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March 23, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1110 2006-03-23 04:42 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958:  N/A 

(U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for Internet. 

1. (SBU) Summary:  At a March 20 meeting, Minister of 
Interior (MVS) Yuri Lutsenko told DCM and former Ambassador 
to Ukraine Miller that the March 26 elections would go 
smoothly and election day would likely be calm, despite 
technical problems with election administration.  His 
Ministry would not interfere in any peaceful demonstrations 
that might spring up following the election or place any 
riot police on the streets.  Turning to politics, he agreed 
that opposition party Regions of Ukraine would come in 
first, with President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine second and ex- 
PM Tymoshenko's eponymous bloc in third place.  Lutsenko 
looked to the reunification of the Orange coalition and 
thought that an Orange-Blue coalition was unlikely, with a 
Tymoshenko-Regions coalition the least likely possibility. 
Lutsenko reiterated his pledge to resign if the 
Constitutional Court (once its quorum is re-established) 
were to uphold legislation enacted in fall 2005 that granted 
immunity to legislative deputies at all levels of 
government.  He said that the MVS under his leadership would 
not be used for political purposes and that President 
Yushchenko had never tried to use the MVS for political 
ends.  He said he would serve only in an Orange government. 
End summary. 

2. (SBU) Minister of Interior Lutsenko arrived nearly 40 
minutes late to a March 20 meeting to sign a protocol to the 
U.S.-Ukraine MOU on bilateral law enforcement assistance 
programs (ref A).  Apologizing, he explained that a meeting 
with Kiev Mayor Omelchenko to discuss arrangements to ensure 
that voting would proceed smoothly on Sunday, March 26, had 
gone long.  Lutsenko said that his Ministry would not 
interfere in peaceful demonstrations or otherwise infringe 
on the people's right to peaceful assembly.  Ukrainian law 
did not specify what protesters could or could not do during 
rallies.  Chuckling, Lutsenko admitted that he had used any 
legal methods available when he was in opposition (note: 
Lutsenko was one of the key leaders of the Orange 
Revolution), so he would not limit the right of people to 
peacefully assemble and express views. 

3. (SBU) Lutsenko expected that the elections would go 
smoothly and that the situation would remain calm, but if 
any demonstrations took place and became violent, the police 
would intervene.  The MVD would not permit attacks on 
government buildings or street fights, he added.  Post- 
election demonstrations might take place in Kharkiv, Luhansk 
and Kiev.  In an effort to ensure that tension was not 
ratcheted up unnecessarily, Lutsenko said he planned to 
place female MVD officers, primarily young officers and 
cadets, on the streets ("because they are less 
intimidating," he smiled) and would not outfit them in riot 
gear.  No special force MVD troops or special equipment 
would be deployed on the city streets on election day. 

4. (SBU) Lutsenko said that the opposition might call its 
supporters into Independence Square after the election, but 
his Ministry had practiced mechanisms for separating 
different groups of protestors by inserting a chain of 
police personnel between the opposing groups.  He said the 
MVD tested this method during the Eurovision competition in 
Kiev in May 2005.  He thought it likely that demonstrations 
would take place, especially if the vote tabulation process 
dragged out, as it likely would, given the large number of 
parties contesting the election and the simultaneous 
election for the national, regional, and local legislative 
bodies.  He speculated that it might take two days for 
preliminary results and up to a week for the official 
tabulation to be completed.  Lawsuits over the final numbers 
could delay the process further.  Lutsenko dismissed any 
notion of a "second Maidan" standing up, particularly since 
the relatively warm weather would make any such effort 
appear to be "political tourism" when compared with the 
bitter winter weather withstood by protestors during the 
November-December 2004 demonstration. 

