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06KIEV3130, UKRAINE: PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE? “ORANGE” MINISTERS

August 11, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV3130 2006-08-11 14:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO8278
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #3130/01 2231441
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111441Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0911
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 003130 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PARM UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE? "ORANGE" MINISTERS 
SHIFT UNCOMFORTABLY UNDER YANUKOVYCH 

REF: KIEV 2962 

Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon, reason 1.4 (b,d) 

1. (C) Summary.  Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, who 
repeatedly vowed publicly in July that he would never serve 
under Viktor Yanukovych, revealed his continuing ambivalence 
in an August 11 press conference to explain why he had 
remained Interior Minister in Yanukovych's government, 
stating that he had chosen duty over political purity and 
would resign if pressured to do the wrong thing.  Lutsenko's 
attitude is not unique; Justice Minister Zvarych made similar 
public comments August 5, and Defense Minister Anatoly 
Hrytsenko and First Deputy Defense Minister Leonid Polyakov 
expressed similar feelings privately to us in recent days. 
At issue is the legacy of key programs launched by Yushchenko 
at the heart of his agenda, and on which the US closely 
cooperates/supports: in the case of Lutsenko, law enforcement 
reform; in the case of Hrytsenko, defense reform and the 
drive towards NATO via a Membership Action Plan (MAP). 

2. (C) Comment: Yanukovych's office sent an ambiguous warning 
signal late August 7 on the latter issue, with wire services 
quoting a statement suggesting that Ukraine's request for MAP 
would be delayed, despite assurances by President Yushchenko 
to Ambassador August 3 that Yanukovych would send a letter to 
NATO requesting MAP this year and comments by Yanukovych 
himself to EUR DAS Kramer July 28 that he "agreed with the 
President" on this issue (reftel).  It appears that the 
statement on NATO, which had not appeared on any official 
website by late August 11, was orchestrated by Yanukovych 
foreign policy adviser Orel, known during the Kuchma era for 
his strongly pro-Russian stances.  We will need to ensure 
that Yanukovych is not spurned during genuine efforts to 
pursue Euro-Atlantic integration, since failure would 
strengthen advisers like Orel who oppose closer cooperation 
with the West; in this regard, Yanukovych's visit to Brussels 
September 14-15 will be crucial.  While Lutsenko predicted 
that blue and orange forces could successfully replicate the 
"peaceful coexistence" between the USSR and West during the 
Cold War, many worried pro-orange commentators and officials 
predict that Regions, driven by behind-the-scenes figures 
like Orel with agendas at variance with the principles 
expressed in the negotiated "Universal," will start squeezing 
orange ministers out of office by the end of the year.  End 
Summary and Comment. 

Lutsenko: No way...okay, I'll stay 
---------------------------------- 

3. (SBU) Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, who served as one 
of four "field commanders" on the Maidan during the 2004 
Orange Revolution and helped lead the 2001 "Ukraine without 
Kuchma" movement, was likely the most colorful government 
rhetorician outside of Yuliya Tymoshenko in 2005 targeting 
the "banditry" of key Regions leaders, repeatedly vowing many 
should serve time behind bars.  He resigned from the 
Socialist Party in early July in disgust after Socialist 
Party leader Moroz abandoned the "Orange Coalition" to make 
common cause with Party of Regions and its leader Viktor 
Yanukovych.  Lutsenko stated publicly and repeatedly that he 
would not serve in a government led by Yanukovych.  There was 
widespread surprise, therefore, that when the Rada 
(parliament) approved the new Cabinet late in the evening 
August 4, the name forwarded by PM Yanukovych for Interior 
Minister was none other than Yuri Lutsenko. 

4. (SBU) In his August 11 news conference, Lutsenko 
apologized to his supporters but stated that he chose "a 
feeling of duty over a feeling of political purity."  When he 
had learned August 3 of President Yushchenko's intent to 
nominate him to stay in place as Interior Minister (note: 
Yushchenko successfully insisted on being able to name the 
Interior Minister in coalition negotiations with Yanukovych 
as part of the deal not to dismiss the Rada and call new 
elections), he tried to resist, suggesting several other 
civilians instead.  Lutsenko added simply that Yushchenko saw 
no need to replace him. 

5. (SBU) Mentioning that he had met August 3 with Regions' 
financier Akhmetov at the latter's request, and subsequently 
with Yanukovych, Lutsenko said he had told Yanukovych that he 
would resign if he were barred from carrying out the current 
reform efforts, was undermined, or given unlawful orders to 
implement.  He said he told Yanukovych that he would submit a 
letter of resignation to Yushchenko August 4 but, if asked to 
stay, would insist on continuing current policy and personnel 
issues. 

6. (SBU) Myhailo Prytula, Lutsenko's aide during the Orange 

KIEV 00003130  002 OF 003 

Revolution, told us August 8 that the situation was more 
nuanced.  Lutsenko indeed went to the Presidential 
Secretariat August 4 with a letter of resignation in hand to 

SIPDIS 
tell Yushchenko he would not serve under Yanukovych, but was 
left waiting six hours and ultimately denied the chance
 to 
meet Yushchenko face to face.  Instead, Our Ukraine Party 
Leader Roman Bezsmertny emerged and told Lutsenko that he had 
no choice; Yushchenko had already made his decision to 
reappoint Lutsenko and would not review it.  According to 
Prytula, when Lutsenko met Yanukovych and Akhmetov August 3, 
they asked Lutsenko to make some personnel changes in eastern 
Ukraine (Interior and police); Lutsenko refused, but agreed 
to "give up" control over naming the First Deputy Interior 
Minister. 

