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07KYIV998, UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO DECREES NEW ELECTION DATE TO

April 26, 2007

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07KYIV998 2007-04-26 15:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8304
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0998/01 1161505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261505Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2131
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 000998 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO DECREES NEW ELECTION DATE TO 
PROLONG NEGOTIATIONS, SURPRISES AT THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  President Yushchenko issued a new decree 
on early parliamentary elections late on April 25 in response 
to increasing indications that Constitutional Court was ready 
to deliver a quick ruling against the decree which would have 
bolstered the coalition's side in ongoing President-PM 
negotiations.  The new decree, which sets elections for June 
24, appears to be an effort to extend the negotiating window, 
give more time for potential election preparations, and 
address some of the legal grounds on which the coalition 
attacked the April 2 decree as unconstitutional.  In 
particular, the April 25 decree incorporated Article 90--the 
article that spells out specific grounds for the President to 
dissolve the Rada--into its justification for dismissing the 
Rada and calling new elections.  Court sources told us early 
April 26 that the Court would consider whether to cease 
deliberations on the April 2 decree based on the new decree, 
but there has yet to be a confirmation of that decision.  PM 
Yanukovych, in Uzbekistan for a previously unscheduled visit 
after attending Boris Yeltsin's funeral in Moscow, announced 
he would return immediately to Kyiv.  Yushchenko made a 
further unexpected move April 26 by reinstating former 
Prosecutor General Piskun--a Regions MP who claims he was 
fired unfairly by Yushchenko in October 2005--to his old 
position after a district Court decision.  Clearly caught off 
guard, some Regions MPs welcomed the move while others 
attempted to barricade the doors to the PGO.  A group of 
coalition MPs, including two defectors from BYuT, registered 
a draft bill in the Rada to impeach Yushchenko. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Presidential Secretariat deputy head 
Vasyunyk and PM adviser Gryshchenko both claimed to the 
Ambassador late April 25, after Yushchenko's announcement of 
a new decree, that the other side had been negotiating in bad 
faith and planning something all along.  After an 
unproductive, circus-like roundtable discussion April 25 that 
yielded no positive results, it is clear that Yushchenko and 
Yanukovych need to resume their personal meeting to move the 
process of resolving the situation forward.  The Ambassador 
met with both teams April 26 to urge the President and PM to 
reengage.  A well-placed Court sources told us late April 25 
that the Court was preparing to rule against Yushchenko as 
soon as April 26; such a decision before the conclusion of 
political negotiations would have severely weakened 
Yushchenko's hand, perhaps fatally wounding his already 
weakened presidency.  Issuing the new decree most likely buys 
him another month of negotiating time, even if the current 
standoff and dynamics in the political negotiations are 
likely to continue.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
Moving the Goalposts: New Decree Changes Date for Elections 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Yushchenko appeared on television at 2130 April 25 
to announce a new decree with a new date of early elections 
set for June 24.  He justified the move by citing 
non-implementation of his first April 2 decree and the 
blocking of the Central Election Commission (CEC)'s work.  He 
again emphasized that the mass defection of MPs in March had 
distorted the will of the people expressed in the March 2006 
elections and that he had a duty as the guarantor of the 
Constitution to protect democracy. 
 
4. (SBU) Stillborn preparations for elections aside, the 
proceedings in the Constitutional Court clearly affected the 
timing and content of the new decree, which countered several 
arguments the coalition had used against the 
constitutionality of the first decree.  Most importantly, the 
April 25 decree, promulgated in the Presidential Journal 
April 26, referenced Article 90 of the Constitution, which 
lists the three specific situations in which the President 
may disband the Rada (below).  The Presidential Secretariat 
also took care to post on the presidential website both the 
minutes of the consultations he conducted prior to dissolving 
the Rada (again) and the announcement that the decree had 
been formally promulgated; both were procedural issues the 
coalition raised in the CC hearings. 
 
5. (C) Comment.  If the coalition appeals the new decree to 
the Court, as is expected, attention will center on 
Yushchenko's use of Article 90.  His new justification 
appears to contend that, when the Anti-Crisis Coalition 
accepted former Our Ukraine bloc figure Anatoliy Kinakh as 
Minister of Economy and his half-dozen MPs, rebranding itself 
as the National Unity Coalition in March, it constituted 
formation of a new coalition.  Because this new coalition did 
not adhere to the constitutional requirement that factions, 
not MPs, form a coalition, Yushchenko invoked his right to 
dissolve parliament absent formation of a proper coalition 
within 30 days.  The validity of this reasoning may hinge on 
 
KYIV 00000998  002 OF 003 
 
 
whether the ACC was formally disbanded or its name simply 
c
hanged.  Once again, the Constitutional Court may play a 
central role in resolving the matter, in parallel with 
political negotiations. 
 
Both Sides React with Accusations; Court Ponders 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
6. (C) Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat Vasyunyk 
assured Ambassador late on April 25 that Yushchenko had been 
acting in good faith in negotiations with Yanukovych since 
April 2.  It was the PM who had acted in bad faith, he 
claimed, because Yanukovych's team had known throughout the 
process that the CC would move quickly to rule before the 
political negotiations were complete.  Once the Court moved 
into closed deliberation, Vasyunyk said, the President felt 
he had no alternative but to act. (Note: our Court sources 
indicated to use late April 25 that the Court was indeed 
poised to rule as early as April 26 after racing through 
closing arguments and holding only a day of closed chamber 
deliberations.) 
 
