De ukrainske myndigheder er i besiddelse af udtømmende skriftlige forklaringer fra general Pukach i sagen om mordet på Gongadze. Forklaringerne kan bruges i en retssag, oplyser nyhedsbureauet Interfaks-Ukrajina med henvisning til en velunderrettet kilde. "Pukach har afgivet udtømmende forklaring og har udpeget alle dem, som beordrede mordet.
På spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt Pukach liv er i fare, understregede nyhedsbureauets kilde, at alle beviserne er blevet skrevet ned og at der er blevet taget flere kopier af dem, som befinder sig forskellige steder.
"Så selvom der skulle ske noget med ham (Pukach), vil disse dokumenter alligevel kunne bruges som bevismateriale i retten", forsikrer kilden.
Som bekendt forsvandt journalisten Georgij Gongadze i Kiev den 16. september 2000. I november samme år fandt man udenfor Kiev et lig, der manglede hovedet. Ifølge retsmedicinere var der stor sandsynlighed for, at liget kunne tilhøre journalisten.
Den tidligere leder af afdelingen for ydre overvågning under det ukrainske indenrigsministerium, general Oleksij Pukach, var i lang tid eftersøgt i sagen, og blev den 21. juli 2009 anholdt i Zhytomyr-regionen i en fælles aktion gennemført af anklagemyndigheden og sikkerhedspolitiet.
Retten i Kievs Petjerskij-distrikt valgte den 23. juli at varetægtsfængsle Pukach i to måneder. Rigsadvokaten har sigtet Pukach for medvirken til mordet på journalisten. UP.
Der bliver ikke nogen multinationale militærøvelser i og i nærheden af Ukraine i år på grund af økonomiske problemer. Det meddeler chefen for den ukrainske generalstab, Sergiy Kyrychenko, under en inspektionsrejse til Kharkiv.
Han påpeger, at man i år havde planer om en fælles øvelse med Tyrkiet, og desuden skulle den transkarpatiske brigade have deltaget i en øvelser på Javorivske militære øvelsesterræn. "Men denne øvelser vil efter al sandsynlighed heller ikke finde sted, fordi der ikke er nogen midler", tilføjede Kyrychenko. Selvom sådanne øvelser efter hans opfattelse lærer personalet i hæren, flåden og luftvåbnet nogle praktiske færdigheder.
Ifølge generalen er Ukraines partnerlande gået med til ukrainernes forslag om at gennemføre disse øvelser i år som computerbaserede spil. UNIAN. UP.
Ukraines første præsident, Leonid Kravtjuk, mener, at formålet med den russiske præsident Dmitrij Medvedevs erklæring er at øve indflydelse på præsidentvalget i Ukraine.
"Rusland forsøger at påvirke den ukrainske politiske elite og vælgerne på følgende måde: vi skal have venskabelige relationer til Rusland for at få en rimelig pris for den gas, vi får fra Rusland, derfor bør I tænke på, hvem det er I vælger", siger han i et interview med avisen Den.
"Det var efter min opfattelse netop det, der var hovedformålet med den russiske præsidents erklæring." tilføjer Kravtjuk.
Eks-præsidenten når til følgende konklusion: "Jeg er af den opfattelse, at Rusland har nået en grænse, hvor det nu er gået over til at benytte sig af aggressivt-offensive diplomatiske og politiske handlinger i forhold til Ukraine".
"Jeg kan ikke sige, at Medvedev skyder helt ved siden af. Det er muligt, at disse forhold [eksempler på en antirussisk politik fra den ukrainske præsidents side] bliver fremstillet alt for følelsesladet, alt for farvet, og indimellem overdrevet, men de er ikke grebet ud af luften. Disse forhold kan deles op i to dele", - påpeger Kravtjuk.
Den første gruppe består af "vores interne anliggender (sproget, gasledningen, NATO". "Det er vores problemer, som det udelukkende er og bør være det ukrainske folk og styret, der afgør. Ingen andre.", understregede Kravtjuk.
"Det samme gælder valget. Den, som får flertallet af det ukrainske folks stemmer, bliver præsident. Vores præsident bliver Gud ske tak og lov ikke valgt i Rusland", tilføjer han.
Den anden del af forholdene består ifølge Kravtjuk af "Sortehavsflådens udstationering". "Der er en bilateral aftale, som det er nødvendigt at præcisere, fortolke og opfylde. Men problemet består i, at Rusland ikke ønsker at adskille disse to dele og tager problemerne op i en fælles kontekst - som leder af SNG-landene", - tilføjer eks-præsidenten.
Kravtjuk understreger: "Det er uforståeligt, hvad der får Medvedev til at påtage sig retten til at give os gode råd, belære os, diktere os og antyde, at der bør komme et magtskifte i Ukraine osv".
"Ånden i Medvedevs tale er ukonstruktiv og er ikke rettet mod at fjerne de kriser, som eksisterer i vores relationer. Det er et omfattende projekt, som ikke blev påbegyndt i går, men allerede blev indledt i Jeltsins dage. Det går ud på for enhver pris at forhindre, at Ukraine forlader den russiske indflydelsessfære", hævder eks-præsidenten.
Kravtjuk mener, at talen også skal ses i sammenhæng med den russiske patriark Kirils besøg i Ukraine, og det han har fortalt den russiske ledelse efter sin hjemkomst til Moskva.
"Jeg er sikker på, at Medvedevs tale ikke er tilfældig. Den skal ses i sammenhæng med Kirils rapport (jeg kan ikke betegne det anderledes) til Medvedev, og årsdagen for krigen i Kaukasus. Alt dette har givet Rusland anledning til at udtale sig om "det uregerlige" Ukraine og gøre sig tanker om, hvordan man sætter det på plads", forklarer Kravtjuk. UP.
Præsidentens sekretariat vil ikke udelukke, at præsidentvalget vil blive undermineret, hvis præsidentens veto mod valgloven bliver overtrumfet i parlamentet. Det sagde næstformand i den ukrainske præsidents sekretariat Igor Popov på en pressekonference, oplyser UNIAN.
Han påpegede, at der indtil videre ikke er truffet beslutning om at nedlægge veto mod valgloven, men tilføjede, at præsidenten har mange indvendinger mod dette dokument.
Næstformanden i præsidentens sekretariat oplyser, at præsidenten er ved at udarbejde forslag til ændringer til denne lov, og at der vil være ret mange af dem.
Ifølge Popov "vil de få dem at se i dag eller i morgen", og parlamentsmedlemmerne vil få tid til at stifte bekendtskab med dem, inden parlamentets ekstraordinære session som planlagt træder sammen på fredag.
Ifølge Popov ville det ideelle være, hvis parlamentets stående udvalg kunne tage stilling til præsidentens forslag til valgloven og forelægge dem for parlamentet på fredag, hvor de så kunne blive godkendt.
Popov forudser imidlertid, at ingen af præsidentens forslag vil blive imødekommet, og at de allierede i BJuT og Regionernes parti vil overvinde præsidentens veto. Hvis det sker, siger talsmanden, "kan vi forvente en ekstremt beskidt valgkamp med overfald på aktivister, krige ved domstolene og andre uforudsete hændelser".
Ifølge Popov vil vælgerfortegnelserne i givet fald udgøre et af de største problemer i det kommende valg.
Popov forklarede, at det efter al sandsynlighed ikke vil lykkes at gøre vælgerregistret klar til tiden, og at præsidentvalget derfor vil blive gennemført, ligesom tidligere, på grundlag af vælgerfortegnelser. I så fald vil fortegnelserne ifølge ham være af en meget ringe kvalitet, og på selve valgdagen vil titusinde eller hundredetusinde vælgere blive ført ind i fortegnelserne, uden at man vil kunne indbringe dette for en domstol.
