meeting that covered a range of 
issues (reftel), Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych 
stressed to Ambassador that Ukraine's entry into the WTO 
had to be coordinated with Russia; a lack of coordination 
with Moscow would be "dangerous," he claimed, given that 
"35 percent" of Ukraine's exports went to Russia.  (Note: 
According to official 2005 statistics, 21.9 percent of 
Ukraine's goods exports went to Russia.  This reality 
undermines much of Yanukovych's argument.  End note.)  The 
Kuchma-era prime minister incongruously added that if 
Ukraine did not "defend its interests" during the WTO 
accession process, it would "end up like Poland." 
Ambassador noted that replicating Poland's economic 
progress during the past 5-10 years would be a major 
accomplishment for Ukraine; Yanukovych had no reply. 
(Comment: This conversation did not shed positive light on 
Yanukovych's grasp of WTO entry issues or the benefits of 
membership to the Ukrainian economy.  See septel.  We will 
address WTO questions to other Regions MPs.  End comment.) 

...An "Orange Coalition"... 

3. (C) Shifting from economics to politics, Yanukovych said 
he was closely following reports that People's Union/Our 
Ukraine (PUOU) would soon form an "Orange Coalition" for 
the March parliamentary elections.  He ticked off several 
reasons why such a coalition would be "a huge mistake," 
largely rehashing arguments he has made since the 
the final Presidential debate before the December 26 
re-vote, when he pitched Yushchenko to strike a deal with 
him and make Yanukovych PM: 

-- The eastern and southern regions of Ukraine would reject 
Yushchenko, in effect making him President of only a part 
of Ukraine; 

-- Such a coalition would mean that Yuliya Tymoshenko would 
be the next prime minister, triggering "fierce resistance" 
in the east and south; and, 

-- Tymoshenko serving as prime minister again would make 
her the favorite to win the presidency in 2009 and quickly 
turn Yushchenko into a lame duck. 

4. (C) Yanukovych acknowledged, though, that -- despite 
public proclamations that they would not form a coalition 
with Regions -- both PUOU and Tymoshenko were quietly 
talking to Regions about doing just that.  Yanukovych added 
that, with support from Regions, President Yushchenko 
"would not need Tymoshenko" and would likely be re-elected 
in 2009. 
...Alleged Repression... 

5. (C) The ex-PM complained that Regions' coalition talks 
with PUOU were being complicated by what he called the 
continuing "repression" of Regions supporters by the 
government.  He claimed, for example, that former Kharkiv 
Governor Yevhen Kushnaryov and former Luhansk Oblast 
Council Chief Viktor Tykhonov were being prosecuted for 
separatism (note: based on their fiery calls at the 
November 28, 2004 Severodonetsk congress).  Yanukovych 
explained that the court actions against them seemed 
pointless, as both were oblast council members and enjoyed 
immunity; they were slated to stand trial well after the 
elections in any event  (note: they are numbers 10 and 8 
respectively on Regions' party list and thus shoo-ins to 
have Rada MP immunity.  End note).  The charges, he 
suggested, seemed to be a needless thumb in the eye. 
#x000A;6. (C) Pressed for more examples of "repression," 
Yanukovych claimed that Minister of Education Nikolayenko 
was orchestrating a campaign of pressure on college 
students who openly supported Regions candidates.  It was 
"ridiculous" for the government to resort to such tactics, 
he groused.  (Comment: Embassy contacts in the education 
community report no such pressure on students.  Moreover, 
and in contrast, IRI related to us that the one known 
egregious case of administrative pressure is coming from 
Regions MP Anatoliy Kukoba, the de facto mayor of Poltava, 
who is preventing the registration of any candidates for 
the town council that do not have his personal approval. 
End comment.) 

And "Vengeance" 

7. (C) Yanukovych asserted that he was doing all he could 
to keep "his people" from going public with their concerns 
and attacking the Yushchenko administration.  He related 
that, just before meeting with Ambassador, a group of 
Regions supporters had come to his office with alleged 
proof of government instructions to "go after" Regions 
officials.  Yanukovych said he had warned Yushchenko that 
Regions supporters were being "oppressed, insulted, and 
would take vengeance" on the government.  The former prime 
minister also said that he had personally muzzled former 
Prosecutor General Piskun, Number 97 on the Regions party 
list, who was itching to go public with allegations that 
Yushchenko had used the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) 
to attack his political opponents.  Yanukovych explained 
that Piskun had been taken in by Regions in order to keep 
him from joining Tymoshenko's bloc and helping Yuliya 
undercut Yushchenko.  Yanukovych acknowledged Ambassador's 
points about the need to rein in Regions' supporters 
post-election, and that a failure to do so would further 
tarnish Regions' reputation in major western capitals. 
Yanukovych added, though, that he was "not certain he could 
control people." 

Checking the Allegations 

8. (C) Following the conversation with Yanukovych, 
Ambassador spoke with Presidential Chief of Staff Oleh 
Rybachuk about the allegations of "repression" against 
Regions supporters.  Rybachuk said that he would not be 
surprised if, "in certain areas," people were going after 
their political opponents.  He denied, though, that there 
had been any "instructions from the top" to target 
Yanukovych's people.  Rybachuk offered to look into 
specific examples of alleged political persecution; 
Ambassador urged him to talk directly to Yanukovych. 

9. (C) During a February 16 breakfast meeting with 
Ambassador, former Ukrainian Foreign Minister and deputy 
head of the Ukrainian Republican Party Kostyantyn 
Hryshchenko asserted that former National Security and 
Defense Council Chief Petro Poroshenko had recently visited 
Donetsk and urged Interior Ministry and PGO officials to 
"resume cases against Regions officials."  Hryshchenko 
offered that Poroshenko appeared to be stirring up trouble 
in order to kill any possibility of a Yushchenko/Yanukovych 
coalition, because such an arrangement would likely leave 
no significant role for the disgraced oligarch.  (Note: 
Hryshchenko's party leader is Yuri Boyko, ex-Naftohaz Chief 
and allegedly a listed Ukrainian partner in RosUkrEnergo's 
founding documents.  They are contesting the elections as 
part of the SPDU(o)-led Ne Tak Bloc, running on an 
anti-NATO, pro-Russian language, pro-Single Economic Space 
with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan platform). 

10.. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at: 






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