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08KYIV453, UKRAINE: YANUKOVYCH PUSHING FOR NEW COALITION,

February 27, 2008

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08KYIV453 2008-02-27 12:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8760
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHKV #0453/01 0581227
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271227Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5087
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 04 KYIV 000453 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: YANUKOVYCH PUSHING FOR NEW COALITION, 
SOME SEE BALOHA HELPING 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  During a February 25 meeting, Party of 
Regions leader Yanukovych reiterated to the Ambassador all 
his old points about Ukraine's relations with NATO not 
requiring a MAP at this juncture, then proceeded to lay out 
three scenarios for the Rada, all of which would change the 
current configuration in some way.  As Yanukovych saw it, the 
impasse could be ended by: the reformation of the coalition, 
a year of Rada work with no coalition and pre-term elections 
held at the end of the year, or pre-term elections now. 
Yanukovych said that he wanted to maintain his good image in 
the West, but his justifications of Regions's unhelpful 
statements on NATO and Kosovo and its continued blockading of 
the Rada did not indicate that he saw a connection. 
Meanwhile, faction leaders in the Rada have put together a 
draft agreement to end the stalemate, which lays out key 
legislative priorities such as WTO accession -- but the whole 
approach is still contingent on a further agreement on how to 
address the MAP letter.  Two MPs at the Rada (from Lytvyn 
Bloc and OU-PSD) both described to us a Rada heading towards 
some sort of unofficial "situational majority," with much of 
OU voting with Regions and Lytvyn Bloc.  Both insisted that 
all of the machinations were fueled by Yushchenko's 
calculations about the best way to get reelected; any other 
issues, such as NATO, were simply a pretext.  From the 
Presidential Secretariat, Chief of Staff Baloha defended his 
exit from Our Ukraine, called the current coalition 
ineffectual, and reiterated he supported a broad variant. 
His deputy, Oksana Slusarenko, told the press that they 
believed BYuT was helping prolong the blockade because they 
were benefiting from the stand-off.  The Rada is scheduled to 
meet next on March 4. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Yanukovych's explanations were a rehash of 
the same old story and showed no signs that he is looking for 
any compromise short of a scenario that gets him out of the 
opposition and back into power.  Regions's tactics seem to be 
to stall long enough for the coalition to implode.  The 
decision by Presidential Secretariat Head Baloha to leave 
People's Union Our Ukraine and form his own political 
movement, followed by six other PUOU defectors, has spurred 
much discussion that some new tactical alliance in the Rada 
is imminent.  Moreover, the criticism from the Secretariat 
continuously lobbed at the Cabinet is resulting in visible 
strains within the coalition.  End summary and comment. 
 
Yanukovych: Statesman or Russian Puppet? 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) The Ambassador started the meeting by reminding 
Yanukovych that when he had traveled to the U.S. in December 
2006, the Ambassador had argued that Yanukovych was a changed 
politician worth taking seriously.  Now questions were 
arising once again as US policymakers watched the blockading 
in the Rada and read statements from Party of Regions on NATO 
and Kosovo that sounded very much like the statements being 
issued from Moscow.  (Note.  Yanukovych had a grin through 
most of the first five minutes, including through the part 
about his image being up for debate, but it disappeared when 
the Ambassador compared his positions to those of the 
Kremlin.  End note.) 
 
4. (C) Yanukovych started by thanking the Ambassador for the 
opportunity to change people's opinions.  He said that the 
blockade in the Rada had been provoked by the government when 
it decided to send the letter to the NATO Secretary General 
requested a NATO MAP at Bucharest, signed by the President, 
Prime Minister and Speaker.  Regions had made its proposals 
on how to correct the situation -- the issue should be 
discussed in the Rada and at a CabMin meeting.  "Why was the 
process so nontransparent?" he asked.  "What are they afraid 
or ashamed of?" 
 
5. (C) In terms of Regions's position on NATO, Yanukovych 
said it had never changed -- the party supported close 
cooperation with NATO, as Yanukovych himself said in Brussels 
in September 2006, but accession was a different issue.  His 
government had expanded cooperation with NATO and moved the 
public dialogue forward calmly, improving public opinion of 
the alliance -- this was all a credit to Regions and to his 
government.  In contrast, when the orange team came to power 
in 2005, they had talked about NATO and EU membership as if 
it would happen tomorrow.  At that point, the lack of real 
progress was a disappointment and public opinion had turned 
negative.  "People," Yanukovych argued, "don't want pretty 
words; they want action and good living standards." 
Yanukovych said that there was no need to make a hasty 
decision on MAP and no reason not to continue the Annual 
Target Plans within the existing Intensified Dialogue. 
 
