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08KYIV504, UKRAINE: COALITION STABLE FOR NOW, RADA GETS BACK

March 7, 2008

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08KYIV504 2008-03-07 12:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8774
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHKV #0504/01 0671247
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071247Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5168
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 03 KYIV 000504 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: COALITION STABLE FOR NOW, RADA GETS BACK 
TO WORK 
 
REF: KYIV 000474 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The Rada returned to work on March 6 after 
nearly a month's impasse, while Presidential Chief of Staff 
Baloha reassured the Ambassador that there was no plan to 
undermine the Prime Minister.  Baloha said that he believed 
that Tymoshenko was conspiring against Yushchenko and he made 
clear his own dislike for Tymoshenko, but said that he 
believed Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were "doomed" to work 
together.  He also acknowledged that while he and like-minded 
people, such as Rinat Akhmetov and Volodymyr Lytvyn, had 
found a common language, there were no imminent plans to form 
a new political force.  Akhmetov's right-hand man Kolesnikov 
told the Ambassador that he thought Yushchenko would 
eventually force Tymoshenko out, but not until rampant 
inflation and rising food prices had tarnished her 
popularity.  Meanwhile, the Rada came back to work on March 6 
after agreeing on a resolution that calls for a referendum 
before any decisions are made regarding NATO membership and 
instructing Yatsenyuk to inform NATO headquarters about this. 
 The resolution garnered 248 votes, mainly supported by the 
Party of Regions and the Lytvyn Bloc.  Afterwards, the Rada 
ratified ten other international agreements, the most 
important being the GUAM statute that gives official status 
to the organization's Secretariat here in Kyiv.  The 
coalition, however, could not muster enough votes to include 
on the agenda the first reading of the bill on parliamentary 
immunity.  The Rada met again March 7, where it voted to set 
up commissions to investigate Kyiv Mayor Chernovetskiy, 
Kharkiv Mayor Dobkin, and Interior Minister Lutsenko.  Once 
again, the coalition lacked the votes to get parliamentary 
immunity onto the agenda. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Now that the Rada has met, the 
constitutional provision that says the President can dismiss 
the parliament if it fails to hold a session for more than 30 
days is not currently an issue, which in turn will quiet 
speculation about pre-term elections for now.  It seems that 
in the Ambassador's recent conversations with the President's 
team and key Regions members (see also reftel), efforts to 
create a new coalition will not come to fruition in the near 
term.  In fact, some of Tymoshenko's most ardent opponents 
have argued that to remove her now would only increase her 
popularity and, therefore, the chances of her winning the 
next presidential election.  The fact, however, that the 
coalition could not produce 226 votes to support its own 
measures underscores how difficult it will be for the 
government to make progress on its legislative program.  End 
summary and comment. 
 
Baloha: Tymoshenko is Plotting, But We'll Leave Her Alone 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
3. (C) In a March 6 meeting, the Ambassador asked 
Presidential Chief of Staff Baloha about the rumors that he 
was working against the coalition.  Baloha said he did not 
take the rumors very seriously -- they were just speculation 
stirred up by Tymoshenko's foreign policy team in order to 
paint Yushchenko as a pawn of the Donetsk Clan and to fool 
westerners.  Baloha said that he does not like the Donetsk 
Clan; it was thanks to him that there had been early 
elections in 2007 (implying that he had reined in the Donetsk 
Clan), and that the Secretariat had no plans to undermine the 
coalition.  Baloha said he was afraid that Tymoshenko was 
trying to rock the boat to speed the situation toward a 
presidential election .  He added later -- addressing 
speculation in political circles -- that he did not want to 
be PM, and if he had wanted to be Speaker, he would have 
taken his seat in the Rada last fall (Baloha was elected to 
the Rada on the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense list). 
 
4. (C) Baloha said that he had good relations with Akhmetov 
and Lytvyn -- they were people who got things done, not just 
talked about them -- but a new bloc in the Rada was not on 
the agenda.  However, he could not exclude such a force in 
the future.  He added that if it were not for Akhmetov, the 
Rada would now be conducting an impeachment process against 
Yushchenko.  According to Baloha, Tymoshenko had considered a 
deal with Yanukovych, where the latter could be Speaker in 
exchange for the impeachment.  Her end goal was that there 
would be new elections, BYuT and Regions would increase 
number of seats until they got to 300, then they would divide 
up power.  Former Kuchma Chief of Staff Medvedchuk had 
designed the plan, and Yanukovych had agreed to it.  However, 
Yanukovych did not control enough MPs on his own to execute 
the plan, and Akhmetov had stopped it. 
 
5. (C) Baloha said that when the Ambassador (and others) 
 
KYIV 00000504  002 OF 003 
 
 
asked why he was trying to destroy the coalition, it really 
got his juices going, because it was not he who was working 
to undermine the coalition.  He said Tymoshenko was playing 
the game well and fooling the West (presumably into believing 
tha
t she was the wronged party). And when Tymoshenko talked 
about the democratic coalition, it made Baloha laugh because 
he knew what she was up to.   Baloha recounted the story of 
the most recent Yushchenko-Tymoshenko-Yatsenyuk meeting, 
during which Tymoshenko had complained to Yushchenko that 
Baloha was criticizing her and undermining the coalition. 
Baloha said that he countered, telling Yushchenko that it was 
Tymoshenko who had twice asked him (Baloha) to betray 
Yushchenko, telling Baloha "if we unite, we can do anything." 
 Baloha asked Yushchenko why they had created a coalition 
with her if she was going to collude with Nestor Shufrych and 
Viktor Medvedchuk.  According to Baloha, Tymoshenko denied 
all the charges, but Yushchenko had responded that Baloha was 
someone who usually spoke the truth. 
 