7. (C) PM Foreign Policy Adviser Gryshchenko told Ambassador 
late on April 25 that it was actually the President who had 
acted in bad faith and that Yanukovych, upon hearing the 
news, had reacted with fury.  PM Chief of Staff Lyovochkin 
told the press in Tashkent that Yanukovych--who had made a 
last-minute decision to make a two-day visit to Uzbekistan 
April 25-26 in the wake of attending Boris Yeltsin's funeral 
in Moscow--had cut short his trip to Tashkent and would 
return to Kyiv. 
 
8. (SBU) Back in Kyiv, six coalition MPs, including 2 BYuT 
defectors, registered a bill on impeaching Yushchenko, 
although Regions faction leader Bohatyreva had said publicly 
just a few hours earlier that impeachment wasn't currently on 
their agenda. (Note: Regions MPs had rushed to register an 
impeachment bill last August when it seemed Yushchenko might 
dismiss the Rada rather than appoint Yanukovych PM, but we 
judge impeachment an idle threat for now, probably designed 
to put pressure on the President.  The complicated process 
involves two Rada votes (one of 300 MPs, the second of 338) 
and decisions from the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, and 
additional implementing legislation is also required.  End 
note.) 
 
9. (SBU)  The first order of Court business April 26, 
according to court sources, was to determine whether the 
April 25 decree removed the grounds for the Court to proceed 
with a ruling on the now invalidated April 2 decree.  At a 
mid-day press conference April 26, Yushchenko's CC rep 
Shapoval maintained that, since the first point of the new 
decree canceled the old one, there was no further need for 
the CC to rule.  He also emphasized that Yushchenko had 
issued the new decree because large parts of the government 
had failed to implement the first decree.  There was no 
official word on a court decision by COB. 
 
CVU: Do Elections and Representative Democracy Right 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
9. (SBU) Respected election watchdog group Committee of 
Voters of Ukraine (CVU) issued a statement April 26 urging 
that, if political forces agreed to new elections, they 
should make changes to introduce greater transparency and 
logic into the process.  In particular, CVU recommended an 
October 2007 election date, which would provide a four-month 
campaign cycle, allowing election organizers and parties to 
properly prepare.  CVU also advocated changes to the election 
law to alter the strict party list system in order to 
increase MP responsibility to a specific region. Finally, 
they called for changes to the Rada rules to require actual 
MP presence in order to vote (currently MP voting cards are 
collected to allow voting even if the MP is out of town or 
even country) and to prevent faction switching, with 
spelled-out penalties for violating the rules. 
 
Third Time's a Charm? Piskun returns as PGO 
------------------------------------------- 
 
10. (SBU) In an unexpected move, Yushchenko signed another 
decree on April 26 reinstating former Prosecutor General 
Serhiy Piskun (currently a Regions MP) to his old position. 
The move de facto dismissed PG Medvedko, who committed 
himself to a local hospital April 20 in the midst of the 
controversy over PGO actions related to investigations of 
allegations of $12 million worth of recent property 
acquisitions by close relatives of Constitutional Court 
Justice Stanik, the Reporting Judge in the April 2 decree 
case.  Yushchenko appeared in person at the PGO to introduce 
Piskun, whom he had previously fired in October 2005.  Since 
 
KYIV 00000998  003 OF 003 
 
 
his firing, Piskun had been unsuccessful in several attempts 
to be reinstated through the courts as the Prosecutor 
General.  The most recent rejection of Piskun's reinstatement 
appeals came April 25 at the Shevchenko District Court, which 
reversed itself under a different judge April 26 to order 
Piskun reinstated.  Yushchenko made clear in his introduction 
of Piskun that he had no love for Piskun, but suggested that 
Piskun had more to his credit than did Medvedko, and that the 
PGO had serious work and responsibilities it had neglected 
recently. 
 
11. (SBU) The coalition was clearly caught off guard by the 
reinstatement.  Twenty Regions MPs attempted to block the PGO 
office to prevent Yushchenko from formally introducing 
Piskun.  In contrast, Regions MPs Hanna Herman and Serhiy 
Kivalov welcomed the appointment, saying it was a victory for 
due process and the coalition. 
 
12. (SBU) Note: The only way Medvedko could have been removed 
in the short term was through Piskun's reinstatement after 
the district court ruling, since nominating a new PGO would 
have required a Rada confirmation vote. Piskun, initially 
fired as PG by President Kuchma in 2003 for his efforts to 
investigate the 2000 Gongadze murder, was first reinstated to 
the PGO in December 2004 in the wake of the political 
compromises ending the Orange Revolution which removed his 
successor as PG, Vasylyev.  Yushchenko retained Piskun for 
ten months, but eventually fired him for lack of progress in 
prosecuting any high profile case from the Kuchma era, 
including Yushchenko's own poisoning case.  End note. 
 
13. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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