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February 21, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV408 2008-02-21 13:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv


DE RUEHKV #0408/01 0521339
P 211339Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000408 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2018 
REF: KYIV 359 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4, b,d. 
1. (C) Summary and Comment:  The Rada failed to open as 
scheduled on February 21 with Regions continuing to blockade 
the rostrum.  However, opposition leader Yanukovych proposed 
an end to the blockade in exchange for positive Rada 
consideration of ten legislative initiatives.  A 
parliamentary roundtable is scheduled for February 25 to 
discuss the proposal; it is possible that the Rada could 
resume work on February 26.  Meanwhile, strains continue to 
appear within the orange coalition with the February 19 
resignations from the main constituent party of the OU-PSD 
bloc, People's Union Our Ukraine (PUOU), of Presidential 
Chief of Staff Baloha, deputy chief of staff Bezsmertniy, and 
five OU-PSD Rada deputies.  These resignations do not change 
the balance of power in the Rada or threaten the coalition 
(only resignations of OU-PSD or BYuT deputies from the 
faction would do that), and President Yushchenko vowed 
publicly that the coalition was viable and working, but all 
are watching to see what will happen within the orange team 
next.  End Summary and Comment. 
Rada Blockade Continues; Regions Offers a Way Out 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
2. (C)  Rada Speaker Yatsenyuk's February 21 meeting with 
Regions faction leader Yanukovych resulted in a proposed way 
ahead with a Regions-suggested end to the blockade of the 
Rada's work in exchange for coalition support for a package 
of Regions-supported legislation.  During the meeting, which 
was broadcast by the parliament's TV channel, Yanukovych put 
forward ten explicit legislative initiatives (list at para 4) 
for consideration.  (Comment: Yanukovych never made an 
explicit quid-pro-quo proposal on unblocking the Rada, 
leaving uncertainty on whether the ten initiatives are 
considered a take-it-or-leave-it package.  Regions is likely 
to gauge the possibilities for success before deciding 
whether this is a package deal or a negotiations starting 
point.  End Comment.)  Yatsenyuk told the press that he 
intends to meet with the Lytvyn bloc and Communist party on 
February 21 and with the governing coalition on February 22 
to discuss the Regions' proposal.  The proposal will then be 
discussed at a February 25 parliamentary round-table, which, 
if a consensus is reached, could allow the Rada to resume its 
legislative work on February 26. 
3. (SBU) Reaction to Regions' proposal from the coalition was 
not positive.  OU-PSD Rada deputy Yaroslav Kendzyor and his 
BYuT colleague Volodymyr Yavorivskiy both said that today's 
developments should not be viewed with "any degree of 
optimism."  Kendzyor noted that although Regions leadership 
was trying to demonstrate in public their willingness to take 
conciliatory steps, "behind the scenes they are still doing 
all they can to break apart the coalition. It is another 
delaying tactic, otherwise they would have agreed to unblock 
the Rada earlier."  (Embassy Note.  The Rada last met 
February 13 and if it does not meet within 30 days, by our 
count, approximately March 14, then the President will 
theoretically have the ability to dissolve the Rada and call 
new elections.  However, a separate constitutional provision 
notes that the President does not have the right to call a 
new election within one year of previously-held pre-term 
elections, so no new elections earlier than October 1, 2008. 
It is unclear as to which provision would take precedence. 
End Note.) 
4. (SBU) Below is the full list of legislative initiatives 
proposed by Regions (full texts not yet available): 
- Resolution on Procedure for Examining NATO-Related 
decisions: (Note: the resolution draft text says that 
Ukraine's decision on joining NATO (no reference to MAP) 
should only be taken after a national referendum. 
- Amendments to the Law on Status of Some State Officials: 
pertains to immunity of officials. 
- Amendments to the Law on Status of National Deputies: 
pertains to immunity of Rada members.  Former Justice 
Minister Lavynovych (PoR) noted during the meeting with 
Yatsenyuk that the bills would allow the arrest of the 
President and MPs only after a court verdict was reached. 
