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September 13, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV2290 2007-09-13 10:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #2290/01 2561034
P 131034Z SEP 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 002290 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2017 
REF: A. KYIV 02239 
     B. KYIV 001516 
     C. KYIV 002169 
KYIV 00002290  001.2 OF 003 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
1. (C) Summary. Conversations with Our Ukraine-People's 
Self-Defense (OU-PSD) Leader Yuriy Lutsenko, First Lady 
Kateryna Yushchenko, and members of the bloc's regional 
headquarters show a political movement struggling to keep 
pace with the more aggressive Tymoshenko Bloc.  Lutsenko and 
Mrs. Yushchenko both blamed the decision to make one issue -- 
eliminating parliamentary immunity -- for much of OU-PSD's 
troubles; an analysis many Ukrainian political observers 
share.  Lutsenko also thought that the campaign was being 
overtaken by a focus on the 2009 presidential election, which 
was hurting the bloc's chances on September 30.  He said that 
Tymoshenko was beginning to attack OU-PSD, despite his 
commitment with her to not fight dirty, and he worried that 
she would try to discredit OU shortly before voting day. 
Outside of Kyiv, many OU-PSD headquarters seem disorganized 
and a few seem demoralized as well.  Some political analysts 
think Lutsenko might have done better on his own, although 
his presence may be helping OU.  When asked about a 
coalition agreement with Yanukovych, Lutsenko predicted that 
it would lead to a rupture in OU-PSD.  However, he said that 
if the Akhmteov wing of the party could agree to a 
technocratic government that did not include the current PM, 
he could support it -- a scenario he termed better, but 
2. (C) Comment. No one doubts that OU-PSD will get into the 
Rada, but how far it is behind Regions and BYuT may affect 
its bargaining power during coalition negotiations.  Recent 
polls show the bloc down to 12-13 percent from a peak in the 
high teens.  OU has always had problems with organization, in 
part because it lacks the strong leader and top-down control 
of BYuT and Regions, so it is no surprise that 
disorganization plagues them now.  The disappointment with 
their efforts so far, however, and the pessimism from 
Lutsenko and Katya Yushchenko are new and indicate that 
internal disagreements over campaign strategy may be hurting 
the bloc.  Having identified its internal problems -- a 
campaign message that's not selling, tension between Kyiv and 
the regions -- it will be up to OU to make a mid-course 
correction  and get up to the higher ratings they enjoyed in 
July.  End summary and comment. 
Lutsenko, Mrs. Yushchenko Campaign Strategy Misguided 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
3. (C) Joking that after his latest round of stumping he had 
switched from tea to whiskey, Lutsenko told the Ambassador on 
September 10 that OU-PSD was facing an uphill battle. 
Overall, Lutsenko thought that OU-PSD might get 17-18 percent 
of the vote.  In contrast, he thought BYuT would get at least 
25-30 percent, although he said Tymoshenko herself was 
confident she will win 226 seats alone.  (Note: A sentiment 
not shared by any major pollster. End note.)  Separately, 
Kateryna Yushchenko also expressed disappointment with the 
campaign thus far, telling the Ambassador on two occasions 
that she was not optimistic about OU's chances.  In her view, 
OU was not well-organized, and she wished her husband got 
credit for more of the social issues that he (and she) had 
been associated with over the years. 
4. (C) Lutsenko singled out the decision to make the 
elimination of parliamentary immunity the bloc's only major 
campaign issue as a bad mistake -- advice he blamed on 
American consultants.  Mrs. Yushchenko told the Ambassador 
that she doubted the competence of the US political advisors 
who counseled sticking to that one message.  Political 
analyst Volodymyr Fesenko on September 11 said the one-issue 
campaign had backfired on OU-PSD -- its ratings had crashed 
in the past month from 15-16 percent down to 12 percent. 
Head of the Cherkasy branch of Committee of Voters of Ukraine 
thought that OU-PSD's campaign against immunity for 
parliamentary deputies was a good idea, but that there had 
not been enough time to make this a key issue for people. 
Political analyst Vadym Karasyov thought OU still had a 
chance to build back up some of its popularity if it worked 
hard.  (Note.  Many Ukrainians tell us that they support the 
issue, but that they do not feel passionately about it -- 
parliamentary immunity is a Kyiv-centric elite issue.  And 
now that PM Yanukovych and Regions have signed on in support, 
OU is pushing for an issue on which all agree.  End note.) 
Lutsenko Evaluates Campaign Thus Far 
5. (C) Lutsenko also said he was not in charge of the 
KYIV 00002290  002.2 OF 003 
campaign's direction, not even Baloha was fully in charge 
anymore.  Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration 
Ivan Vasyunyk had been tapped to start planning Yushchenko's 
2009 reelection campaign and his decisions were having 
negative effects on the OU-PSD R
ada campaign.  He also said 
that some of the presidentially-appointed governors in the 
South and East were now working for all sides, which was 
hurting OU-PSD. 
6. (C) Lutsenko said OU-PSD had decided not to campaign in 
the heart of Regions' territory -- Donetsk, Luhansk, and 
Crimea.  They are counting on low voter turnout to help them, 
and showing up in Region's strongholds might anger people and 
mobilize them to come vote against OU.  Better to let 
sleeping dogs lie.  Instead, they would cover the territory 
around Donbas -- Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolayiv, Kherson 
-- and try to mobilize support there. 
7. (C) Tymoshenko was becoming a major problem for OU-PSD, 
Lutsenko added.  He accused her of using black PR to tarnish 
OU-PSD's image, playing up the possibility of a broad 
coalition agreement between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, even 
though Lutsenko stated at every campaign stop that that would 
not happen.  He was opposed to black PR, so he would not let 
his bloc retaliate; as a result, they were suffering damage. 
