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08KYIV954, UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO GETS HIS CABMIN LAW

May 20, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV954 2008-05-20 11:11 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8474
PP RUEHBW
DE RUEHKV #0954/01 1411111
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201111Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5623
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 02 KYIV 000954 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO GETS HIS CABMIN LAW 
 
REF: A. 2006 KYIV 04435 
     B. KYIV 00102 
 
KYIV 00000954  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  President Yushchenko won a tactical victory 
on May 16, when Prime Minister Tymoshenko's faction in the 
parliament backed down after a week's stand-off and agreed to 
vote for the new law on the Cabinet of Ministers, which the 
President has been pushing for since December.  Yushchenko 
included it as a priority law in the coalition agreement and 
introduced it to the Rada in January, but Tymoshenko's BYuT 
has resisted because certain articles strengthened the 
President and/or weakened the PM.  However, after Yushchenko 
refused to compromise to end BYuT's blockade in the Rada last 
week, the PM's faction backed down and supported the law, 
which Yushchenko immediately signed.  The law seeks to 
correct some of the confusion from the 2004 constitution and 
the controversial 2007 CabMin law -- passed by a tactical 
Regions-BYuT supermajority in January 2007 -- such as 
clarifying who is responsible for certain appointments and 
dismissals.  The law also gives the President back some of 
the powers he had lost under the 2007 law, particularly 
enhancing the power of the presidentially-run National 
Security and Defense Council, which could cause further 
problems for the Cabinet as it tries to move its agenda 
forward while dealing with an aggressive presidential team. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment.  Interestingly, the final version of the 
new CabMin law differs somewhat from the draft introduced by 
the Presidential Secretariat in January, scaling back some of 
the more aggressive clauses from the initial draft law, 
suggesting that the presidential team made some compromises 
to get the law passed.  Although this is a positive step for 
the coalition, which has been battered in past weeks by a 
continuing public spat between President and Prime Minister, 
passage of the law looks unlikely to end the conflict. 
Immediately after signing the law, President Yushchenko 
publicly criticized Tymoshenko for taking so long to pass the 
law, arguing that the delay had been in violation of the 
coalition agreement and noting that only four of the 12 laws 
agreed to in the coalition agreement had been passed by the 
Rada.  End summary and comment. 
 
CabMin Law: A Substitute for Constitutional Reform 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
3. (C) The 2004 constitutional reforms that came into effect 
in 2006 failed to clearly define the powers and prerogatives 
of President and PM, leading to continual clashes between 
Yushchenko and then PM Yanukovych in the fall of 2006. 
During this battle, Regions tried to legislate its power grab 
by introducing its law on the Cabinet of Ministers in October 
2006 -- a bill that greatly shifted power in favor of the 
Cabinet and PM (ref A).  After Yanukovych's Party of Regions 
initiated the dismissal by the Rada of the 
president-nominated Foreign Minister in December 2006 and 
Yushchenko refused to acknowledge the vote or the dismissal, 
Regions passed the CabMin law in December.  Yushchenko 
immediately vetoed it, but Tymoshenko's BYuT allied itself 
with Regions in January 2007 to override the veto as a slap 
to the President who had been ignoring his former Orange 
Revolution colleagues.  Although BYuT's tactical move brought 
Tymoshenko back into the game and eventually contributed 
towards the President's April 2 dismissal of the Rada, the 
CabMin law went into effect, tying the President's hands in 
many ways over the past year.  Yushchenko's team included a 
new CabMin law as one of 12 priority legislative items in the 
coalition agreement signed in November 2007. 
 
Clarifying Appointments and Procedures 
-------------------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) The new CabMin law removes some of the 
contradictions inherent in the 2004 constitutional amendments 
and walks back some of the more controversial clauses of the 
Regions-drafted 2007 iteration of the CabMin law.  For 
example, it clearly states that only the President can 
initiate the dismissal of the two ministers that he nominates 
-- the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense.  In 
addition, the 2007 law tried to force Yushchenko's hand by 
stating that if he did not name a new FM or DM within 15 
days, the Rada coalition could do it in his place -- the new 
law removes this clause.  The new law also eliminates the 
2007 provision that allowed the coalition to put forward a PM 
nomination without the President's consent, as well as 
outlines specific circumstances under which the President can 
reject the coalition's nomination for PM. 
 
5. (SBU) The law requires that Rada MPs nominated to the 
Cabinet submit letters of resignation from their 
 
KYIV 00000954  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
parliamentary mandate to be voted on simultaneously with 
their confirmation, eliminating the current situation where 
ministers are double-encumbered if the Rada does not vote in 
a timely fashion to terminate their Rada mandates.  The law 
als
o says that the Cabinet can be voted on as a package or 
minister by minister, an issue that was debated repeatedly in 
December 2007.  The new law specifies that the government 
program be based on the coalition agreement and that it be 
voted on immediately after the vote confirming the Cabinet. 
If the program is not supported by 226 MPs, it must be 
amended and voted on again within 15 days.  (Note. The 
constitution states that if the Rada does not approve the 
government program, the Cabinet can be subject to a vote of 
no confidence.  End note.) 
 
Shifting Powers 
--------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The new CabMin law transfers some PM powers to 
individual ministers and decreases the Cabinet's control over 
local government.  It gives the ministers power to name their 
own deputies -- in the 2007 law the PM nominated all deputy 
ministers, giving the PM a greater say in the structure of 
the ministries.  In addition, the ministers now have greater 
direct control over executive bodies that fall within their 
sphere, rather than these bodies simply belonging to the 
Cabinet.  The new law gives the CabMin the right to review 
the issue of appointments and dismissals of oblast and raion 
heads and send recommendations to the President, but removes 
its power to discipline a governor independently.  The new 
law also allows the Cabinet to recommend the President cancel 
certain local government acts, but it eliminates the 
Cabinet's ability to cancel the decisions itself, a power it 
received in the 2007 law. 
 
Bolstering the President, A Little 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Yushchenko used the new law to beef up some of his own 
powers, although the language is toned from the original 
draft submitted to the Rada (ref B).  The law empowers the 
NSDC and other presidential bodies by stating that the CabMin 
"must ensure" implementation of presidential edicts and NSDC 
decisions.  (Note.  The first test of this last power is 
ongoing, as the NSDC voted Friday to ban the Cabinet and 
State Property Fund from privatizing the Odesa Portside 
Plant.  The CabMin held an emergency meeting May 12 and 
agreed to postpone the tender, although they did not cancel 
it outright.  End note.)  The new law also requires the 
CabMin to respond to informational requests from all 
presidential bodies.  In contrast, the 2007 law prohibited 
the NSDC from giving instructions to the Cabinet or to 
ministers.  However, the President's power to cancel CabMin 
resolutions, which was in the draft law, was removed. 
Instead, he can suspend CabMin resolutions pending 
Constitutional Court rulings, a power already granted by the 
constitution. 
 
8. (SBU) The law also seeks to tone down a requirement from 
the 2007 law that the PM and relevant ministers countersign 
certain presidential acts -- this article gave the Yanukovych 
government great leeway to veto presidential decrees.  While 
the law still says the PM and relevant minister should 
countersign presidential acts tied to certain aspects of 
constitutional article 106 -- such as the appointment of 
ambassadors -- it removes language that had detailed a 
procedure allowing ministers to object to the presidential 
acts and refuse to sign.  The law also says that the 
President has the right to initiate the dismissal of the 
Cabinet with Rada approval, but this is merely an elaboration 
of the constitution's article 87, which already empowers the 
President to request the Rada consider a no confidence vote 
in the government. 
 
9. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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