The current coalition draft would allow for arrest before 
- Package of five social bills, including minimum subsistence 
level, "social dialogue", and Labor Code. 
- Bill to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine (protest 
against obligatory Ukrainian dubbing of all foreign movies). 
- Bill to invalidate the State Procurement Law. 
- Resolution on termination of powers of Rada members 
- Amendments to the Rada Rules of Procedure pertaining to the 
rights of the opposition 
- Amendments to the law on Civil Service (stop politically 
motivated dismissal of state officials 
- Information on political repression 
Baloha and five MPs quit People's Union Our Ukraine 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
5. (SBU) Presidential Se
cretariat Head Viktor Baloha's 
February 15 announcement that he was resigning from the core 
party within the Our Ukraine bloc (PUOU - People's Union Our 
Ukraine) did not surprise many in Kyiv since Baloha had only 
joined the party in late 2006 when President Yushchenko had 
asked him to come in and take over the leadership of the 
party temporarily.  Baloha had never gotten along with the 
party leadership and had disagreed with them, often publicly, 
on numerous issues.  Baloha's written statement that 
accompanied his resignation starts off saying nice things 
about the party, but then says it doesn't really hold any 
future for him.  The statement went on to say that Baloha had 
his own political ambitions, which he believes will all be 
fulfilled, but that he will remain at the Secretariat and by 
President Yushchenko's side for a long time. 
6.  (C)  The February 19 official announcement of Baloha's 
resignation from PUOU was more surprising because six others 
resigned with him including Presidential Secretariat Deputy 
Head Roman Bezsmertniy, a long-time political advisor of 
Yushchenko and head of the unsuccessful 2006 Our Ukraine 
parliamentary campaign, and five OU-PSD deputies (all PUOU 
members) Viktor Topolov, Ihor Kril, Vasyl Petyovka, Oksana 
Bilozir, and Mykhailo Polyanchych.  Their joint statement 
noted "serious and irreversible negative tendencies" in the 
party.  The resignation also stated that, "We no longer 
believe that our party leaders remain loyal to the President. 
 We have nothing to do in the company of those who have 
changed their political preferences."  When we asked 
Bezsmertniy's long-time aide about the resignation, she told 
us "don't worry about it.  It means nothing."  President 
Yushchenko, while on an official visit to Paris, underlined 
to the press on February 20 that the resignations would not 
affect the viability of the governing orange coalition, a 
position seconded by OU-PSD deputy Oleksandr Chornovolenko 
(Rukh) who noted that "the coalition is formed of factions, 
and not individual deputies." 
7.  (C)  Comment.  The resignations are from the PUOU party 
only and all five deputies remain members of the broader 
OU-PSD parliamentary faction.  According to Rada rules, 
deputies must give up their seats only if they formally 
resign from the faction.  Therefore, the coalition remains in 
place and the government is not a minority government.  Of 
the five deputies who resigned, Topolov, Kril and Petyovka 
are all close associates of Baloha and were the same OU-PSD 
deputies who delayed signing the coalition agreement during 
the weeks leading to the formation of the orange coalition. 
The main surprise was the resignation of Bilozir, a former 
signer and someone long considered to be an OU stalwart and 
close ally of the President.  In her statement explaining her 
resignation, Bilozir said that she was drawing attention to 
the crisis in the party's internal situation, noting that 
politicians don't want to take responsibility for "the 
decisions made behind closed doors by a small group of 
people, without taking into account MP's views and views of 
ordinary party members." 
8. (C) Comment continued.  Baloha had earlier announced his 
intention to form a new centrist party called "Great 
Ukraine," leading analysts to speculate that his goal was to 
"hollow out" OU-PSD following the failure of Yushchenko to 
have all the constituent parties within the bloc consolidate 
into a single party.  The new Great Ukraine party could now 
provide Yushchenko with an alternative platform from which to 
launch his reelection campaign -- or could simply be a party 
intended to promote Baloha's own personal ambitions. 
Whatever the goal, the resignations and announcement of a new 
political movement intended to draw from within the orange 
team for its own support adds to the strains already evident 
within the coalition.  End comment 
9.  (U)  Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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