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07KYIV1458, UKRAINE: ELECTIONS PROCESS STILL BUMPY

June 13, 2007

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07KYIV1458 2007-06-13 12:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO4069
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1458/01 1641255
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131255Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2709
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 05 KYIV 001458 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ELECTIONS PROCESS STILL BUMPY 
 
KYIV 00001458  001.2 OF 005 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Prime Minister Yanukovych and Party of 
Regions members are now openly talking about their election 
preparations and have told us that June 15 will be the last 
day the Rada is in session.  The Rada must still acknowledge 
the resignations of at least another 72 members of the 
opposition, a process so far painfully dragged out by a 
bitter Speaker Moroz, in order to deprive the Rada of a 
quorum and give Yushchenko the constitutional and legal basis 
for pre-term elections as agreed to on May 27.  At that 
point, according to Regions faction leader Bohatyreva, PM 
Yanukovych will announce on television June 15 that Regions 
considers the Rada to be no longer in session.  However, 
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Shapoval and his 
deputy expressed concern that the new CEC was already deeply 
divided along political lines and that the legal basis for 
the elections was shaky at best; if elections went forward, 
it would have to be for political reasons.  They also were 
worried about increased chances of voter fraud stemming from 
changes in the parliamentary election law. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Now that Regions is also talking about 
elections, all three major parties seem agreed on going to 
the polls on September 30, but we will watch to see what 
actions they take to end this political crisis.  A statement 
by Yanukovych that Regions believes that the Rada's plenary 
session is over would an extremely positive step toward the 
final implementation of the May 27 deal.  Concerns remain, 
however, that the opposition could fail in its effort to 
deprive the Rada of its quorum, in large part because the new 
election law could prevent the CEC from canceling the Our 
Ukraine party list.  Further complicating matters would be a 
ruling by the appellate court that Our Ukraine does not have 
the right to annul its list because of objections from one of 
the original OU bloc members, Kinakh's Party of 
Industrialists and Entrepreneurs which joined the coalition 
in March before the crisis began.  The result could be that 
the CEC may be forced to keep seating new MPs, dragging the 
process out even further.  In the longer run, Shapoval's 
concerns about election fraud are serious and the process 
will need to be monitored closely.  Given the distrust 
between political forces and how much is riding on the 
outcome of these elections, it will be important for the U.S. 
and international community to keep the pressure on to ensure 
that the commitment to clean elections not get lost in the 
political calculations.  End summary and comment. 
 
Yanukovych: A Straight Path to Elections 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  At a June 12 meeting with the Ambassador and former 
Ambassador Pifer, PM Yanukovych appeared relaxed and 
confident that September elections would happen - as long as 
the opposition carried through on its promise to have 151 
Rada deputies resign and if the courts allowed the Central 
Election Commission to abolish the OU and BYuT election 
lists.   He reiterated the importance of holding pre-term 
elections on a legal basis within the framework of 
Constitution as part of the May 27 agreement.  In 
Yanukovych's view, all the other major obligations of the 
agreement had been fulfilled; what was needed was the 
resignation of 151 opposition deputies in accordance with the 
Rada's rules of order.  Once that occurred, Article 82, Part 
2 of the Constitution gave the President a legal basis upon 
which to call elections.  As of June 12, 79 deputies had 
resigned; another 72 resignations were needed.  Yanukovych 
repeated several times during the meeting that this was the 
responsibility of the opposition, not the coalition.  He said 
that he understood some deputies did not want to resign, but 
that "this is a question of party discipline that is up to 
the opposition to enforce."  According to his information, at 
least "50 OU deputies did not want to resign." 
 
4.  (C)  Nevertheless, in Yanukovych's mind, the path to 
pre-term elections was clear.  He said that he would suggest 
to the President that there be one final plenary meeting of 
the Rada on June 15.  In his vision, all the deputies, 
including those who had resigned, plus the President and 
Prime Minister, would come to the Rada.  The Rada would pass 
some final pieces of economic-related legislation and then 
the Rada plenary session would be closed to enable deputies 
to prepare for pre-term elections.  Yanukovych was not sure 
whether Yushchenko would accept his proposal, but he stressed 
that this was a Party of Regions' proposal, he was not 
speaking for his coalition members, and that this had been 
announced publicly.  If the resignation process was still 
ongoing, the Rada could always be called back into session at 
a later date to hear the rest of the list of resignations, 
Yanukovych added. 
 
