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06KIEV2855, UKRAINE: THE POLITICAL CHESS GAME: VIEWS FROM THE

July 21, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV2855 2006-07-21 15:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO7889
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2855/01 2021537
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211537Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0624
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 002855 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PARM UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: THE POLITICAL CHESS GAME: VIEWS FROM THE 
SECOND BENCH 

REF: A. KIEV 1773 

     B. KIEV 2781 
     C. KIEV 2735 
     D. KIEV 2805 

Classified By: Ambassador, reason 1.4 (b,d) 

1. (C) Summary.  Conversations with key deputy party leaders 
from Our Ukraine (OU), Regions, and the Socialists over the 
week of July 17-21 revealed a complicated political chess 
game underway in Ukrainian politics.  Regions' Volodymyr 
Makeyenko and Socialists Mykola Rudkovsky and Yaroslav Mendus 
indicated that the Regions-led "Anti-Crisis Coalition" will 
continue to push the initiative, seemingly confident that 
President Yushchenko will either agree to OU joining a broad 
coalition, or accede to a Yanukovych-led government without 
reverting to the Rada dismissal option.  OU's Mykola 
Katerynchuk saw OU's future in rebuilding while in opposition 
but expressed ongoing frustration with Yushchenko's 
indifferent decision-making style.  All predicted dozens of 
more "businessmen-MPs" could defect from OU and the 
Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) in the coming days, though the jury 
remained out on what Yushchenko/OU itself would ultimately 
decide to do.  The end game in the last ten days of July 
appears set to revolve around the issues of the 
Constitutional Court and Yanukovych's bid for the 
Premiership, with Yushchenko constitutionally enabled to 
dismiss the Rada as of July 25, and Regions/Socialists 
gearing up for confrontation if he were to try.  End Summary. 

OU's Katerynchuk: hoping for a chance to rebuild in opposition 
--------------------------------------------- ----------------- 

2. (C) Mykola Katerynchuk, the young, photogenic "deep 
orange" head of the executive committee of Yushchenko's 
"People's Union Our Ukraine" (PUOU) party, has the image and 
attitude around which Yushchenko and Our Ukraine could have 
based their 2005 efforts to create a real political party not 
tied to one political personality.  Instead OU followed the 
advice of discredited orange oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who 
ultimately ran the 2006 show and embodied all of OU's 
weaknesses.  Katerynchuk told us in May that he had advocated 
building a grass-roots, European-style political party in 
2005 but had been overruled by others favoring a more typical 
Ukrainian "pro-Presidential electoral project" for the 2006 
parliamentary and local elections; in making such a mistake, 
OU reaped what it had sowed (ref A). 

3. (C) Katerynchuk previewed for us July 17 what he expected 
would be OU's decision that evening to go into opposition to 
a Yanukovych-led coalition, rather than forging a broad 
coalition on the terms offered by Regions.  Katerynchuk 
uncomfortably dodged the question of what would happen if 
parts of the OU bloc--or indeed, Yushchenko himself--were to 
decide subsequently to cooperate with Regions.  He allowed 
that Regions might succeed in peeling another 40 "businessmen 
MPs" away from the orange opposition parties but predicted 
they would not achieve the 300 votes needed to make an 
impeachment run. 

4. (C) Yushchenko remained uncomfortable with the idea of OU 
remaining in opposition, but Katerynchuk said he had pointed 
to Chirac and Kwasniewski's co-habitation in France and 
Poland as precedents.  The main issue for Yushchenko, he 
suggested, would be the terms of seating a Constitutional 
Court.  Katerynchuk felt OU needed to "stay true to the 
Maidan and our promises to the Ukrainian people."  It would 
be easier to build an actual political party structure while 
in opposition, attempting now what Katerynchuk had suggested 
OU start back in 2005. 

5. (C) Katerynchuk expressed frustration with Yushchenko's 
management style and seeming indifference to party matters. 
Even though Katerynchuk was the head of PUOU's executive 
committee, he had only had two conversations with Yushchenko 
on party development issues in the past year, and 
Yushchenko's indifference to party development had been 
clear.  While Katerynchuk seemed to rate the possibility of 
Yushchenko dismissing the Rada and calling the elections 
currently as low, he said a Rada dismissal could offer OU a 
new chance, as well as a moment of truth.  Either OU reformed 
its approach, or it would slowly die, like the sinking 
ratings of Yushchenko as President. 

Regions' Makeyenko: OU should have taken the June 20 deal 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 

6. (C) Volodymyr Makeyenko is an atypical Regions' figure: 
not from the east (Chernihiv), affable, and seemingly 
genuinely pro-American.  He abandoned OU in 2004 out of 
frustration with Yushchenko's management style but used old 

KIEV 00002855  002 OF 003 

relationships to negotiate the September 2005 MOU between 
Yushchenko and Yanukovych which secured Yuri Yekhanurov's 
confirmation as PM and the rehabilitation of Yanukovych and 
Regions.  Appointed a deputy chair of the powerful budget 
committee July 18, he might emerge as chair if current Chair 
Mykola Azarov moves into the Cabinet, as Regions expects.

