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07KYIV1940, UKRAINE: REGIONS’S PARTY CONGRESS: A HANDSHAKE, A

August 8, 2007

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07KYIV1940 2007-08-08 09:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO4533
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1940/01 2200927
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 080927Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3311
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 001940 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: REGIONS'S PARTY CONGRESS: A HANDSHAKE, A 
COMMUNIST, AND THE RUSSIANS 
 
 
KYIV 00001940  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary. The Party of Regions August 4 party congress 
was the least predictable of the major party congresses, 
featuring both moderate speeches by Prime Minister Yanukovych 
and faction leader Raisa Bohatyreva and well-received 
speeches from Communist Party leader Symonenko and a 
representative of the pro-Putin Duma party Yedina Rossiya 
(United Russia).  Yanukovych underscored the party's new 
motto--Stability and Well-Being--and argued that his 
government was the only one that protected average 
Ukrainians.  Most of the Regions MPs who followed were much 
more openly critical of President Yushchenko and the 
opposition calling them "destroyers of democracy;" there were 
a number of references to the Orange Revolution as a coup. 
There was also loud applause for special guest Konstantin 
Zatulin blacklisted from Ukraine after he took part in 
anti-NATO protests in Feodosiya in May 2006.  Regions's new 
party list includes most of the Yanukovych Cabinet, rewards 
opposition defectors, and adds new elements like Energy 
Minster Yuriy Boyko and PM Chief of Staff Serhiy Lyovochkin, 
both of whom are connected to shadowy gas middleman 
RosUkrEnergo. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  At the congress, the party played up its 
stability and reluctance to go to new elections--trying to 
contrast its strong leadership with the more chaotic Our 
Ukraine.  However, the surprising presentations by Symonenko 
and the Russian MP also gave an optic of a pro-Russian party 
that was proud of its current coalition.  Although some in 
Regions may be uncomfortable with this line, we are being 
increasingly told that the party leadership feels it must 
project this image if it is to protect itself from attacks by 
leftist parties, like the Communists, Socialists, and 
Progressive Socialists.  The congress itself was run in an 
orderly way, with all votes unanimous and journalists tightly 
controlled.  The composition of Regions's list suggests 
overall satisfaction with its current team, although its top 
ten differs from its 2006 top ten with the promotion of 
Bohatyreva to the second spot, the inclusion of First deputy 
PM Azarov, and the introduction of non-party members Inna 
Bohoslovska and Nestor Shufrych.  The inclusion of both of 
the latter suggests accommodations with their political 
backers, former President Kuchma son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk 
and former Kuchma chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk 
respectively.  End summary and comment. 
 
The Congress Begins 
------------------- 
 
3. (C) The Congress started off with standing ovations and 
chants of "Viktor" and "Yanukovych" as the Prime Minister 
entered the conference hall.  The party presidium's 18 
members took their seats on the stage--including Yanukovych, 
Azarov, faction leader Bohatyreva, DPM Klyuyev, oligarch 
Akhmetov, his political manager Borys Kolesnikov, Yanukovych 
lawyer Olena Lukash, and MPs Hanna Herman, Taras Chornovil, 
Viktor Tykhonov, Hryhoriy Skudar, and Vyachesalv Boguslayev. 
Non-Regions notables at the congress included first Ukrainian 
President Kravchuk, Economics Minister Kinakh, most of the 
Cabinet (minus the Socialist and Communist ministers), and 
defectors to the coalition from the opposition.  Yanukovych, 
Bohatyreva, Herman, and Chornovil were among the only 
Ukrainian speakers at the conference--they were also among 
the small minority who seemed to know the words to Ukraine's 
national anthem. 
 
Yanukovych's Speech: We Are Working For Good of the Country 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
4. (SBU) Yanukovych gave the first speech of the day, a 
moderate talk that reflected the Party's new slogan: 
Stability and Well-Being.  He praised his Cabinet for its 
success in working for the good of the country and criticized 
the opposition for considering itself above the law.  Regions 
had demonstrated its readiness for compromise, but Our 
Ukraine did not listen.  He said his Cabinet stood for a 
balanced foreign policy, a good economic policy, normal 
relations with Russia, and closer ties to the EU.  His 
government was on the side of the people, while the 
"so-called democratic, European President" was using the 
constitution for his own benefit.  His government was trying 
to improve the lives of the people, but Yushchenko had 
blocked their efforts.  Regions was proposing unity, since 
there was no alternative, but the opposition wanted absolute 
power.  He claimed that the Orange Revolution had been a 
political-technical experiment and its proponents were 
attempting another such experiment now. 
 
5. (SBU) Yanukovych then ran through a series of possible 
 
KYIV 00001940  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
social-welfare improvements, such as increasing the minimum 
wage, giving money to young families to buy their first home, 
working on a pension fund, increasing salaries for officers 
in the military, and setting a minimum price for land sales. 
He said that there needed to be changes to the constitution 
and a working CabMin law
.  He mentioned the need for 
administrative-territorial reform and strong local 
government.  Yanukovych wrapped up his speech with the phrase 
that became a second slogan of the congress--when the 
opposition shows a fist (note--a reference to People's 
Self-Defense fist logo), we will offer them a handshake. 
 
The Rest of the Regions: Beware of Orange Coups 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
6. (SBU) A number of Regions officials then made speeches. 
Key themes were that Regions equaled stability, that the 
opposition was destructive and selfish, and that Regions was 
a reluctant participant in the elections.  Bohatyreva said 
that the early elections were revenge by the political 
minority, who should really blame the situation on their own 
disorganization and failures.  She said Regions's program was 
"national pragmatism"--including better pension and insurance 
systems, greater moral values, and patriotism.  Many speakers 
criticized the Orange Revolution, Our Ukraine, and 
Tymoshenko.  There was very little offered in terms of 
specific program ideas.  MP Herman said that the orange 
forces had caused a split between Ukraine and Russia.  She 
also amended Yanukovych's handshake for a fist line to say 
that the opposition will feel the force of Regions's 
handshake--"we won the last battle, we will win again." 
 
