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07KYIV1515, UKRAINE: RADA SPUTTERS TO A CLOSE AS ATTENTION

June 21, 2007

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07KYIV1515 2007-06-21 14:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO2110
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1515/01 1721403
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211403Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2804
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 001515 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/21/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: RADA SPUTTERS TO A CLOSE AS ATTENTION 
SHIFTS TO THE CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION 
 
REF: A. KYIV 1458 
 
     B. KYIV 1507 
     C. KYIV 01458 
 
KYIV 00001515  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney for reasons 1.4( 
a,b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary. Speaker Moroz closed the Rada's aimless 
plenary sessions on June 19, clearly under some pressure by 
Party of Regions leaders and despite earlier vows by 
Socialists and Communists to continue sessions into July. 
Moroz read a letter to the Rada written by PM Yanukovych in 
which the PM thanked the MPs for all their hard work in the 
Fifth convocation, implying the convocation was closed, 
although technically MPs continue "constituent work" until 
June 27.  The Speaker later suggested while on a provincial 
trip to Zhytomyr that MPs could return to the Rada June 27 to 
vote on constitutional amendments to limit Presidential 
authority, but few consider Moroz to be capable of derailing 
the political compromise.  The main focus of political 
developments has shifted to the Central Election Commission 
(CEC), as technicalities remain unresolved on the path to new 
elections September 30, including the CEC's standing to annul 
Our Ukraine (OU)'s 2006 electoral bloc list, removing final 
challenges to the Rada's lack of a quorum, and the alleged 
lack of CEC plenary meetings since the sitting of the new, 
politicized CEC at the beginning of June.  President 
Yushchenko, PM Yanukovych, and CEC Chair Shapoval met June 20 
to discuss a way ahead.  On the margins, questions continue 
to percolate both about the viability of an orange megabloc 
in the new elections and about the status of the 
Constitutional Court judges Yushchenko fired at the end of 
April/beginning of May. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Shapoval's reluctance to hold a CEC meeting 
suggests that he is concerned that the majority of CEC 
members (affiliated with Regions and the coalition) could 
throw a wrench into the final implementation of the May 27 
political compromise by refusing to abolish the OU electoral 
list and instead voting to seat 32 OU electoral list 
candidates associated with Minister of Economy Kinakh's Party 
of Industrials and Entrepreneurs as MPs on the OU quota, thus 
restoring the Rada's 300 MP quorum.  All sides have indicated 
that a political agreement to dissolve the OU list would take 
care of this roadblock.  Regions leaders such as Yanukovych, 
Bohatyerva, and Akhmetov have indicated elections will 
happen, but some Regions MPs, including deputy faction 
leaders, and Emergencies Minister Nester Shufrych, slated to 
join the Regions 2007 electoral list, continue actively to 
question whether elections will be held.  It remains unclear 
whether the June 20 meeting between Yushchenko, Yanukovych, 
and Shapoval helped to resolve the uncertainty and allow the 
CEC to move forward.  Moroz continues his undignified descent 
into irrelevancy; his Zhytomyr press conference also included 
the warning that Yushchenko's team would attempt a "legal 
formalization of dictatorship" in its own effort to change 
the Constitution, placing him in the rhetorical camp of 
Putin, who claimed earlier in June that "tyranny" was 
approaching in Ukraine.  End summary and comment. 
 
Rada Sputters Into Vacation 
--------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Despite Moroz's continued attempts to keep the Rada 
in session as long as possible, with the calendar formally 
scheduled to end July 13, he announced June 19 that it would 
be the last day of plenary session.  The Rada would move into 
a week of constituent work--which most MPs treat as vacation 
or time to tend to personal business interests--before the 
Rada officially closed June 27, allowing for preparations for 
the upcoming OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (to be held July 5-9 
in Kyiv).  He read a letter from Yanukovych that said that 
the Fifth convocation of the Rada had carried out important 
government reforms and worked well with the Cabinet. 
Yanukovych expressed regret that their work had been cut 
short, thanked them for their efforts, and said the 
parliament finished its work on a positive note.  The same 
morning, Moroz also read out the resignations of seven more 
opposition MPs, five from BYuT and two from OU (including 
2004 Eurovision winner Ruslana) bringing the total number of 
resignations to 162. 
 
