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07KYIV2806, UKRAINE: PRESIDENT’S DEMANDS STRAIN OU; REGIONS

November 9, 2007

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07KYIV2806 2007-11-09 14:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO3193
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2806/01 3131405
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091405Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4292
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 002806 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/09/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: PRESIDENT'S DEMANDS STRAIN OU; REGIONS 
TRIES TO SLOW THINGS DOWN 
 
 
KYIV 00002806  001.2 OF 005 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary. While the parties are slowly going through 
the procedures to prepare for a new Rada, the orange 
coalition is either close to completion or teetering on the 
edge of self-destruction, reportedly pushed by President 
Yushchenko, his Chief of Staff Baloha, and NSDC Secretary 
Plyushch.  Presidential demands focus on a Tymoshenko 
statement putting aside her presidential ambitions and 
supporting Yushchenko, and OU faction agreement to support 
either Plyushch, or possibly Volodymyr Lytvyn, as Speaker. 
Former OU Justice Minister and party insider Roman Zvarych 
was confident that an orange coalition could emerge after the 
Rada opened, but he worried that Yushchenko would demand too 
much from his own bloc, insist on nominating Plyushch as 
Speaker against the wishes of the faction and thereby destroy 
Our Ukraine and his own reelection chances in the process. 
Yuliya Tymoshenko echoed these concerns, arguing that 
Yushchenko's new-found support for Plyushch was a pretext to 
collapse the orange coalition and move into some form of 
cooperation with Regions.  She calculated that since a formal 
broad coalition would never get enough votes, Yushchenko's 
team and Akhmetov/Yanukovych would reach an agreement where 
there would be no coalition and Yanukovych would stay in 
place for the next year in an acting capacity.  Regions 
faction leader Raisa Bohatyreva told the Ambassador that 
Regions was prepared to go into opposition, but would 
continue to demonstrate to the President that it was ready 
for a broad coalition.  Meanwhile, BYuT, OU-PSD, and the 
Lytvyn Bloc have tried to kickstart the preparatory group 
that must meet to set the opening date and agenda for the new 
Rada, but have been stymied all week by Regions' claims that 
they are not able to participate because their MPs have not 
been registered by the Central Election Commission (CEC). 
Regions claims, however, are somewhat undercut by the fact 
that they delayed submitting their documentation to the CEC 
until November 9, which Zvarych attributed to them simply 
trying to hold up the process. 
 
2. (C)  Comment. Regions' procrastination in registering and 
participating in the preparatory group would seem to be a bid 
to buy more time hoping that internal disagreements between 
the President's team, OU-PSD, and BYuT will continue to eat 
away at the orange coalition.  Yushchenko's public statements 
continue to talk about an orange coalition, although he is 
also pushing the idea of rapprochement between Tymoshenko and 
Yanukovych, reportedly the subject of a November 7 meeting 
with Tymoshenko.  Presidential Chief of Staff Baloha told the 
Ambassador that the two sides are close to agreement on a 
coalition -- but we believe that the sticking point is 
whether or not the President can convince the OU-PSD faction 
to support either Plyushch or possibly Lytvyn as Speaker, and 
whether this could bring about the OU-PSD implosion feared by 
Zvarych; Tymoshenko's team has indicated that it will support 
any OU candidate.  Our take is that, if skillfully managed, 
the President could get OU-PSD faction support for his choice 
as Speaker, and certainly Plyushch or Lytvyn would be more 
acceptable to Regions as an opposition party in a future 
Rada.  Lytvyn continues to be coy about his future, noting in 
the press again that his bloc could support the creation of 
an orange coalition without being a member of it.  However, 
as Regions acknowledges, talks still continue between Regions 
and the President, despite the fact that everyone we have 
spoken with from OU-PSD, BYuT, and elsewhere is convinced 
that a formal coalition between Yushchenko and Regions will 
spell the end of the President's already slim chances at 
reelection.  End summary and comment. 
 