Ifølge præsidentens talsmand vil der med stor sandsynlighed komme internationale skandaler og protestaktioner, når valgresultatet foreligger. I så fald, siger han, vil den nyvalgte præsidents legitimitet blive yderst tvivlsom.
Popov tilføjer, at disse scenarier taget i betragtning, ville det være at foretrække, at præsidentvalget fandt sted på grundlag af den gamle valglov og ikke på grundlag af de ændringer, som parlamentsmedlemmerne lige nu er i gang med at vedtage.
Ifølge Popov er hovedårsagen til ændringerne, at repræsentanterne for BJuT og Regionernes parti vil eliminere deres politiske konkurrenter og gennemføre et præsidentvalg, hvor der reelt kun er to kandidater. UP.
19.08.09. Tymoshenko haler ind på Janukovytj
Hvis der præsidentvalg nu, ville 26% af ukrainerne stemme på Viktor Janukovytj, mens 16,5% ville stemme på Julia Tymoshenko, viser en meningsmåling fra selskabet Research&Branding, oplyser nyhedsbureauet Ukrajinski Novyny.
12,6% ville stemme på den tidligere parlamentsformand Arsenij Jatsenjuk, 4,5% - på lederen af Ukraines kommunistparti Petro Symonenko, 4,2% ville stemme på parlamentsformand Volodymyr Lytvyn, 2% ville stemme på den siddende præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko, mens 7,3% ville stemme på andre kandidater. 9,9% ville stemme "mod alle", 6,6% ville blive hjemme og 10,4% ved ikke.
Hvis Janukovytj og Tymoshenko kommer i 2. valgrunde, vil 39,6% af de adspurgte stemme på Janukovytj, mens 28% vil stemme på premierminister Julia Tymoshenko. 19% af de adspurgte ville stemme mod alle, 6,8% vil blive hjemme, mens 6,6% ved ikke.
Meningsmålingen blev gennemført fra den 4 til den 14 august.
En meningsmåling fra meningsmålingsinstituttet Razumkov-centret fra den 20-28. juli viste, at 22% ville stemme på Janukovytj, mens 13% ville støtte Tymoshenko. Et andet meningsmålingsinstitut - SOCIS - viste i en meningsmåling, at 25% ville stemme på Janukovytj, mens 20,5% ville stemme på Tymoshenko. UP.
Ordensmagten skal være uafhængig af politiske interesser, og dette gælder også under valgkampen op til præsidentvalget, sagde præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko på et møde i dag, hvor man drøftede indenrigsministeriets arbejde i løbet af de første syv måneder af i år, oplyser præsidentens pressetjeneste.
I sit indlæg lagde præsidenten vægt på, at politiet er en apolitisk institution. Han understregede, at "ordensmagtens repræsentanter skal være politisk neutrale, og det gælder naturligvis også under valgkampen op til præsidentvalget".
"I er en apolitisk institution. Jeg vil gerne understrege, at dette er en landvinding. Det forhold, at politiet i hele fem år ikke har været politiseret, er en landvinding vi skal værne om, også under præsidentvalget i januar 2010", sagde præsidenten.
Han understregede, at dette er hans principielle holdning.
"Agitation og hjælp til en hvilken som helst kandidats valgkamp er aldeles udelukket", lød Jusjtjenkos opfordring, idet han understregede, at dette gælder både indenrigsministeriet, den statslige anklagemyndighed og sikkerhedstjenesten SBU.
"Jeres formål er at sikre, at loven bliver overholdt. Dette skal være min advarsel til alle repræsentanter for ordensmagten i landet. Det er sådan samfundet vil se jer", sagde præsidenten.
"Jeg foretrækker, at I i jeres arbejde udviser professionalisme, patriotisme og, utvivlsomt, effektivitet", lød Jusjtjenkos opfordring til mødedeltagerne. UP.
Ukraine og NATO har underskrevet en erklæring om en udvidelse af Charteret om det særlige partnerskab mellem Ukraine og den vestlige forsvarsalliance. Underskrivelsen fandt sted om fredagen i NATOs hovedkvarter i Bruxelles, oplyser det ukrainske udenrigsministeriums pressetjeneste.
Fra ukrainsk side blev dokumentet underskrevet af lederen af Ukraines NATO-mission, Ihor Sagach, og fra NATO's side blev dokumentet underskrevet af generalsekretær Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"Underskrivelsen af erklæringen er endnu et praktisk skridt i retning af en virkeliggørelse af de beslutninger, som er blevet vedtaget under mødet i NATO's nordatlantiske råd og har fået opbakning på et møde i kommissionen Ukraine-NATO på udenrigsministerniveau i december sidste år", - meddeler pressetjenesten.
"Dokumentet afspejler de ændringer i relationerne mellem Ukraine og NATO, som har fundet sted siden underskrivelsen af Charteret om det særlige partnerskab i 1997, herunder i lyset af de beslutninger, som blev vedtaget i 2008 med hensyn til Ukraines fremtidige medlemskab af alliancen og de praktiske mekanismer i en bevægelse hen imod dette mål", - understreger diplomaterne.
Ukraines udenrigsministerium meddeler desuden, at "erklæringen har formaliseret Ukraine-NATO kommissionens fremtrædende rolle i styrkelsen af den reformproces i Ukraine, som vil blive ført ud i livet indenfor rammerne af implementeringen af de årlige nationale programmer". UP.
04.09.09. Ukraine har betalt Gazprom for august
Det russiske gasselskab "Gazprom" bekræfter, at Ukraine har betalt for august måneds russiske gasleverancer.
"Naftohaz Ukrajiny" har fuldt ud betalt for august måneds gasleverancer", oplyser man i holdingselskabets informationsafdeling, oplyser RIA Novosti.
Tidligere fredag sagde Naftohaz' pressesekretær, Valentyn Zamlyanskyj, at "Naftohaz" har betalt Gazprom for august måneds gasleverancer", oplyser Ukrajinski Novyny. "Vi har afregnet med "Gazprom", sagde han, uden at komme nærmere ind på, hvor stort beløbet der var tale om.
Som tidligere oplyst, har den fungerende ukrainske finansminister, Ihor Zemljanskyi oplyst, at Naftohaz vil betale 667 millioner dollars for august måneds leverancer.
Ifølge den ukrainske præsidents talsmand i internationale sager, der vedrører energisikkerhed, Bohdan Sokolovskyi, har Ukraine i august importeret ca. 3-3,2 mia. kubikmeter naturgas.
I juli udgjorde den ukrainske naturgasimport over 3 mia. kubikmeter, i juni var tallet ca. 1,1 mia. kubikmeter til en pris af ca. 300 millioner dollars og 2,3 mia. kubikmeter i maj.
I april importerede Ukraine knap 2,4 mia. kubikmeter gas, og i hele 1. kvartal importeredes ca. 2,5 mia. kubikmeter gas.
I 1. kvartal 2009 kostede tusind kubikmeter gas på grænsen mellem Ukraine og Rusland 360 dollars, og i 2. kvartal var prisen faldet til 270,95 dollars for tusind kubikmeter. UP.
Den ukrainske møntfod Hryvnaen falder ikke alene i værdi på grund af den økonomiske krise, men også på grund af spekulationer omkring dollarkursen i perioden op til valget. Det siger den kendte økonom og formand for fonden "Genfødsel" i Schweiz, Bohdan Havrylyshyn, der er udenlandsk medlem af Ukraines videnskabernes akademi.
"Den økonomiske situation er elendig, og det gælder især i forhold til eksportsektoren og metalindustrien. Det påvirker handelsbalancen, skaber et underskud, hvor der ikke kommer så meget udenlandsk valuta ind i landet, samtidig med, at reserverne heller ikke er særlig store. Denne situation påvirker psykologisk", siger eksperten.