KYIV 00000453  002 OF 004 
 
 
However, the new orange government had re-sparked the 
conflict and worsened the situation.  The final results of 
this hasty action would be seen within different political 
processe
s - within the Rada, within society, and reflected by 
the results of upcoming elections. 
 
6. (C) Yanukovych argued that political parties take 
advantage of public sentiment -- but it was not fair to 
compare Regions with Russia.  That said, one had to reckon 
with Russia when making policy -- Ukraine is too economically 
vulnerable to not do so.  That was why the 2003 law on the 
fundamentals of national security contains a provision that 
says any Ukrainian action towards integration into 
EuroAtlantic structures must be made with consideration of 
the strategic partnership with Russia.  That's the law. 
Ukraine doesn't benefit, Yanukovych argued, when the 
government is provocative.  He concluded by saying he did not 
think the USG wants to see a conflict between Ukraine and 
Russia. 
 
There Will be Change in the Rada or no Rada At All 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
7. (C) Turning to domestic politics, Yanukovych said that 
neither the Rada nor the coalition is capable of working. 
There was not a real majority; this was just an attempt to 
look important.  He promised that Regions would ensure that 
the Rada worked within the rules of procedure and the 
constitution, meaning there will be no double voting (when 
one MP votes on behalf of others.)  Therefore, he concluded, 
the coalition won't be able to adopt a single decision 
without support from the opposition.  The authorities need to 
respect and consult with the opposition.  According to 
Yanukovych, "If the government acts like we don't exist, 
there is no other option than pre-term elections."  (Comment. 
 In our view, the Tymoshenko government actually has made an 
effort to reach out to Regions within the Rada, but without 
much success.  End note.) 
 
8. (C) Yanukovych said there were three ways forward. The 
first would be to reformat the coalition, although he did not 
specify how.  The second option would be to let the Rada work 
for a year without a coalition, until the President can call 
new elections.  (Note.  The constitution states that the Rada 
cannot be dissolved within one year of holding pre-term 
elections, so in our view, not before October 1, 2008.  End 
note.)  Or thirdly, pre-term elections could be held with the 
agreement of all political forces.  He added that he could 
not rule out the first scenario, noting that their view of 
the situation had changed a little.  Before, Regions had 
insisted on a broad coalition, today "we're waiting to be 
asked to join a coalition".  He said that if such a proposal 
was serious, his party would consider it.  If not, Regions 
was not afraid of new elections.  Regions would not make the 
same mistakes as in 2007, Yanukovych said, and their ratings 
would go up. 
 
9. (C) The Ambassador reminded Yanukovych that it was 
possible to find agreement in this Rada to pass WTO and other 
laws that are good for the country, as the Rada did on 
February 12.  Yanukovych replied that unfortunately, dreams 
often don't come true.  Regions would keep looking for 
solutions, but when all options are exhausted, then they 
would consider pre-term elections.  Regions was aware of its 
responsibility to the country, but many things right now do 
not depend on them. 
 
Yanukovych on Kosovo 
-------------------- 
 
10. (C) Yanukovych also addressed Regions's position on 
Kosovo.  (Note.  Which echoes the Russian view that Kosovar 
independence sets up a dangerous precedent for instability in 
Eastern Europe.  End note.)  Our statement, he said, was 
written without any "external" consultations.  It was a 
decision made by the Regions Political Council, which 
reflects the party's view.  He pointed out that the MFA has 
not expressed an opinion and the President asked everyone not 
to express a final position.  Yanukovych reiterated that 
Regions opposes separatist sentiments within the country -- 
"in the West, East, and South, we're for unity" -- but 
Regions has never been and never will be the staffer of a 
foreign country or government. 
 
Rada Still Stuck, Possible Situational Majority? 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
11. (C) Meanwhile, the Rada moved one step closer to breaking 
the stalemate and Regions's blockade late on February 26. 
After Speaker Yatsenyuk failed to produce results at a 
 
KYIV 00000453  003 OF 004 
 
 
roundtable with faction leaders on February 25, the faction 
leaders continued their work alone the next day.  (Yatsenyuk 
was in Brussels.)  At the end of the day, they announced a 
draft agreement that could be signed once they choose one of 
three ways forward on the MAP letter: to wit, either a 
resolution acknowledging Yatsenyuk did not speak for the 
whole parliament; approving a resolution on certain aspects 
of making a decision concerning Ukraine joining NATO (a 
reference to Yatsenyuk's earlier proposal calling for a 
resolution that states a referendum would be required before 
Ukraine could request NATO membership); or holding a general 
discussion of all NATO-related resolutions prior to signing 
the rest of the political agreement to reopen the Rada. 
(Note.  There are currently nine draft resolutions on NATO 
pending in the Rada.  End Note.)  The agreement itself lays 
out a list of legislative priorities, including WTO 
accession, budget amendments, approval of CabMin's government 
program, the ten urgent laws mentioned in the coalition 
agreement, the amendment of Rada rules regarding rights of 
the opposition, and the appointing and dismissing of certain 
officials.  The draft agreement calls on all factions to work 
constructively and to avoid raising provocative political 
issues. 
 
