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November 13, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV2245 2008-11-13 16:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv


DE RUEHKV #2245/01 3181625
P 131625Z NOV 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 002245 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2018 
REF: A. KYIV 2242 
     B. KYIV 2025 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
1. (C) On November 13, a day after the Ukrainian Parliament 
(Rada) voted to remove Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a 
tumultuous session (Ref. A), the Rada was unable to find 
consensus on a replacement candidate and recessed until 
November 18.  Rada contacts told us that Volodymyr Lytvyn, 
leader of the Lytvyn Bloc, currently appears to be the 
favored candidate.  The Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), which had 
stood by Yatsenyuk, does not appear shaken by the Speaker's 
removal.  Selection of the new speaker -- be it Lytvyn or 
someone else -- should offer clues as to the prospect for a 
new coalition -- or signal a renewed move toward early 
elections.  End Summary. 
No New Speaker Yet 
2. (C) A day after voting to remove Rada Speaker Yatsenyuk, 
the Rada was unable to find consensus on a replacement 
candidate and closed its November 13 session early.  Deputy 
Speaker and Regions MP Oleksandr Lavrynovych announced that 
the next session would be held on Tuesday, November 18, when 
the chamber would take up the issue of Yatsenyuk's 
replacement again.  Leading candidates for the position 
include Lavrynovych, OU-PSD MP and Yushchenko ally Ivan 
Plyush, and Volodymyr Lytvyn, head of the Lytvyn Bloc. 
Regions MP Yuriy Myroshnychenko told us that factions must 
agree on a candidate, or none would receive the 226 votes 
necessary to take over the Speaker's chair, and that the Rada 
session was closed because "we all have to go negotiate." 
Lytvyn, or Not Lytvyn 
3. (C) OU-PSD MP Oles Doniy, one of 10 OU-PSD MPs to vote for 
their erstwhile OU-PSD colleague Yatsenyuk's removal, told us 
that Lytvyn is the most likely candidate for Speaker, and 
that he had two paths to the position.  First, Lytvyn could 
align with BYuT and a majority of OU-PSD MPs to create a 
coalition.  BYuT has publicly offered Lytvyn the Speaker's 
post if his Bloc signs on, although Lytvyn has reportedly 
demanded the Speaker's chair and up to four cabinet 
ministries for such a grouping.  OU-PSD MP Mykola Katerynchuk 
told us that the insurgent OU-PSD MPs (Ref. B) may try to 
force the faction to vote on such a coalition this weekend. 
4. (C) Doniy said that Lytvyn could also align with Regions, 
the Communist Party and United Center (which represents seven 
of the 72 MPs in the OU-PSD faction).  However, Doniy and 
other contacts dismissed this potential coalition as 
unconstitutional and easily challenged in court, because 
United Center could not join a coalition without a majority 
of its OU-PSD faction voting in favor.  Without UC's seven 
MPs, Regions, Lytvyn and the Communists fall four short of 
the necessary 226 votes to form a coalition.  However, OU-PSD 
MP Kyrylo Kulikov told us that it is not a question of what 
is legal or constitutional, but "a question of what they will 
do," adding that changing the Rada rules to allow a card vote 
to remove Yatsenyuk instead of by ballot was illegal under 
Rada rules but "they did it anyway." 
5. (C) BYuT MP Andriy Shkil told us that if Regions' MP 
Lavrynovych is elected Speaker, it could signal that Regions 
and Yushchenko would work together to push through election 
funding and other election-related legislation, which Shkil 
intimated would be easier with Lavrynovych in the Speaker's 
Few Tears for Yatsenyuk, Few Fears for Tymoshenko 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
6. (C) Doniy told us that despite Yatsenyuk's September 
letter of resignation, he had wanted to stay on as Speaker, 
but was "playing too many games" by balancing his interests 
between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.  Regions MP Vladimir 
Makayenko added that Yatsenyuk was "too independent" and no 
one, including BYuT, is really sorry to see him go. 
Makayenko had few kind words for the former Speaker, telling 
us that Yatsenyuk was less interested in the work of Speaker 
than the "PR that came with the job." 
7. (C) BYuT MP Valeriy Pysarenko told us that, in the end, 
Yatsenyuk's ouster was "nothing big" to BYuT, and that they 
still maintained "plenty of levers" to use to achieve their 
political goals.  Doniy added that Tymoshenko can "sleep 
safely" because her position and her government are safe. 
While no coalition is needed to vote out the Speaker, a 
coalition is needed to form a new government, and the 
"anti-government" coalition, including UC, was a non-starter. 
 Regions MP Olena Bondarenko echoed public statements by her 
party when she told us that Regions "would not touch" 
Tymoshenko, preferring to let her try to clean up the 
economic mess "that she created." 
What did Yushchenko Know, and When Did He Know It? 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
8. (U) President Yushchenko announced that Yatsenyuk's 
removal destabilized the political situation.  Regions Head 
Viktor Yanukovych told the
press that Yushchenko called him 
two times from Warsaw to ask Regions not to vote out 
Yatsenyuk.  Appearing on the popular Shuster Live news 
program, Ukrainska Pravda journalist Mustafa Nayem said that 
Yushchenko asked his chief of staff, Viktor Baloha, to 
instruct his UC MPs not to vote for Yatsenyuk's removal, but 
was rebuffed by Baloha, who said that Yushchenko would have 
to call the MPs himself as Baloha did not control them. 
9. (C) Many Rada contacts claimed that Yatsenyuk's removal 
was done with Yushchenko's blessing and that the timing of 
the ouster, when Yushchenko was in Poland, gave the President 
plausible deniability.  Regions MP Dmytro Tabachnyk told us 
that "if Baloha still has a job today" it means Yushchenko 
backed Yatsenyuk's removal.  BYuT MP Kostyantin Bondareev 
told us that Yushchenko wanted to destabilize the Rada as it 
is "a government branch that has stood up to him." Kulikov 
echoed Bondareev, saying Yushchenko aimed to paralyze the 
Rada, adding that he is so focused on destroying Tymoshenko 
that he will "destroy the country to do it." 
Next Plenary Week 
10. (C) The Rada must begin the next plenary week on November 
18 with a vote on a new Speaker, many contacts told us, as 
any legislation passed by the Rada must be signed by the 
Speaker before going to the President for his signature. 
Without a Speaker, Kulikov told us, the Rada would cease to 
be a functioning branch of government, leaving the President 
to rule by decree.  MPs told us that factions would meet to 
discuss strategy and negotiations between factions on a way 
forward would continue through the weekend.  Regions MP 
Makayenko cautioned us that any final agreement was unlikely 
to be reached before Monday, if then, but that a "war of 
words" would continue to be fought in the press through the 
11. (C) Yatsenyuk's ouster does not present an obvious path 
forward, but his replacement could signal which direction the 
Rada will go.  A Lytvyn speakership could mean a serious 
attempt to create a new coalition.  Which coalition, either 
BYuT/OU-PSD/Lytvyn or a more legally questionable 
Regions/Lytvyn/Communist/UC, would be revealed by how the 
votes line up.  Another MP in the Speaker's chair, such as 
Regions MP Lavrynovych, could signal a renewed push for early 




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