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07KYIV2813, UKRAINE: KYIV MAYOR ONCE AGAIN UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

November 13, 2007

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07KYIV2813 2007-11-13 13:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO4925
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2813/01 3171358
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131358Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4309
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 002813 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: KYIV MAYOR ONCE AGAIN UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT 
 
 
KYIV 00002813  001.2 OF 005 
 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Many consider the Mayor of Kyiv to be the 
fourth most powerful political post in the country, after the 
President, PM, and Speaker of the Parliament.  Both the 
Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT) Bloc and Our Ukraine-People's 
Self-Defense (OU-PSD) made the dismissal of Kyiv mayor Leonid 
Chernovetskiy a key electoral promise in their September 30 
pre-term election campaign in Ukraine's capital. 
Chernovetskiy has been an easy target for national-level 
politicians, given the land grab scandals, increased utility 
rates, and fist fights on the floor of the city council since 
Chernovetskiy took office in March 2006.  Tymoshenko has been 
gunning for Chernovetskiy since fall 2006, when the mayor 
convinced a large number of her city council members to 
defect to his side.  OU-PSD leader Yuriy Lutsenko has also 
openly discussed his desire to be mayor of Kyiv since the 
beginning of 2007 -- the two opposition leaders' interest in 
the post is one reason for the tension between them.  The two 
have now made holding new mayoral elections in Kyiv part of 
the orange coalition agreement.  However, a variety of 
factors, including legal barriers, a large number of 
contenders for the post, and Chernovetskiy's political wiles, 
make the outcome far from certain. 
 
2. (C) Comment. Most politicians and analysts agree that the 
fixation on the Kyiv mayor's spot stems from the desire to 
run the capital ahead of the 2009/2010 presidential 
elections.  People cite the money to be made, public 
exposure, and the party structure that would come from 
running Kyiv as a major step in becoming president.  The post 
could also be a political reward for an ally, such as 
Tymoshenko wooing centrist Volodymyr Lytvyn into the orange 
coalition.  Before her strong showing in the pre-term Rada 
elections, Tymoshenko was rumored herself to want to be 
mayor, but now it is more likely that she wants to control 
the city via a proxy.  Lutsenko's focus on becoming mayor, 
however, could continue to complicate the relationship 
between the two orange leaders.  Moreover, despite mounting 
discontent with Chernovetskiy's performance and increasing 
media speculation about his removal from the post, all talk 
about his imminent dismissal may fade unless Tymoshenko 
becomes Prime Minister and an orange coalition is formed; 
even then, removing the current mayor will be a long, thorny 
process.  End summary and comment. 
 
Chernovetskiy: An Unexpected Mayor 
---------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Eccentric, rich, religious, and openly Protestant in 
heavily-orthodox Ukraine, Leonid Chernovetskiy won a 
surprising victory in Kyiv's March 2006 mayoral election 
thanks to his promise to enact sweeping reforms.  He mustered 
32 percent of total votes, leaving behind his major rivals -- 
retired world boxing champion Vitaliy Klychko, who won 24 
percent of the vote, and then incumbent mayor Oleksandr 
Omelchenko, who got 21 percent.  Chernovetskiy was 
campaigning long before the mayoral race officially started, 
using his affiliation as a member and major sponsor of Kyiv's 
Embassy of God Church to present himself as philanthropist. 
He distributed gift and food packages to pensioners from all 
Kyiv districts. The Ukrainian media reported that he also 
spent 1 million USD to provide food and temporary shelter to 
homeless and poor residents. 
 