Zvarych: We Can Still Do Orange, If the President Helps 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3. (C) Former Justice Minister Zvarych told the Ambassador 
November 8 that since the September 30 elections Regions has 
argued that the President and OU broke their promise to 
establish a broad coalition in the new Rada.  He acknowledged 
that OU had certainly talked about this as a possibility with 
Regions, but there was never a commitment or final agreement. 
 He doubted that Yushchenko had ever agreed to such a deal, 
although admitted that perhaps Plyushch and Baloha could 
have.  Zvarych said that senior Regions MP Kolesnikov had 
approached him about the broad coalition, first arguing that 
they should work together on ideological grounds, then 
changing tactics and suggesting that Zvarych might have a 
"personal motivation" for cooperating (a bribe, or perhaps 
help with a business).  Zvarych said that he had laughed -- 
it was clear that he was not in politics for the money and 
that he had no businesses to speak of.  He noted that others 
in OU had also been approached by Regions.  He recalled that 
Regions had not exactly been supportive of him when he was in 
the Yanukovych Government, so he wasn't sure why he should 
 
KYIV 00002806  0
02.2 OF 005 
 
 
help them out now. 
 
4. (C) Turning to the process of forming a coalition, Zvarych 
first clarified his "quotes" in Ukrainska Pravda about his 
"support" for NSDC Secretary Plyushch as Rada speaker.  He 
said that in the full interview, the journalist had asked if 
the President asked him to vote for Plyushch, what would he 
do.  According to Zvarych, he had no choice but to say that 
he would support Plyushch, because he would not go on record 
saying that he would oppose the President.  In his view 
though, the vote for Speaker would be the critical first test 
for a possible orange coalition; the vote for Prime Minister 
would be the last hurdle to pass.  Zvarych predicted that if 
Kyrylenko's name was put forward -- and Kyrylenko was the 
faction's choice, although Kyrylenko himself had apparently 
urged the faction to wait on the President's decision for 
this -- he would be elected by more than 228 votes.  Because 
this would be a secret ballot, votes for the Speaker would 
likely come from all of OU-PSD, most of BYuT (he thought that 
Regions would succeed in getting 5-7 BYuT members to stay 
home or vote against) and some or all of the Communists -- 
they were in the Rada for "business reasons" -- all that BYuT 
had to do was cut a deal with CPU leader Symonenko and for a 
price, they would support the orange choice for Speaker. 
The next step, adopting the 12 laws required by Yushchenko, 
according to Zvarych, was foolish.  All that was really 
needed was the adoption of a new CabMin law - the other laws 
could wait and be dealt with by the Rada later.  He thought 
that the orange team would need to move quickly to conclude 
the coalition agreement and get the Speaker's vote done 
immediately.  The formal nomination of the PM would come in a 
few days after that. 
 
5. (C) Zvarych said that the main problem in implementing 
this scenario and creating the orange coalition was the 
President -- it was his to destroy.  If Yushchenko allowed 
the vote to go forward for Kyrylenko, then it would show that 
the President respected the faction's wishes and was willing 
to allow an orange coalition to emerge.  However, Zvarych 
thought that the President could order Kyrylenko, who would 
obey, to go to the faction and argue for Plyushch as the 
Speaker.  If that happened, this would be a signal to all 
that Yushchenko did not want an orange coalition; the 
faction/party/bloc would collapse and the President would 
lose his chance to be reelected.  Zvarych believed more than 
half of OU would immediately move to BYuT; he would be among 
them.  If Yushchenko tried to move toward a broad coalition 
with Regions, only 25 OU-PSD deputies would go with him. 
Even with Lytvyn Bloc support, a broad coalition would need 
Communist Party support.  For the President to end up in a 
coalition with the Communists would be akin to committing 
political hari-kari.  In Zvarych's view, the President does 
not understand that this would be the consequence of his 
decision to push Plyushch forward as Speaker. 
 