"Der er også spekulationer, fordi den økonomiske og finansielle situation muliggør spekulationer, altså hurtige gevinster, som kan bruges i valgkampen og til andre gode ting", siger Havrylyshyn. Efter hans mening er det den politiske ustabilitet i Ukraine og krigen mellem præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko og premierminister Julia Tymoshenko, som er årsagen til den dårlige finansielle og økonomiske situation i Ukraine.
I den civiliserede verden forstår man ikke denne kamp, som skræmmer de udenlandske investorer væk og forhaler gennemførelsen af reformer, som er nødvendige for udviklingen af landet. "Der er krise i mange lande rundt om i verden. I Ukraine har man det problem, at her tager man ikke hensyn til små og mellemstore virksomheder, som kunne fungere normalt, fordi de ikke er afhængige af udenlandske markeder", siger Havrylyshyn.
"Vores liste over eksportvarer er for snæver, og for meget af eksporten består af metalprodukter. Jeg kan ikke se, hvad der kan give ukrainsk økonomi et hurtigt skub fremad", tilføjer han.
Efter Havrylyshyns mening bør det økonomiske system og politiske styre være bestemt af samfundets moralske værdier. Det er nødvendigt at forene politisk frihed, økonomisk effektivitet, social retfærdighed og en samklang med naturen - og dette er kun muligt for en ny politisk elite, siger han og tilføjer, at der går 20 år, inden Ukraine får rigtige partier og politikere. Han tror ikke på, at præsidentvalget i 2010 vil ændre noget i Ukraine til det bedre.
Havrylyshyn har været rådgiver i økonomiske anliggender for Leonid Kravtjuk, Leonid Kutjma, Viktor Jusjtjenko, Volodymyr Lytvyn, Ivan Pljustj, Oleksandr Moroz, men siger, at de ikke har lyttet særlig meget til hans råd.
Årsagen til det er, at alle de, som kommer til magten i Ukraine, først og fremmest forfølger sin egne interesser - og det vidner om, at der ikke findes nogen politisk elite i Ukraine, siger eksperten. UP.
Premierminister Julia Tymoshenko taler nu om, at der findes to trusler mod præsidentvalget. "Der findes sådanne trusler og sådanne dårlige signaler", sagde hun til den regionale Tv-station i Dnipropetrovsk.
"Den første variant er at få Forfatningsdomstolen til at annullere valgloven pga. et eller andet forkert sat koma", sagde Tymoshenko. Selv er hun overbevist om, at den lov, som parlamentet har vedtaget, "fjerner alle risici for valgsvindel".
"Den anden trussel er, at vi allerede nu ser, hvordan man prøver at underminere den nationale møntfod Hryvnaen, føre økonomien til sammenbrud og indføre undtagelsestilstand", sagde premierministeren.
"Når der er erklæret undtagelsestilstand, kan der ikke afholdes valg", sagde hun.
Tymoshenko minder om, at hun allerede i starten af året advarede mod denne plan. "Men jeg tror ikke på, at en eneste af disse planer vil blive gennemført. Jeg vil gøre alt for at afværge såvel den første som den anden trussel", sagde hun. UP.
19.09.09. Irregular goings on at the Central Bank
Inform, Issue 124,
September 14, 2009
Oleksandr Savchenko, the Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), submitted his resignation last week in protest over political interference by President Viktor Yushchenko into the operations of the central bank. The resignation coincides with an investigation by the Interior Ministry into alleged illegal currency speculation by senior officials within the bank.
Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv, Mr Savchenko said, "I have filed my resignation. It would be dishonourable to remain silent and wait. The NBU is not independent, it is engaged in politics, and sometimes it is being involved in certain schemes and speculations."
Alarmingly, Mr Savchenko accused senior NBU officials of speculation on the foreign exchange market, and refinancing commercial banks in such a manner that certain banks received larger shares, which they could direct to the currency market.
In December last year, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko complained about NBU officials engaging in currency speculation and staging the collapse of the national currency, the hryvnia, to benefit businessmen linked to the president's staff (see Inform issue 98, 5 January 2009).
In the last four months of 2008 the hrvynia lost half its value against the dollar, at one time slumping to UAH 10 to the dollar from UAH 4.9 to the dollar in September 2008.
Not long after Ms Tymoshenko revealed the scam, parliament voted for the removal of Volodymyr Stelmakh the Chairman of the NBU. However President Yushchenko, who has ultimate responsibility for the central bank, dismissed the non-binding parliamentary motion.
Fresh currency speculation
It is hardly surprising that Mr Savchenko has opted to resign, particularly in the light of a fresh round of currency fluctuation.
Tim Ash, the respected Head of Research for CEEMA at the Royal Bank of Scotland, wrote in a research note, "In particular, it seems as though he has been unhappy that NBU support for the banking sector has led to liquidity simply being used to short the hryvnia, further complicating the NBU's management of exchange rate policy. He also indicated that he was upset with undue political manipulation of the NBU."
Mr Savchenko advocates a trading band for non-admission of the hryvnia devaluation. He suggests a lower limit of the band should be UAH 6.05 to the dollar with an upper limit of UAH 9 to the dollar.
Last month, a British businessman based in Kyiv told Inform, "There is no reason behind the fluctuation of the hryvnia other than it being down to speculation by a corrupt few."
Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko would appear to agree with him and said in a statement that he suspected NBU officials of "plundering hundreds of millions of hryvnia," which caused a fall in the currency. In the past few weeks the hryvnia lost more than 5 percent against the dollar. It rallied to close on Friday at UAH 8.403 to the dollar, but only after intervention from the central bank.
Because Mr Lutsenko is a supporter of Prime Minister Tymoshenko, some commentators suggest that the whole issue has become politicised. Others, including Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission chief to Ukraine, have suggested that the political uncertainty in Ukraine is perhaps the root cause of the depreciation. "If the public don't have any certainty as to what the policies will be and the implications for inflation, then people may elect to go into foreign currency," said Ms Pazarbasioglu.
But a BYuT spokesman told Inform, "there is no smoke without fire." The departing Mr Savchenko would appear to concur, describing the investigation by law enforcement agencies into the activity of the NBU to be expedient.
The battleground in the upcoming January 2010 presidential elections will be Western Ukraine because of the large number of candidates from the former "orange" camp, of whom Yulia Tymoshenko is the most popular, who are seeking votes in that heartland of the Orange Revolution. Viktor Yanukovych's domination of Eastern Ukraine and Prime Minister Tymoshenko's domination of Central Ukraine is unchallenged.
Traditionally the swing region of Central Ukraine decided the outcome of Ukraine's presidential elections. This was seen in 1994 when it voted for Leonid Kuchma and a decade later when it voted for Viktor Yushchenko, with them winning on both occasions with 52% of the vote.
Therefore, it was important for Prime Minister Tymoshenko to attend and speak to the World Congress of Ukrainians (WCU) annual congress in Lviv on 21-22 August. There, according to those who attended the congress, "The meetings were very warm. Besides the official part of the congress Prime Minister Tymoshenko had a three hour meeting with the WCU in the evening".
The head of the WCU, Ukrainian-Canadian Yevhen Choliy, said that the Prime Minister had "opened up her soul to them". They sang "Многая літа" (May You Have a Long Life) after her speech to the WCU, a speech that is set to become the ideological manifesto for Prime Minister Tymoshenko for the presidential elections.
Prime Minister Tymoshenko's speech was full of patriotism without being overly nationalistic, accomplishing an important balancing act in a regionally diverse country where a third of the population are Russian speakers. Prime Minister Tymoshenko outlined a programme of upholding "our native Ukrainian language" which is taught to 81% of pupils in Ukrainian schools as the only state language in Ukraine. "And I want to say that while our team is in power, while real patriots and Ukrainians are in power, and I think that this will not change, we will not permit in Ukraine the raising of the question in any form of a second state language which will be only forever Ukrainian".