Installs His Own People, Consolidates Control Over Media 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
4. (SBU) Chernovetskiy's electoral rhetoric was a mix of 
pragmatic and populist pledges, promising to lower real 
estate prices through the transparent sale of Kyiv land and 
to use lie detector tests when hiring top local government 
officials.  However, Chernovetskiy's tenure has been marked 
by nepotism and allegations of corruption.  After his 
election, he appointed as his deputies two close cronies, 
Denys Bass and Iryna Kulchitska -- both of whom previously 
served as CEOs at Chernovetskiy-owned Pravex Bank. 
Chernovetskiy also helped his son Stepan, son-in-law 
Vyacheslav Suprunenko, and Vyacheslav's brother Oleksandr 
Suprunenko, get elected to the city council on the list of 
the Chernovetskiy bloc (not an uncommon practice in Ukraine 
where the President's brother and the PM's son are both Rada 
deputies on their respective party lists). 
 
5. (SBU) Chernovetskiy undertook a sweeping personnel 
reshuffle in order to tighten control over city-owned mass 
media companies.  On June 14, the Kyiv city council voted to 
merge all municipal mass media outlets into a new "Kyiv 
media-holding" corporation.  The Kyiv authorities argued that 
this consolidation was a necessary step for better management 
of communal media resources, while the opposition claimed 
 
KYIV 00002813  002.2 OF 005 
 
 
that Chernovetskiy and his political entourage were preparing 
for under-priced privatization of all municipally-owned 
media.  The heads of TV channel "Kyiv" a
nd four communal 
newspapers were replaced by individuals loyal to the Kyiv 
mayor and his principal media advisor Kazbek Bektursunov. 
Independent media NGO Telekrytyka argued that the new head of 
"Kyiv" TV network Dmytro Dzhanhirov could pose a danger to 
freedom of speech, because in 2004 he anchored the notorious 
program, "Prote," which smeared Yushchenko and Tymoshenko 
upon orders from the Kuchma administration.  Shortly after 
his appointment, Dzhanhirov stopped the "Kyiv" channel's live 
broadcasts of city council sessions, arguing that they had a 
low popularity rating among viewers. 
 
Tymoshenko Wants Chernovetskiy Out... 
------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Although many public and political figures have 
criticized Chernovetskiy's decisions at city hall, Tymoshenko 
has been at the forefront of efforts to actually unseat the 
mayor.  Tymoshenko has been fixated on Kyiv politics since 
late 2006. Although she had the largest faction in the city 
council after the March 2006 election, the defection of 17 of 
her 41 deputies to Chernovetskiy's side in fall 2006, 
following Yanukovych's appointment as Prime Minister, caused 
BYuT to lose its city council majority.  A faction led by 
Tymoshenko's political ally, Volodymyr Klychko, also lost six 
members to Chernovetskiy. 
 
7. (C) In December 2006, BYuT Rada deputy Mykhaylo Volynets 
told us that events at the Kyiv municipal council were taking 
up so much of Tymoshenko's time that she was becoming 
"nervous and aggressive" and not paying enough attention to 
what was going on in the Rada.  In a June 14 press 
conference, Tymoshenko underscored that those politicians who 
viewed with skepticism her ability to smash Chernovetskiy 
should remember that just six months earlier they had doubted 
the possibility of the Rada's dissolution. 
 
... And Goes on the Attack 
-------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Tensions within the city government peaked back in 
late 2006, when Chernovetskiy's unpopular decision to triple 
utility tariffs for Kyiv households gave Tymoshenko the 
opportunity to promote her image as someone who cared about 
ordinary people.  Throughout 2006-2007, Tymoshenko's and 
Klychko's factions pushed for more transparency in the 
financial reasoning behind higher tariffs.  They continuously 
blocked the Kyiv city council rostrum and impeded plenary 
work. 
 
9. (SBU) On December 7, 2006, two BYuT city council deputies, 
Viktor Boyko and Oleksandr Bryhynets, were hospitalized with 
concussions and spine injuries as a result of clashes in the 
council chamber between BYuT deputies and the 
pro-Chernovetskiy majority.  Our Ukraine and BYuT claimed 
that their faction members were beaten up by Chernovetskiy's 
bodyguards, and in support of their accusations, showed video 
footage of members of Chernovetskiy's security detail, 
dressed in civilian clothing and wearing deputy badges, 
beating up deputies from the opposition.  Chernovetskiy 
himself showed up to the Embassy's 2006 Christmas party with 
his hand bandaged after an opposition member reportedly bit 
him. 
 