CEC Caught in New Tug of War 
---------------------------- 
 
4. (C) The center of the Ukrainian political maelstrom has 
shifted from the Rada to the CEC in the past two weeks. 
Chairman Shapoval has still not convened a first CEC meeting 
since it was reconfigured at the beginning of June to give 
Regions and the coalition an 8-7 majority of commissioners, 
 
KYIV 00001515  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
despite insistent calls from the coalition that he do so 
immediately.  (Note.  The new CEC met once with the Border 
Guards to discuss electoral lists, but this was not 
considered to be a formal CEC session.  End note.)  The 
coalition commissioners have three times convened meetings on 
their own and then complained that the pro-presidential 
commissi
oners did not show up (a quorum of ten commissioners 
is needed to meet; eight votes are required to pass a 
decision).  Shapoval told us June 12 that legally the CEC 
could not annul the Our Ukraine party list, because the old 
parliamentary law--which had allowed the CEC to cancel party 
lists--had itself been canceled when the amended law was 
adopted by the Rada on June 1, but the new law was written in 
a way that it would not come into force until August 1 (ref 
A).  In the Ukrainian system, government bodies are allowed 
to do only what is written down in law or regulation; the 
absence of a law saying the CEC can cancel party lists 
legally prevented it from doing so. 
 
5. (SBU) Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat 
Stavnychuk, who until the recent reshuffle was deputy Chair 
of CEC, reiterated this at a press conference on June 18, 
although she added that the CEC also did not have the power 
to move anyone else from the list up into the Rada because of 
the absences of an in-force CEC law.  Although the Kyiv 
appellate court on June 15 upheld a lower district court 
ruling ordering the CEC to reconsider OU's request to cancel 
their list, Shapoval and Stavnychuk have indicted the court 
ruling is irrelevant without a political agreement to 
dissolve the list, despite the law and legal gray zone of 
timing.  (Embassy Comment.  Bottom line is that in the 
absence of a clear legal solution, a political decision will 
have to be made at some point in order to cancel the OU list 
to move ahead toward September 30 elections.  End Comment.) 
 
6. (C) The coalition commissioners also have criticized 
Shapoval for unilaterally allocating responsibility for 
different oblasts to different commissioners.  However, the 
law on the CEC states that the proper procedure for dividing 
regional responsibilities among CEC commissioners is for the 
Chairman to make the decisions; previous chairs have wielded 
this right without challenge or controversy.  Our review of 
the assignments suggests that, for the most part, Shapoval 
put the coalition commissioners in charge of eastern and 
southern Ukraine, and the pro-presidential commissioners in 
charge of central and western Ukraine.  In contrast, for the 
2006 cycle, a commissioner disliked by Regions oversaw 
Donetsk, which helped minimize fraud, according to one 
seasoned observer. 
 
7. (SBU) Yushchenko, Yanukovych, and Shapoval met June 20 to 
discuss ways to facilitate the CEC working and preparing for 
elections.  According to the press, Yushchenko expressed 
alarm over the current activity in the CEC and said political 
pressure on the CEC was unacceptable. He urged the situation 
to be resolved though talks and hoped that a constructive 
position on Yanukovych's part would settle the situation and 
allow the CEC to start working.  Yanukovych did not issue any 
comments.  After the meeting, Yushchenko went on national 
television to urge that the next Rada abolish blanket 
immunity for parliamentary deputies. 
 
Regions Slowly Moving to Prepare for Elections 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
8. (SBU) Key Regions leaders--Yanukovych, Bohtyreva, 
Kolesnikov, and Akhmetov--have begun talking publicly as if 
new elections are a given. (for Akhmetov's comments, see ref 
B.)  Yanukovych, while in Luxembourg June 18, talked about 
his hopes for the newly elected Rada. In addition, Regions 
deputy faction head Chechetov said that the Party's Political 
Council had met to discuss election preparations; they would 
meet again June 27 to set a date for a party congress to draw 
up a party list, probably in early August.  However, other 
Regions leaders have still signaled reluctance to move to 
elections.  On June 20, fellow deputy faction leader 
Oleksandr Yefremov told the press that his party did not see 
grounds for elections.  Several days earlier, Emergencies 
Minister Shufrych, a key member of the 2004 Yanukovych 
election team who is slated to join the Regions list for 
2007, expressed similar views in a provincial visit. 
 