 
KYIV 00001458  002.2 OF 005 
 
 
5.  (C)  Yanukovych acknowledged that Speaker Moroz and 
others in the Rada did not want elections, but was confident 
that they would not in
terfere in the process - "completion of 
the agreement does not depend upon whether or not Moroz wants 
elections."   Yanukovych also predicted that if the 151 
deputies did not resign, then this would reflect badly on the 
President and that it was important that Yushchenko 
understand this.  This would not be the fault of the 
coalition, but of the opposition.  However, Yanukovych 
stressed, the opposition still had time.  If not in June, 
then they could still resign in July.  Yanukovych noted that 
during negotiations, he had sought to find other legal 
grounds to hold pre-term elections, but the President had 
insisted - and had been confident that he could fulfill his 
end of the compromise agreement. 
 
...But Also a Procedural Issue 
------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C)  According to Yanukovych, in addition to the issue of 
the resignations, the only remaining problem is the 
nullification of the electoral lists of the opposition 
parties - so that once deputies resign, they won't be 
replaced by the next names on the party lists.  Yanukovych 
said that this was not a simple issue -- those on the list 
had rights.   And, according to Yanukovych, at least 42 
individuals had applied to the courts to protect those 
rights.  Yanukovych acknowledged that OU and BYuT had held 
their party congresses and voted to nullify their lists, as 
required by law.  However, Regions believes that these 
decisions alone were not a basis for the CEC to make a 
decision.  In Yanukovych's view, this decision could only be 
made by the courts and that the CEC would not be able to 
abolish the lists if the district courts upheld the rights of 
those who had objected to the party decisions to nullify the 
lists.  According to Yanukovych, the opposition parties could 
appeal these decisions to appellate courts, and if necessary, 
appeal further to a higher administrative court.  He believed 
that only after the court process is concluded would the CEC 
have the right to nullify the lists. 
 
PM Still Looking for a Broad Coalition 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  In spite of all the political turmoil, Yanukovych 
stressed that the government must continue working, 
especially on economic issues.  This was especially true 
since public opinion polls had demonstrated that the majority 
of people were not in favor of early elections.  In 
Yanukovych's mind, the best alternative would be for OU and 
Regions to join forces in a broad coalition.  Yanukovych 
noted that the crisis had "made us much closer than we were 
in the spring" and that a broad coalition would be possible 
either with or without pre-term elections.  And, in 
Yanukovych's view, a new broad coalition would result in the 
Socialists and Communists joining BYuT in opposition. 
Whatever the result of the next few days and the final push 
to implement the May 27 agreement, Yanukovych emphasized that 
he saw "no tragedy" coming.  It was important to keep working 
every day.  In his view, the coalition had fulfilled all of 
its obligations under the political compromise.  Now it was 
up to the opposition and the President. 
 
Bohatyreva: PM Will Announce End of Rada Friday 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
8.  (C)  Regions faction leader Raisa Bohatyreva on June 13 
echoed Yanukovych's comments to the Ambassador that June 15 
would be the last day Regions works in Rada plenary session 
and added some more specifics.  She and a few other Regions 
MPs had written a short statement for Yanukovych to read 
Friday June 15 on television.  The PM would announce that 
Regions was finished with Rada work and was now preparing for 
the elections.  She and MP Borys Kolesnikov, a close Akhmetov 
ally, met with NSDC Secretary Plyushch on June 12 to tell him 
about the statement and to ask for presidential support for 
the Rada to work until Friday in order to pass a packet of 
legislation important to Regions.  She said that this packet 
included: the CabMin's social-economic plan for 2007; the 
privatization program for 2007-2009; a law on commodity 
exchanges; a law on the government procurement system, which 
she said had been quite controversial; and a law on regional 
policy.  Plyushch said it was unlikely that that Yushchenko 
would come to the Rada Friday or sign any new laws because 
the coalition had broken too many promises to the President, 
but Bohatyreva said they will go through with the plan 
without the President's assistance because if they did not 
stop work on Friday, they would have used up the last chance 
for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. 
 
9.  (C)  Regarding the slow pace with which opposition MPs' 
 
KYIV 00001458  003.2 OF 005 
 
 
resignations were being accepted by the Rada, Bohatyreva 
thought this would not be a major obstacle to fulfilling the 
agreement.  She believed that the Rada could finish reading 
the names of those who had resigned by Friday June 15.  In 
terms of the CEC's current inability to dissolve the OU party 
list, she thought that an appeal that is sitting with the 
appellate court right now could resolve this by ordering the 
CEC to cancel the party list.  She said Regions would back 
the court decision and would not challenge it.  Bohatyreva 
also said that she had asked Communist leader Symonenko to 
help pressure Moroz to accept defeat and close the Rada 
plenary.  (Comment:  Publicly and privately, other members of 
Regions have also begun to speak openly about upcoming 
elections.  Kolesnikov gave a long interview to Dzerkalo 
Tyzhnya, in which he talked about party preparations for the 
campaign and putting together the party list.  MP Yuriy 
Miroshnychenko told us that his party was now ready for the 
elections, bemoaning the fact that Regions was still fussing 
with details of fulfilling the May 27 agreement rather than 
preparing for the vote.  End Comment.) 
 
