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April 17, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV921 2007-04-17 13:07 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #0921/01 1071307
P 171307Z APR 07

E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: KYIV 823 
Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. 
1. (SBU) Summary. The visit Codel Price and members of the 
House Democracy Assistance Commission to Kyiv on April 1-3 
came at a contested moment for the development of Ukraine's 
parliament--a constitutional crisis over whether the ruling 
coalition majority was formed unconstitutionally and whether 
President Yushchenko has the right to dissolve the Rada and 
call new elections.  The Codel participated in a large number 
of meetings with Rada leaders and MPs, as well as with Prime 
Minister Yanukovych and FM Yatsenyuk, and was presented with 
a range of views on the current political standoff.  The 
Codel also engaged in substantive exchanges about how the 
Rada functions on a regular basis.  Some Rada committees were 
trying to strengthen their oversight capabilities, which have 
been traditionally weak.  MPs voiced views on NATO 
membership, MP criminal immunity, the need for decentralizing 
power, and the budget process.  The meeting with FM Yatsenyuk 
will be reported septel.  End summary. 
Yanukovych: New Political System Working Fine 
2. (SBU) Prime Minister Yanukovych cited peaceful rallies on 
March 31 as a sign of Ukraine's political maturity.  He said 
that the Rada was now in the process of developing 
legislative underpinnings for the constitutional reforms that 
were passed in December 2004 and implemented on January 1, 
2006, with the goal of smoothly coordinating the work of the 
executive and legislative branches.  Speedy passage of 
WTO-related legislation was one of the first fruits of 
constitutional reform, he argued.  The PM argued that the 
Constitutional Court had the ultimate responsibility to 
decide how the constitutional reforms should be implemented; 
relevant appeals were before the Court now.  Responding to a 
question whether the coalition would refrain from assembling 
a 300-member majority, Yanukovych asked rhetorically whether 
someone would deliberately injure himself by knocking his 
head against a brick wall.  He claimed that the constitution 
had no applicable provisions for early elections before the 
end of the Rada's term in 2011.  Ukraine had to operate 
within a constitutional framework, he insisted. 
Support for Europe, but NATO Remains an Open Question 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
3. (SBU) Yanukovych told the Codel that while the Ukrainian 
public had a positive attitude toward EU membership, its 
attitude toward NATO was less positive.  The government had 
authorized funding for the first time to support an 
information campaign (note: funding actually began in 2006. 
end note); unlike his predecessors, Yanukovych would not be 
arguing that Ukraine had to join NATO immediately, so as not 
to alarm the Ukrainian public and provide ammunition to 
fringe parties.  Euro-Integration Committee Chair Propokovych 
(Our Ukraine) also admitted that NATO was a tougher sell than 
the EU.  Europe was the proper focus for Ukraine, since 70 
percent of Ukraine's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came 
from EU countries, and the Rada had successfully passed WTO 
legislation.  NATO integration posed greater problems, she 
stressed, and Yanukovych's promise of an information campaign 
was probably the best they could hope for right now.  Ukraine 
needed more information from countries that had recently 
joined NATO, in particular, the economic advantages of NATO 
membership, to show to the Ukrainian public.  Big business 
was already working towards European standards, but the rest 
of the country still needed to be convinced. 
Political Crisis: the Majority View 
4. (SBU) Both before and after President Yushchenko's April 2 
announcement that he was dissolving the Rada and calling new 
elections, most MPs led off their discussions with Codel with 
their views on whether new elections were constitutional and 
whether they were a good idea politically. 
5. (SBU) Expressing the majority coalition view, Rada Speaker 
Moroz said there was no crisis because there was no 
question--new elections and dissolving the Rada were 
unconstitutional.  President Yushchenko, he complained, was 
interfering in the work of the Rada.  Since the major parties 
Regions, BYuT, OU, and SPU all shared political priorities, 
they should be able to agree on agenda, but the opposition 
was trying to resolve issues by disrupting Rada sessions. 
Nevertheless, the Rada would continue working; the current 
Rada had already passed 138 bills, 108 of them by at least a 
2/3 majority. 