Peaceful Coexistence, "like Brezhnev and Reagan"? 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 

7. (SBU) In his August 11 press conference, Lutsenko pulled 
few punches, promising to continue to be outspoken on 
high-profile issues.  The 40 year old Lutsenko, barely out of 
university when the Soviet Union fell, evoked the era of 
Brezhnev and Reagan in likening the blue-orange accommodation 
in the Yanukovych cabinet to "peaceful coexistence of two 
systems."  Lutsenko revealed that the group of ministers 
appointed to the Cabinet on Yushchenko's quota, largely from 
Our Ukraine with the exception of Lutsenko and Defense 
Minister Hrytsenko, had held an organizational meeting, 
adding: "we share common democratic values, and such a group, 
formal or informal, will exist." 

8. (SBU) Lutsenko stated that he personally was mostly 
concerned about the return of odious persons from the past 
"whose criminal cases are at the Prosecutor's" and who had 
fled prosecution for refuge abroad, recommending that "they 
stay where they are" (note: largely in Russia).  Lutsenko 
said that, while Yanukovych's two youthful convictions (for 
theft and assault) were not important after Yanukovych's 
appointment as PM, he had told Yanukovych August 3 that his 
position on the illegal annulment of Yanukovych's convictions 
by a Donetsk court had not changed.  He claimed he had also 
told Yanukovych that he would pursue any politician, 
regardless of political affiliation, if there was evidence 
they had committed a crime, and that Yanukovych had replied 
that anyone who stole private or state property should be 
held accountable before the law. 

Hrytsenko uneasy too...battle on NATO policy? 
--------------------------------------------- 

9. (C) Lutsenko is not the first "orange" minister to express 
public ambivalence about serving under Yanukovych and 
threaten resignation if things turned sour.  Justice Minister 
Zvarych made similar comments August 5 after his appointment 
to the same job he held in the Tymoshenko government 
(February - September 2005).  Similarly, Defense Minister 
Hrytsenko told visiting EUR DAS Kramer and Ambassador July 28 
that he would not continue to serve if the Defense Ministry 
and the military were not adequately funded and there was not 
an open prospect for improved relations with NATO, including 
a MAP (reftel).  His long-time associate and First Deputy 
Minister Polyakov shared his similar ambivalence about 
serving under Yanukovych with us August 6. 

10. (SBU) PM Yanukovych's office appeared to justify their 
concerns and throw a wrench into renewed Ukrainian efforts to 
obtain a MAP by the NATO Riga summit in November late August 
10.  Wire stories, quoting an apparent statement issued by 
the Cabinet press service in the aftermath of Yanukovych's 
press conference but which had not appeared on any website 
(Cabinet of Ministers, Party of Regions, or Yanukovych's 
personal site) by late August 11, claimed that the GOU would 
refrain from "immediately applying for membership in NATO" in 
favor of continuing annual action plans, the intensified 
dialogue, and implementing necessary reforms.  With 
Yanukovych traveling to Crimea August 11, it was difficult to 
obtain any authoritative clarification.  Yanukovych's chief 
of staff Vasyl Demchyshyn initially told us that the media 
reports must have overstated the situation; Yanukovych would 
not have made such a categorical statement. 

11. (SBU) However, Yanukovych's recently appointed foreign 
policy adviser Anatoliy Orel, who freely admitted to us 
August 11 that he had not attended Yanukovych's press 
conference and did not know what Yanukovych had said, went 
into detail about the statement cited in wire stories.  The 
statement did not violate the text of the Universal 
(Declaration on National Unity), claimed Orel; Point 27 
discussed cooperation with NATO and deciding on accession 
after a referendum.  Orel claimed that since MAP application 

KIEV 00003130  003 OF 003 

constituted an application for membership, and Ukraine could 
not signal an intent to make an accession decision until 
after a referendum, it was not worth risking the government's 
stability immediately after its formation.  Unlike other 
parties, Regions had never radically opposed cooperation with 
NATO; it would support continued cooperation to show the 
benefits of close relations.  In the meantime, however, they 
would postpone the MAP application, work on specific projects 
with NATO to show people the practical benefits of 
cooperation, and work on public education efforts. 

12. (C) Comment: While Orel's approach has its own internal 
logic if taken at face value, the uncoordinated statement 
immediately after Yanukovych himself said nothing about NATO 
in an extensive press conference raises the question of 
foreign policy coordination between the PM's office, the 
President's office, and the affected ministries, apart from 
any ulterior motives people like Orel may have.  MFA Acting 
Director General for the US and Europe Serhiy Kyslytsya 
warned us August 9 that Yanukovych's advisers would be 
looking for ways to undermine Yushchenko's pro-Western 
ministers like Tarasyuk and Hrytsenko in the eyes of 
Yanukovych, shaping the latter's perceptions through informal 
memos and suggested talking points.  Kyslytsya echoed the 
concerns voiced by politicians and commentators alike that 
Regions might start targeting Yushchenko-affiliated ministers 
towards the end of 2006, citing poor performance as a reason 
for removal via a simple majority vote in the Rada.  This 
fear is balanced for now by Lutsenko's ambivalent optimism 
that "peaceful coexistence" can indeed be maintained between 
orange and blue. 

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

 

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