CEC: We Currently Have No Legal Basis For Elections 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
10.  (C) New CEC Chairman Volodymyr Shapoval and his deputy 
Zhana Usenko-Chorna told Ambassador June 12 that the CEC was 
in an uncomfortable position and it was not yet clear how 
elections would play out.  Shapoval expressed concern that 
the new CEC was very politicized with a very open division 
between the eight coalition-nominated commissioners and the 
seven presidential/opposition-nominated commissioners.  He 
also said that he did not think all 15 commissioners believed 
that there would be a September 30 election.  (Note: PM 
Yanukovych told the Ambassador that he wanted the President, 
Speaker and PM to hold a public session with the new CEC to 
pledge non-interference in their work of preparing the 
elections.  Yanukovych made this proposal public June 13. 
End Note.) 
 
11.  (C) The two commissioners said they had main two 
concerns; the first was the shaky legal basis for the 
elections.  They were unhappy that the date for the elections 
had been set before the Rada had actually l
ost its quorum 
(the basis for new elections agreed on by the President, PM, 
and Speaker on May 27).  Moreover, in the current legal 
framework, it was not clear the Rada would actually lose the 
151 MPs necessary to deprive the Rada of a quorum.  The 
amended parliamentary election law (PEL), passed May 29, 
prohibited blocs and parties from canceling their party 
lists.  This meant that while the CEC had already canceled 
BYuT's list, it could no longer cancel OU's, meaning that if 
OU MPs continue to resign the CEC might have to seat the next 
people on the list as new MPs.  Thus, Shapoval argued, only a 
political decision could make the elections happen. If all 
sides honestly adhere to the May 27 agreement, the CEC will 
be able to organize the elections. 
 
12.  (C) Both Shapoval and Usenko-Chorna expressed concern 
that the newly amended PEL reintroduced provisions that had 
been removed after the second round of the 2004 presidential 
election that could increase the possibility of voter fraud. 
Their biggest worry was that the amended law tasked the State 
Tax Administration with updating the 2006 voter lists, with 
the assistance of the State Border Guard Service.  Neither 
service had the capability to do this, and the result would 
be millions of people included on voter lists at multiple 
polling stations.  A smaller problem will be the ban on 
absentee ballots, for the first time in independent Ukraine's 
history, which could discourage domestic observers from 
traveling to watch voting.  Shapoval also said that at the 
local level, it would be very difficult to ensure the honesty 
of the poll commissioners.  (Note.  The law also removes the 
stringent requirements for using the mobile ballot box, a 
significant source of fraud in 2004, making it relatively 
easy to request a ballot be delivered to a voter's home. End 
note.) 
 
13.  (C) Comment.  There is clearly a lot of tension 
surrounding the CEC.  Although Usenko-Chorna said it was 
technically possible for new OU MPs to continue to resign as 
soon as they become MPs until the list is used up, new MPs, 
who might otherwise never have the chance to be a Rada 
deputy, might be less likely to want to resign.  In addition, 
with the Rada moving at a snail's pace to announce the 
resignations of the 169 MPs who already submitted their 
letters, the process of continual resignations could take 
months.  In the meantime, coalition members, including 
Yanukovych and Moroz, have been attacking the CEC publicly in 
the past few days, demanding that they start replacing the OU 
MPs with new parliamentarians and threatening to dissolve the 
CEC if it does not comply. 
 
KYIV 00001458  004.2 OF 005 
 
 
 
Tymoshenko -- Not Completely Confident about Elections 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
14.  (C)  During a June 13 meeting with the Ambassador and 
former Ambassador Pifer, opposition leader Tymoshenko was 
hopeful that the compromise would hold and that elections 
would take place on September 30, but she was not 100% 
confident.  In her view, elections remain the only way out of 
the political standoff.  She was matter-of-fact about the 
outcome, noting only that either the opposition forces will 
get enough votes to form a government or the most votes will 
go to Regions, the Communists, and Vitrenko's radicals, and 
Yushchenko would cut a deal with Yanukovych to form an 
OU-Regions broad coalition.  Tymoshenko obviously preferred 
the first outcome.  She predicted that election fraud would 
be a huge problem, not surprisingly based in Donetsk, Luhansk 
and Crimea. 
 
