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08KYIV2113, UKRAINE CRISIS MEASURES PASSED TO UN-DISSOLVED RADA

October 21, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV2113 2008-10-21 15:49 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO0597
PP RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHKV #2113/01 2951549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211549Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6586
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 002113 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/UMB, EEB/OMA 
TREASURY PLEASE PASS TO TTORGERSON 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EFIN ECON ETRD PGOV XH UP
SUBJECT:  UKRAINE CRISIS MEASURES PASSED TO UN-DISSOLVED RADA 
 
REF: A) KYIV 2012; B) KYIV 2111 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary.  Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council 
(NSDC) approved a series of as yet unpublished anti-crisis proposals 
on October 20, designed to stave off a worsening financial 
emergency.  President Viktor Yushchenko temporarily lifted his 
decree on parliament's dissolution to allow the Verkhovna Rada to 
pass the NSDC's recommended package in the upcoming days.  Although 
Rada deputies briefly gathered on October 21, they could neither 
agree upon an agenda, nor did they have concrete proposals to 
consider.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains mum, but 
National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh suggested 
an assistance package could be approved as early as this week.  The 
NBU hinted that a more flexible exchange rate policy may be in the 
works, and both Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko indicated 
that high growth rates of social spending, a major cause of both 
growth and inflation in recent years, would be reduced as part of 
any anti-crisis package.  End Summary. 
 
NSDC Pushes Proposals 
---------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Members of the National Security and Defense Council met 
late on October 20 to consider broad measures aimed at shoring up 
Ukraine's banking system and broader economy.  President Yushchenko 
announced that representatives from the Finance Ministry and the NBU 
had drafted the NSDC's decision on tackling the financial crisis, so 
that the "government, the National Bank and other institutions in 
Ukraine speak in one language and make joint and clear assessments." 
 Yushchenko also stated that the NSDC criticized attempts by the 
government to disrupt early elections.  The NSDC's approved package 
reportedly consists of ten bills whose central features are a 50 
billion hryvnia stabilization fund (roughly $10 billion), increased 
deposit insurance, plans to reschedule external debt, and reductions 
in social spending.  While the President offered no comment on 
funding for the proposals, NBU's Stelmakh stated that the "ball is 
now in the government's court." 
 
3. (SBU) According to statements made by Yushchenko and subsequent 
media reports, the stabilization fund would be used to buy equity 
stakes in distressed companies, including banks, and would be funded 
through privatization revenues and central government borrowing, 
implying that the fund would not be financed until deep into 2009 
unless some sort of temporary financing was found in the meantime. 
The funds available to Ukraine's bank deposit insurance system would 
be increased by 1 billion hryvnia (about $200 million), and 
insurance per deposit would be doubled from 50,000 to 100,000 
hryvnia.  Yushchenko also reportedly said that the Cabinet of 
Ministers should be empowered "for at least half a year" to set 
customs tariffs at levels needed to prevent an erosion of the 
balance of payments, which many observers interpreted as a sign that 
Ukraine might raise import tariffs, possibly seeking exceptions to 
WTO commitments to do so. 
 
Yushchenko Un-Dissolves Parliament 
---------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU) With the NSDC meeting as his prop, Yushchenko dramatically 
lifted the suspension of his decree that had dissolved the Rada (Ref 
A), stating "tomorrow we'll see who is really interested in 
escalating tensions."  On October 21, deputies arrived at the 
assembly building, only to find that there was no agenda or 
legislation to consider.  Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's BYuT 
party delegates then obstructed the rostrum.  One BYuT deputy told 
EmbOff that his faction would continue to block plenary sessions 
until the anti-crisis measures were at the top of the agenda. 
(Note: It is more likely that the holdup was due to the difficulty 
of producing paperwork overnight on complex anti-crisis measures.) 
 
 
5.  (SBU) Separately, Timoshenko announced that the Cabinet of 
Ministers would be forced to limit social spending due to the 
financial crisis, echoing statements she made to the Ambassador late 
on October 20 (Ref B).  Timoshenko commented that the envisioned 
budget limitations would be made in the framework of anti-crisis 
legislation, but she did not spell out whether they would be 
consistent with actions already proposed by the NSDC.  As such, it 
is not clear whether Timoshenko's statement is a deliberate attempt 
to assert policy independence or a simple lack of coordination 
between erstwhile coalition partners. 
 
6. (SBU) In his public remarks, Yushchenko also prepared the ground 
for austerity measures to combat the crisis.  He said government and 
Presidential Secretariat personnel should be reduced by 20 percent 
 
KYIV 00002113  002 OF 002 
 
 
and the budget should rema
in balanced.  Yushchenko also stated that 
he had reached an understanding with the IMF that social spending 
should be maintained at "real levels," implying that future growth 
rates in public sector wages and in pensions may be more closely 
linked to the growth in labor productivity. 
 
NBU, PM, President All Hint at IMF Deal 
---------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) Stelmakh said on October 20 that the IMF may conclude 
negotiations on a stabilization package as soon as this week. 
Timoshenko announced that talks would be finalized after October 27, 
saying "we have practically concluded negotiations with the IMF at 
this moment.  The package is 90 percent agreed upon, in terms of 
what laws and necessary government decisions Ukraine must adopt to 
receive this essential financial assistance next week."  These 
statements were corroborated by Yushchenko, who announced after his 
October 21 meeting with IMF delegation head Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, 
that benefits and social risks of IMF conditionalities had been 
vetted.  In their public statements on the IMF, neither Yushchenko 
nor Tymoshenko made reference to the IMF timeline mentioned by the 
Prime Minister in her October 20 discussion with the Ambassador (Ref 
B). 
 
Currency and Ratings to Move Downward? 
---------------------------------------- 
 
8.  (SBU) NBU Deputy Governor Oleksandr Savchenko told reporters on 
October 21 that the National Bank is prepared to continue 
interventions on the interbank currency market.  At the same time, 
he said the exchange rate should float more freely.  According to 
Savchenko, the NBU will try to bring the official hryvnia exchange 
rate closer to the market rate and expects that both will equalize 
in the coming weeks.  In recent days the NBU has intervened 
sporadically, selling small amounts of dollars far below the rates 
traded in the interbank market.  Since the beginning of October, the 
NBU has spent nearly $2 billion on interventions. 
 
9.  (U) Moody's lowered its ratings on twelve Ukrainian banks, the 
agency said in a press release.  Fitch said it had lowered the 
ratings on ten banks following its downgrade of Ukraine's sovereign 
rating. 
 
Comment 
---------------------------------------- 
 
10.  (SBU) It is assumed that any emergency plan proposed by the 
NSDC or Cabinet of Ministers should reflect the IMF's 
conditionalities.  Likewise, the NBU's public statements on a more 
flexible exchange rate policy may be preparing the public for an 
austerity program and hryvnia devaluation.  Yushchenko has already 
taken the first step to align himself with the necessary measures, 
by presiding over NSDC proposals and suspending his decree on the 
Rada's dissolution.  A lack of action at the Rada on October 21, 
combined with uncoordinated statements by the President and Prime 
Minister on the necessary anti-crisis and austerity measures, 
however, reveal that officials in Kyiv remain unable to take the 
broadly agreed upon next steps in tandem.  Achieving consensus with 
the IMF, as well as implementing conditionalities of an IMF support 
package, will be difficult as long as both sides cannot publicly 
show compromise on the contours of an emergency plan.  End Comment.

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