Tymoshenko: Plyushch Is Latest Form of Sabotage 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
6. (C) Tymoshenko also met with the Ambassador on November 8, 
just after she met with Baloha.  She argued that Baloha and 
Plyushch, with Yushchenko's encouragement, were trying to 
sink the orange coalition so that they can pursue some form 
of broad coalition, even if on an informal basis.  Many of 
her points echoed what Zvarych had already told us.  She said 
Baloha has been throwing up radical conditions for an orange 
coalition and she had agreed to almost everything.  So now, 
instead of trying to push BYuT to give up and quit, Baloha 
was trying to force a split within OU-PSD as a means to 
sabotaging the orange government.  According to Tymoshenko, 
Baloha told her that on November 9 Yushchenko would ask 
Kyrylenko to withdraw his candidacy for Speaker, so that the 
President can nominate Plyushch instead, which will lead to 
one of two outcomes.  Either OU-PSD will be so unhappy that 
the faction will split rendering an orange coalition 
impossible or OU-PSD will get in line behind the President, 
but Speaker Plyushch will make life so difficult for the 
orange coalition that it will implode.  Tymoshenko claimed 
that Baloha has already secured Akhmetov's agreement that 
some Regions MPs will vote for Plyushch to make sure he is 
elected.  Lutsenko has told Tymoshenko, she said, that he and 
PSD will never vote for Plyushch if Regions does, but instead 
will not participate in any coalition.  Tymoshenko added that 
she had met with Yushchenko on November 7, but she had failed 
to convince him not to nominate Plyushch.  Both Tymoshenko 
and her deputy Oleksandr Turchynov expressed doubt about 
Plyushch's ability to do the job, citing his age and lack of 
engaged leadership at the NSDC. 
 
7. (C) Tymoshenko also said that there will not be a broad 
coalition even if the orange variant fails; Yushchenko 
 
KYIV 00002806  003.2 OF 005 
 
 
dissolved the previous Rada convocation based on the argument 
that individual MPs cannot help form the coalition.  The fact 
that Yushchenko has control over 8-15 MPs -- including, in 
her estimation, FM Yatsenyuk, DefMin Hrytsenko, Plyushch, 
former PM Yekhanurov, Sobor leader Matviyenko, UNP leader 
Kostenko, and Baloha relatives Kril and Petyovka -- would not 
be enough to create a broad coalition.  (Note.  Plyushch, 
Petyovka, and Kril also have still not signed the coalition 
agreement.  At least one is needed to give the agreement the 
226 signatures needed to register it in the Rada. End note.) 
They would need the whole OU-PSD faction to meet and vote to 
join a broad coalition, something Tymoshenko said would never 
happen.  Instead, she believed the most likely outcome would 
be that there will be no coalition, Yanukovych will remain 
acting prime minister for the next year, and Yushchenko and 
Akhmetov will reach agreement on issues on a situational 
basis.  This, she added, spelled the end of Yushchenko's 
political career, unless he also agreed the President should 
be elected by the Rada.  However, at a November 10 meeting, 
Turchynov told the Ambassador that BYuT was making progress 
in getting positive signals about possible support from 
Lytvyn and his bloc.  Turchynov said that the bloc would 
prefer Kyrylenko as Speaker, but would be happier with Lytvyn 
than Plyushch. 
 
8. (C) In addition, Tymoshenko said Baloha laid out two other 
conditions at the meeting.  One was her agreement to changes 
in the law on local self-government that would eliminate the 
Cabinet's role entirely in appointing governors and raion 
heads.  (Note.  Right now the constitution and law say that 
the Cabinet makes nominations for oblast and raion 
administration heads to the President, who approves or 
rejects the candidates.  Therefore, the legal amendment 
Tymoshenko described would seem to violate the constitution, 
as she argued it would. End note.)  The final condition was 
that she make a public pledge
 within the next few days that 
she will back Yushchenko in the next presidential race, a 
condition she has said repeatedly she will meet if the orange 
government actually comes together and begins working.  When 
the Ambassador had a brief encounter with Baloha later the 
same day, he said that there were only two issues outstanding 
-- only one of which involved Tymoshenko.  (Embassy Note: 
Presumably, this would be the public pledge to support 
Yushchenko as a presidential candidate; we suspect that the 
other issue involves Yushchenko's choice for Speaker.  End 
Note.) 
 
