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06KIEV1693, UKRAINE: PARTY OF REGIONS LEADER YANUKOVYCH’S

April 28, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1693 2006-04-28 13:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO8253
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1693/01 1181323
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281323Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9077
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001693 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ENRG NATO EPET PINR ZK ZJ AJ BO
RS, UP 
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: PARTY OF REGIONS LEADER YANUKOVYCH'S 
CONTINUING CHARM OFFENSIVE 

REF: A. KIEV 1642 
     B. KIEV 1530 

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

Summary and Comment 
------------------- 

1. (C) Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych told 
Ambassador April 27 that working-level negotiations with 
President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc continued.  While 
many issues had been worked out, Yanukovych would need to 
meet with Yushchenko to resolve key issues.  Yanukovych 
implied that Regions was prepared to be helpful on 
Euro-Atlantic integration questions, but could not explicitly 
support NATO membership in a coalition agreement.  To clinch 
a deal with Our Ukraine, Yanukovych was prepared to endorse 
Yushchenko's presidential candidacy in 2009 and not run a 
Regions candidate.  He claimed key Central Asian and Caucasus 
leaders wanted him in government in order to enhance their 
ability to develop energy arrangements free of Russian 
influence.  Yanukovych had indirect contact with Belarusan 
president Lukashenka, who also saw a Yanukovych participation 
in a government coalition as an opportunity to work with 
Ukraine vis-a-vis Russia. 

2. (C) Comment:  Yanukovych continues to hope to send 
messages through us to Yushchenko's circle as a way to 
buttress Regions' negotiating position and was putting the 
best spin he could on his positions.  Yanukovych was clearly 
attempting to demonstrate that he would be open to improved 
Ukraine-NATO relations and other Western-oriented policies if 
he were to become prime minister.  His description of his 
position on NATO and Yushchenko's reaction tracks with what 
he said in meetings with CODEL Frist and Deputy National 
Security Adviser Crouch (reftels).  Yanukovych's stated 
flexible positions on NATO and energy were designed to 
persuade us that we should see Regions as a natural partner 
for a coalition with Yushchenko.  At the same time, 
Yanukovych used a press event the same day to send a very 
different, even contradictory, signal.  He claimed publicly 
that "foreign governments" were seeking to exert influence on 
the coalition-forming process.  End summary and comment. 

Finessing the NATO Issue 
------------------------ 

3. (C) Yanukovych invited Ambassador to a private lunch April 
27, during which he provided an update on Party of Regions' 
coalition efforts and his views on domestic and foreign 
policy, including his contacts with Belarus.  Yanukovych said 
a working group of Party of Regions and the pro-presidential 
Our Ukraine (OU) bloc, with four representatives on each 
side, had been meeting regularly and had hammered out a 
common approach on many issues, but not on big policy 
questions.  He would meet one-on-one with President 
Yushchenko to decide the remaining issues "in a discreet 
manner."  Yanukovych said Regions could not take a public 
position on issues that would weaken the party's support 
among its followers or relations with the Communist Party or 
the (radical pro-Soviet) People's Opposition Bloc of Natalya 
Vitrenko.  In an official and public document, Regions could 
not commit to pursue certain elements of Yushchenko's policy 
but could promise to be "flexible."  Yushchenko understood 
this approach, and particularly that Regions could not 
justify explicit support for NATO membership to its 
supporters. 

4. (C) Later in the conversation, Yanukovych said Regions 
could not agree to language supporting Ukraine's NATO 
aspirations, but Regions was ready to work on the issue. 
During his meeting with key directors from Ukraine's 
military-industrial complex, Yanukovych said half of them 
were prepared to sell their output to NATO.  What was needed, 
Yanukovych urged, was a significant NATO purchase that would 
demonstrate to executives in the military-industrial sector 
that cooperation with NATO would allow them to maintain jobs 
and modernize their factories.  If there were a NATO contract 
and a massive public education campaign beginning soon, the 
Ukrainian government could persuade business and industrial 
leaders and the public in two years to support close 
cooperation with NATO. 

Orange Coalition Prospects 
-------------------------- 

5. (C) Yanukovych averred that Regions found itself in a 
comfortable situation.  If the negotiations with Our Ukraine 
on a coalition did not work out, Regions would not enter into 
a coalition with the eponymous bloc of leader Yuliya 

KIEV 00001693  002 OF 003 

Tymoshenko but would enter the opposition.  Even so, 
Tymoshenko's emissaries were constantly reaching out to 
Regions.  Yanukovych said, even in opposition, Regions would 
endeavor to behave responsibly.  Yanukovych argued a 
reformulated Orange coalition would not be stable.  Once it 
fell apart
, Yushchenko would be seriously weakened and, 
rather than entering into a coalition under such conditions, 
Regions would prefer to see another election.  If the Orange 
coalition failed a second time, the public would view it as a 
failure of Yushchenko's leadership but not blame Tymoshenko. 
If the Orange coalition succeeded, Tymoshenko would get all 
the credit. 

