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September 4, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV2206 2007-09-04 13:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #2206/01 2471350
P 041350Z SEP 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 002206 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2016 
REF: KYIV 1837 
KYIV 00002206  001.2 OF 002 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
1. (U) Summary:  The Rada's majority coalition held an 
extraordinary parliamentary session on September 4, at 
Speaker Moroz's behest.  With 269 MP's registered as present, 
they voted to amend two clauses of the constitution in order 
to eliminate parliamentary and presidential immunity, thereby 
preempting Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense and President 
Yushchenko on their own key campaign issue.  The Rada, 
ignoring the fact that it is inquorate, also discussed the 
2008 budget and increases in public pensions and government 
salaries.  Most Cabinet Ministers attended the session, led 
by First Deputy Prime Minister Azarov, giving the session a 
further stamp of approval from Regions, although PM 
Yanukovych was out of Kyiv.  Regions also gathered 
approximately 4,000 supporters to demonstrate outside the 
Rada to increase publicity for the session.  Regions oligarch 
Rinat Akhmetov told the Ambassador that he had opposed his 
faction's participation, but Regions's consultants told PM 
Yanukovych that not to attend would open the party to attacks 
from the left that it was betraying the current coalition and 
could cost them electoral support.  President Yushchenko went 
on national television on September 3 to denounce the Rada 
session as illegitimate and as political maneuvering to try 
to derail the upcoming elections.  Neither BYuT nor Our 
Ukraine (OU) attended the session, with the exception of a 
few defectors.  As an easy out, the Rada voted to spend the 
rest of the month attending to non-plenary business, allowing 
them to argue that they are still an active parliament. 
2. (C)  Comment.  That all players across the spectrum -- 
with the possible exception of the Socialists and Communists 
-- agree that the Rada session cannot adopt any binding law 
underscores that today's events were merely political 
theater.  By voting, even symbolically, to eliminate deputy's 
immunity, the coalition has made it harder for OU-PSD to 
argue to the public that Regions opposes canceling MP 
benefits.  Moreover,  Yushchenko's numerous public statements 
about the illegitimacy of today's Rada session suggest that 
he was concerned that the "null and void" Rada session was 
damaging to him politically.  End summary and comment. 
Rada Opens and Votes, To Little Practical Effect 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
3. (SBU)  Moroz opened the September 4 Rada session with 
another vitriolic attack on the President, accusing 
Yushchenko of distorting the Constitution and saying he would 
be accountable for his "crimes".  Moroz called for the 
Constitutional Court to examine Yushchenko's decree 
disbanding the Rada and calling for new elections.  The 
Speaker described Yushchenko's claims that the Rada session 
is illegitimate as political "adventure" and noted that under 
the Constitution, the Rada's authority remains valid until a 
new Rada is seated.  All told, 269 members of the Rada were 
registered as in attendance, although television cameras 
showed far fewer.  Coalition members from Regions, the 
Communist Party, and the Socialist Party all were in 
attendance, as were a small number of defectors from BYuT and 
OU.  They cast 259 votes to amend the constitution to abolish 
parliamentary and presidential immunity.  They also voted to 
spend the rest of the month in non-plenary mode -- in 
faction, committee, and constituent work.  Roughly 4,000 
Regions supporters demonstrated outside of the Rada in order 
to support the extraordinary session. 
4. (SBU) Just before the Rada session began, Regions MP 
Volodymyr Makeyenko told the press that his party will 
participate in the early elections, indicating that Regions 
is not buying into the Moroz line that the upcoming elections 
are illegitimate.  The President and leaders of the 
opposition, along with various other minority parties, all 
described the Rada extraordinary session as little more than 
political show.  Only the Socialists and Communists appeared 
to give any credence to the session. 
5. (C) Embassy Comment. The significance of the voting is 
mostly symbolic.  Our understanding of the Ukrainian 
political system is that an inquorate Rada cannot pass laws. 
The Rada legally exists in the sense that its deputies retain 
their status until the next Rada is seated, meaning hearings 
and non-plenary business can continue, but without a quorum 
of 300, it cannot pass legislation or have a real session. 
Moreover, amending the constitution is a lengthy process 
involving multiple Rada votes in sperate sessions and a 
review by the Constitutional Court.  End comment. 
Akhmetov: We Had to Go to Protect Our Flank 
KYIV 00002206  002.2 OF 002 
6. (C)  Regions financier Rinat Akhmetov told Ambassador on 
September 4, that Regions's political consultants had warned 
Yanukovych that if Regions did not attend the
Rada session, the Communists and Socialists would gain 
valuable ammunition to claim that Regions was not loyal to 
the current government coalition.  This could result in the 
loss of two to three percent of the vote -- a percentage that 
could be critical to determining the composition of the next 
governing coalition.  Akhmetov had told the PM that he 
opposed returning to the Rada -- it was a waste of time -- 
but Yanukovych had decided it was not worth losing votes by 
boycotting.  Regions knows that nothing binding or serious 
could take place, but it was simple campaign logic to embrace 
the annulment of immunity for parliamentary deputies since 
the measure is widely supported by the electorate. 
Yushchenko/OU Losing the Wind in their Sails? 
7.  (C)  OU has made annulling parliamentary immunity the 
major plank in its campaign, and hoped to use it to 
distinguish itself from the other parties.  Regions, 
Socialist, and Communist support for the annulment will 
effectively blur the issue to the electorate and could 
neutralize OU's major theme.  In his latest statement on the 
Rada session, Yushchenko accused his rivals of turning the 
Rada into a circus and a laughing stock.  He appealed for 
calm orderly elections after which he said the Rada will 
decide on parliamentary immunity, raising pensions and 
salaries, and a budget.  Yushchenko also singled out 
Yanukovych by name, telling him that decisions taken in the 
Rada session will have no legal effect.  Yanukovych responded 
by saying Yushchenko is entitled to his "subjective opinion". 
 The PM also denied trying to disrupt the elections by 
participating in the Rada session and argued, at least 
publicly, that the Rada session is indeed legitimate. 
Moroz Grasping at Straws 
8.  (C)  As noted reftel, the Rada session also appeared to 
be one more play by Moroz to remain relevant since 
pre-election polling and the general feeling, even among 
Socialist stalwarts, is that the Socialists are heading for a 
dreadful election showing.  In addition to the question of 
immunity, Moroz is pushing other hot button bread and butter 
issues dealing with pensions and salaries in an effort to 
help his own stalling campaign.  All indications are that the 
Socialists will not make it past the three-percent threshold 
bar into the next Rada. 
9. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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