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07KYIV1036, UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO PUSHING, REGIONS NOT BACKING

May 3, 2007

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07KYIV1036 2007-05-03 14:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO4684
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1036/01 1231437
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031437Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2173
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 001036 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO PUSHING, REGIONS NOT BACKING 
DOWN 
 
KYIV 00001036  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  During what normally would have been a 
quiet, five-day holiday weekend, the presidential and 
Rada/government teams were hard at work upping the ante in 
the current political crisis, with neither side appearing 
ready yet to relinquish hardball tactics and return to 
negotiations.  President Yushchenko went on the offensive, 
giving a strong speech to a crowd of 20,000 on April 28 and 
then firing Constitutional Court Judges Pshenychniy and 
Stanik--both appointed by former President Kuchma--on April 
30 and May 1, respectively, for allegedly violating their 
oath of office.  Presidential Secretariat Deputy Head 
Vasyunyk told Ambassador on May 3 that they had needed to 
take action--sitting around had repeatedly lost Yushchenko 
ground in the past.  In response, the coalition amped up its 
rhetoric; Prime Minister Yanukovych, Speaker Moroz, and 
Communist Leader Symonenko issued a May 2 statement charging 
that Yushchenko's latest actions could lead to tanks in the 
streets and civil war in Ukraine; a BYuT back-bencher fired 
back that if the Government continued to provoke the 
President, then he might have to use force against the Rada. 
PM adviser Gryshchenko told Ambassador that they were even 
considering cutting funding to the Presidential Secretariat. 
The Rada also passed a resolution on April 30 calling for 
concurrent presidential and parliamentary elections by the 
end of the year. 
 
2. (C) Comment. Unfortunately, Yushchenko and Yanukovych have 
still not resumed talks since Yushchenko issued the second 
decree on April 26, although Ambassador continues to talk to 
all sides and encourage them to restart the process to find a 
political compromise.  Vasyunyk underscored to Ambassador 
that the President's side strongly mistrusted the PM's team; 
Gryshchenko's comments suggest the feeling is mutual.  There 
are, however, small signs that negotiations are 
continuing--Yanukovych has said publicly that elections are 
possible based on political compromise, whereas earlier he 
had demanded a CC decision.  In addition, the Central 
Election Commission (CEC) went back to work after an extended 
sick-out by coalition-affiliated commissioners, issuing a 
series of resolutions to prepare for June 24 Rada elections. 
One positive note in the crisis is that both sides have 
turned to Brussels and Strasbourg for validation rather than 
to Moscow.  Although they may not be playing in a fully 
democratic manner, both sides at least seem to understand 
that the external perception of democracy and European values 
remains important as they seek to prevail in the power 
struggle.  End summary and comment. 
 
Yushchenko Rallies the Crowd... 
------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) On April 28, Yushchenko addressed an opposition 
crowd of about 20,000 on European Square, reiterating his 
promise of preterm elections, although he did name a date. 
(Embassy Note:  This was Yushchenko's first appearance at a 
demonstration in downtown Kyiv since the November 2005 
gathering of Orange leaders on the Maidan to mark the 
one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Orange 
Revolution.  End Note.)  The President was on message and 
relatively brief, arguing that elections were critical to 
overcome "political corruption" in the country and blaming 
the Rada for precipitating the current crisis.  The crowd 
braved a rain shower and listened closely, breaking in 
several times with chants of "Yu-shen-ko."  Interestingly, 
Yushchenko acknowledged that the results of new elections 
were likely to return the same political forces to the Rada, 
with the possible exception of the Socialists.  He ended his 
speech with an appeal--literally begging the opposition 
leaders to forgive each other's past sins and remain united. 
 
...Then Cleans the Court of two Kuchma appointees 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4. (SBU) On April 30 and May 1--government 
holidays--Yushchenko issued decrees firing two of the three 
Constitutional Court judges appointed by former President 
Kuchma for violating their oath of office.  He first 
dismissed Deputy Court Chairman Pshenychniy for violating 
court procedures and therefore his oath of office; the 
President's team alleges Pshenychniy assigned the case 
regarding the April 2 presidential decree to ally Judge 
Stanik on April 3, when Chairman Dombrovskiy was in the Court 
and should have been the one to make such a decision.  (Note: 
We were shown the paperwork with Pshenychniy's signature and 
the date.  End note.)  The next day, Yushchenko dismissed 
Stanik, whom the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has 
implicated in corruption--close family members having 
recently received $12 million in real estate and cars. 
 
KYIV 00001036  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
Regions MP Kiselov publicly urged the two judges to keep 
working and ignore the decrees; the coalition has already 
appealed the decree firing Pshenychniy to the CC for a 
ruling.  Stanik has been vocal in her criticism of 
Yushchenko's move, but Pshenychniy has been quiet. 
 &#x000
A;5. (C) Comment. Yushchenko based the dismissals on 
constitutional articles 106 (amended in 2004) and 126, which 
state that the President can fire the six judges appointed on 
the presidential quota for a variety of causes, including 
violating oath of office.  The Law on the CC, passed prior to 
constitutional changes coming into effect, is somewhat 
contradictory; it gives the Rada the right to dismiss CC 
judges for violating the oath of office without mention of 
the President's role.  Should the Court take up the 
President's right to fire CC judges, his team would appear to 
have a solid legal argument, backed by extensive precedent, 
that says the constitution carries more weight than a law. 
On May 3, the members of the Constitutional Court remained 
behind closed doors and were not talking to the press.  It is 
unclear at this point whether Pshenychniy and/or Stanik have 
followed the decree and stayed away from the CC or whether 
they heeded the Rada's call to remain at their posts and are 
taking part in the deliberations (our presumption is that 
they are not).  End comment. 
 
