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January 28, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV155 2009-01-28 08:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv


DE RUEHKV #0155/01 0280831
P 280831Z JAN 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000155 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019 
REF: 08 KYIV 1966 
Classified By: Ambassador William Taylor for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
1. (C) On January 15 the Ukrainian parliament (Rada) passed 
legislation that sets forth procedures necessary to impeach 
the president.  President Yushchenko is expected to veto the 
legislation - a move the Rada will likely overturn.  Rada 
contacts tell us that while the measure, once it becomes law, 
would make impeachment technically possible, PM Tymoshenko 
and her allies are unlikely to initiate impeachment 
proceedings with less than a year left in Yushchenko's term. 
Rather, Tymoshenko will likely use the threat of impeachment 
as a lever against Yushchenko in their ongoing political 
battle.  Tymoshenko has threatened to launch impeachment 
proceedings against Yushchenko if he does not dismiss 
National Bank (NBU) Chairman Volodymyr Stelmakh.  End Summary. 
Rada Passes Bill on Temporary Investigative Commissions 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
2. (SBU) On January 15, 408 Rada MPs voted in favor of 
legislation that gives subpoena power to Rada temporary 
investigative commissions, allowing the Rada to compel 
testimony and information during their investigations.  The 
enabling legislation sets forth procedures required to 
impeach the president in accordance with the constitution. 
3. (SBU) The legislation was previously passed on September 2 
with support from Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) and Party of Regions 
(Regions), but President Yushchenko's veto was upheld when 
BYuT pulled its support for the bill in early October in an 
effort to re-form the collapsed BYuT/OU-PSD coalition (Ref. 
A).  The legislation enjoyed nearly unanimous support from 
BYuT, Regions, the Communists and Lytvyn Bloc, with 36 Our 
Ukraine-People's Self-Defense (OU-PSD) MPs voting in favor. 
4. (C)  BYuT MP Valeriy Pysarenko told us that the Rada has 
been waiting for this legislation to be passed for years, as 
it will give teeth to Rada investigations.  Yushchenko is 
expected to veto the legislation, a largely futile gesture as 
the Rada needs only 300 votes to overturn.  OU-PSD MP and 
former close Yushchenko ally Roman Zvarych told us that "if 
Yushchenko were smart" he would offer amendments to 
strengthen the law rather than vetoing it, as the law and 
related constitutional articles set a high hurdle to avoid 
impeachment for political reasons. 
Impeachment Technically Possible, But Unlikely... 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
5. (U) According to the Constitution, in order to impeach the 
president for "state treason or other crime" a majority of 
the Rada must vote to appoint a special investigation 
commission to investigate the charges against the President. 
The January 15 legislation sets forth the procedures, and the 
authority, of the commission.  Based on the conclusions of 
the commission, two-thirds (300) of the 450 Rada MPs must 
vote to move forward with impeachment proceedings.  The 
commission report would then be forwarded to the 
Constitutional Court, which reviews the constitutionality of 
the impeachment proceedings, and the Supreme Court, which 
must confirm that the President's actions contain elements of 
"state treason or other crime."  Once the case has been 
reviewed and affirmed by both courts, three quarters (338 of 
450) of the Rada must vote in favor of impeachment for the 
president to be impeached. 
6. (C)  BYuT's Pysarenko told us that the legislation's 
provisions on impeachment are important, but that BYuT was 
unlikely to push for impeachment at this time.  While the 
measure would, once enacted, make impeachment technically 
possible, the process is still quite long, and the bar is set 
high.  With less than a year left in Yushchenko's term, it is 
more likely that BYuT will use the threat of impeachment to 
put pressure on Yushchenko rather than go through with 
impeachment procedures.  Tymoshenko said the same thing in a 
lengthy press interview published January 24. 
7. (C) Pro-coalition OU-PSD MP Volodymyr Ariev told us that 
he and his People's Self-Defense colleagues were unlikely to 
support any efforts to impeach Yushchenko, but that any such 
effort was unlikely anyway.  He said that BYuT wants to use 
the threat of impeachment "as a stick" to get Yushchenko to 
stop obstructing the government's work.  Tymoshenko wants 
Yushchenko "out of the way, but not necessarily out of 
office," Ariev said.  Pro-coalition OU-PSD MP Mykola 
Katerynchuk told us that talk of impeachment is "not 
serious," and merely "presidential campaign PR." Opposition 
Regions MPs told us that Regions would not likely be unified 
in support of impeachment if it came up because it would set 
a bad precedent for future "political impeachments." 
Blaming Yushchenko 
8. (U)  On January 23, Tymoshenko announced that she and her 
allies in the Rada did not intend to initiate impeachment 
proceedings against Yushchenko.  She noted that, as the law 
is currently written, an impeachment "could take years," and 
it would only further destabilize t
he political situation in 
Ukraine.  She noted, however, that if Yushchenko failed to 
remove NBU chairman Volodymyr Stelmakh, as demanded by 
Tymoshenko and the Rada, "the President would have to answer 
for that." 
9. (U) In an emergency plenary session on January 26, the 
Rada adopted two resolutions.  The first assigned blame to 
Yushchenko for the economic crisis, in part because he had 
refused to replace Stelmakh.  The second revoked the 2004 
Rada confirmation of Stelmakh as NBU chair.  The Presidential 
Secretariat immediately dismissed the revocation vote as 
unconstitutional and forwarded a request to the 
Constitutional Court for clarification.  Deputy head of the 
Secretariat, Ihor Pukshyn, stressed that Stelmakh remains NBU 
chief regardless of the resolution. 
10. (U) BYuT MP Svyatoslav Oliynyk, the author of the first 
resolution blaming Yushchenko for the economic crisis, said 
that the resolution makes the President personally 
responsible for the depreciation of the Ukrainian currency, 
misuse of funds in bank recapitalizations and "an absence of 
supervision" of commercial banks.  Oliynyk conceded that the 
resolution was political, but did not rule out the 
possibility that it could form a basis for impeachment in the 
11. (C) Impeachment proceedings would only be technically 
possible once the Rada overrides the expected veto and any 
potential court challenges are resolved.  This could take 
months, or longer.  In the interim, Tymoshenko will hang the 
threat of impeachment over Yushchenko's head to pressure him 
in their ongoing political feud.  Their personal and 
political enmity is back on full public display after a short 
respite during most of the gas crisis negotiations and the 
winter holidays. 




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