10. (SBU) During a December 13, 2006, press conference 
Tymoshenko explained that her faction had blocked city 
council sessions on December 7 and 12 to protest 
Chernovetskiy's attempt to distribute 300 hectares of land 
near Zhulyany airport (the small domestic airport) among his 
relatives and business partners.  According to BYuT, a 
transparent sale of this land could mean to 800-900 million 
USD for the Kyiv budget.  Tymoshenko also ridiculed Deputy 
City Council speaker Oles Dovhiy for his attempt to 
appropriate land plots on Zhukov island in Kyiv under the 
pretext of modernizing existing structures, accusing him of 
engaging in a shadow privatization of land. 
 
Initial Attacks on Mayor Unsuccessful 
------------------------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) According to an opinion poll data from the reliable 
Democratic Initiatives Fund in December 2006, almost 78 
percent of Kyiv residents supported Chernovetskiy's 
dismissal.  In mid-December 2006, Tymoshenko announced that 
her bloc would try to dismiss Chernovetskiy via a referendum 
of no-confidence.  Between December 2006 and February 2007, 
Tymoshenko's bloc, Klychko's bloc, the Kyiv headquarters of 
Our Ukraine, and the smaller Yabluko and the Reforms and 
Order parties made at least seven attempts to register 
 
KYIV 00002813  003.2 OF 005 
 
 
initiative groups to collect signatures in support of their 
referendum.  However, the Kyiv Municipal Administration 
refused to register all initiative groups, claiming that 
signatories provided incorrect passport and address 
information on the signature list and that submitted 
documents were not "trustworthy." 
 
12. (SBU) Unable to tackle Chernovetskiy at the Kyiv city 
council, Tymoshenko used every opportunity to castigate him 
at other political venues, including in the Rada.  In 
February 2007, BYuT members blocked the Rada's central 
electricity switchboard, demanding legislators examine 
Tymoshenko's bill on the reduction of household utility 
tariffs. After being forced to use candles and flashlights 
during afternoon plenary sessions, the ruling coalition 
finally gave in to Tymoshenko's demands and examined the 
legislation. 
 
13. (SBU) The Tymoshenko-Chernovetskiy confrontation 
continued through summer 2007.  In mid-July, billboards 
carrying Chernovetskiy's photograph under the inscription 
"Chernovetskiy-mayor of all Kyivites" were mysteriously 
"corrected" overnight with a new inscription "Chernovetskiy - 
mayor of all Martians."  Although there is no direct 
evidence, many suspected that the joke was born at 
Tymoshenko's headquarters.  One month later, in the heat of 
the pre-term parliamentary election campaign, Tymoshenko 
claimed her bloc's billboards had been removed in several 
areas of Kyiv and suggested that the advertising company 
controlling the billboards had come under pressure from the 
Kyiv mayor.  Although the company rejected Tymoshenko's 
allegations, it provided no reasons why recently-installed 
advertising was suddenly removed. 
 
Lutsenko Also Wants to Be Mayor 
------------------------------- 
 
14. (C) OU-PSD leader Lutsenko also has long been taken with 
the idea of bringing new leadership to Kyiv.  He spent half 
of a March 2007 meeting with the Ambassador outlining the 
reasons for removing Chernovetskiy.  He said that ousting the 
Kyiv mayor would be a real show of power and would give him a 
position from which he could rally the youth and gather 
resources for future (unspecified) national elections.  He 
also said Tymoshenko was worried that Lutsenko would win a 
new mayoral election, which was why she had toned down her 
attacks on Chernovetskiy since December 2006. 
 