Regions - Preparing for Opposition? 
----------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  During a November 8 meeting with the Ambassador, 
Regions' faction leader Raisa Bohatyreva was relaxed about 
the prospect of heading into opposition, noting that the 
party leadership was already thinking about how to strengthen 
its party organization in preparation for the next round of 
elections.  She said that the party leadership was being 
criticized by the more radical elements in the party for 
having agreed to the pre-term elections and then "losing 
them," so there was a lot of soul-searching within the party 
about how to avoid that in the future.  Bohatyreva, an 
experienced parliamentarian, said that in her view, as the 
opposition there would be less responsibility for governing, 
and therefore, more time to devote to strengthening the 
party.  However, this position was "not acceptable" to others 
in the party who were now in government, so they continued to 
seek ways to ensure that a broad coalition could be 
established, with Regions at its head.  As a result, there 
was a continuing dialogue with the presidential secretariat 
-- not very lively or intense -- but it continued.  According 
to Bohatyreva, Regions was doing its best to be as 
conciliatory as possible toward the President, in order to 
give him the political ground to form a broad coalition. 
 
10.  (C)  Bohatyreva thought that a democratic coalition was 
still possible, but only with Plyushch rather than Kyrylenko 
as Speaker.  However, even if Plyushch got the Speaker post, 
it was not clear that Tymoshenko would get her 228 votes.  In 
her view, it did not matter whether Tymoshenko became PM or 
not; the one who would be vulnerable would be Yushchenko. 
All three forces were thinking about the presidential 
election, not the current parliament.  Bohatyreva said that 
if she were Yushchenko, she would concentrate on amending the 
constitution, not the parliament.  In her view, he should 
watch, but not be responsible for forming the orange 
coalition.  Bohatyreva said that Regions supported the idea 
of Plysych rather than Kyrylenko as the next Speaker.  In 
Regions' view, Plyushch is "experienced, skilled and better 
able to bring powerful political forces together."  In 
addition, Plyushch was "closer in spirit to the President 
than Kyrylenko."  In an earlier meeting the same day, 
 
KYIV 00002806  004.2 OF 005 
 
 
Presidential Administration Deputy Head Chaliy made the same 
argument to the Ambassador, noting that Kyrylenko was too 
young and inexperienced to moderate between political forces, 
and that Plyushch, or Lytvyn would be able to do it.  In his 
view, Yushchenko had no option but to "go orange," however, 
he wanted to "coopt Regions into cooperation" while he was 
doing it. 
 
Preparatory Group Off to a Bad Start 
------------------------------------ 
 
11. (C) The preparatory group that should be setting the 
agenda for the new Rada, picking a date for the opening, and 
agreeing to the list of committees, has started on an 
inauspicious note, convening three times this week and then 
closing quickly due to lack of quorum.  Speaker Moroz called 
the first meeting on November 6, as required by the Rada 
rules of procedure, and all 10 BYuT representatives, 4 of 5 
from OU-PSD (Lutsenko was out sick), Lytvyn Bloc's one rep 
Ihor Sharov, Bohatyreva from Regions, and the Communists' two 
representatives all attended.  However, Bohatyreva and the 
Communists immediately announced that their factions had not 
yet been registered and that they would not participate in 
the preparatory group until they were, then left.  (Note. 
Bohatyreva did not mention that it was Regions' own fault its 
MPs were not yet registered, since they had not submitted 
their documents to the CEC.  End note.)  The group can only 
make decisions if 16 members are present; Moroz is not a 
member of the group, he just calls the meeting, so there were 
only 15 members in attendance (although Zvarych told us that 
OU had substituted someone for Lutsenko the day he was ill so 
that they would always have a quorum). 
 