7. (C)  As Regions' heavyweights Yanukovych, Akhmetov, and 
Kluyev had done in recent conversations with Ambassador, 
Makeyenko rued Yushchenko's decision to "walk away" from a 
Regions-OU coalition agreement which Makeyenko claimed they 
had all signed June 20, in favor of the "Coalition of 
Democratic Forces" signed with Tymoshenko's Bloc (BYuT) and 
the Socialists June 22 instead.  Makeyenko called July 18, 
the day Rada committee assignments had been approved, a key 
day in Ukrainian political history.  The telling greed in the 
eyes of OU heavyweights like Poroshenko and Martynenko when 
offered plum committee chairs showed they were "no longer 
with the President," said Makeyenko.  Businessmen from both 
BYuT and OU, particularly the Poroshenko, Kinakh, and 
Yekhanurov groups, would soon flock to the anti-crisis 
coalition, he predicted confidently.  Poroshenko in 
particular had expressed bitterness at how Yushchenko had 
treated/dismissed him last September and had made clear "his 
people," including Korol and Zhebrivsky, were ready to 
cooperate. 

8. (C) The strain on personal relations between Yushchenko 
and Yanukovych in the aftermath of 2004 Presidential election 
was the main obstacle to Yushchenko accepting Yanukovych as 
PM, said Makeyenko.  Regions was confident, however, that by 
July 28 Yushchenko would have accepted Regions' terms, since 
the June 20 deal which would have given the PM slot to 
OU/Yekhanurov was irrevocably off the table.  The logic was 
strong: unite east and west, form a pro-Ukrainian government 
with no need to be pro-Russian, and rid the coalition of the 
communists, who would be happy to cash out one last time. 

Socialists' Rudkovsky/Mendus: sounding like Regions hardliners 
--------------------------------------------- ----------------- 

9. (C) Mykola Rudkovsky and Yaroslav Mendus are the main 
Socialist links to Regions, identified by Socialist dissident 
Iosef Vinsky July 6 as the duo who negotiated Moroz' deal 
with Regions.  Rudkovsky has also been fingered by several 
sources as the alleged backdoor connection between the 
Kremlin and Moroz to seal Moroz' betrayal of OU and BYuT. 
True to reputation, in our July 20 discussion, the duo 
sounded like Regions' most unapologetic hardliners, such as 
Andriy Kluyev (ref C), often times using the exact same 
phrases and threats.  Rudkovsky relished the current confused 
Ukrainian political scene, calling it a grand chess match. 

10. (C) The door of the anti-crisis coalition agreement 
remained open for new members, said Mendus, with the July 18 
committee assignments for OU a clear signal.  They expected 
OU would join the coalition in two stages: first individual 
businessmen, and then the entirety of OU after Yushchenko saw 
the wisdom of joining.  If Yushchenko foolishly chose to try 
to dismiss the Rada, however, Moroz and their Regions' 
partners would not accept such a move.  Mendus growled that 
calling for new elections was an invitation to a "soft civil 
war."  Attempts at dismissal would also be grounds for an 
impeachment action against Yushchenko, Rudkovsky warned. 

11. (C) On Constitutional Court judge nominations, Mendus 
claimed that the law required renominations by the President 
and the judiciary because the Rada had not acted within 30 
days last November (note: the language of Article 17 of the 
Constitutional Court law can be read in two ways - requiring 
Rada action within 30 days, or requiring renomination after 
30 days. Without a Constitutional Court to pass judgment, 
both sides will attempt to use their interpretation of the 
law to shape public opinion in the coming days.  End note). 
Alleging that BYuT was planning on trying to use electronic 
shock systems to disrupt any Rada vote on the PM, Rudkovsky 
threatened that a Rada majority would be ready to vote to 
lift MP immunity to allow for an investigation/prosecution of 
such a "criminal act" threatening other MP's health and 
safety (note: we pushed back, warning against such rash 
steps, particularly in the aftermath of the coalition having 
seated 2004 Presidential elections falsifier Serhiy Kivalov 
as Justice Committee Chair). 

12. (C) Rudkovsky and Mendus professed to be indifferent to 
rumored plans by Socialists unhappy with Moroz' deal with 
Regions to start a new party called the "European left." 
Rudkovsky sniffed that it was an idea inspired by Yushchenko 
and Acting National Security and Defense Council Secretary 
Volodymyr Horbulin, concocted with ex-Socialist Acting 
Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, but destined for failure. 

KIEV 00002855  003 OF 003 

The Socialist party had made the right choice to remain in 
power and in position to affect policy.  Acknowledging that 
they would have been left out in the cold if OU and Regions 
had consummated the June 20 blue-orange coalition, Mendus 
stressed that this made the Socialist July 6 transition to 
the "anti-crisis coalition" much easier: the Socialists only 
consummated what OU itself had planned to do. 

13. (C) That said, the Socialist duo stressed the advantages 
to the country of OU joining the broad coalition.  It would 
provide institutional balance between the Presidency, Cabinet 
of Ministers, and Rada, preventing domination by Regions. 
The Socialists were ready to work constructively on NATO 
relations, Mendus took pains to add.  The key to moving 
forward would be to change the mentality of the population 
and show the benefits of NATO to Ukraine. 

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

Wikileaks

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