Prime Minister Tymoshenko also stressed the importance of reviving national memory and continuing to document and raise the issue of the 1933 artificial famine as a genocide against the Ukrainian people. She stressed the importance of reviving an "honest Ukrainian history" and thanked the Ukrainian diaspora for its work on the famine that has led to many countries accepting it as a genocide against the Ukrainian people.
Prime Minister Tymoshenko -- without mentioning President Dmitriy Medvedev by name -- replied to his appeal to President Yushchenko earlier this month by stating categorically that Ukrainians have a right to their own history. She added that her team and government would continue to view the famine as a genocide despite this not being accepted by Moscow in such a manner.
The answer to the title of David Marples op ed (August 28) "Can anyone stop Yanukovych from being elected the next president of Ukraine" (http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op_ed/47621) is: "Yes, there is. It is Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko". Only she can halt the Donetsk clan's victory in the election just as only Viktor Yushchenko could five years earlier.
The combined vote of candidates from the former orange camp, of whom Tymoshenko is by far the strongest candidate, receive approximately 50 percent of the vote in opinion polls. Meanwhile, Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych and Communist Party leader Piotr Symonenko together receive 40 percent.
Where is Yanukovych going to obtain an additional ten percent to come first in the second round?
Marples ignores these relatively stable polling figures and concludes with the words "The lack of suitable alternatives suggests, nonetheless that it could happen"; that is, Yanukovych could be elected Ukraine's president. Obviously, Marples does not believe that Tymoshenko to be a "suitable alternative" to Yanukovych whom in his apologetic op ed he has earlier proceeded to downplay fears of his election by stating that "no Ukrainian president can change course so abruptly".
It is difficult to imagine reading an article in the American media four months before the 2008 elections that would have predicted that Barack Obama or John McCain would have won the presidential elections. As the BBC correspondent in Ukraine Gabriel Gatehouse told me this week in Kyiv, "I don't predict anything more than a month ahead in Ukraine".
A week is a long time in Ukrainian politics while four months is an eternity.
Ukraine's election campaign only begins next month and there will be countless more opinion polls and exit polls before election day. These are very likely to show increased support for Tymoshenko after the election campaign begins. Let us recall how in 2004 then Prime Minister Yanukovych increased his support throughout the campaign.
Another factor which polls have always done prior to elections is to downplay Tymoshenko's support. In all three last parliamentary elections pre-election day polls grossly under-estimated support for the "Tymoshenko bloc" (BYuT) by a wide margin. In the 2007 pre-term elections, polls predicted BYuT would receive 20 percent and it actually received ten percent more.
A poll by six leading sociological organizations cited by Ukrayinska Pravda (August 11) asked who voters had backed in the 2007 elections. While the results for the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defence largely reflected their actual vote, that for BYuT was 10 percent less than what they received.
One of the six organizations (Sotsis) concluded that this "provided additional intrigue about who will be the victor in the first round of the elections and also places a stop on our deciding who will be the pair of participants in the second round, the struggle for which is taking place between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko".
Marples analysis of Ukrainian politics ignores four important factors in his evident endorsement of a Yanukovych victory.
Firstly, he ignores the fact that out of the leading candidates only Tymoshenko has charisma. Tymoshenko, as Western journalists will always advise you in Kyiv, should never be under-estimated. She is, after all, Ukraine's best election campaigner and political machine.
Secondly, polls show that Tymoshenko has maintained her support in, and
dominance of, the crucial swing region of Central Ukraine. Central Ukraine
decided the outcome of the 1994 and 2004 elections when it voted for Leonid
Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko respectively.
Polls also show that Tymoshenko retains some support in eastern and southern Ukraine. In the 2007 elections BYuT became the only orange political force to attract support in Russian-speaking Ukraine.
Thirdly, with eastern and central Ukraine dominated by Yanukovych and Tymoshenko respectively, Western Ukraine is set to become the main battleground of the 2010 elections. Tymoshenko currently leads throughout western Ukraine except for the three Galician oblasts where Arseniy Yatseniuk is in the lead.
Will Tymoshenko be able to replace Yatseniuk as the most popular candidate in Galicia? The World Congress of Ukrainians (WCU) and Ukrainian diaspora will play an important role in influencing developments during the elections in Galicia and western Ukraine more generally. Tymoshenko's speech to the Lviv congress of the WCU was received very warmly and changed hitherto downbeat opinions about her.
Fourthly, economics have never played any role in influencing the outcome of Ukrainian elections. In 2004 Ukraine had its best rate of economic growth for decades and yet the incumbent prime minister (Yanukovych) lost the elections. Tymoshenko's campaign slogan portraying her as a strong leader dealing with the economic crisis, while other politicians quarrel and attempt to undermine her, could have a positive influence on voters.
The Tymoshenko-Yatseniuk competition in Galicia will, I believe eventually work towards a Tymoshenko leadership in the polls for two reasons.
Firstly, Yatseniuk's support has plateaued for four months after it received a boost from his frequent appearances on Inter, Ukraine's most popular television channel in the winter and spring. This plateauing of support has taken place despite Yatseniuk having been the first to launch an election campaign in the summer. His military camouflage tents are in every city centre. Political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said in the Kyiv Post that, "Yatseniuk has stopped rising in the polls and if he doesn't present a concrete program and show who is in his team, he will lose votes of youth supporting him in favor of Tymoshenko".
Polls have long shown that Tymoshenko has a rock solid base of support of 15 percent that is built upon in election campaigns. Yatseniuk's support is "soft" and likely to decline after he is faced by a tough electoral challenge from Yanukovych and Tymoshenko.
Secondly, the replacement three months ago of Ukrainian by Russian political consultants in the Yatseniuk campaign has led to a radical re-orientation in his election program. Yatseniuk has in effect defected from the 2007 Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defence program that he was elected in towards more pro-Russian positions. Galicians will not appreciate Yatseniuk's repudiation of the Orange Revolution, the UPA, NATO and his calls for an energy consortium with Russia.
Marples attempt to downplay the significance of Yanukovych's election victory by pointing to misplaced fears about Kuchma in 1994 does not grasp the changes in Ukraine over the last fifteen years. Ukraine in 1994 and 2010 are two very different countries: in 1994 there were no organized pro-Russian political forces in eastern Ukraine aside from the Communists (non-communists centrist parties only began to be formed in 1997-2001). Externally, in 1994 Ukraine faced the semi-democratic Russian President Borys Yeltsin while in 2010 Ukraine is faced by the Vladimir Putin-Dmitri Medvedev imperialist tandem.
The Party of Regions is the most pro-Russian of the so-called centrist parties that emerged from the Kuchma era. This is evident in many areas: its support for separatism in Georgia, its support for extending the Black Sea Fleet agreement beyond 2017, its support for Russian to become a state language, its disinterest in seeking EU membership (the Party of Regions has never, unlike BYuT and Our Ukraine, sought membership of the European Parliament's political groups) and its strong opposition to NATO membership. Yanukovych's servility to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) was evident to all during ROC Patriarch Kyrill's ten day tour of Ukraine last month.
Marples op ed was written too early to predict the outcome of Ukraine's presidential elections. The next four months will tell who of the two main candidates -- Yanukovych and Tymoshenko -- will be elected president. To suggest that it is a certainty -- four months before election day -- that Yanukovych will be elected is to show a lack of a deep understanding of Ukrainian politics.Dr. Taras Kuzio is a Senior Fellow in the Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto, Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University (Ottawa) and editor of the bi-monthly Ukraine Analyst.
Business in Ukraine, september 2009
President Dmitri Medvedev's open letter to his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko, less than a week after Russian orthodox Patriarch Kyrill's ten-day visit to Ukraine, would have created a flurry of diplomatic activity between two "normal" neighbours, but, alas, Russia and Ukraine are not normal neighbours. The Kyrill visit and Medvedev letter should be seen as two parts of the same Russian geopolitical strategy towards Ukraine that verges on the paranoia. In Moscow's eyes, Ukraine is slowly being "lost" to Russia and there is therefore an urgent need to rectify this divorce not of a neighbor but of "brotherly peoples", in Russian parlance.