6.  (C) Baloha said that on March 5, Tymoshenko had met with 
the BYuT Rada faction and told them to prepare for pre-term 
elections.  The purpose of her saying this was to make her 
MPs behave and get them all in line by scaring them about 
needing to protect their spots on the party list. 
Afterwards, some BYuT MPs called Baloha to ask if there were 
really going to be new elections because they had been asked 
for money.  He told them that there would be no elections. 
In the end, Baloha admitted that Tymoshenko and Yushchenko 
were doomed to work together, because they didn't have any 
alternatives. 
 
7. (C) The Ambassador asked about Baloha's future ambitions, 
given his departure from People's Union Our Ukraine.  Baloha 
said that during the compromise for the 2007 elections, he 
had found a common language with Akhmetov, but was he not in 
a hurry to announce any new plans.  If Yushchenko decides to 
run for a second term, he will work in his election 
headquarters.  He left PUOU because they had announced plans 
to form a single party by December 2007 and had not done so. 
The "garbage that exists" in Our Ukraine now was not a real 
party, it was a group of "liars" who only cared about getting 
their deputy mandates and had no other goals or purposes.  By 
leaving the party, he hoped to draw attention to this 
problem. Yushchenko had disapproved of his leaving and 
Yatsenyuk had asked Yushchenko to prevent his departure, but 
after a serious conversation about it, he still felt he had 
to go. 
 
Kolesnikov: Tymoshenko Will Go by Early Summer 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
8. (C) Regions MP and Akhmetov ally Kolesnikov told the 
Ambassador March 7 that he believed the Tymoshenko government 
was short-lived, but would probably not collapse until early 
summer.  The President, he said, had to wait until her 
popularity dropped before he forced her out.  Right now, her 
ratings were too high and being fired would not put a dent in 
that.  On the other hand, Kolesnikov argued, when food prices 
start to go up as inflation rises, her popularity will drop 
and Yushchenko can remove her.  Yushchenko needed her out of 
office some time this year, he said, because they represent 
the same electorate and the presidential election is getting 
closer.  Kolesnikov said that he hoped the Rada would 
continue to work now that it had been unblocked, but the Rada 
was an unpredictable institution and it was hard to say. 
 
Rada Goes Back to Work 
---------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) Finally ending almost a month of inaction, the Rada 
came back into plenary session on the afternoon of March 6. 
This resets the constitution's 30-day clock -- that the 
President can (but does not have to) dismiss the Rada if it 
fails to meet within 30 days of its previous plenary meeting 
-- which many politicians had been citing as a pretext for 
new pre-term elections.  The factions agreed on a resolution 
to resolve the NATO issue, which was passed with 248 votes in 
support -- unanimous support from Regions and Lytvyn Bloc and 
weak support from BYuT and OU-PSD.  The Communists refused to 
register.  The resolution says: to take into consideration 
that adoption of decisions on Ukraine's accession to NATO is 
only possible after the outcome of an all-Ukrainian 
referendum, which can be held after Ukraine implements all 
necessary procedures in its relations with NATO; and it 
requires Yatsenyuk to inform the NATO Secretary-General of 
this resolution. 
 
10. (SBU) With that out of the way, the Rada recessed briefly 
and then reconvened to set an agenda.  In total, it ratified 
10 agreements, the most significant being the GUAM statute, 
 
KYIV 00000504  003 OF 003 
 
 
which gives official status to the organization's Secretariat 
and which passed with only 226 votes in favor.  The other 
votes were related to agreements signed between Ukraine and 
neighboring states, including the EU, Hungary, the Slovak 
Republic, and Georgia, and several European and/or 
international conventions.  The coalition was unable to 
muster enough votes to put a bill abolishing immunity for 
parliamentary deputies on the agenda -- only 224 votes in 
favor -- prompting Regions MP Yefremov to that the coalition 
does not have enough votes to adopt its own bills. 
 
11. (SBU) The Rada reconvened the morning of March 7 and 
after two hours of debate, OU-PSD faction leader Kyrylenko 
still could not get 226 votes to put lifting parliamentary 
immunity on the agenda.  (Note.  It is unclear whether the 
coalition simply did not have 226 MPs in the session hall, or 
if some coalition MPs simply don't support the bill.  End 
note.)  Motions to add to the agenda the creation of 3 
investigative committees -- on Kyiv Mayor Chernovetskiy, on 
Kharkiv Mayor Dobkin, and on Interior Minister Lutsenko -- 
had failed on March 6, but all passed on March 7. 
Interestingly, PSD voted for the creation of the Lutsenko 
commission, most likely to demonstrate their position that 
there is "one law for everyone" and to justify the 
Chernovetskiy commission, which they want strongly. 
 
12. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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