7. (C) Kravchuk gave a wacky presentation, comparing 
Yushchenko to Stalin in terms of his meddling in political 
party affairs.  He expressed his pride in becoming a new 
member of Regions (although he is not included on the party's 
electoral list) and praised Yanukovych as a great leader.  MP 
Chornovil--who got strong applause, most likely because 
although he is the son of famous dissident and ardent 
nationalist Vyacheslav, he had moved from the orange to the 
blue camp (in 2004)--said that the third round of the 2004 
presidential election had been illegal and falsified, but 
said Regions would do its best to keep this election honest. 
Fellow MP Boguslayev said that the Orange Revolution and the 
upcoming Rada elections were both anti-democratic coups. 
 
The Russians Are Backing Regions 
-------------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Early in the conference, the announcer welcomed very 
special visitor Russian Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin, who 
was put on Ukraine's blacklist in 2006 for participating in 
the anti-NATO protests in Feodosiya; Zatulin received loud 
applause.  Another Duma MP, Konstantin Kosachev from the 
pro-Putin Yedina Rossiya party, was invited on stage to give 
a speech on behalf of Duma Speaker Borys Gryzlov.  His speech 
drew the loudest applause of the day.  It underscored the 
partnership agreement signed between Yedina Rossiya and 
Regions.  (Note. A Regions delegation, including Azarov and 
Kolesnikov, recently traveled to Moscow to sign the 
agreement. End note.)  Kosachev talked about the eternal and 
strong friendship between Ukraine and Russia.  He said that 
Regions was a constructive and responsible political force 
and the Russians had been very pleased with the results of 
the March 2006 Rada elections.  He said democracy was not a 
color, but respect for the constitution and for the people, 
no matter where the people live or what language they speak. 
He said that Russia wants to live in a Europe without 
borders, but there was still one border--to Ukraine's west. 
He said that new elections do not answer the needs of the 
Ukrainians, but they will show how popular Regions is, adding 
that Regions would build a great state and a great Ukraine. 
Kosachev closed by saying that Russia is rooting for Regions, 
once again drawing the loudest applause of the day. 
 
Symonenko: Keep the Coalition Strong 
------------------------------------ 
 
9. (SBU) Regions also invited coalition partner and head of 
the Communist party Petro Symonenko to address the congress. 
As usual with the Communist leader, Symonenko gave a harsh 
and fierce criticism of Yushchenko.  He said that the 
Anti-Crisis Coalition had crossed the Rubicon together in 
2006 in defeating the orange forces and they must strengthen 
and solidify the current coalition to fight the usurpation of 
power by Yushchenko and his circle.  He claimed Yushchenko 
had created a split in the political elite while seeking 
personal benefit for his family and friends.  He said that 
the coalition must protect Ukraine's national capital, 
providing jobs for everyone and creating economic 
 
KYIV 00001940  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
independence from all sides. 
 
Party Approves Election List and Platform 
----------------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) After the speeches, Yanukovych moved on to party 
business.  He proposed that the congress approve the party 
list as a whole, but only read out the top ten names, leaving 
delegates to support the list blindly.  We also noted that in 
all votes taken, the assumption appeared to be that all 
delegates supported the motion and no attempt was made to 
actually count the votes (this also happened at BYuT's 
congress; only Our Ukraine publicly counted the votes).  In 
one democratic highlight, however, Yanukovych announced that 
Regions political committee had finally decided to expel from 
the party list MP Kalashnikov, who was caught on film in 
August 2006 roughly pushing a tv cameraman outside the Rada, 
raising an outcry from freedom of speech proponents. 
 
Party List--New Members 
----------------------- 
 
11. (C) Comment. The Regions party list approved by the 
congress starts off with a surprising top five, including two 
non-party members--Deputy Justice Minister Inna Bohoslovska 
and Minister of Emergency Situations Nestor Shufrych. 
Bohoslovska, whose Viche party did not make it into the Rada 
in 2006, is a political ally of oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, 
suggesting the Dnipropetrovsk baron may have found an 
accommodation with his Donetsk neighbors.  Shufrych's 
addition to the list has been attributed to the alliance with 
Regions of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine 
(united)--known for the anti-democratic, pro-Russian stance 
of its leaders, such as Kuchma Chief of Staff Medvedchuk.  At 
the same time, the exclusion of Medvedchuk himself from the 
list, as well as other SDPU(o) members--Medvedchuk boasted to 
the press that he would get ten spots--is a positive sign. 
Also reassuring is the absence of Socialists from the list, 
other than junior oligarch and Kuchma godson Andriy Derkach, 
who was only a Socialist for the 2006 elections. 
 
12. (C) Most Cabinet ministers are on the list, including the 
politically unaffiliated like Dmytro Tabachnyk, Oleksandr 
Kuzmuk, and Yuriy Boyko.  Regions did reward opposition 
defectors, giving slots to Economics Minister Kinakh and his 
allies, former OU MPs Serhiy Holovatiy and Oleksandr Volkov 
(the basketball player), former BYuT financial backer Vasyl 
Khmelnitskiy, and on-again off-again Prosecutor General 
Svyatoslav Pi
skun.  PM Chief of Staff and rumored 
RosUkrEnergo liaison Serhiy Lyovochkin is also on the list, 
his first foray into elected politics. 
 
13. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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