12. (C) The document still awaits approval by all the 
factions and could still fall victim to debates over which 
approach to the MAP letter to take.  OU-PSD MP Tarasyuk said 
to the press that Regions continued to use the MAP letter as 
an excuse to try to form a broad coalition and that Baloha 
was "playing those games."  This view was echoed in comments 
two MPs made to us on February 22. 
 
13. (C) Serhiy Hrynevetskiy (Lytvyn Bloc) told us that in 
principle, all the personnel issues that had been causing 
headaches for the coalition - i.e. heads of the State 
Property Fund, Antimonopoly Committee, National TV and Radio 
Committee - have been resolved and could be addressed when 
the Rada reconvenes on March 4.  He added that there was a 
slight problem over the SBU head nomination, as a conflict 
had developed between Baloha and Acting SBU Head 
Nalyvaychenko.  Hrynevetskiy said that he did not believe 
there would a formal coalition re-formation because it was 
too difficult legally.  Instead, there will be a situational 
majority, where they (OU, Lytvyn Bloc, Regions) could 
sideline Tymoshenko and block her legislative initiatives as 
needed.  To form a totally new coalition would require a 
majority of OU-PSD MPs (37)
to defect, and although this 
process might be ongoing, a situational majority would give 
them more flexibility. 
 
14. (C) Oles Doniy (from the PSD wing of OU-PSD) also told us 
that efforts to reformat the coalition were ongoing.  He 
noted that two days earlier, he would have said that it would 
be impossible to get 37 MPs from his faction to switch, but 
now (note--after the OU-PSD faction met with Yatsenyuk and 
five deputies left PUOU), he was not so sure.  Doniy 
underscored that PSD opposed any changes to the coalition. 
 
15. (C) Both Doniy and Hrynevetskiy told us that the games in 
the Rada were linked to the President's calculations about 
how to best get a second term in office.  Hrynevetskiy 
thought the only real chance was for Yushchenko to cut a deal 
on constitutional reform and have the President elected in 
the Rada.  Doniy thought that Yushchenko, aware that he could 
never beat Tymoshenko in a competition for the orange 
electorate, would cut a deal with the moderate wing of 
Regions and reposition himself as the new candidate from the 
East.  To do this, he would have to present himself as the 
candidate of national unity and remind the owners of large 
enterprises of their concerns about a Tymoshenko presidency 
coming with significant reprivatization.  Doniy argued that 
Yushchenko's repositioning was already visible in the Donetsk 
press.  For example, Yushchenko's trip to Moscow was 
portrayed there as him having saved Ukraine.  Doniy argued 
that Yanukovych will eventually calculate that he would 
rather be PM with reduced powers, than not be PM at all, 
because he is not happy as leader of the opposition. 
Therefore, Akhmetov and Yanukovych will work this out and 
make a consolidated decision to support Yushchenko. 
 
Secretariat Comments Continue to Raise Questions 
 
SIPDIS 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
16. (SBU) In a February 21 interview on Inter TV, Baloha said 
that he had left PUOU because the OU-PSD bloc had failed to 
form a single party by the end of December 2007, as agreed to 
at the bloc's congress.  He said the five MPs who have left 
did so for their own reasons and have no connection to him. 
He also said that a 227-vote coalition was ineffectual and at 
a minimum Lytvyn Bloc should be brought in.  Baloha added 
 
KYIV 00000453  004 OF 004 
 
 
that he had never opposed including Regions as well. 
Finally, he warned that the President would consider 
dissolving the Rada again if the situation did not improve. 
 
17. (SBU) One of Baloha's deputies, Oksana Slusarenko, told 
the press February 25 that BYuT was partly to blame for the 
stalemate in the Rada.  Because they benefit from the 
stand-off, she argued, they are not trying to fix the 
situation.  In particular, Slusarenko said that BYuT was glad 
to avoid having to vote on the new CabMin law that would 
weaken their powers.  (Note.  Even through BYuT has already 
stated they will support the draft law as is.  End note.) 
Moreover, she said that in the event of the Rada being 
dissolved, BYuT ministers would retain their portfolios and 
the bloc would do very well in new Rada elections. 
 
18. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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