5. (SBU) Lutsenko said there were technical problems with 
the election administration, but these problems were not the 
result of any systematic effort by the GOU to manipulate or 
influence the voting.  Voter lists were incomplete.  He 
asserted that [opposition] local authorities in some oblasts 
under the control of the previous government had tampered 
intentionally with the voter lists so that opposition 
political forces could later charge the Yushchenko 
government with conducting unfair elections.  He said that 
some 10,000 voters' names had disappeared from the lists in 
Krasny Luch in Luhansk oblast after local authorities 
received the list from the MVS.  (Note:  The MVS is 
responsible for registering all citizens and issuing 
domestic passports).  The regions with the most problematic 
lists included Odesa, Kharkiv, Crimea and some other mostly 
eastern and southern regions.  There were problems also in 
western and central Ukraine (e.g., Vinnytsya), but not as 
many.  Over the last two weeks, the MVS had spent 
considerable effort reviewing the lists and working to 
uncover any tampering with them.  A few dozen criminal cases 
had already been instituted.  Compared with the 2004 
presidential elections, he said, the situation was quite 
calm; no newspapers had been shut down, and no political &#x000A
;rallies had been dispersed by police.  In the post-election 
period, police would be "tolerant but effective." 

6. (SBU) Lutsenko was concerned that voters would have to 
wait in long lines at polling places, given the number and 
length of the ballots they had to complete.  But this was 
outside of MVS's competence.  MVS would stop any attempts to 
campaign on the election day or to remove ballots from 
polling stations by voters who might wish to sell their 
ballots.  Lutsenko also was concerned by the understaffing 
of polling station commissions, predicting that the shortage 
of poll workers would slow down the tallying of the ballots. 
Lutsenko emphasized that he would not allow the use of the 
police for political purposes.  President Yushchenko had 
never called him with instructions to use the MVS for any 
political purposes, neither to pressure political opponents 
or businesses nor protect any friends. 

7. (SBU) Turning to the outcome of the voting, Lutsenko 
predicted that the Party of Regions would finish first with 
30% of the vote, followed by Our Ukraine with 20%, and 
Tymoshenko's BYuT with 15-17%.  Lutsenko's own party, the 
Socialists, would likely receive about 8-10% of the vote, 
with Speaker Lytvyn's bloc and the Communist Party each 
receiving roughly 4-5% of the vote.  [Radical Socialist] 
Vitrenko and [reformist] PRP-PORA hovered on the edge of the 
3% threshold.  He predicted that Team Orange (Our Ukraine, 
BYuT and Socialists) would receive "far more" than 30% 
together.  Negotiations on a parliamentary coalition would 
begin after the election results were known.  Whether Our 
Ukraine or BYuT came in second place would strongly 
influence the coalition negotiations. 

8. (SBU) Lutsenko laid out three possible scenarios, from 
the most to the least likely.  The likeliest scenario was 
the reunification of the Orange Team, although he conceded 
that bringing the team back together would be tough as long 
as "Yuliya" demanded the premiership.  Our Ukraine might 
unite with Regions.  Such a Blue-Orange (Regions-Our 
Ukraine) coalition might not be good for the two political 
forces, but might be good for the country, he added, as long 
as none of the "odious" people in Regions were included in 
the coalition.  The least likely scenario was a BYuT-Regions 

9. (SBU) Lutsenko predicted that, as the sixty-day clock for 
forming a new government neared expiration, many of the new 
deputies (particularly businessmen) would vote for any 
candidate to avoid a presidential dissolution of the 
parliament [which would call for new elections within 60 
days].  Businessmen would not want to fund another election 

10. (SBU) Lutsenko reiterated his pledge to resign if the 
Constitutional Court were to uphold legislation enacted by 
the Rada and signed in fall 2005 by President Yushchenko 
that granted immunity to deputies at all levels of 
government.  While Lutsenko did not predict what the 
Constitutional Court would have the opportunity to review 
the legislation, he joked that Rada Speaker Lytvyn had in 
effect extended his [Lutsenko's] tenure as MVS Minister by 
refusing to let the Constitutional Court be seated.  He also 
said he would resign if the new government were not Orange. 






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