6. (C) Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat Vasyunyk 
justified the dismissals to Ambassador May 3, arguing that 
the presidential team had needed to take action.  Yushchenko 
had sat around for nine months after agreeing to Yanukovych's 
return as PM, only to be steamrolled repeatedly as the PM's 
team broke every deal that the two sides had reached.  In 
Vasyunyk's view, the President believed that he needed to 
take the offensive--there was no trust left for the PM's 
team. 
 
Coalition Bumps up Rhetoric... 
------------------------------ 
 
7. (SBU) On May 2, the leaders of the coalition, PM 
Yanukovych, Speaker Moroz, and Communist Party leader 
Symonenko released a joint appeal to PACE, the EU, and all 
Ambassadors in Kyiv to help mediate the situation.  They 
accused Yushchenko of trying to paralyze the CC and legal 
organs and having usurped power from the other branches of 
government.  They declared: "his next step could be a decree 
ordering tanks onto the streets... Current actions by the 
President of Ukraine are dangerous for the State and people. 
Ukraine is in danger of legal chaos and civil war." 
Privately, PM adviser Gryshchenko told the Ambassador that 
the coalition was considering no longer recognizing 
Yushchenko as President and cutting funding to the 
Presidential Secretariat.  (Note: the Cabinet cut funding to 
the Foreign Ministry in January for several weeks as part of 
the effort to force out former FM Tarasyuk.  End note.) 
 
8. (C) Young Regions MP firebrand Miroshnychenko also raised 
the rhetorical stakes by proclaiming that the coalition would 
guard the Rada from any attempt to seize it, alleging 
Yushchenko might resort to force.  Miroshnychenko confirmed 
to us privately that there were MPs in the Rada around the 
clock now, although he declined to say how many; their task 
was to monitor the situation and be on the scene should 
anything change.  BYuT backbencher MP Syvulskiy did not help 
calm the waters by commenting on Fifth Channel May 2, in an 
interview primarily making the case for new elections, that: 
the "use of force is not ruled out if the Rada keeps 
provoking (Yushchenko).  That means that measures will have 
to be taken to make the Rada ... halt its activity." 
 
...But Doesn't Rule Out Elections 
--------------------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) At the same time, Yanukovych said at an April 28 
press conference that he was "ready for elections, if they 
were the result of a political agreement rather than by any 
requirement of the constitution."  Although he encouraged 
Yushchenko to wait for a CC decision, this was the first time 
he did not make a Court ruling a precondition for new 
elections.  He also accused the SBU of "working like the KGB 
in Soviet times," and asked the President to meet with him 
soon. (Note. Vasyunyk told us they were considering a 
meeting, but nothing had been scheduled.  End note.) 
Yanukovych echoed this more conciliatory position on 
elections at a May 3 CabMin meeting, where he said that if 
there was a consensus opinion that early elections were the 
only solution to the crisis, they would begin preparations 
for early elections.  He cautioned that work was needed on a 
number of related laws, a position Yushchenko has also 
stressed. 
 
KYIV 00001036  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
 
10. (C) Comment.  The Rada also passed a non-binding 
resolution on April 30 calling for concurrent parliamentary 
and presidential elections before the end of the year--a 
threat Regions has been throwing around with increasing 
regularity for the past month.  Interestingly, only 234 of 
254 MPs registered in the hall supported the resolution 
(reporters estimate less than 100 MPs were physically 
present).  Regions MP Chornovil criticized it publicly, 
matching the private criticism from Regions MP and financier 
Akhmetov, bringing into question how unified Regions is on 
this position, or whether it is intended as negotiating 
pressure against Yushchenko. 
 
CEC Goes Back to Work 
--------------------- 
 
11. (C) The CEC regained a quorum on May 2, when Communist 
commissioner Raykovskiy (protect - not generally known in 
public) returned to work after a long "sick-out", allowing 
the CEC to immediately issue a number of resolutions 
pertaining to early Rada elections.  The CEC asked the 
Cabinet to allocate funds for a voter registry; they also 
approved forms for party lists and for nominations to sit on 
regional and local polling commissions, the bodies which run 
the voting and count the votes.  A USAID NGO partner told us 
that the CEC had been working on the decrees for the past few 
weeks, but the open use of the June 24 election date 
suggested a level of comfort at the CEC that early elections 
might actually go forward.  The contact also suggested 
Raykovskiy's return may indicate that the Communists are 
hedging their bets, since they might get more seats in a new 
election. 
 
12. (C) CEC Chairman Davydovych also announced May 2 that he 
was extending the deadline to midnight May 3 for the three 
parties in the coalition to submit their nominees to sit on 
the territorial election commissions (TECs).  Parties 
represented in the current Rada have the right to submit 
nominees first, but if they choose not to do so, seats could 
be filled by other political parties or CEC designates.  As 
of COB May 3, the coalition had not submitted nominations, 
but the NGO partner told us that Regions could ignore 
Davydovych's timeline for now without serious repercussions. 
Given the importance of Regions' participation to give the 
elections validity, the CEC could either appoint Regions 
people to TECs without formal nominations, or they could 
appoint temporary members at the CEC's discretion with the 
understanding that Regions would be allowed to replace them

later. 
 
13. (SBU) The CEC also canceled BYuT's 2006 voter list as the 
bloc had requested.  The CEC did not, however, cancel Our 
Ukraine's party list because Kinakh's Party of Industrialists 
and Entrepreneurs, one of six in the bloc in 2006, objected. 
This had stymied, at least for now, the opposition's gambit 
to deny the Rada a quorum.  The plan had been for both BYuT 
and OU to resign, so that there were fewer than 300 Rada 
members, and to cancel their party lists, so that the CEC 
could not refill vacated seats. 
 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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