9. (C) Comment:  These conflicting signals could reflect 
ongoing concerns by Regions MP backbenchers mentioned to us 
by Tymoshenko June 13 about a lack of assurances of their 
place on the new party list from Akhmetov, Klyuyev, or 
Yanukovych (ref C), the trio which Tymoshenko has long 
maintained represent the primary power centers in Regions. 
Press speculation also notes that Yanukovych may have no 
assurances that he will be PM again, either from Yushchenko 
 
KYIV 00001515  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
or Akhmetov, which could contribute to his personal 
reluctance to fully embrace the path to elections, even as he 
realizes that there are no good alternatives. 
 
Orange Megabloc Faltering 
------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Continued disagreements over list quotas, the bloc 
name, and the platform between presumptive election partners 
People's Union Our Ukraine, People's Self-Defense, and 
Pravitsya (Union of Rightist Forces) have held up the 
formation of a joint election bloc.  PSD leader Lutsenko said 
on June 18 that his movement will only join the bloc if they 
agree before July 1 on how to allocate Cabinet and Rada 
leadership positions, and agree not to make issues like 
Russian language and NATO part of the campaign.  In 
particular, he said that PSD wanted economic and 
law-enforcement positions in the new government.  OU MP 
Kluchkovskiy said on June 19 that he thought they would reach 
an agreement on a new name by June 22; other OU leaders 
insisted "Our Ukraine" needed to be in a "short" bloc name. 
One Pravitsya leader, Yuriy Kostenko, said the parties had 
not discussed the top ten names on the list yet.  OU leader 
Kyrylenko said in the end, Yushchenko would pick the list's 
top ten.  Defense Minister Hrytsenko, assumed to be one of 
the top names on the new list, publicly asked the three 
parties to stop announcing ultimatums. 
 
11. (SBU) OU MP and pop star Ruslana bemoaned the ongoing 
infighting in OU among the "big egos" to Ambassador on June 
19.  She thought that in the end, Lutsenko would run 
separately.  OU MP Prokopovych suggested the same to 
Ambassador separately June 19, claiming private polling 
suggested that OU and Lutsenko running in parallel could gain 
more votes than as a unified bloc, since they appeal to 
different electorates. 
 
12. (C) A second concern that may be hindering orange 
cooperation is the rumor that Yushchenko and Akhmetov have 
already reached an accommodation on an Our Ukraine-Regions 
coalition after the election.  A French diplomat told us on 
June 21 that MP Katerynchuk, a key Lutsenko ally, had told 
them that everyone believed that the President had already 
committed to a coalition with Regions.  Deputy Rada Speaker 
and BYuT MP Tomenko told Unian wire service on June 21 that 
BYuT had similar suspicions--that Yushchenko and Akhmetov had &#x000A
;cut a deal.  Tomenko was very clear that BYuT would never be 
in a coalition with Regions.  Katerynchuk, according to the 
French diplomat, was more circumspect about the future of the 
coalition of democratic forces, but it is hard to imagine 
that he and Lutsenko would agree to join with Yanukovych and 
Regions, although they could conceivably find a way to 
cooperate. 
 
Constitutional Court (CC) Resignations or vacations? 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
13. (SBU) In another blip, there has been renewed controversy 
over whether two of the three judges Yushchenko previously 
fired in late April/early May, but who have remained in their 
positions at the CC on the basis of local court rulings, have 
now resigned.  The presidential website posted new 
presidential decrees on June 14 canceling the President's old 
decrees firing Judges Pshenychniy and Ivashchenko and 
accepting their resignations instead.  However, the decrees 
were quickly removed from the website amid explanations of a 
technical error.  The decrees were reissued June 19 along 
with a firmer statement from the Presidential Secretariat 
that the two judges had resigned.  However, the CC press 
service on June 20 said that they had no information about 
any judges resigning.  On June 19, CC Judge Bryntsev stated 
that Stanik and Pshenychniy were on leave.  The CC issued two 
rulings June 19--on amendments to the law on political 
parties and some provisions in the 2007 budget--with only 13 
judges in the session; Pshenychniy was not present. 
 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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