KYIV 00000921  002 OF 003 
6. (SBU) Representatives of the newly renamed National Unity 
Coalition--Party of Regions' Oleksandr Peklushenko and Leonid 
Kozhara, Socialist Ivan Bokiy, and Communist Petro 
Tsybenko--met the Codel together to make the case that 
dissolving the Rada was not constitutional.  They claimed 
that Article 90 of the constitution listed the specific 
circumstances under
which the Rada could be dissolved, but 
that Yushchenko's decree did not cite this article as its 
justification.  Bokiy added that the Rada was ignoring 
Yushchenko's order to cease working immediately because 
article 60 obliges citizens not to carry out "criminal 
decisions," which is what they consider Yushchenko's decree 
to be (note: the most common reading of Ukrainian law holds 
that the Presidential decree should be considered legally in 
force until overturned by constitutional court review.  End 
Note).  Peklushenko explained that recent constitutional 
reforms had stripped Yushchenko of his authority to dismiss 
the Prime Minister and he was now attempting to get it back 
again by unconstitutional means. 
Our Ukraine dissenting views from Yushchenko 
7. (SBU) Underscoring the ongoing fractured nature of Our 
Ukraine, MP Serhiy Bychkov, sent to represent the OU faction, 
launched a meandering attack against his own faction, 
Yushchenko, and opposition leader Tymoshenko.  Bychkov 
started the meeting saying that there would be new elections 
in accordance with the decision made by Yushchenko, but he 
later sharply criticized this decision.  He said that there 
were three points in the President's decree that could be 
grounds for the Constitutional Court to declare it illegal, 
including the lack of mention of Article 90.  He argued that 
negotiations were the only way out of the crisis.  A 
Regions-OU alliance, without the Communists and BYuT, would 
provide much needed national unity; in his view, it would be 
a natural union because Regions and OU were on the right side 
of the political spectrum, while the others were on the left. 
 Another OU member, EuroIntegration Committee Chairwoman 
Nataliya Propokovych, told the Codel that preterm elections 
were a bad idea because democratic forces would lose. 
Developing Law Enforcement Capabilities and Rada Oversight 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
8. (SBU) In one of the most substantive exchanges of the 
visit, Codel met with the chairmen of the Rada's three main 
legal/law enforcement-related committees to discuss oversight 
and deputies' immunity.  Chairman of the Committee for 
Supporting Law Enforcement Agencies Volodymyr Stretovych (OU) 
said that Ukraine was a young democracy and it took time to 
build up a good law enforcement structure.  One of the 
committee's basic efforts was to protect ordinary people from 
arbitrary attacks by law enforcement officials.  Judiciary 
Committee Chairman Serhiy Kivalov (Regions) said that his 
committee had many concrete protects, including two key 
laws--on the Status of Judges and the Law of the 
Judiciary--which Yushchenko had submitted to the Rada. 
Kivalov had taken them to the Venice Commission in March, and 
they had received a positive review.  (Note: The two bills 
were subsequently adopted in the first reading on April 3. 
End note.)  In response to a question on how the Rada used 
oversight powers, Kivalov said that his committee was trying 
to improve parliamentary monitoring of legislation 
implementation and had tabled a law on this subject. 
9. (SBU) Chairman of the Committee for Combating Organized 
Crime Mykola Dzhyha (Regions) said his committee was working 
on laws on the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO), Ministry of 
Interior (MOI), and Security Service (SBU).  Dzhyha favored 
reconciling so many different organizations playing a role in 
fighting corruption, perhaps creating one new organization. 
On Rada MPs' wide-ranging immunity from prosecution, 
Stretovych said he was firmly in favor of canceling it 
outright.  He said that when the 1996 constitution was 
written, the authors had tried to cancel immunity, but 
then-President Kuchma had fought to retain it.  Stretovych 
added that when the Rada had voted in April 2006 to remove 
immunity from deputies at the local level granted by the Rada 
in September 2005, it had been hard to implement.  However, 
Dzhyha added that the cancellation had made a difference in 
restoring some power to law enforcement organs.  He also 
supported canceling MPs' immunity, but cautioned that it 
should be a consensus decision from within the Rada, not one 
made just for PR/image reasons. 
