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09KYIV694, TYMOSHENKO MULLS COALITION WITH REGIONS,

April 22, 2009

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09KYIV694 2009-04-22 17:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO6169
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0694/01 1121723
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221723Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7691
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000694 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/22/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: TYMOSHENKO MULLS COALITION WITH REGIONS, 
CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William Taylor for reasons 1.4(b,d) 
 
Summary 
-------- 
 
1. (C)  In recent meetings, PM Tymoshenko told the Ambassador 
that her BYuT faction is in negotiations with Party of 
Regions over the possible creation of a broad new Rada 
coalition.  Such a coalition, if it were to take shape, would 
work to change the constitution ahead of presidential 
elections to create a parliamentary republic with a weakened 
president elected in the Rada.  Tymoshenko said the new 
constitution would also reset the current Rada convocation's 
five-year authority - pushing the next scheduled national 
election to 2014.  Tymoshenko argued that such changes might 
be necessary to preserve Ukraine's western orientation and 
democratic development and that they would be transparent and 
constitutional.  While Regions leaders, including oligarch 
and party financier Rinat Akhmetov, support a BYuT-Regions 
coalition, mistrust between the two political forces could 
well scuttle any potential deal.  Tymoshenko said she was not 
convinced that joining with Regions was the best course, but 
that holding elections in the midst of an economic crisis 
might be worse.  End Summary. 
 
Tymoshenko Negotiating with Regions 
----------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) In an April 14 meeting with the Ambassador, and a 
follow up meeting on April 17 that included the British, 
French, and German Chiefs of Mission, PM Tymoshenko reported 
that she was "seriously considering" a broad coalition with 
Party of Regions, Speaker Lytvyn's bloc and a part of 
Our-Ukraine People's Self-Defense (OU-PSD), and that 
negotiations with Regions were ongoing.  Tymoshenko offered 
two scenarios that she was contemplating.  The first option 
would be to hold presidential elections as planned.  The 
second option would entail uniting with Regions to create a 
parliamentary republic by changing the constitution ahead of 
the presidential election, currently scheduled for October 
25.  Tymoshenko said she was not convinced that joining with 
Regions was the best course, but said that she also worried 
that holding a presidential election in the middle of 
Ukraine's deep economic crisis could have devastating results 
for the country.  According to Tymoshenko, the second option 
would "preserve Ukraine's democratic direction." 
 
Presidential Elections Threaten Ukraine's Future? 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3. (C) Regions head Viktor Yanukovych has a fifty percent 
chance of winning a national presidential election, said 
Tymoshenko.  According to her, a Yanukovych presidency would 
threaten Ukraine's western direction and roll back Ukraine's 
political system by re-creating the powerful presidential 
system that the country had under Kuchma.  Yanukovych would 
also further divide the country by making Russian a second 
state language, hold an immediate referendum on NATO to 
ensure its failure, and move to incorporate Ukraine into 
Russia's "Single Economic Space." 
 
4. (C) Tymoshenko told the Ambassador that she "does not 
fear" presidential elections, but she worried that 
protracted "war and court battles" during the election and 
vote counting could further divide the country.  In a 
presidential campaign, Tymoshenko said, she would marshall 
all of her resources, including administrative and budget 
resources.  She said that Regions, Yushchenko and Speaker 
Lytvyn were pushing in the Constitutional Court to change the 
election date to January so it would take place in the "heart 
of the economic crisis."  A January election would make fraud 
easier, she said, because observers would lack enthusiasm due 
to the weather and holidays, many western Ukrainians would be 
abroad for the holidays, and voters would not be tuned in to 
election messages.  She also lamented Russia's potential to 
influence a January election through manipulation of the 
natural gas market. 
 
A Parliamentary Republic? 
------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Tymoshenko told the Ambassador that a deal with 
Regions to form a broad coalition in the Rada that would 
control a commanding 331 of 450 seats is possible.  She said 
that the coalition would also include the Lytvyn bloc and the 
pro-coalition portion of OU-PSD - Lytvyn would remain Speaker 
and OU-PSD would retain some ministerial slots - or she would 
not make the deal.  Tymoshenko reported that her faction and 
Regions are in "intense negotiations" over both the coalition 
agreement and the constitutional amendments that the 
coalition would enact. 
 
KYIV 00000694  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
6. (C) According to Tymoshenko, a BYuT-Regions coalition 
would pursue constitutional changes that would make Ukraine a 
parliamentary republic.  Tymoshenko argued that the 
constitutional changes would end the structural problems 
between the president and prime minister by delineating the 
authority of each, and would "guarantee and preserve" 
Ukraine's strategic focus on the west.  The changes would 
strengthen the prime ministerial post and create a more 
ceremonial presidency that would be elected i
n the Rada 
rather than by popular vote - a process that she predicted 
would be "calming" for Ukraine when 350 to 400 MPs united to 
elect a president.  Tymoshenko also said that with the new 
constitution, the Rada's five-year term would be reset.  As 
such, the next scheduled national election would be Rada 
elections in 2014. 
 
