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09KYIV1171, REGIONS RADA BLOCKADE LEAVES ISSUES HANGING

July 10, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV1171 2009-07-10 14:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO4447
PP RUEHDBU RUEHSL
DE RUEHKV #1171/01 1911443
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101443Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8107
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 001171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: REGIONS RADA BLOCKADE LEAVES ISSUES HANGING 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4(b,d) 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (C)  Opposition Party of Regions continued to physically 
block parliament, paralyzing the Rada and keeping it from 
adjourning on July 10 for the summer recess.  Despite a 
budget crisis, Regions is demanding a significant increase in 
pensions and wages designed to bolster its standing with 
voters in the run up to the January 2010 presidential 
election.  The blockade has stranded widely backed amendments 
to the presidential election code that President Yushchenko 
has vowed to veto.  The election legislation may be handled 
in one of a number of special Rada sessions that may be 
called during the summer.  It is unclear whether the Rada 
will reconvene the week of July 13.  The Prime Minister's 
bloc and Regions shrugged off threats from the Presidential 
Secretariat that Yushchenko could dissolve the Rada and force 
early elections.  End Summary. 
 
 
BLOCKING THE RADA OVER PENSIONS 
------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Party of Regions prevented the Rada from convening 
during the last planned plenary week, July 6-10, of this 
session by physically blocking the rostrum and presidium. 
Regions demanded that the government amend the 2009 budget to 
increase pensions and the minimum wage by 20 billion hryvnya 
(or 2.5 billion USD).  Regions deputy faction leader 
Oleksandr Efremov announced on July 10 that Regions would 
continue to block the Rada in order to prevent parliament 
from adjourning for summer recess until the changes are 
passed.  Regions MP and businessman Andriy Kluyev told us 
that it is important for voters to see Regions focusing on 
pocketbook issues that effect their everyday lives.  He noted 
the large banner Regions strung across the session hall which 
read "Party of Regions defends social guarantees to the 
people." 
 
 
BLOCKADE GETS MEDIA ATTENTION 
----------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Regions Deputy Faction leader Volodomyr Makeyenko 
admitted to us that blocking the rostrum and the demand for 
higher pensions was mostly "political theater" and that 
Regions is getting a lot of press coverage for their actions. 
 Makeyenko, who is Deputy Chair of the Rada Budget Committee, 
conceded that Ukraine was struggling to pay current pensions 
and that there is no funding available for Regions' proposed 
increases.  He told us that Regions would likely propose a 
number of other "populist" measures during the campaign in 
order to avoid being seen as only a party of big business. 
 
 
BROAD SUPPORT FOR AMENDED ELECTION LAW 
-------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) The Rada passed in its first reading amendments to the 
current presidential election law on July 1.  The bill 
garnered 367 votes and was backed almost unanimously by 
Regions, BYuT, and Lytvyn bloc.  These groups maintain that 
the legislation will fix many of the procedural shortcomings 
of the 2006 and 2007 parliamentary elections.  The amendments 
would limit the scope of the courts in election challenges, 
shorten the campaign period from 120 to 90 days, change how 
local and regional election commissions are formed, and end 
absentee voting.  President Yushchenko on July 9 called the 
bill a "threat to democracy" because it "lessens 
transparency" and promised to veto it if it passes in its 
final reading.  Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) MP Serhiy Mishchenko 
told us that BYuT expects Yushchenko to follow through on his 
veto threat, but that the Rada will have no problem 
overriding him.  He said that this legislation was a priority 
and BYuT was working closely with Regions to get it passed 
before the summer recess so that the ground rules would be 
clear before the presidential campaign begins in the fall. 
 
5. (C) Presidential candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk, currently in 
third place in the polls, denounced elements of the elections 
bill as undemocratic in a meeting with G-7 Embassies on July 
3.  He claimed that the proposed law would give leading 
parties in the Rada dominant roles on local and regional 
election commissions.  This would favor Regions and the 
Tymoshenko Bloc.  Yatsenyuk charged that this could open the 
presidential election to fraud and manipulation. 
 
 
EXTRAORDINARY RADA SESSIONS LIKELY 
---------------------------------- 
 
KYIV 00001171  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
6. (C) Both Regions and BYuT are discussing calling 
extraordinary Rada sessions prior to the start of the next 
official session on September 1.  Mishchenko said that BYuT 
had already collected the 150 MP signatures needed to call a 
special session if needed.  He said that although a final 
decision had not been made, they could use the session to try 
vote in new Finance and Transportation Ministers, to finalize 
funds for Euro 2012 infrastructure projects, or to pass 
amendments to the election law.  Efremov in an interview on 
July 9 said that Regions had also gathered signatures for a 
extraordinary session in order to try to amend the budget to 
increase social spending that would cushion Ukrainians from 
the economic cri
sis.  Pro-coalition Our Ukraine-People's Self 
Defense MP Kirilo Kulikov told us that he thought that there 
was little point in calling MPs back from their vacations for 
special Rada sessions.  He said that if the factions could 
not gather 226 votes during a regular session to pass 
legislation, then their was little hope that they can get 
them in a special session. 
 
 
SPECTER OF EARLY RADA ELECTIONS RISES AGAIN 
------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C)  Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat Maryna 
Stavniychuk on July 5 claimed that Yushchenko has the legal 
right to dissolve the Rada and call early elections.  She 
said the coalition lacks a voting majority of 226 MPs and 
therefore can be considered unconstitutional.  Stavniychuk 
said that the presidential dissolution decree has been 
drafted, but that the Yushchenko has not yet decided to act. 
BYuT MP Valeriy Pysarenko told us that the presidential 
secretariat's declaration was "laughable."  He said that this 
was the same argument that Yushchenko had used before and 
that it completely ignored the Constitutional Court's ruling 
that Rada coalitions are made of factions not individual 
deputies. 
 
8. (C) Pysarenko admitted that the coalition did not have a 
stable 226 voting majority, but that what mattered was that 
three factions that represent a majority signed the coalition 
agreement.  Mishchenko explained that Yushchenko's 
dissolution decree would be clearly illegal and that BYuT 
would have numerous avenues to successfully challenge it in 
court.  Makeyenko told us that Regions did not want early 
Rada elections before the presidential elections.  He said 
that while it was likely there could be Rada elections in 
2010, Regions would fight against anything that would 
distract from its presidential campaign. 
 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C)  Regions' demand for raising pensions and wages at a 
time of massive budget shortfall is particularly cynical for 
a party that criticizes the PM for populism.  The party's 
refusal to unblock the Rada long enough to adjourn the Rada 
for its summer recess was a fitting culmination to session 
that has had few legislative accomplishments since convening 
in February. 
PETTIT

Wikileaks

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