After Russia's disastrous and illegal intervention into Ukrainian internal affairs during the 2004 presidential elections many thought that Russia had learned its lessons but the Medvedev letter shows that this not to be the case. Russia has learned nothing from 2004 and will continue to seek to intervene in Ukrainian affairs even when -- as on every occasion -- it so obviously backfires.
Medvedev's Five Gripes
The charge that Yushchenko is pushing Ukraine into NATO is the opposite of what Moscow claims. Ukraine had an opportune chance to enter NATO in 2006 but it failed to receive a Membership Action Plan (MAP) in Riga because the president believed his strategic priority should be not Ukraine's national security but preventing Yulia Tymoshenko from returning as prime minister after the March parliamentary elections. If Ukraine had established an orange coalition and government after the 2006 elections Kyiv would have received a MAP in Riga; it did not receive a MAP because Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly returned as prime minister that summer and immediately stated that Ukraine was disinterested in a MAP.
Russia's association of NATO with Yushchenko is therefore out of place, as it is for another historical reason. The first president to declare Ukraine's intention of seeking NATO membership was Leonid Kuchma in 2002, a declaration of intent that was transformed into, and included within, the 2003 law on national security passed in parliament with the support of the Party of Regions.
This is not the only occasion where events are the opposite to what they should be. It was after all the "pro-Russian" Yanukovych and Kuchma who sent Ukrainian troops to Iraq and the "pro-Western" President Yushchenko who brought them home. Yushchenko's report on his alleged fulfillment of his 2004 election programme, which is available on the presidents web site, includes the withdrawal from Iraq as an example of the fulfillment of one of his pledges to Ukrainian voters.
Russia's paranoia is also misplaced because pro-NATO politicians have traditionally not included any mention of NATO in their election programmes. Each of the Our Ukraine bloc programmes from the last three elections as well as Yushchenko's 2004 programme never once mentioned the word "NATO".
Medvedev's accusations of Ukrainian arms supplies to Georgia have been followed by accusations that Ukrainians fought alongside Georgians against South Ossetians in August 2008. Ukraine began supplying arms to Georgia in the Kuchma era and has continued to do so in a completely legal manner: there is no international arms embargo against Georgia.
Ukrainians did indeed fight in Georgia and Chechnya in the first half of the 1990s, primarily from the extreme right UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Peoples Self Defence). But, UNA-UNSO disintegrated in the late 1990s and today no longer exists.
One UNA-UNSO leader -- Andriy Shkil -- is a Tymoshenko bloc deputy. Another - Dmytro Korchynsky - heads the Bratstvo organization that is a member of the Eurasian movement, reinforcing long-held suspicions of his links to Russian intelligence (Eurasian ideologist Aleksandr Dugin is close to the Russian leadership). UNA-UNSO could not have fought last year in South Ossetia as it no longer exists except in the minds of Russian paranoid leaders. In the 2004 elections "Ukrainian nationalist groups" that paraded in Kyiv in "support" of Yushchenko were funded by the Kuchma authorities in order to discredit Yushchenko as a "fascist" and "nationalist". If any "UNA-UNSO" members were in Georgia they were likely to be on the FSB payroll.
A final point should be made that Russia overlooks; namely, that Ukraine has a strategic interest in Georgia over the question of separatism. Three out of the four original GUAM (Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova) members have Russian-backed frozen conflictsÂ and a fourth (Ukraine) has Russian-backed separatism. Russia's increasingly aggressive stance on the Crimea and Sevastopol and its de facto annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are naturally seen by Kyiv as part of a new Russian neo-imperial strategy towards its neighbours.
Moscow fails to recognize the duplicity of its policies and how they have undermined relations with all of its neighbours, including with once pro-Russian Belarus. Russia is one of the declared nuclear powers which gave Ukraine security assurances in 1994 in return for Kuchma agreeing to Ukraine's de-nuclearisation. Russia though, poses a territorial threat to Ukraine. Why Ukraine is silent on this question remains unclear: what is clear is that Kuchma gave up the world's third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in return for empty words.
The situation is indeed fraught and increasingly recognised by the outside world as dangerous. As The Economist (22 August) wrote, "full-blown military conflict with Ukraine seems unlikely but is no longer unthinkable". The Economist wrote that aggression towards its neighbours has become a way of life for Russia. As seen in 2008 in Georgia, the EU and NATO will not intervene in the event of a Russian invasion of the Crimea.
Black Sea Fleet
The issue of Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet have become more acute as of late because of Russian - not Ukrainian actions. Although Russia de jure recognized Sevastopol as a Ukrainian city in the 1997 inter-state treaty de facto Moscow has never regarded Sevastopol as sovereign Ukrainian territory, acting instead as if it remained its owner. Russian politicians add to this air of instability through regular forays into the peninsula where they claim that Sevastopol was "illegally" transferred to Ukraine in 1954.
During the Yushchenko presidency the Ukrainian side has become more assertive in nipping in the bud separatist groups, banning the entry of Russian extremist politicians, halting illegal actions by the Black Sea Fleet (such as transporting missiles without permission in urban areas) and expelling Russian spies involved in subversive activities. Such stern action is long overdue as Kuchma permitted Russia and the Black Sea Fleet to act as lords of the (Crimean) manor. As Sevastopol Mayor Sergei Kunitsyn told The New York Times (28 August), "Ukraine has become more demanding, and has a right to do that".
A final factor that should be raised is Russia's disrespect for the Ukrainian constitution which rules out foreign bases on Ukrainian territory. The Black Sea Fleet is "temporarily" based for twenty years in Sevastopol and should have left the port by 2017. Russian politicians repeatedly speculate over the question of extending the Black Sea Fleet lease indefinitely assuming that a "pro-Russian" politician, such as Yanukovych, would become president and facilitate this step.
This ignores the fact that "pro-Russian forces" would never be in a position to command a two thirds majority of the Ukrainian parliament that is required to change the constitution. Even if the constitution is somehow changed to permit Ukraine to host foreign bases then why could pro-Western politicians not demand that NATO also have a military base? In supporting Russia's demands on extending the Black Sea Fleet base beyond 2017 the Party of Regions undermines its own anti-NATO platform through seeking Ukraine's neutrality.
Russia has been a staunch critic of Prime Minister Tymoshenko's March deal with the EU to modernise its pipelines because this undermines Russia's long-term strategy of seeking to take control over them, as Moscow has successfully done in Belarus and Moldova. Kuchma, Yanukovych and Arseniy Yatseniuk have to varying degrees supported a gas consortium with Russia while Tymoshenko and to a lesser extent Yushchenko have ruled this out. It was Tymoshenko, Russia has seemingly forgotten -- not Yushchenko -- who organized a 430 vote in February 2007 for a law that ruled out the privatization or lease of Ukraine's gas pipelines. And, it was Tymoshenko that signed the EU deal.
History and Language
The revival of Ukrainian national history did not begin under Yushchenko, nor was he the first Ukrainian leader to declare the 1933 famine an act of "genocide". Ukraine's Russophile history under the USSR began to be debunked in the late Soviet era and the process has continued throughout the next two decades until the present.
Kuchma first raised the issue of the famine as "genocide" in 2003 on its 70th anniversary; Yushchenko merely expanded the scope of the campaign and took it to heart. No Ukrainian president will change the direction of the teaching of Ukrainian national history back to a Russophile orientation (as Alyaksandr Lukashenka did after coming to power in Belarus in 1994)Â or move to the Russian position of rehabilitating Stalinism.
