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May 24, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1996 2006-05-24 15:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
DE RUEHKV #1996/01 1441517
P 241517Z MAY 06


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 001996 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2016 

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


1. (C) During Ambassador's May 23 farewell call, Party of 
Regions chief Viktor Yanukovych said he bore Ambassador "no 
ill will" over the events of the Orange Revolution, 
commenting that the two had "worked well together." 
Yanukovych spoke in great detail about his "problems with the 
law," explaining that he had been imprisoned twice on false 
charges stemming from a property dispute with an alcoholic 
police officer neighbor.  The former prime minister related 
that it took four years after his final release from prison, 
and the intervention of Donetsk-born Soviet Cosmonaut/Supreme 
Soviet member Georgi Beregovoy, to officially clear his name. 
 Reflecting on the 2004 presidential election campaign, 
Yanukovych asserted that he had never really been "Kuchma's 
man."  Yanukovych described a contentious relationship with 
Kuchma, and lamented that he should have resigned as prime 
minister in April 2004 to focus solely on his presidential 
bid.  On current politics, Yanukovych boasted that he had 
enough votes to block the formation of an Orange coalition 
with Yuliya Tymoshenko as prime minister; President 
Yushchenko's only real option was to cut a deal with Regions. 
 Yanukovych claimed that he and Yushchenko had a gentlemen's 
agreement to work together to defeat Tymoshenko's expected 
bid for the presidency in 2009.  End summary. 

No Hard Feelings 

2. (SBU) Ambassador paid a farewell call May 23 on Party of 
Regions head Viktor Yanukovych.  The former prime minister, 
the 2004 presidential election/Orange Revolution loser, 
commented that he "bore no ill will" toward Ambassador and 
had "worked well together" with him. 

Criminal Record: Setting Things Straight? 

3. (C) Yanukovych described what he called his "problems with 
the law."  Yanukovych had been very poor as a child, living 
in a village with his grandmother until she died and then in 
an orphanage until he turned 17; he had left the orphanage 
"with a lot of money" as he had learned to "play cards well." 
 Yanukovych had returned to his grandmother's small house, 
which he inherited, to renovate it and work the land, but had 
immediately butted heads with an alcoholic neighbor, a police 
officer, who had illegally taken over part of the Yanukovych 
family spread.  Yanukovych told the cop to get off his land; 
in retaliation, the cop fabricated a criminal case against 
him, and Yanukovych went to jail.  After his release, 
Yanukovych again asserted his right to his grandmother's 
property, which prompted the cop to fabricate another 
criminal case.  Yanukovych said he was given no time to 
prepare for his second trial and was actually informed of his 
trial date as he was preparing to propose to his wife.  The 
trial last a cursory 45 minutes, after which he was again 
sentenced to jail. 

4. (C) Outraged about being railroaded a second time, 
Yanukovych said that he became a difficult charge for his 
jailers, refusing to eat prison food and subsisting only on 
food packages sent to him by others.  Yanukovych was punished 
for his intransigence by being put in isolation 14 times, for 
stints of 7 to 40 days.  After being released from prison, 
Yanukovych said it took him four years to get the local 
courts to overturn his convictions and officially clear his 
name -- something, he stressed, that rarely happened in 
Soviet times.  Yanukovych credited Donetsk-born Soviet 
Cosmonaut Georgi Beregovoy, a longtime Donbas representative 
in the Supreme Soviet, for taking an interest in his case and 
getting him exonerated. 

Never Really Kuchma's Man 

5. (C) Reflecting on the tumultuous 2004 presidential 
election, Yanukovych claimed that he "never really was 
Kuchma's man."  Then President Kuchma had only tapped him to 
serve as prime minister because he needed the support of 
Donetsk clan politicians, and had actually tried to engineer 
Yanukovych's ouster with a rigged Rada vote in April 2003 -- 
a blow that Yanukovych parried with the aid of 
then-opposition leaders Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, and Moroz. 
Yanukovych said his relationship with Kuchma worsened in 
early 2004, when he suggested that the deeply unpopular 
Kuchma distance himself from the Yanukovych presidential 
campaign.  Yanukovych said that, in retrospect, he should 
have resigned as prime minister in April 2004 and hit the 

KIEV 00001996  002 OF 002 

campaign trail; not resigning, he lamented, had been a "fatal 
mistake."  Kuchma had persuaded influential figures from the 
Party of Regions (including Rinat Akhmetov) that Yanukovych 
should stay on as PM.  Yanukovych accepted the advice of his 
party members and ran as "Kuchma's man." 

Orange-Blue Coalition Means Stability 

6. (C) Shifting to the ongoing talks to form a Rada majority 
coalition, Yanukovych argued that President Yushchenko should 
cut a deal
with the Party of Regions; only an "Orange-Blue" 
coalition would be stable.  Yanukovych claimed he had the 
votes needed to block Yuliya Tymoshenko from again serving as 
prime minister.  Ticking off specific numbers, Yanukovych 
asserted that 40 Our Ukraine MPs, 25 Tymoshenko Bloc MPs, and 
5-6 Socialist MPs would vote with Regions and the Communists 
against Tymoshenko.  There were enough votes, he emphasized, 
to block the formation of an Orange coalition with Tymoshenko 
as prime minister.  That left one real option for Yushchenko: 
 make a deal with Regions.  Yanukovych claimed that he and 
Yushchenko had a gentlemen's agreement with regard to the 
2009 presidential election.  The two would conduct polls in 
2009 to see who stood the better chance of beating 
Tymoshenko; if Yushchenko had the higher numbers, Yanukovych 
would support him -- and vice-versa. 




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