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08KYIV1455, UKRAINE: DAS MERKEL HEARS SKEPTICISM ON UNITED

July 29, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV1455 2008-07-29 13:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8563
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHKV #1455/01 2111338
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291338Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6094
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 001455 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: DAS MERKEL HEARS SKEPTICISM ON UNITED 
CENTER AND COALITION 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  During his July 24-25 visit to Kyiv, DAS 
David Merkel heard from representatives of several political 
forces that the way forward on internal politics was unclear, 
but that a great deal depends on President Yushchenko and how 
he decides to proceed.  Secretary of the National Security 
and Defense Council Bohatyryova said that the new political 
project United Center (UC), created by Presidential Chief of 
Staff Baloha, had no future.  She also argued that the 
President's focus on divisive cultural issues, like language 
and the Church, hurt his ability to unite the country and 
build a power base.  First Deputy Prime Minister Turchynov 
echoed Bohatyryova's comments that UC was a dead project and 
blamed Baloha for causing all the tensions in the coalition 
and in the Rada.  Turchynov also said that the presidential 
team was nervous about next year's elections and needed 
Yushchenko to reinvigorate Our Ukraine if it wanted to 
succeed, and reaffirmed that Tymoshenko would prefer to 
remain in office for the next year.  Regions financier 
Akhmetov told DAS Merkel that the coalition was de facto 
dead, although the Communists seemed to be willing to vote 
with it.  He insisted that if a new coalition was formed, 
Yanukovych was the only serious candidate to become Prime 
Minister.  End summary. 
 
Bohatyryova: United Center Not the Answer for Yushchenko 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
2. (C) NSDC Secretary Raisa Bohatyryova told DAS Merkel of 
her doubts about the viability of United Center (UC), the 
political party controlled by Presidential Secretariat Head 
Viktor Baloha, and took the opportunity to reiterate that she 
will not consider taking leadership in the party, as has been 
rumored in the press.  She speculated that UC does not have a 
defined voter base and probably would not be able to garner 
enough votes in the event of a near-term parliamentary 
election.  In order to be viable, she argued, the party must 
acquire charismatic leadership and be able to unite east and 
west.  On the latter point, she noted that this presumed 
pro-presidential party will not be helped by Yushchenko's 
insistence on pushing an agenda -- on Ukrainian language and 
religious issues, for example -- that is so unpalatable in 
the east.  (Comment. Bohatyryova's strong criticism of 
Baloha, and even Yushchenko, underscores once again that 
there are strong differences within the presidential team on 
a way forward.  End comment.) 
 
Turchynov on Coalition Politics 
------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) DAS Merkel solicited Acting Prime Minister and 
Tymoshenko right-hand man Oleksandr Turchynov's views on the 
dynamics of the Rada coalition and how they would develop 
between now and the 2009 presidential election.  Turchynov 
said that the political situation is quite complicated, 
particularly because the President's position is undefined. 
The President wanted a coalition to be formed with the Party 
of Regions, but there was no political support.  In a thinly 
veiled reference to Baloha, Turchynov said the parliamentary 
crisis was caused by one person.  Once Baloha realizes his 
actions cause more harm than good and ceases his shenanigans, 
the Rada's problems will end.  Turchynov noted that the final 
Rada session was remarkable because the attempt by Baloha and 
Regions to disband the Rada failed.  He added that the 
current coalition has stayed together because even though the 
coalition in theory can be terminated, there is no new 
coalition to take its place.  In Turchynov's opinion, the 
President's party, Our Ukraine (OU), should "rejuvenate its 
authority."  Baloha's party, United Center, has no chances of 
survival because it does not have any political support. 
 
4. (C) DAS Merkel asked Turchynov how OU could rejuvenate its 
authority and what prospects Baloha has for political 
survival.  Turchynov replied that the authority of OU lies 
with Yushchenko, and bluntly added that OU doesn't care about 
Baloha's political career.  Turchynov said that without a 
consistent, transparent process to bring Ukraine's democratic 
forces together, OU has no future.  The President's team, 
according to Turchynov, is nervous about the presidential 
elections.  When asked whether the PM would be best served by 
remaining in office or leaving if no merging of democratic 
forces occurred before the presidential election, Turchynov 
said the PM would remain in office and that what's best for 
Ukraine is more important than what's best for political 
campaigns. 
 
Akhmetov: Coalition is Dead, Unclear What is Next 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
 
KYIV 00001455  002 OF 002 
 
 
5. (C) In response to a question about the current coalition 
and the prospects for a new one, Party of Regions oligarch 
Rinat Akhmetov said that while it was hard to predict what 
would occur, it was clear the current coalition no longer 
exists.  PM Tymoshenko complains that the President's team 
will not let her work, b
ut the coalition is her 
responsibility -- if her partners are that bad, she should go 
into the opposition.  He added that the Communists seemed to 
be de facto part of the coalition, or at least colluding with 
them, pointing to the CPU's unwillingness to vote no 
confidence in the Tymoshenko government and recent public 
praise Communist leaders have given government policies. 
(Note.  Other members of Regions made the same argument that 
the Communists are secretly backing Tymoshenko in the press 
last week.  End note.)   Akhmetov said that if a new 
coalition was formed, Yanukovych was the only serious 
candidate for PM. 
 
6. (C) Akhmetov also criticized recent attempts to amend the 
constitution, including by his own party.  He said that he 
opposed any constitutional changes that only benefit one 
player, even Yanukovych.  He said that Tymoshenko and 
Yanukovych had reached tentative agreement on constitutional 
changes, but he had opposed them.  He said he only wanted 
amendments if they would benefit the whole country - "no 
games".  Akhmetov advocated gathering experts to prepare 
amendments and then voting on them. 
 
7. (U) DAS Merkel did not clear this cable. 
 
8. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
TAYLOR

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