15.  (C)  Tymoshenko described Yanukovych as teetering back 
and forth on the question of pre-term elections.  She said 
that he was under extreme pressure to oppose elections from 
the Kremlin, Socialist leader Moroz and Communist Party 
faction head Symonenko, as well as the two-thirds of the 
Regions faction who had not yet received promises of spots on 
the new party list from Yanukovych, Akhmetov, or Klyuev.  In 
her view, Yanukovych wanted to prevent any splits in Regions 
or within the coalition prior to the elections.  Akhmetov 
continues to be a positive force for elections within 
Regions.  Like Shapoval, Tymoshenko argued that CEC action to 
cancel the OU party list was completely a political decision. 
 Abolishing the OU party list would not be very difficult. 
In her view, if Regions wants this, then they can get it done 
in 15 minutes. 
 
16. (C)  With regard to the resignations, Tymoshenko said 
that 167 deputies had now written letters to Moroz confirming 
that they wrote their resignation letters themselves. 
Tymoshenko was aware of Yanukovych's proposal to hold a final 
Friday, June 15 Rada session.  In Tymoshenko's view, the laws 
to be passed were routine; this was simply a way to prolong 
the outcome.  According to Tymoshenko, this June 15 plan was 
not important and did not matter much because the opposition 
would not be able to go into the Rada and vote since they no 
longer have mandates. 
 
Moroz - Fighting a Rear-Guard Action 
------------------------------------ 
 
17. (C)  Privately in separate meetings with Ambassador and 
with former Ambassador Pifer on June 11, an angry, desperate 
Moroz ranted about Yushchenko's numerous violations of 
democracy and promised that God would judge the President. 
Moroz said that the quorum article could provide the legal 
basis for an election, "if" the opposition can really get to 
151, but resigning is a slow process that will take time.  If 
the Rada does lose its quorum, then the Socialists would 
agree to a September 30 election.  Moroz said he did not 
understand Yushchenko's position because Regions would have 
even more seats in a new Rada.  If OU wants a broad 
coalition, then there was no need for elections; SPU will 
leave the current coalition, allowing OU and Regions to unite 
now, and happily join the opposition.  The "Mukacheve Clan", 
Moroz argued, was dictating the President's decisions, 
leading him to interfere in the courts and the prosecutor 
general's office. 
 
18. (C)  Despite his ranting and his continued fight against 
elections both publicly and privately, Moroz has begun to 
announce the resignations of MPs in line with the procedure 
for the opposition to resign and deprive the Rada of a 
quorum.  On June 8, he announced the resignations of 28 OU 
MPs, and on June 12 the resignations of 50 BYuT MPs and one 
more OU MP.  However, he said that these MPs seats should be 
filled immediately by others from the party list and that 
their resignations did not provide the "legal field" needed 
to hold early elections. 
 
Democratic Bloc Still Not Done 
------------------------------ 
 
19. (C) Press reports on June 12 indicated that the election 
bloc between People's Union Our Ukraine, People's 
Self-Defense (PSD), and Pravitsya was all but finalized.  The 
b
loc will be called "People's Self-Defense--Our Ukraine," and 
the spots on the list would be divided up: 54% Our Ukraine, 
25% PSD, and 21% Pravitsya  In addition, the top five names 
on the list will be Lutsenko, OU head Kyrylenko, Defense 
Minister Hrytsenko, Foreign Minister Yatsenyuk, and probably 
MP Katerynchuk.  Hrytsenko confirmed to Ambassador that he 
will be on the list, at the President's request, but he does 
 
KYIV 00001458  005.2 OF 005 
 
 
not want to be a Rada Deputy.  Instead, he plans to go back 
to the executive branch, presumably to DefMin if confirmed, 
after the election.  However, on June 13, Pravitsya co-chair 
Tarasyuk said that his bloc objected to the division of the 
list, criticizing Lutsenko for being greedy, and the use of 
the name Our Ukraine.  MP Katerynchuk, representing People's 
Self-Defense, told us that the press reports were premature, 
although he expected an agreement on June 19.  With regard to 
the mention of his name as number 5 on the new list, 
Katerynchuk laughed, noting that this was a sure sign that he 
would not be included in the top five for the bloc. 
 
20. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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