Russia continually raises the red herring of language and how Yushchenko is allegedly repressing the Russian language. Moscow ignores the fact that it was under Kuchma in 1996 that the Ukrainian language was constitutionally codified as the only state language. Moscow and the Party of Regions, whose leader -- Yanukovych -- will campaign again in the January 2010 presidential elections on a platform of making Russian a second state language, also ignores two other factors.
Firstly, Russian is not being squeezed out of Ukraine. Any cursory look inside a newspaper kiosk in Kyiv will tell you that the Russian language dominates the private newspaper and magazine sector. All of the magazines catering for the new Ukrainian middle class are in Russian.
Secondly, in sternly demanding rights for Russian speakers in Ukraine, Moscow is at the same time rejecting any rights for the second largest national minority in Russia -- Ukrainians. The Russian authorities argue that Ukrainians and Russians are very close people and therefore there is no need for Ukrainian language schools in Russia. If the same argument were to be made in Ukraine all Russian language schools would be closed.
Neither side in any conflict is one hundred percent innocent. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian side of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, President Yushchenko, has pursued policies that were in the main begun under Kuchma. Ekho Moskvy talk show host and political commentator Yevgeny Kiselyov wrote in the Moscow Times (14 August) that "All of the problems the president (Medvedev) mentioned do exist, but they first appeared long ago and most had arisen even before Yushchenko took office". In addition, Kiselyov believes that Medvedev, "inflated the importance of these problems. They hardly justify the president of one country leveling such scathing statements at the president of a neighboring country".
What have changed are not Ukrainian policies but the current Russian leadership compared to the 1990s under Borys Yeltsin. This factor is coupled with the movement from democracy and retreat from empire in Russia towards nationalism, xenophobia and neo-imperialism under Medvedev-Putin.
06.10.09. Parlamentet er trådt ud af dødvandet
Ukraines parlament Verkhovna Rada har efter første behandlingen stemt ja til et lovforslag om at hæve minimumslønnen fremsat af medlem af Lytvyns Bloks fraktion Oleg Zarubinskyi. Lovforslaget fik opbakning af 259 parlamentsmedlemmer: Regionernes parti - 170 stemmer, Julia Tymoshenkos Blok - 3 stemmer, NUNS - 39 stemmer, Kommunistpartiet - 26 stemmer, Lytvyns Blok - 20 stemmer, mens 1 stemme kom fra løsgænger.
Det ledende medlem af Julia Tymoshenkos Bloks fraktion Oleg Lyashko betegnede lovforslaget som "en forbrydelse mod mennesker og mod staten". Ifølge Lyashko vil loven ikke blive ført ud i livet, fordi der ganske enkelt ikke er penge.
Medlem af kommunistpartiets fraktion Adam Martynyuk bad om at tælle hans stemme med. Ifølge Martynyuk havde han trykket på knappen, men af en eller anden grund var hans stemme ikke blevet talt med.
Desuden stemte 252 deputerede for at pålægge det udvalg, som har udarbejdet lovforslaget, til at gøre lovforslaget klar til 2. behandling på kortest mulig tid, dvs. i løbet af 7 dage, mod normalt 14 dage. UP.
Regionernes parti har blokeret parlamentets arbejde for at tvinge det til at tage det ovennævnte lovforslag under behandling. Regeringen har kritiseret lovforslaget for at være populistisk og har sagt, at man ikke kan finde de mange milliarder, det kommer til at koste, i budgettet for indeværende år.
Lederen af fraktionen NUNS i Ukraines parlament, Mykola Martynenko, siger, at præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko er parat til at underskrive den meget populistiske lov om en højnelse af de sociale standarder.
"I en snæver kreds har præsidenten udtrykt, at han er parat til at underskrive en hvilken som helst lov om højere sociale standarder", sagde Martynenko under sin tale i parlamentet.
"Og jo mere populistisk og urealistisk (loven er), jo bedre er det for ham, så længe det kan skabe problemer for regeringen", tilføjede han.
Ifølge Martynenko "bør højnelsen af de sociale standarder ikke være isoleret fra finanslovsforslaget for næste år".
"Hvis budgetprocessen nu får et grundstød, så vil situationen med højnelsen af de sociale standarder inden præsidentvalget i det hele taget være uafklaret", sagde Martynenko.
"For hvis vore kolleger fra oppositionen virkelig bekymrer sig om højere mindsteløn, så bør de være de første til at stemme for finanslovsforslaget for 2010 inden behandlingen", tilføjede han. UP.
14.10.09. Ukraines handelsunderskud falder
I perioden januar-august 2009 importerede Ukraine for 3,7 mia. dollars mere end landet eksporterede for, oplyser Ukraines statslige statistiske komite.
Ifølge komiteen er Ukraines handelsbalance i perioden januar-august 2009 forbedret i forhold til den tilsvarende periode af 2008 med 8,8 mia. dollars, da handelsunderskuddet udgjorde 12,58 mia. dollars.
I januar-august 2009 eksporterede Ukraine varer for 23,75 mia. dollars, hvilket er et fald på 49,4% sammenlignet med januar-august 2008. Samtidig importerede landet varer for 27,5 mia. dollars, hvilket svarer til et fald i importen på 53,8% sammenlignet med perioden januar-august 2008.
Ukraines handelsunderskud for så vidt angår varer udgjorde i perioden januar-august 2009 3,13 mia. dollars, hvilket er 3,5 gange mindre end i den tilsvarende periode af 2008, hvor handelsunderskuddet for så vidt angår varer udgjorde 11,1 mia. dollars. UP.
Dem kendte amerikanske politolog Zbigniew Brzezinski siger i et interview med Voice of America, at et stærkt Ukraine vil være med til at demokratisere Rusland.
Ifølge politologen er samarbejdet med Rusland på den anden side vigtig for USA.
"Umiddelbart ser det ud som om, at disse opgaver er indbyrdes modstridende, men det er de ikke. Det forholder sig nemlig sådan, at hvis Georgien holder stand, og hvis Ukraine blomstrer op, så vil sandsynligheden for, at Rusland på sigt bliver en post-imperialistisk og demokratisk stat, øges, siger han.
"Hvis Georgien og Ukraine derimod ikke holder stand, så vil Rusland igen blive omdannet til et imperium med stadig voksende ambitioner, hvilket vil gøre det langt vanskeligere at etablere gensidigt favorable relationer" forklarer Brzezinski.
Samtidig understreger han, at flere udenlandske aktører vil forsøge at påvirke resultatet af det ukrainske præsidentvalg.
"Ukraine skal snart afholde præsidentvalg, og valget vil blive manipuleret udefra med det formål at svække den ukrainske uafhængighed, måske endda med det formål at omdanne Ukraine til en satellit eller sågar en del af et større imperialistisk system, måske endda med delvist tab af territoriet til følge", understreger han.
"Jeg må sige ærligt, at ansvaret for forsvaret af den ukrainske uafhængighed i sidste ende ligger hos ukrainerne og den ukrainske elite", fremhæver han.
"Jeg bliver helt nedtrykt, når jeg iagttager skænderierne i den demokratiske og uafhængighedsorienterede lejr i Ukraines ledelse, de interne mellemværender og intriger, som åbner døren op for, at en fremmed aktør kan manipulere med Ukraines indenrigspolitik", siger politologen.
Brzezinski sammenligner situationen i Ukraine med den situation, Polen var i i det 18. århundrede. Dengang, forklarer han, var det "en aristokratisk og velhavende elite med forskellige personlige interesser, der dominerede Polen, mens landet blev manipuleret af udenlandske aktører, nemlig Prøjsen, Østrig og Rusland". Dette endte med, at Polen tabte sin uafhængighed", minder politologen om. UP.
af Hennadiy Korolyov, Det ukrainske videnskabernes akademis Institut for historie, artikel i UP
Ukrainsk historie kan forklares med fraværet af en samfundsmæssig konsolidering med hensyn til state building. Samtidig findes der en dyb og nedarvet selvbevidsthed i forskellige regioner (Vestukraine, Nordukraine og Nordøstukraine m.v.).
