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09KYIV581, RADA VOTES TO MOVE UP PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

April 1, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV581 2009-04-01 15:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO6844
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0581/01 0911506
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011506Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7555
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000581 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: RADA VOTES TO MOVE UP PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4(b,d) 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (C)  The Rada on April 1 voted overwhelmingly to set 
October 25, 2009 as the date for presidential elections. 
Previously, a late December 2009 or mid January 2010 election 
date had been expected.  Amendments to the constitution 
adopted after President Yushchenko took office in January 
2005 left the door open for the Rada to select the October 
date.  The President has vowed to challenge parliament's 
decision in court. END SUMMARY. 
 
 
RADA MOVES UP ELECTION DATE 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (U)  In an unexpected move, the Rada voted April 1 to set 
October 25, 2009 as the date for the next presidential 
election.  The vote was supported by four of the five 
parliamentary factions with 401 out of 422 MPs present voting 
in favor of the October date.  The resolution garnered 174 
votes from opposition Party of Regions (Regions), 155 votes 
from Prime Minister Tymoshenko's bloc (BYuT), 27 votes from 
the opposition Communist Party, 19 votes from Rada Speaker 
Lytvyn's bloc and 26 votes from the pro-coalition Our 
Ukraine-People's Self Defense bloc (OU-PSD).  One MP each 
from Regions, the BYuT and Lytvyn blocs, and 46 MPs from the 
fractured OU-PSD bloc did not vote for the resolution. 
Previously, December 27, 2009 or January 17, 2010 were 
considered the most likely dates for the election. Although 
Party of Regions had publicly proposed October 25, 2009 last 
fall, numerous MPs and commentators dismissed it as 
unrealistic and possibly unconstitutional. 
 
 
CONSTITUTIONAL UNCERTAINTY 
-------------------------- 
 
3. (U)  The wrangling over the date for presidential 
elections stems from different interpretations of Article 103 
of the current constitution and whether amendments enacted 
after President Yushchenko assumed the presidency in January 
2005 apply to his term in office.  Article 85 of the 
constitution gives the Rada the right to set presidential 
election dates.  Supporters of today's vote claim that the 
when Yushchenko was elected and inaugurated (January 23, 
2005) the constitution then in force set the last Sunday in 
October of the president's fifth year in office as the 
official election date.  They argue that later changes to the 
constitution did not grandfather Yushchenko in, and that 
October 25, 2009 is the correct date. 
 
4. (U)  Constitutional changes that came into effect in 2006 
amended Article 103, moving presidential elections to the 
last Sunday of the last month of the President's fifth year 
in office.  The amended article is also open to debate.  Some 
MPs claim that December 2009 is the last full month of 
Yushchenko's term and therefore the election should be 
December 27, 2009.  Others claim that because Yushchenko was 
inaugurated on January 23, 2005, January 2010 is the last 
month of his presidency and the election should therefore 
take place on January 17, 2010. 
 
 
REBUKE TO YUSHCHENKO, MOVE TO PREVENT EARLY RADA ELECTION 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
5. (C)  Observers saw the vote on the October 25 date as a 
rebuke to Yushchenko, noting the vote garnered 
across-the-board support from the government coalition and 
the opposition.  Party of Regions MP Nestor Shufrych, who led 
the effort to set the October date, told us that every effort 
should be made to remove Yushchenko from office as soon as 
possible.  He criticized the President's handling of the 
economy and said that Ukraine cannot wait until spring  2010 
for a change of leadership. 
 
6. (C)  BYuT MP Valeriy Pysarenko told us that Yushchenko was 
an obstacle for the Tymoshenko government and that BYuT would 
do whatever it could to get him out of office as soon as it 
could.  He said that earlier presidential elections were also 
better for Tymoshenko's own presidential bid because the 
economic crisis was having a negative impact on her poll 
numbers.  Pysarenko said that the October date would make it 
more difficult for Yushchenko to push for a pre-term 
parliamentary election because the constitution does not 
allow the Rada to be dissolved in the last six months of a 
president's term. 
 
7. (C) OU-PSD pro-coalition MP Kyrylo Kulikov told us that 
 
KYIV 00000581  002 OF 002 
 
 
the legal foundation of the Rada's decision was "dubious," 
but that with over 400 votes in parliament it cannot be 
ignored.  He said that the primary motivation for the October 
date was to check a possible Yushchenko move for pre-term 
Rada elections.  The resolution will get tied up in the 
courts and the election date could easily end up moved to 
January 2010, according to Kulikov. 
 
 
YUSHCHENKO TO MOUNT COURT CHALLENGE 
----------------------------------- 
 
8. (C)  The Presidential Secretariat harshly criticized the 
Rada decision as unconstitutional and promised to challenge 
the resolution in court.  Pysarenko told us that BYuT expects 
Yushchenko to appeal the Rada's decision to either the 
Administrative Court or
 Constitutional Court, but that they 
are prepared to defend the resolution.  Deputy Justice 
Minister Koriychuk claimed that the October 25 date is legal 
and predicted that the Constitutional Court would rule in the 
Rada's favor. 
 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C)  Yushchenko may find it difficult to block the Rada's 
decision to hold the presidential election on October 25.  It 
is rare in Ukraine's fractured political environment to find 
such broad support for any measure and underlines the extent 
of the opposition to Yushchenko.  In addition, the courts, as 
they have in the past, may be loath to go against the 
political winds. 
 
TAYLOR

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