Constitutional Transition 
------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Tymoshenko told the Ambassador that she had offered 
"lots of carrots" to Yanukovych in their coalition 
negotiations.  On April 20, Yanukovych announced that he 
would consider joining forces with Tymoshenko only if "strict 
conditions" were met.  The constitutional changes that 
Tymoshenko described included a 10-year transition period in 
which the presidency would retain a higher level of 
authority, including the right to nominate the defense and 
foreign minister, after which the president's authority would 
be minimal.  Tymoshenko intimated that the Rada would elect 
Yanukovych as President.  The presidency would lose its 
authority to issue decrees, to appoint governors, and to veto 
laws.  The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) would 
also be weakened, and would only operate in times of 
emergency. 
 
Changes to be "Transparent and Constitutional" 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
8. (C) Many "Orange" supporters would be unhappy to see a 
BYuT-Regions coalition, Tymoshenko said, but she was willing 
to "take that hit."  She also expressed hope that 
international observers, including the United States, would 
understand the "essence" of Ukraine's problems and support 
her actions.  However, she also told the Ambassador that she 
"dislikes" that these steps have become necessary and "is not 
trying to sell anyone on it."  She stressed to the Ambassador 
that, if they decided to make a deal with Regions, the 
process of creating a parliamentary republic would be done 
"transparently and constitutionally." 
 
Some Key Regions Leaders On Board 
--------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Tymoshenko said that, while Yanukovych is not yet 
convinced to join with BYuT, many on his team want to see the 
two political forces unite.  Regions deputy faction head 
Boris Kolesnikov, a close ally of billionaire industrialist 
MP and Regions financier Rinat Akhmetov, told us that a 
majority of Regions deputies are on board, but there remain 
holdouts who would rather see early Rada elections, which are 
currently not scheduled nor likely.  Kolesnikov said that 
Akhmetov supported the potential coalition, a reversal of his 
earlier anti-Tymoshenko position, but that the negotiations 
remain difficult, and Yanukovych remains skeptical. 
Kolesnikov gave the potential coalition a fifty percent 
chance of succeeding. 
 
Kravchuk Supportive 
------------------- 
 
10. (C)  On April 16, former President Leonid Kravchuk told 
the Ambassador that the broad coalition and constitutional 
changes described by Tymoshenko were the "only right way" for 
Ukraine to overcome the economic and political crises. 
Kravchuk argued that a presidential election in the fall 
would not solve anything, but a broad coalition would. In 
addition to unifying the political forces, Kravchuk said that 
the coalition could also achieve meaningful land reform, 
judicial reform and local administrative reform, adding that 
the legislation is prepared, but politics has prevented the 
tough reforms.  If BYuT and Regions unite, said Kravchuk, 
"pragmatism will replace politics." 
 
Lack of Trust May Scuttle Deal 
------------------------------ 
 
11. (C) Tymoshenko told the Ambassador she still was not 
convinced that the two groups could cooperate.  Regions MP 
Vladimir Makeienko told us that, while there is support for a 
pairing with BYuT in Regions, there is likely not enough 
 
KYIV 00000694  003 OF 003 
 
 
trust between the two political forces to conclude an 
agreement.  BYuT and Regions would have to honor their 
agreement "for months, not days," said Makeienko, as the 
process to change the constitution would extend over two Rada 
sessions, and could only be concluded at the start of the 
next Rada session in September.  Ultimately, it is a business 
decision for Regions, said Makeienko, and so would be decided 
based on how such an agreement would affect Regions-related 
business interests. 
 
12. (C) BYuT MP Valeriy Pysarenko told us that he, and many 
within his BYuT faction, could work with Regions.  He noted 
that the approximately ten days that Regions and BYuT worked 
together in the Rada in September 2008 were some of the most 
productive days he has spent in the session hall.  He said 
that the timing is difficult, however.  If the deal falls 
apart and national elections take place, Tymoshenko would be 
more vulnerable as some supporters would feel "betrayed" yet 
again by Tymoshenko's work with Regions.  He surmised that 
constitutional changes would not happen before the New Year. 
It is too close to the election to work too closely with 
Regions, and working with Regions is the only way to change 
the constitution.  OU-PSD deputy faction head Borys Tarasyuk 
told us that BYuT and Regions had been negotiating "for more 
than a year" and the coalition had "little chance" to 
succeed. He added that his OU-PSD faction colleagues would be 
unlikely to join any such coalition. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
13. (C) Tymoshenko's plan will appear to many to be less 
about saving Ukraine and more about her political survival in 
the face of falling ratings.  A change to make the president 
elected by the Rada, set up Yanukovych as president and 
Tymoshenko as a strengthened PM, and extend the Rada term to 
2014 would meet resistance as it could postpone any national 
election for five years.  BYuT and Regions have been 
negotiating on and off for many months - since before the two 
factions voted together in early September 2008.  Thus far, 
they have been unable to conclude a deal.  Akhmetov's 
supposed support for the pairing is notable - he fought 
against a BYuT-Regions coalition last fall.  Ultimately, 
there are many obstacles to the formation of a BYuT-Regions 
coalition - distrust chief among them.  Even if it were to 
form, mutual distrust could undermine it -- and Tymoshenko's 
notion of a long and stable period without elections -- at 
any moment. 
 
 
 
 
TAYLOR

Wikileaks

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