Selvom ukrainerne var underlagt forskellige staters herredømme (Polen, Rusland m.v.) har de dog altid været bevidste om at tilhøre et anderledes folk. I den forbindelse er det værd at påpege, at dette folk gennem hele historien oplevede en konstant ændring af eliten og var berøvet muligheden for en stabil og forudsigelig udvikling.
Dette var hovedårsagen til udkrystalliseringen af en dobbelt loyalitet og en dikotomisk mentalitet, hvor et permanent forræderi mod sit folk er et fællestræk.
Ukraine er til fulde afhængig af bevidstheden om folkets irrationelle og rationelle politiske vilje. Samtidig dannes der en flertrinnet hierarki af gensidige indflydelser på magthavernes niveau, som ikke er en eksponent for sit folks interesser.
Det historiske paradoks, som er Ukraines skæbne, ligger i et krydsfelt af konstante udfordringer fra Europas og Ruslands side, som altid har spillet en afgørende rolle i det ukrainske samfundsliv fra Det litauiske fyrstendømme til Det polske kongedømme i det ene tilfælde, og fra Den gyldne horde, Moskva-fyrstendømmet og Krim-khanatet i det andet tilfælde.
Essensen af de to udfordringer var meget forskellige og krævede to forskellige svar. Rusland er en østlig og euroasiatisk udfordring, der er mere voldsbetonet og orienteret mod en ekstensiv udnyttelse af rummet og et totalitært styre, som ikke har nogen modvægt, og som følge heraf er kollektivistisk.
Europa er en vestlig udfordring, som er mere teknologisk, afbalanceret og baseret på modvægte og en intensiv udvikling.
Den ovenomtalte proces medvirkede til dannelsen af en konstant udenrigspolitisk vaklen hos de nationale ledere, førende til et ubevidst forræderi, set ud fra et state building perspektiv.
Akademikeren Shporlyuk skrev, at den ukrainske state buildings hovedproblem er en konstant identifikation med enten Europa (Polen) eller Rusland.
I udviklingen af de ukrainsk-russiske og de ukrainsk-europæiske relationer udkrystalliseres der er nogle meningsfokuseringer:
"Det ukrainske styre har skærpet forholdet til Rusland, men har ikke opnået en europæisk anerkendelse. Og denne situation er meget skadelig for landet. Det er åbenlyst, at USA har spillet en rolle i den eksisterende ustabilitet.
I dag dannes der i det ukrainske samfund et billede af Rusland som fjende. En skærpelse af denne situation har ført til en vedvarende stimulering af den herskende elites spaltning af Ukraine indefra.
Tendenserne i Ukraines indenrigspolitiske udvikling skader landets mulighed for at blive medlem af EU og NATO. Under det nuværende styre har landets udenrigspolitiske renomme lidt så stor skade, at selv de største tilhængere af det europæiske valg nu er ude af stand til bare nogenlunde klart at artikulere deres krav på en "europæiskhed".
"Det gamle" Europa opfatter Ukraine med landets totale ustabilitet i alle sfærer af samfundslivet som et problem. Selv de vestlige eliter, som for blot få år siden mente, at den ukrainske stat straks burde indlemmes i Europa, har fuldstændig omorienteret deres syn.
En analyse af disse karakteristika giver grundlag for at hævde, at spørgsmålet om NATO og EU medvirker til at dele Ukraine op efter en regional identifikation. Orienteringen mod Rusland styrker splittelsen i det ukrainske samfund langs en civilisationspolitisk identifikationslinje.
Der findes en række måder, hvorpå Ukraines omtalte situation kan nivelleres og transformeres.
Den ukrainske stat har en glimrende geopolitisk position, som gør det muligt at øve indflydelse på spørgsmålet om den kollektive sikkerhed, energiforsyningernes transit, immigrationsbølgen fra Asien m.v.
Men en sådan udvikling er kun mulig, hvis landet erklærer sin neutralitet, eller sagt med andre ord, sørger for at overholde forfatningen. Dernæst bør Ukraine gå ud med et initiativ til oprettelsen af en ny sikkerhedsarkitektur i Europa, som uundgåeligt vil opstå i kriseperioden og i perioden efter.
Ideen om skabelsen af en ny sikkerhedsarkitektur på det europæiske kontinent vil få en gavnlig effekt på Ukraines interne udvikling, vil konsolidere de politiske aktører og give et præg af ligeberettigelse i relationerne med Europa og Rusland.
I trekanten Vesten-Rusland-Kina, som vil være bestemmende for det fremtidige sikkerhedssystem i verden, vil et neutralt og stabilt Ukraine kunne spille en nøglerolle.
Derfor kræver en objektiv vurdering af Ukraines forhold til Rusland og Europa en bred kontekst.
For denne artikels forfatter udgør denne brede kontekst de historiske perspektiver i det ukrainske state building. Forståelsen af krisen i dens globale og civilisatoriske kontekst definerede en række principielle positioner i forståelsen af fremtiden. Det sidste hænger sammen med en forudsigelig og stabil udvikling af den ukrainske nation.
Det ukrainske folks historie har i den grad været mangetydig og vanskelig, at det i dag er nødvendigt for alle vort lands borgere at konsolidere sig omkring velkendte menneskelige og nationale værdier.
Det 21. århundrede rummer mange udfordringer, og for at kunne komme med et værdigt svar på disse udfordringer, bør vi ændre paradigmet i vores statslige tænkning.
16.10.09. Lytvyn kritiserer den nye valglov
Den ukrainske parlamentsformand, Volodymyr Lytvyn, har underskrevet en invitation til udenlandske observatører om at komme til præsidentvalget i 2010. Det fortalte Lytvyn på en pressekonference i dag i Zhytomyr, oplyser parlamentets pressetjeneste.
I den forbindelse påpegede formanden, at konklusionerne fra Venedig-kommissionen vedrørende ændringerne i valgloven ikke kom bag på ham.
"For mig var Venedig-kommissionens vurderinger og konklusioner med hensyn til præsidentvalgloven ikke den store overraskelse", sagde Lytvyn. Efter hans mening er den omtalte lov "en fjendtlig virksomhedsovertagelsesmodel anvendt på præsidentvalget.
Ifølge parlamentsformanden er indsatserne i valgkampen ekstremt høje, og loven "er blevet skrevet, så den passer til de to præsidentkandidater, og samtidig passiverer befolkningen med, at de øvrige kandidater er chanceløse".
I forhold til den kommende præsidentvalgkamp understreger Lytvyn, at det er vigtigt at undgå endnu engang at bringe sit land i miskredit.
Denne lov har ifølge Lytvyn mange mangler, og "er ikke skrevet for at tjene landet, eller sikre valgets renhed og valgkampens gennemsigtighed, men udelukkende for at erobre magten".
"Men vi bør selv sikre, at valget forløber ærligt, for ellers vil vi være dømt til at være "Europas grå plet", sagde han.
Lytvyn gentog, at ansvaret for dette i høj grad påhviler de to partier - Regionernes parti og Julia Tymoshenkos Blok, "som ikke kan finde ud af at dele landet mellem sig, mens landet i dag er et gidsel af disse partier og deres førere". UP.
Verdensbanken har forbedret den makroøkonomiske prognose for Ukraine for 2010 med en vækst i BNP på 2,5% og en inflation på 11%, oplyser Radio Liberty.
Hovedårsagen til forbedringen af prognosen for næste år er ifølge cheføkonom ved Verdensbankens repræsentation i Ukraine, Ruslan Piontkovskyi, en forbedring af det udenrigsøkonomiske miljø.