15. (C) Lutsenko made the issue of
Chernovetskiy's ouster one 
of the key campaign promises of his bloc in Kyiv. In his 
advertisements Lutsenko not simply promised, but "guaranteed" 
that Kyiv would get a new mayor after the September 30 
elections.  Focused on mayor's post, Lutsenko included former 
Kyiv mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, disliked and accused of 
corruption when he left office in March 2006, and who is 
supported by 20 percent of Kyiv residents, in his quota on 
the OU-PSD list, number 13 on the overall list.  When asked 
in September why he would want to ally himself with someone 
with such a disreputable reputation, Lutsenko argued to the 
Ambassador that if pre-term mayoral elections are announced, 
Omelchenko would publicly campaign for Lutsenko, increasing 
his overall votes.  According to on-line newsite Ukrainska 
Pravda, Lutsenko is also hoping that another OU MP, Mykola 
Martynenko, who is in the construction business, will finance 
Lutsenko's mayoral campaign. 
 
16. (C) On October 16, Lutsenko told the Ambassador that 
Yushchenko had promised him earlier that day that he would 
split the elected post of Kyiv mayor and the appointed head 
of the Kyiv municipal administration (a presidential 
appointment on par with a governor), moving most of the real 
power into the appointed position; Lutsenko would then be 
named to run the municipal administration once the law making 
the change had been passed.  Although not specifically 
required by law, traditionally one individual has served in 
both capacities.  Lutsenko stated that whoever controls Kyiv 
controls central Ukraine, and OU-PSD really needed it to 
fight BYuT.  (Embassy Note:  Thus far, this has not come to 
pass.  End Note.) 
 
Shaky Legal Grounds for Pre-term Mayoral Elections 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
17. (C) Although this issue has been much-discussed, to 
successfully oust Chernovetskiy, BYuT and OU-PSD would most 
likely have to hold a Rada vote of no-confidence in the Kyiv 
city council and mayor.  Article 78 of the law "on local 
self-government" says that the Rada can terminate the powers 
of the Kyiv mayor if he violates the constitution or 
citizens' rights and freedoms, or does not fulfill his 
duties.  Prior to the vote, the relevant parliamentary 
 
KYIV 00002813  004.2 OF 005 
 
 
committee would be required to present its legal opinion on 
the mayor's performance to the Rada.  However, the law says 
that the Rada can only examine the possibility of ousting the 
mayor when the mayor's wrongdoings are brought to the Rada's 
attention by a majority of city council members, meaning that 
Tymoshenko and Lutsenko would first have to wrest control of 
the city council back from Chernovetskiy. 
 
18. (C) Comment. Tymoshenko and Lutsenko probably hope that 
once there is an orange coalition in the Rada, city council 
members elected on Tymoshenko's list will change sides once 
again and break-up the pro-Chernovetskiy majority, giving 
them enough votes to request that the Rada dismiss 
Chernovetskiy.  It is important to note that Chernovetskiy's 
supporters would not be able to appeal the Rada's decision to 
announce pre-term mayoral elections, because in 2000, the 
Constitutional Court of Ukraine already ruled that articles 
78 and 79 of the local self-governance law, which provides 
the basis for pre-term mayoral and city council elections, 
fully corresponded to the constitution.  A second option 
would be that if they cannot wrest the majority away from 
Chernovetskiy they could first call new city council 
elections in hopes of winning a new majority, then move 
against the mayor.  One of the 12 laws outlined in the orange 
coalition agreement is a new law on early elections for the 
Kyiv city council and mayor. 
 