6. (C) Yanukovych said Yushchenko needed Regions and should 
be negotiating seriously.  Yanukovych said he had met three 
times with Prime Minister Yekhanurov and, each time, he and 
Yekhanurov had agreed on the main elements of an agreement. 
Although he had not said so yet, Yanukovych said he would be 
prepared to make a commitment as part of a coalition 
agreement that Regions would not run a candidate against 
Yushchenko in the 2009 presidential elections and would 
support Yushchenko's candidacy.  Yanukovych argued that 
Yushchenko could not win without Regions' support.  He 
thought the new Rada would convene May 16. 

7. (C) Ambassador noted that U.S. preference for a 
reform-oriented coalition was well known.  The USG would be 
prepared to work with Regions either in power or in the 
opposition.  If Regions ended up in the opposition, it should 
endeavor to be helpful on issues such as WTO accession and 
NATO membership. 

Energy Supply Diversity and Russia 
---------------------------------- 

8. (C) Yanukovych said Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev had 
sent Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov to meet with 
Yanukovych during the week of April 10.  Aliyev was unhappy 
that Russia was controlling energy exports from Central Asia 
and the Caucasus region to Europe and understood that Ukraine 
was key to developing alternate routes bypassing Russia. 
Abbasov told Yanukovych that Aliyev saw Yanukovych as a 
stable partner for Azerbaijan and so was hoping that Regions 
would be part of a ruling coalition.  Yanukovych responded 
that Ukraine would support plans to diversify energy supply 
routes.  Yanukovych added that Kazakhstan President Nursultan 
Nazarbayev and Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov were also 
resolved to look for alternate routes for their energy 
experts.  The three presidents wanted a strong and stable 
Ukraine, and, Yanukovych claimed, saw Yanukovych as a key 
element. 

9. (C) Yanukovych continued that Abbasov had said Aliyev did 
not see Tymoshenko as a viable prime ministerial candidate, 
because she was susceptible to Russian influence.  Moscow 
still had the legal case against Tymoshenko as a potential 
tool, and Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin 
was in continuous touch with her.  This contact also existed 
when Tymoshenko was prime minister.  Natalya Vitrenko was 
also purely a tool of Moscow, receiving most of her funding 
from Russian sources.  Vitrenko's recent statement that she 
opposed Regions indicated that Moscow had grown increasingly 
unhappy with Regions, and Yanukovych. 

Lukashenka the Landlord 
----------------------- 

10. (C) Yanukovych said he had long known a close aide to 
Belarusan President Lukashenka, in part due to a mutual 
interest in sports.  The Lukashenka aide had told Yanukovych 
that Lukashenka wanted Yanukovych to be in the coalition so 
the Ukrainian government would be stronger and more stable. 
If Yanukovych and Regions were part of the ruling coalition, 
Lukashenka would be interested in combining with Ukraine to 
work together vis-a-vis Russia.  Lukashenka was unhappy with 
his isolation and hoped to meet someday with Yanukovych. 
Yanukovych told Ambassador that Lukashenka should not be put 
in a corner. 

11. (C) Ambassador responded that the U.S. and its European 
partners had clearly communicated the steps that Lukashenka 
needed to undertake and that Lukashenka had sealed his fate 
by his own actions.  Lukashenka had not only falsified the 
March 19 presidential elections, he was now cracking down on 
the opposition in the election's aftermath.  Ambassador 
strongly advised Yanukovych not to meet Lukashenka unless 
Lukashenka took action to reverse some of the harm that he 
had inflicted on Belarus.  Yanukovych said he agreed with 
Ambassador but repeated that Lukashenka should not be put 
under excessive pressure. 

KIEV 00001693  003 OF 003 

12. (C) Yanukovych also related an anecdote to describe 
Lukashenka's character.  Yanukovych's great grandfather had 
come from a small village in Belarus that was desperately 
poor.  Some years ago, Yanukovych visited the village and 
decided to help reduce the suffering of the villagers.  He 
provided money for electric power distribution, toward the 
operation of an old age home, and to increase farming income. 
 Lukashenka sharply reprimanded the district governor when he 
heard about Yanukovych's generosity and, as a consequence, 
the governor blocked Yanukovych's further attempts to help 
the village.  Yanukovych ended up speaking to Lukashenka, who 
demanded to know why he had not asked for permission to 
provide the help.  Yanukovych said he had not thought it 
necessary, since he was simply giving money and getting 
nothing in return.  Lukashenka retorted that Yanukovych 
should remember that he, Lukashenka, was the landlord 
("khozyain" in Russian) in Belarus. 

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

 

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