He also believed that Tymoshenko was planning to set OU up -- 
she was attending meetings with Baloha and Kolesnikov to talk 
about the broad coalition, although she had no intention of 
participating.  Lutsenko thought that she would eventually 
secure a written statement that documented the 
Baloha-Kolesnikov negotiations, that she would make public 
the week before the election in hopes of taking half of 
OU-PSD's votes.  She was also giving a  lot of unofficial 
money to television stations to secure good coverage. 
8. (C) Lutsenko commented that he does not expect mass fraud, 
although there might be some attempt to increase the number 
of votes cast.  Our task, he said, is to make sure the number 
of votes counted in the East accurately reflects number of 
people who voted. 
Campaign Outside of Kyiv Uneven 
9. (C) PolOffs have been visiting OU-PSD regional 
headquarters across Ukraine, and these offices seemed to be 
disorganized or unmotivated.  In Odesa, OU-PSD leaders 
complained that the Presidential Secretariat was managing the 
whole campaign from Kyiv, marginalizing party activists on 
the ground (ref A).  They also mentioned they had been given 
specific voting targets, a claim we have heard about 
Dnipropetrovsk as well.  Earlier in the summer, OU had almost 
no presence in Dnipropetrovsk, and most people we talked to 
there did not take the bloc seriously (ref B).  Head of the 
Zhytomyr OU-PSD campaign said that OU preparations for the 
elections were progressing, but the tomb-like atmosphere of 
their headquarters lacked a sense of urgency and organization 
(ref C).  The CVU representative there said that OU has been 
complacent at the local level and had trouble mobilizing its 
parties, but hoped to capitalize on Pavlenko's popularity. 
The Kirovohrad OU-PSD headquarters was also disorganized -- 
when DCM and Poloff showed up for a September 10 meeting, 
representatives of the party were nowhere to be found. 
10. (C) In Odesa, the OU rep predicted that OU will lose by a 
significant margin.  He said that the poor results and 
restrictions placed on party members and staff will be the 
death of OU.  The OU reps in Dnipropetrovsk acknowledged that 
they weren't much of a factor--that Tymoshenko was the only 
serious challenge to Regions.  Cherkasy and Dnipropetrovsk 
said the party would play up ties to Yushchenko, who they 
believed had seen a bump in his ratings since the spring. 
Kirovohrad party workers said they were receiving material 
help from Kyiv, which was useful, but that the strategies 
being sent from the capital had to be reworked to fit oblast 
11. (C) In contrast, OU's Kharkiv headquarters was active and 
bustling, although their activists admitted that they were 
low in funds.  Poloffs noticed that there were few OU 
billboards and signs up around the city, as opposed to the 
large numbers for Regions and BYuT.  In contrast, Econoff 
reported that OU-PSD had far more billboards than anyone else 
in Regions-dominated Luhansk. 
Lutsenko Factor: Good for OU, Not So Good for Lutsenko 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
12. (C) Contacts around the country questioned whether the 
OU-PSD alliance was working.  Cherkasy and Zhytomyr CVU 
representatives said they believed Lutsenko would have gotten 
KYIV 00002290  003.2 OF 003 
more votes without OU, especially in the east.  Rada 
candidates Mykola Katerynchuk and Oles Doniy, both high on 
PSD's list, have expressed dissatisfaction to us with their 
current bloc.  Doniy told a roundtable of European diplomats 
on September 11 that Lytvyn's chances of getting into the 
Rada increased when PSD joined OU.  Previously, Lutsenko was 
well positioned as the alternative to both Regions and 
OU/BYuT -- now Lytvyn had that spot. 
Lutsenko on Coalitions: No to Yanukovych, Maybe to Regions 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
13. (C) Lutsenko also covered coalition variants with the 
Ambassador.  He said he could never be in a broad coalition 
with Yanukovych's Regions -- after all his public statements 
against it, to do so would make him a liar and end his 
political ambitions.  (Note. On the other hand, Lutsenko is 
personally loyal to Yushchenko and if asked to support, or at 
least not to oppose a broad coalition, it is possible that he 
would do what the President asked.  End note.)  According to 
Lutsenko, Tymoshenko as PM would be aggressive and dangerous, 
but she might flounder trying to fulfill all the ludicrous 
campaign promise she was making and undermine her own 
presidential campaign.  Better that than a 
Yushchenko-Yanukovych alliance that would bring the 
President's political career to an end and hand Tymoshenko an 
easy 60 percent of the presidential vote in 2009.  If a broad 
coalition did happen, Lutsenko said that he would take his 
PSD MPs and, he suspected, more than 20 OU MPs, and form a 
new group in the Rada.  This new group could not formally be 
an independent faction, but it could vote with the 
14. (C) He had a more hopeful scenario, but he termed it 
unlikely and fantastic.  If Akhmetov and Kolesnikov could 
really gain control over Regions and agree to a technocrat as 
the next PM in place of Yanukovych, then he and his people 
would stay in the OU faction.  Such a move might splinter 
Regions, but that was not a requirement for him, as long as 
Yanukovych, Azarov, and Klyuyev were no longer in the 
Cabinet.  Lutsenko said Yushchenko and Baloha were still open 
to all variants.  He said he had trouble thinking who such a 
neutral compromise figure might be, naming Lytvyn as a 
possibility.  (Note.  We've also heard Foreign Minister 
Yatsenyuk and Defense Minister Hrytsenko as other possible 
"technocratic PMs" who
might be acceptable to both Regions 
and OU.  End Note.)  He added that Kolesnikov and Baloha were 
meeting daily, so all options are still on the table. 
15. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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