Security and Defense Committee: Striving for Professionalism 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
KYIV 00000921  003 OF 003 
10. (SBU) At a lunch with three members from the Committee 
for National Security and Defense--Acting Chairman Yuriy 
Samoilenko (Regions), Lev Hnatenko (Kinakh group), and Oleh 
Antypov (BYuT)--the Codel covered a wide-range of topics, 
including oversight of the military and intelligence 
agencies.  The three MPs boasted that the NSDC was the most 
apolitical committee in the Rada, because Ukraine's national 
security was too important to subject it to partisan 
bickering.  In addition, 12 of the 17 members of the 
committee had background either in the military or in the 
security services, increasing the level of professionalism 
and expertise in the committee.  The committee did hold 
closed door hearings to examine the actions of the MOD and 
SBU, and the committee was working on enhancing its oversight 
capability, but the MPs claimed that military was not often 
cooperative in letting the Rada observe what it was doing. 
Only around budget time did the MOD come calling.  The 
committee members also pledged they would bring the annual 
foreign military exercise authorization bill, which would 
enable Partnership for Peace exercises to go forward, to the 
Rada for a floor vote the following day.  (Note: Samoilenko 
did, but the bill fell victim to the political crisis and 
received only 5 votes in support.  It successfully passed on 
April 6.)  The MPs also asked about new funding for disposing 
of the rest of the solid motor fuel in Pavlograd.  HDAC 
Chairman Price said that he hoped to have good news for the 
Rada on that front sometime this year. 
State Building Committee Trying to Decentralize Power 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
11. (SBU) Chairman Tykhonov (Regions), whose powerful State 
Building Committee controls important legislation such as the 
controversial CabMin law, stated that an important objective 
of his committee was to prepare a framework of laws that 
would make "(constitutional) reform irreversible."  He said 
his committee was now focused on a law on local 
self-government; during the 2006 Rada election campaign, all 
parties courted local-level officials with promises of 
greater autonomy, but soon as the election was over, their 
approach changed.  Nevertheless, he argued, the current 
system of centralized control was cumbersome and unworkable; 
Ukraine should move to a system of local control over budget 
and financing.  For example, he complained that his native 
eastern Ukraine subsidized the relatively poorer western 
regions.  Tykhonov also said that he favored a type of 
federalism for Ukraine
and that he had "paid a high price" 
for his opinion. (Note: a possible reference to the criminal 
charges brought against him, later dropped for his advocacy 
of separatism during the Orange Revolution.  Federalism is 
banned under the Ukrainian constitution.  End note.) Tykhonov 
also advocated creating an Upper House of parliament to 
better represent the interests of Ukraine's oblasts (Note: 
similar to what exists in Russia, a federated state). 
Budget Committee Chairman Makeyenko 
12. (SBU) Budget Committee Chairman Makeyenko (Regions) took 
pride in the fact that the 2007 budget and an amendment were 
both approved by the Rada and signed by Yushchenko; he argued 
that the budget addressed the needs of the people.  Makeyenko 
commented on the difficulty of preventing members from using 
the budget process to line their own pockets and acknowledged 
that this had been a common practice.  He remarked on the 
difficulties of being chairman of the 32-member committee 
(the largest in the Rada) and said he often "feels like a 
diplomat, not a legislator."  He also said that in the past, 
budget impasses were frequently broken by appealing to the 
particular needs of single-mandate members, but the switch in 
2006 to a Rada drawn entirely from party lists made 
compromise more difficult.   He also noted that his committee 
was receiving assistance from the IMF and the World Bank to 
amend the Budget Code.  His committee also cooperated with 
the Finance and Banking Committee to draft a new tax code 
that would reduce the role of the shadow economy, which now 
compromises up to 50% of Ukraine's economic activity, by some 
13. (U) This cable has been cleared by Codel Price. 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 


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