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April 24, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV803 2008-04-24 12:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #0803/01 1151209
P 241209Z APR 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000803 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2018 
REF: KYIV 00709 
KYIV 00000803  001.2 OF 003 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
1. (C) Summary. Prime Minister Tymoshenko has begun speaking 
publicly and forcefully for transforming Ukraine into a 
parliamentary system, possibly as part of an effort to force 
President Yushchenko into cooperation and to take away the 
President's lead in reforming the constitution.  She first 
raised the issue April 16 during an address to PACE in 
Strasbourg -- the same day her Rada faction released its 
ultimatum to Yushchenko to end his criticism of the Cabinet. 
She has since elaborated about her ideas to the press, while 
her faction leader Ivan Kyrylenko raised the idea of BYuT and 
Regions jointly forming a constitutional commission within 
the Rada -- a body that would have the necessary 300 votes to 
override presidential vetoes and approve constitutional 
amendments.  Probably in response to Tymoshenko's strong 
tactics, as well as to an April 18 Constitutional Court 
ruling that a new or amended constitution cannot be approved 
by referendum (but must be approved by the Rada), Yushchenko 
canceled the April 23 National Constitutional Council (NCC) 
meeting, where his team was scheduled to present its draft 
constitution.  Both Tymoshenko and MP Volodymyr Lytvyn have 
indicated that the Rada may consider creation of its 
constitutional commission when the Rada returns from its 
holiday break on May 13.  In a private conversation, 
Yushchenko told the Ambassador that Tymoshenko's efforts to 
start a parallel constitutional process was a game that would 
not succeed.  He also reiterated his public accusations that 
the PM is abetted by former Kuchma Chief of Staff Medvedchuk 
and Regions MP Shufrych. 
2. (C) Comment. Tymoshenko's threats to cooperate with 
Regions to weaken the presidency may give her some leverage 
with the President as she tries to calculate her strategy in 
the next few months.  The Prime Minister may not really be 
wedded to one specific model of governance, but by flexing 
her muscles and showing that she could cooperate with Regions 
to form a 300-vote constitutional majority to effectively 
eliminate the presidency, she can exert some pressure on 
Yushchenko's team.  However, Tymoshenko has to carefully 
consider what going into an alliance with Regions, even a 
tactical one, will do to her image -- and therefore, her 
preferred option may still be to strike a deal with 
Yushchenko.  Regions is also hoping to leverage the threat of 
constitutional amendments to get more out of Yushchenko.  In 
any event, a consensus is needed between the three major 
parties before any constitution can be adopted with 
credibility and authority.  End Summary and Comment. 
Talk of BYuT-Regions Collaboration 
3. (SBU) On April 9, Regions deputy faction leader Yefremov 
announced that his party wanted to create an ad hoc 
commission to reform the constitution within the Rada. 
Regions leader Yanukovych added that his party had decided 
not to participate in the NCC because they believed the 
constitution should be amended inside the Rada.  BYuT faction 
leader Ivan Kyrylenko confirmed to the press that BYuT and 
Regions were considering forming their own constitutional 
commission within the Rada (ref A) to eliminate "dualism of 
power in the executive branch."  OU-PSD faction leader 
Vyacheslav Kyrylenko said his faction opposed the idea and 
the Rada agreed to postpone a decision on the issue until the 
following week.  At the April 14 coalition meeting, OU-PSD 
asked BYuT to hold off on forming the Rada commission until 
after the April NCC meeting, scheduled for April 23, which 
BYuT agreed to do. 
4. (C) Oligarch Viktor Pinchuk shared his views on 
constitutional reform with the Ambassador on April 22.  He 
said that the real coalition to watch was the unofficial one 
between BYuT and Regions, because they had been working for 
two months now on changes to the constitution.  One idea they 
were working on was that the largest faction in the Rada 
would select the Prime Minister and the second largest would 
select the President, who would also be confirmed by the 
parliament.  Pinchuk presumed that if these changes were 
implemented, there would be new Rada elections.  (Note.  New 
elections would not be a requirement, but more a political 
agreement presumably based on whatever system was agreed in 
the new constitution. End note.) 
Tymoshenko Takes it Farther 
5. (SBU) Tymoshenko raised the idea of transforming Ukraine 
into a full parliamentary system during her speech to PACE on 
April l6.  She said Ukraine should adopt a traditional 
KYIV 00000803  002.2 OF 003 
parliamentary system like most European states have.  Later, 
speaking to journalists, she said BYuT would not push for the 
complete elimination of the presidency as long as 
constitutional changes were made.  She held up Poland and 
Germany as examples where there was a president, but most 
powers were held by the Prime M
inister and coalition, which 
she said was a more transparent and democratic form of 
government.  The PM also said that was the only logical 
position to have and that reforms should be done by the end 
of the year.  On April 20, Tymoshenko said on TV that she 
thought the Rada would adopt in the first reading after the 
Easter holidays (which end May 5) the constitutional changes 
needed to make Ukraine a parliamentary system . 