12. (SBU) Moroz moved that Communist representative and First 
Deputy Speaker of the last convocation Martynyuk be named 
chairman of the prep group.  Tymoshenko countered by 
nominating OU-PSD's Roman Zvarych.  The chairman runs the 
prep group and is automatically part of the 5-member 
temporary presidium that will chair Rada sessions until a 
Speaker is elected.  The other four members of the presidium 
will be put forward by the four largest factions (i.e. 
everyone but the Lytvyn Bloc), so holding the chairmanship of 
the prep group could give one faction a second member of the 
presidium.  This could be important for factions such as 
OU-PSD who have talked about reordering the opening agenda to 
vote on the 12 laws in the coalition agreement. Because there 
was no quorum, no decision was taken. 
 
13. (C) Zvarych argued to the Ambassador that Regions had no 
legal grounds for saying they could not participate in the 
preparatory group meetings until they were registered with 
the CEC --  the credentials issued by the CEC merely 
acknowledged the deputy-elect's status, and eligibility to 
take the oath of office and participate in the first meeting 
of the Rada.  All were surprised by Regions' view, and when 
Bohatyreva walked out of the meeting, the two Communist reps 
(in Zvarych's view, not briefed about this) were surprised 
and jumped up to follow her out so as not to look stupid. 
Zvarych acknowledged that he had been put forward by the 
orange team as head of the group, but thought that a better 
choice would have been Sharov, which would give orange (BYuT 
10 and OU-PSD 5) plus Lytvyn 16 out of 30 votes and a 
majority.  Instead, Zvarych worried that they would be 
deadlocked at 15-15 for a while, with Sharov voting against 
orange.  Zvarych said that he could not explain Regions' 
approach, but could only guess that they were trying to show 
force - "without us, you can't do anything" - but that was 
odd since "they were not negotiating with Orange either." 
 
14.  (C)  Bohatyreva acknowledged that Regions was 
procrastinating in joining the work of the preparatory group, 
with the hope that OU would split from the inside or make a 
solid decision to join the orange coalition.  However, she 
was confident that once the Regions representatives joined 
the
 group, the necessary work of choosing an opening date for 
the Rada and setting the agenda would be accomplished 
quickly.  Bohatyreva noted that Regions was supporting 
Communist representative Martynyuk as head of the preparatory 
group.  However, they would need to get Lytvyn's 
representative to support Regions and the Communists in order 
to have a 16-14 majority.  Although the orange parties were 
calling for an opening session on November 20, she noted that 
Regions would prefer a slightly later start date of November 
23 (still within the 30-day window following the promulgation 
of the official results -- November 26). 
 
15. (C) Moroz called a second prep group meeting on November 
7, to which only members of BYuT and OU-PSD showed up. 
Lytvyn gave a press interview in which he called on all five 
factions to hold an urgent meeting to set a date for opening 
 
KYIV 00002806  005.2 OF 005 
 
 
the Rada and settle other technical aspects related to the 
opening.  He also expressed concern at the confrontational 
nature of the prep group's first meeting.  A third meeting 
was called November 8, which was attended by BYuT and OU-PSD. 
 The meeting, like the previous two, was immediately closed 
due to lack of quorum.  On behalf of Regions, Justice 
Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych and MP Taras Chornovil told 
the press that their faction finally submitted their 
documents on November 7 and hoped to be registered on 
November 9.  (Embassy Note:  It appears that Regions planned 
to submit their documents to the CEC on November 9.  End 
note.)   First Deputy PM Azarov said on November 8 that 
Regions will begin participating in the prep group on 
November 12; Bohatyreva told the Ambassador the same thing. 
 
16. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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