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08KYIV1105, UKRAINE: COALITION TEETERING

June 6, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV1105 2008-06-06 13:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO3057
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHKV #1105/01 1581318
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061318Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5770
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 001105 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: COALITION TEETERING 
 
REF: A. KYIV 00960 
 
     B. KYIV 01087 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The June 6 announcement by two relatively 
unknown MPs -- one from BYuT and one from OU-PSD -- that they 
are withdrawing from the coalition leaves the coalition in an 
unclear legal status and without enough votes to push through 
legislation.  BYuT and OU-PSD faction leaders, as well as 
President Yushchenko, have sought to calm the waters by 
arguing that only factions can withdraw from the coalition 
and therefore the coalition remains intact, but contradictory 
articles in the constitution and Rada rules and the question 
of whether OU-PSD MP Ivan Plyushch is actually a member of 
the coalition leave the situation unclear.  If they adhere to 
Rada rules, the coalition cannot be formally terminated until 
Speaker Yatsenyuk announces it at a plenary session -- the 
next plenary is scheduled for June 17.  In the meantime, all 
sides are negotiating -- the two coalition factions are holed 
up in emergency meetings and Regions has announced its 
readiness to discuss a new coalition.  Although the rules are 
vague, it seems that the collapse of the coalition would not 
lead to the resignation of the Cabinet, allowing the 
Tymoshenko government to continue working unless the Rada 
actively chooses to remove it through a vote. 
 
2.(C) Comment.  We do not know what prompted the two MPs to 
leave at this juncture, although many are suggesting bribes 
and political pressure brought to bear in an attempt to 
collapse the coalition.  Ihor Rybakov, a young MP who joined 
the Rada in 2006, told the press that he had discovered 
corruption within high levels of the government and that he 
found he could no longer represent that political force. 
However, deputy head of BYuT Kozhemyakin told the press that 
Rybakov has ties to Presidential Chief of Staff Baloha and 
probably accepted money for his defection.  As described in 
reftels, Baloha has advocated for a situational majority or 
broad coalition, and he warned the Ambassador on June 3 that 
the coalition was nearing the point of no return.  However, 
it is equally possible that Regions was behind the two MPs' 
defection -- the faction bribed MPs to switch sides in March 
2007 and it is to their benefit to stir up trouble within the 
coalition.  The question now is whether the coalition can 
hold together and walk this situation back.  If not, talks 
between Regions and OU-PSD may begin in earnest, but doubts 
will linger as to whether a majority in OU-PSD would support 
cooperation with Regions.  In addition, many players still 
seem reluctant to go to new elections, suggesting that they 
may try to work out a solution that does not include a new 
vote.  End summary and comment. 
 
Coalition Status Shaken by Two MPs 
---------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Speaker Yatsenyuk made the startling announcement from 
his dais on the morning of June 6 that two MPs had submitted 
letters of resignation from the coalition.  The two MPs in 
question, Ihor Rybakov from BYuT and Yuriy But from OU-PSD, 
are relatively unknown parliamentarians and both fairly new 
to the Rada.  Rybakov told the press that he was a member of 
an intraparliamentary group called "Contraband - Stop," and 
that he had discovered corruption at the highest levels of 
government, so his conscience would not let him remain in the 
coalition.  MP But has not offered any public comment. 
However, deputy BYuT faction head Kozhemyakin told the press 
that Rybakov has been collaborating with Baloha, and several 
MPs have implied that the two probably made the decision in 
exchange for money.  Our EU contacts told us that they have 
worked on customs issues with Rybakov, who has business 
interests in Odesa and may be aspiring to run the State 
Customs Service. 
 
What the Rules Say 
------------------ 
 
4. (C) What happens next is unclear.  The Rada rules are 
focused on a coalition being terminated upon withdrawal by a 
faction, and this is the argument that MP Oleh Lyashko (BYuT) 
and former OU MP Refat Chubarov made to us privately, and 
that Yushchenko, Yatsenyuk and other MPs have made to the 
press -- that the constitution and Rada rules say that the 
coalition is made up of factions, not individuals, and 
therefore only a faction can take a decision to withdraw from 
the coalition.  However, a separate article states that if 
the number of MPs who remain in the coalition is less than 
226, the coalition is considered terminated.  Therefore, an 
important question is how many members of the coalition 
remain -- 225 or 226.  OU-PSD MP Ivan Plyushch refused to 
sign the coalition agreement in November 2007 and he is not 
listed as a coalition member on the Rada website.  However, 
 
KYIV 00001105  002 OF 002 
 
 
Our Ukraine's press service told us that they believed 
Plyushch was a member of the coalition, because he was a 
member of their faction, an argument others have repeated. 
So far, Plyushch has remained silent on his status. 
 
5. (C) Comment. Interestingly, Baloha and his United Center 
have made the sa
me argument that the coalition is still 
intact because neither faction has withdrawn.  However, 
United Center went on to say in a press release that it 
believed that Tymoshenko benefited from the coalition's 
collapse, because it allowed her not to be responsible for 
government mistakes and to call for early Rada elections. 
United Center also claimed that it was actions by BYuT and 
PSD that have driven the MPs to resign.  Such comments 
undermine the credibility of their defense of the coalition. 
End comment. 
 
6. (SBU) Another key article from the Rada rules says that 
the coalition is not formally terminated until the Speaker 
announces it as such from the Speaker's dais.  Yatsenyuk 
closed the Rada plenary session early for the day, after 
declaring the coalition was not dead, and the next plenary is 
not scheduled until June 17, which means that the status of 
the coalition will probably remain in limbo for at least the 
next ten days.  In the meantime, coalition leaders are 
seeking to calm tensions and revive the coalition.  Yatsenyuk 
has asked Rybakov and But to reconsider their resignations. 
Faction leaders have called on Rybakov and But to either 
recall their letters of resignation from the coalition or to 
resign from the Rada entirely.   Both factions called 
emergency meetings to discuss the situation.  Regions, on the 
other hand, has announced that the coalition no longer exists 
and that it is ready to engage in negotiations on forming a 
new coalition as soon as Yatsenyuk makes his announcement. 
 
Government Seems Safe for now, Elections Unlikely 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
7. (SBU) The constitution and Rada rules do not address what 
happens to the government in the event of the coalition's 
termination, which leads us to believe that the Rada must 
still actively dismiss Tymoshenko, if that is the goal. 
However, Regions is already referring to Tymoshenko as 
"acting PM."  The constitution does say that a new coalition 
should be formed within a month, but since President 
Yushchenko is constitutionally barred from dismissing the 
Rada until October 1, it is possible, albeit legally murky, 
that the Rada could move forward with no official coalition, 
the scenario Chief of Staff Baloha and his allies have 
described in the past. 
 
8. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
TAYLOR

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