Other Possible Obstacles to Chernovetskiy's Dismissal 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
19. (C) The current pro-Chernovetskiy majority is not the 
only impediment to the mayor's dismissal; disunity and 
corruption within Tymoshenko's and Our Ukraine's own ranks 
may be also hinder changing the Kyiv city government. For 
example, the October 1 Kyiv city council session received a 
lot of media attention after Chernovetskiy's bloc and Our 
Ukraine voted to sell large amounts of Kyiv land for 200 
million USD.  Independent real estate specialists estimated 
to the press that the value of the land plots was actually 10 
billion USD.  According to news reports, the land grab 
scandal involved Chernovetskiy's relatives and members of his 
bloc in the city council, as well as some prominent members 
of the Our Ukraine and BYuT.  For example, the D.I.A. 
Development company, which received almost 2.5 hectares, is 
owned by OU-PSD deputies David Zhvaniya and Mykola 
Martynenko.  Regions deputy Vasyl Horbal told Korrespondent 
magazine that KyivRybGosp company, which received 64.5 
hectares of land, is controlled by oligarch Bohdan Hubskiy, 
number 27 on the BYuT list and rumored to be a possible 
candidate for Deputy Prime Minister in an orange government. 
 
20. (C) In addition, Tymoshenko and Lutsenko are strongly 
divided over who should be in charge of Ukraine's capital. 
Regions MP Hanna Herman told poloff on October 26 that during 
the pre-term Rada elections campaign Tymoshenko kept alive 
Lutsenko's hope of being elected as Kyiv mayor, but that she 
had never seriously intended to give up Kyiv to Our Ukraine. 
Herman argued that politicians view Kyiv as a bridgehead to 
the presidency, which will be contested in 2009/2010. Given 
that BYuT won almost 46 percent of the Kyiv vote in the 
September 30 elections, Tymoshenko would not cede this 
advantage to OU-PSD.  Some political analysts argue that in 
case she is not appointed Prime Minister, Tymoshenko may 
decide to run for Kyiv mayor, as it would give her good media 
exposure and financial resources.  Oleksandr Turchynov and 
Iosyp Vinskiy have also been named as other possible 
candidates from BYuT. 
 
21. (SBU) Other political observers have argued that 
Tymoshenko may be reluctant to support Lutsenko as mayor, 
because she wants to offer the post to the Lytvyn Bloc in 
exchange for support for the slim 228-member orange majority 
in the Rada.  At least two politicians in Lytvyn's entourage, 
Viktor Pylypyshyn and Anatoliy Kovalenko, have experience in 
the Kyiv municipal government and are considered to be likely 
candidates for a future mayoral race. 
 
22. (C) Finally, Chernovetskiy's own political resilience and 
shrewdness could save him. He has developed good relations 
with city council deputies who have ties to the national 
Party of Regions -- Ihor Bohatyrev, son of Rada faction 
leader Raisa Bohatyreva, and Oleksandr Rybak, son of 
Volodymyr Rybak, Vice Prime Minister for Construction and 
Architecture.  In addition, Chernovetskiy's deputy at the 
Kyiv municipal council is 26-year old Oles Dovhiy, son of 
former Our Ukraine MP Stanislav Dovhiy, who actively 
sponsored Yushchenko
in the 2004 presidential elections. 
 
23. (SBU) Aware of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko's intentions to 
oust him, Chernovetskiy has recently started a campaign to 
improve his image. Billboard advertisements were installed 
 
KYIV 00002813  005.2 OF 005 
 
 
throughout Kyiv recently to inform Kyiv residents about all 
the achievements of the Chernovetskiy administration, noting 
for example the lower price of bread in Kyiv compared to 
other cities.  On October 10, acting President of "Kyiv" TV 
channel Dzhanhirov announced that at Oles Dovhiy's request, 
the channel would resume live broadcasts of city council 
sessions.  Finally, Chernovetskiy is taking his time in 
signing the October 1 decision authorizing the latest land 
sale.  This allows him to avoid criticism from the opposition 
and keep all Kyiv council members who bought this land on a 
short lease.  As long as they need Chernovetskiy's signature 
on the land sale documents to make their money, they will not 
depart from the pro-Chernovetskiy majority. 
 
24. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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