Yushchenko Denied Referendum, OU Responds Angrily to PM 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
6. (SBU) Yushchenko's team continues to work on its draft 
through the NCC, but on April 18, they were dealt a blow when 
the Constitutional Court ruled that constitutional changes 
could not be made via referendum, and that only the Rada had 
the right to amend the constitution.  Not surprisingly, BYuT 
MPs welcomed the decision.  However, on April 21, BYuT deputy 
faction leader Tomenko said that both the NCC process and the 
CC decision should be respected.  He said the Presidential 
Secretariat would present its draft at the April 23 NCC 
session and if a majority of NCC members voted in support, 
then it would be the official NCC draft. 
7. (SBU) Despite Tomenko's conciliatory comments, OU-PSD has 
reacted strongly to Tymoshenko's comments and the possibility 
of a Rada commission.  OU-PSD faction leader Vyacheslav 
Kyrylenko said on April 21 that BYuT's actions on 
constitutional reform posed a threat to Ukraine's territorial 
integrity, which at this point can only be protected by a 
strong president.  He said the parliamentary system supported 
by BYuT, Regions, and the Communists would lead to 
"collective irresponsibility and the unlimited power of 
parliamentary oligarchic clans."  He also asked BYuT to stop 
trying to destroy the coalition by holding talks directed 
against OU-PSD with the opposition.  OU-PSD MP Stoiko said 
that if BYuT and Regions went ahead with plans to form a 
constitutional commission in the Rada, OU-PSD would consider 
dissolving the coalition.  (Embassy Note.  In an April 15 
meeting with the Ambassador, Presidential Secretariat Head 
Baloha made the same statement.  End Note.)  BYuT expressed 
surprise at Kyrylenko's strong comments. 
8. (SBU) Political analyst and OU-PSD MP Oles Doniy and 
Dzerkalo Tyzhnya journalist Serhiy Rakhmanin have both said 
that they believe Tymoshenko's comments were political 
blackmail to remind Yushchenko that the PM can gather 300 
votes if necessary.  Doniy also said that he believed almost 
400 MPs supported amending the constitution solely in the 
Rada -- including his own PSD and part of OU. 
Yushchenko's Draft: Done but Delayed? 
9. (SBU) Both Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat 
Stavnichuk and presidential spokeswoman Vannikova told the 
press that the April 23 NCC meeting was being delayed until 
after the May holidays (meaning no sooner than May 12) 
because Rada Speaker Yatsenyuk was ill and could not attend. 
BYuT MP Portnov criticized the delay, saying that Yushchenko 
had canceled the meeting on false grounds, Yatsenyuk was not 
the only member of the council, and the President was showing 
disrespect to other Council members.  He then said BYuT would 
move ahead with plans to form the Rada commission to reform 
the constitution, and added that he was sure this would not 
lead to the collapse of the coalition.  OU-PSD MP Zvarych 
also criticized the delay, saying Yatsenyuk's "illness" was 
not a convincing reason to postpone the meeting and that a 
number of "highly respected people" had gathered at the 
Presidential Secretariat to discuss the amendments.  Tomenko 
said that Yushchenko postponed the meeting because he had 
been dealt a blow by the CC ruling and his team was 
recalculating its strategy.  Lytvyn said he thought the delay 
was due to "political differences, which have been discussed 
lately, (and) are also visible within the Commission."  He 
also thought that the issue of establishing the Rada 
commission would be discussed at the Rada's next plenary 
session. (Note.  The next session is currently scheduled for 
May 13, although there has been some discussion of moving it 
to May 6.  As Speaker, Yatsenyuk has some power to affect the 
agenda, possibly allowing him to stall on the creation of the 
commission. End note.) 
10. (C) At an April 24 meeting, Yushchenko told the 
Ambassador that Tymoshenko's efforts to conduct a parallel 
process to amend the constitution would break relations 
KYIV 00000803  003.2 OF 003 
between the coalition parties, although he did not say it 
would collapse the coalition.  He repeated the accusations 
that he and Chief of Staff Baloha have made in the press that 
Tymoshenko is working with former Kuchma Chief of Staff 
Viktor Medvedchuk and Regions MP Nestor Shufrych on their 
version of the constitution, which they would bring to the 
Rada commission.  (Note.  Shufrych is reputedly Tymoshenko's 
former paramour, as well as a good friend and former party 
associate of Medvedchuk's, which is supposedly why the three 
are working together. End note.)  Yushchenko argued that 
Tymoshenko was treating the drafting of a new constitution 
like a game, when it should be constructive and serious work. 
What's In the Draft? 
11. (SBU) After a meeting of the NCC working group on April 
22, an anonymous member leaked some of the proposed details 
of the new draft to the press.  According to several press 
accounts, the President's version of the constitution would 
eliminate the need for a coalition.  Instead, the largest 
faction in the Rada would have the right to nominate the 
Prime Minister.  If that nominee was not confirmed, the next 
largest faction would make a nomination.  In the event of a 
second failure to confirm, the President would have the right 
to make the nomination -- refusal to confirm the President's 
nominee would allow the President to disband the Rada.  In 
addition, under the proposed amendments, the President would 
no longer nominate the Foreign and Defense Ministers. 
Another amendment would eliminate the position of oblast 
state administration head -- governors would be elected by 
raion and city councils. 
12. (SBU) The unnamed source said that disputes within the 
working group remained on several items, including: 
constitutionally defined neutral status for Ukraine; state or 
official status for Russian language; a new system of 
parliamentary and local elections; dual citizenship; 
bicameral legislature; and popular veto (Yushchenko's 
suggestion that laws could be overturned by popular vote). 
13. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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