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06KYIV4600, UKRAINE: OUR UKRAINE REGROUPING

December 22, 2006

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06KYIV4600 2006-12-22 07:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO2130
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #4600/01 3560701
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 220701Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0747
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 004600 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
KYIV 4138 
KIEV 1540, KYIV 4597 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: OUR UKRAINE REGROUPING 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary. The People's Union Our Ukraine (PUOU) party, 
the dominant party inside the Our Ukraine bloc, is cleaning 
house in a move to reenergize itself, bring the party back 
under the President's wing, and possibly to regroup for new 
elections.  The biggest shake-ups came in the party 
leadership--Presidential Secretariat Head Viktor Baloha was 
elected interim party leader and most of the big businessmen 
were removed from the presidium that decides party 
policy--moves most contacts saw as done at Yushchenko's 
behest.  The fifteen people now sitting on PUOU's presidium 
are loyal personally to the President, but not all changes 
came easily--Baloha was selected as head of party only on the 
third ballot, after Yushchenko's repeated personal 
intervention, and for a three-month appointment. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment.  According to party leaders, Baloha's main 
task will be to reengage party members and raise the party's 
political ratings.  With most contacts agreeing that Baloha's 
leadership is temporary and the party actively reaching out 
to cooperate with former political allies, it is clear that 
PUOU remains in transition.  Party leaders and MPs continue 
to imply that Our Ukraine have their eyes on preterm Rada 
elections in 2007, but no one suggested that this was the 
primary goal of the party shake-up.  With Our Ukraine's 
public opinion ratings in the single digits and alternate 
center-right political projects in the works, whether the 
attempted makeover will allow Yushchenko's political force to 
remain relevant is an open question.  End Summary and 
Comment. 
 
Party Restructuring 
------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) The biggest changes in PUOU took place in early 
December, after confused and divisive party congresses in 
October-November (ref A), with the subdivision of the party 
leadership into three parts.  The party presidium is a 
fifteen-member body that makes most of the party decisions. 
As of December 7, this is led by Baloha; the other members 
are very close to Yushchenko personally.  Former party head 
Roman Bezsmertniy now runs the executive committee, which 
implements the presidium's decisions.  There is also a 
212-member political council that meets at party congresses 
to elect leaders and vote on key party issues.  Pavlo Kachur, 
an adviser to Yushchenko and a member of the presidium, said 
there were also structural changes underway within the party 
to make internal procedures more democratic and to make the 
party leadership responsible to the members.  To this end, 
the November 11 party congress increased the quota of 
representatives on the political council from the provinces 
from 50 to 60 percent.  (Note: PUOU is the dominant component 
of the six-party Our Ukraine Rada faction and electoral bloc, 
see ref B). 
 
Yushchenko Reexerting Control 
----------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Several contacts indicated that the election of Baloha 
to lead the party was an effort by Yushchenko to regain 
control of a party from which he has drifted away.  PUOU 
spokeswoman Tetyana Mokridi told us that for two years 
Yushchenko had distanced himself from PUOU because he wanted 
to be "the president of the whole country."  Now he knows 
that a party base is necessary, but his unclear relationship 
with PUOU had hurt the party's ratings.  Svitlana Guminyuk, 
an aide to Bezsmertniy, added that it is not clear how much 
support Yushchenko still has within the party, pointing to 
how hard the President had to fight for Baloha's election. 
Although the President was personally present at the December 
7 vote, it took three tries for Baloha to get 122 votes from 
the 212-member political council.  In contrast, former party 
leader Bezsmertniy received 160 to lead the executive 
committee on the first vote.  Yushchenko's leadership 
changes, however, go deeper.  He now has a new PUOU presidium 
made up of people personally loyal to him.  In addition, 
Presidential Secretariat Deputy Heads Yatsenyuk and Bondar 
were elected to the political council in October, even though 
they had just joined the party prior to their election. 
 
Baloha Impact May Be Limited 
---------------------------- 
 
5. (C) While views on Baloha as party leader were mixed, 
everyone agreed that his tenure would be temporary, most 
likely only until the next party congress, planned for late 
March 2007.  Roman Zvarych, Yushchenko's representative in 
the Rada, told us that the Baloha election was no big deal 
 
KYIV 00004600  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
because of its interim nature.  In the meantime, he claimed, 
Bezsmertniy would continue to run the party on a day-to-day 
basis as he had been doing.  (Comment: It does seem difficult 
to imagine that Baloha will be able to devote much time to 
party issues given his intense activities as Head of the 
Presidential Secretariat at a time of institutional 
competition for power.  Bezsmertniy resigned as head of the 
Our Ukraine's Rada faction December 19, saying that he wished 
to focus his efforts on running the executive committee. End 
Comment.)
 
 
6. (C) MP Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, a member of the Our Ukraine 
Rada faction who just joined PUOU in December, told us that 
he thought the election of Baloha as party leader had been 
completely democratic.  Yushchenko, after all, was head of 
the party and helped found it; his point of view should be 
taken into account.  Kachur said Baloha's task would be to 
restructure the party in the next three months, but he could 
not dismiss the possibility that Baloha would be reelected in 
March.  Interestingly enough, on December 20, Kyrylenko was 
named head of Our Ukraine's Rada faction, replacing 
Bezsmertniy. 
 
7. (C) Guminyuk suggested that the changes in party 
leadership did not mean much.  They were undertaken just to 
provide an "illusion of change" in order to mobilize ordinary 
party members, who were in a period of melancholy.  Guminyuk, 
however, said that the choice of Baloha was not a bad one. 
He was tough, even cruel, and very capable.  He could balance 
between camps within the party and could speak a common 
language with the Donetsk crowd (note: she meant Regions). 
In contrast, Mokridi said younger members of the presidium 
harbored suspicions of Baloha because he came from 
Medvedchuk's camp.  According to Mokridi, Baloha himself said 
that he doesn't want to lead the party; he is just there as a 
manager. 
 
Whither the Dear Friends? 
------------------------- 
 
8. (C) In another change, the "lubi druzi" or dear 
friends--the financial backers of the party like Poroshenko, 
Martynenko, Zhvaniya, and Tretyakov, who had great influence 
over Yushchenko in 2004-05---were removed from the presidium 
as part of the housecleaning, with the exception of Kyiv 
governor Vira Ulyachenko.  Deputy Chairman of the Budget 
Committee Zhebrivskiy, considered part of Poroshenko's camp, 
warned publicly that their removal from the party leadership 
would put an end to their financing of the party, but the 
people we spoke with in the party seemed doubtful that there 
would be much impact.  Guminyuk stated that the big 
businessmen had already stopped financing the party--they had 
invested their money and were waiting for the dividends to 
pay off--so pique over their ouster would not have much 
effect.  Kachur said the party had removed the "money-bags" 
to neutralize their influence on the party because the 
presidium had become a shareholders meeting.  He added that 
OU had so many debts that the "dear friends" could not have 
been funding much anyway--or else they were holding out and 
using the debts like blackmail to protect their positions. 
Mokridi suggested the opposite: in the end the "Yushchenko 
oligarchs" would continue to pay their PUOU contributions 
because it was easier to support a "brand-name party" than 
try to create something new. 
 
Changes Portend Early Elections? 
-------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Rumors continue to swirl in the press and the halls of 
the Rada that there may be preterm elections in 2007, but 
most OU folks we talked to were noncommittal.  (Comment: It 
is likely that Yushchenko is using the threat of dismissing 
the Rada and holding new elections to try induce the Party of 
Regions to be more cooperative.  However, views were mixed on 
what Yushchenko would consider to be the red line that would 
convince him to call early elections.)  Guminyuk said that 
although she could not rule anything out, she thought 
Yushchenko was too timid to call early elections in the 
spring.  In addition, the financial backers of the party did 
not want new elections; it was cheaper to negotiate with 
Regions than to finance new elections.  Mokridi said opinion 
was split on early elections, but if Yushchenko did not 
replace Tarasyuk, the Cabinet would go 60 days without being 
complete, which would give him a pretext to dismiss the Rada. 
 Zvarych declined comment on the possibility of new 
elections, but noted that there was currently no legal basis 
for holding them. 
 
Reaching Out to the Center-Right 
 
KYIV 00004600  003 OF 003 
 
 
-------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Perhaps as part of preparations for possible 
elections, PUOU has been reaching out to current and former 
political allies about future cooperation.  Mokridi said 
Yushchenko wanted to return to 2002 when the democratic 
forces were united (note: the Our Ukraine electoral bloc in 
2002 was wider, including Kostenko's Ukrainian People's Party 
and Pynzenyk's Reforms and Order Party), but the political 
situation had changed, and this would not be so easy.  The 
best option would be the one Bezsmertniy suggested in 
October, reiterated by Zvarych December 13--a loose 
confederation of national-democratic parties. 
 
11. (C) Mokridi was dismissive of possible competition from 
the new political project of former PUOU executive committee 
head Mykola Katerynchuk, who left PUOU in November, and 
former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who left the 
Socialist Party in July.  Mokridi suggested that Lutsenko 
might even be elected PUOU head in March (note: Lutsenko told 
Ambassador November 17 that Yushchenko had approached him 
about this idea but that he had resisted).  She pointed to 
Kyrylenko's decision to join PUOU on December 13 (and then 
agreement to be named OU faction head on December 21) as a 
plus for the party and a strike against 
Katerynchuk--Kyrylenko was one of the perceived young 
up-and-comers in Our Ukraine whose name had been linked to 
Katerynchuk's project. 
 
12. (C) Kachur told us that the PUOU presidium had developed 
a plan to rebuild ties between "orange" parties.  First, they 
would begin to consolidate ideas among parties on the 
center-right to develop a joint platform.  Then they could 
have more formal working groups to develop cooperation.  Only 
after the first two steps could there be a chance for 
organizational consolidation of parties into a formal bloc. 
At the very earliest, there would be visible progress in the 
spring.  As for cooperation with the Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), 
Kachur assessed it as good, but limited by BYuT's less than 
democratic leadership and structure. 
 
13. (C) It remains to be seen how successful PUOU will be in 
bringing other groups into its confederation. On December 20, 
Lutsenko announed his new civic movement People's 
Self-Defense and said he would not lead a political party. 
In addition, on December 20 Tarasyuk's Rukh and Yuriy 
Kostenko's Ukrainian People's Party finally reunited into the 
larger Rukh party they were in the 1990s.  The former is a 
member of the Our Ukraine bloc, which could bring the latter 
into the fold, but if Yushchenko agrees to replace Tarasyuk 
(ref C), the new Rukh could turn to Tymoshenko-- BYuT Deputy 
Leader Turcyhnov already announced the possibililty that Rukh 
may join BYuT. 
 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov
.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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