"Den vigtigste påvirkning af ukrainsk økonomi vil ske via en stigning af eksportefterspørgslen på ukrainsk produktion. Samtidig vil jeg advare mod at forvente en hurtig tilbagevenden til de tempi for den ydre efterspørgsel, som vi iagttog for et til to år siden. Vi skal endnu bruge nogle år for at komme op på de niveauer", siger økonomen.
I regeringens finanslovsforslag for 2010 opererer man med en BNP-vækst på 3,7%, en årlig inflation på under 10% og et offentligt underskud på omkring 4%. Men hvis der ikke kommer ændringer i forslaget til udgifter, vil budgetunderskuddet kunne nå 8%, siger økonom i Verdensbanken Pablo Saaverda.
"Vi mener, at et budgetunderskud er nødvendigt for at stimulere økonomien. Men det bør ikke overstige 4% af BNP", påpeger Saaverda.
Ifølge ham har regeringen under udarbejdelsen af budgettet klart overvurderet indtægterne og undervurderet udgifterne. Ifølge de udenlandske eksperter er det i dag nødvendigt at gennemføre en række strukturreformer i Ukraine, også selv der snart skal være valg. Det drejer sig først og fremmest om at få vedtaget en lov om indkøb og regulere afgifterne på gas til befolkningen. Der er tale om, at afgifterne skal stige, hvilket tidligere er blevet anbefalet af såvel repræsentanterne for IMF som Verdensbanken. Hvis dette ikke bliver gjort allerede i år, vil det statslige olie-og gasselskab "Naftogaz"' situation yderligere forværres, mener de internationale fagfolk.
Mange ukrainske eksperter tror ikke på, at politikerne i dag vil gå med til de upopulære, omend nødvendige skridt. I den nuværende finanslovsproces vil man kunne iagttage to faser, siger økonomen Oleksandr Ryabchenko, nemlig "før valget og efter valget".
"Før præsidentvalget vil vi ikke se nogen barske beslutninger i forhold til budgettet. Hvis budgettet bliver vedtaget, vil der være tale om et meget populistisk budget", mener Ryabchenko.
I forhold til den økonomiske situation i år har Verdensbankens eksperter ladet deres prognoser forblive uændrede: et fald i BNP på 15% og 14% inflation. UP.
"Det statslige ukrainske olie-og gasselskab "Naftogaz" har forsynet de underjordiske gaslagre med 26,3 mia. kubikmeter naturgas, oplyser bestyrelsesformanden for "Naftogaz", Oleg Dubyna til ugeavisen "Dzerkalo Tyzhnja".
99% af gassen i de underjordiske lagre tilhører "Naftogaz", i alt 26,3 mia. kubikmeter. Det er muligt, at vi inden udgangen af denne måned kan nå at pumpe yderligere 1-1,5 mia. kubikmeter gas udvundet i Ukraine ned i lagrene, hvis vejrforholdene tillader det", siger han.
"Som det ses, ser det ud til, at vi er nødt til at aktivere systemet til aftapning af gas", sagde Dubyna. Ifølge betaler "Naftogaz" i øjeblikket følgende pris til det russiske "Gazprom" for gassen: "Ifølge kontrakten er prisen for naturgas, som gælder fra den 1. oktober 2009 på grænsen mellem Rusland og Ukraine, 208,12 dollar for 1000 kubikmeter".
Dubyna oplyste desuden, at man på baggrund af prisstigningerne på olie i første kvartal af 2010 må forvente, at gaspriserne også vil stige med 70-80 dollars i gennemsnittet.
Samtidig vil den afgift, som russerne skal betale ukrainerne for transitten af den russiske gas gennem ukrainsk territorium, ifølge Dubyna også stige.
"Ifølge de foreløbige opgørelser og indregnet gassens brændstofsandel vil transitafgiften i 2010 kunne nå op på 2,68-2,7 dollars for 1000 kubikmeter pr. 100 km", mente han. UP.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Paul GobleVienna, September 22 -- Russia has only a limited window of time in which it can hope to achieve its maximum hopes in Ukraine, and Ukraine has only a limited number of options to develop its relations with the Russian Federation in order to ensure its survival as an independent state, according to two leading Kyiv specialists on international relations.
In the current issue of "Zerkalo nedeli," Academician Vladimir Gorbulin, director of the Kyiv Institute of Problems of National Security, and Aleksandr Litvinenko, his advisor, provide a detailed 4,100-word discussion of the security trap in which both the Russian Federation and Ukraine find themselves (www.zn.ua/1000/1600/67194/).
Russia's domestic problems, including demographic decline, ethnic and religious challenges, and regional separatism ethnic and non-ethnic, have been compounded by its return to authoritarianism and the impact of the global economic crisis, the two say, forcing Moscow to "concentrate on the resolution of questions it can't put off of a primarily regional nature."
"Key among [Russia's] foreign policy tasks must be considered the repression of Ukraine," Gorbulin and Litvinenko write, noting that by means of "the subordination of Ukraine or at least its southeaster part, the Kremlin [could] essentially improve the situation in the Russian Federation."
Such an achievement would "reduce [Russia's] demographic problems, guarantee reliable transit of energy carriers to Europe, significantly increase its economic potential in machine tools (including military) and in agriculture, make impossible for the US to use [this area as a base] and neutralize the potential of an ideological threat to its authoritarian regime."
Those considerations, they continue, demonstrate that "the aggressive policy of the Kremlin relative to Ukraine is the result not of the actions of Kyiv but of the requirements of Russia as the current leadership of [that] state understands them." And that means a change of course in Ukraine's policies "will not lead to a significant correction in Russian policy."At the same time, Gorbulin and Litvinenko argue, "in the Kremlin, they recognize that the historical 'window of opportunity' relative to Ukraine for Moscow is quite short and may close already sometime after 2015 at which time there will be created a new generation of Ukrainian elites" and when the West may have changed its approach to Moscow and Kyiv.
All these considerations mean, the two Ukrainian security analysts argue, that a Russian "'attack on Kyiv' will develop in the nearest future and will be decisive and pitiless."
Gorbulin and Litvinenko then examine more specifically Russian policy toward Ukraine and Ukraine's possible response. With respect to the former, they make six points. First, they say, Moscow has repeatedly made clear that it recognizes the borders of Ukraine but demands that Ukraine defer to Moscow on issues like possible membership in NATO.Second, they argue, "the contemporary Russian state both legally and ideologically and in institutional terms is a direct heir of the USSR," a reality that involves in the first instance "institutional memory" regarding "the mechanisms for the development and adoption of decisions," in the first instance those involving "strategic" questions.
Because of that continuity, they continue, it is very likely that the Kremlin has not developed "a precise, clearly formulated program of actions relative to Ukraine" but rather is being guided by decisions on "the main tasks, directions and [available] arsenal of instruments to be used."
Third, the two analysts argue, this lack of a specific plan does not mean that Moscow has not decided on its long-term "strategic vision" for relations with Ukraine. In fact, it has done so at the December 25, 2008, meeting of the Russian Security Council and State Council of the Russian Federation.
That vision, subsequently made public by Konstantin Zatulin in May 2009 takes the form of "an ultimatum: the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine is ensured by its transition to 'special relations' with the Russian Federation and in fact to a Russian protectorate over a weak Ukraine."Fourth, on the basis of "almost 20 years of relations with independent Ukraine," the Kremlin has become "convinced" of the effectiveness of using "so-called pro-Russian elites" to advance its cause in Ukraine and of the way in which a Russian protectorate will ultimately lead to "the territorial division of Ukraine into three parts," part of which will be absorbed by Russia.
And fifth, the Russian political elite is divided into "hawks" and "doves" as to how best and how quickly to achieve these goals, with some arguing that more pressure sooner is best and others arguing for less pressure and a longer term approach as the best means of gaining an upper hand for Moscow. In recent months, because of economic problems, the hawks are on top.
Moscow is using Crimea as its "basic polygon" for developing relations with Ukraine and Russian security services for promoting its goals, the two say. But if these services are unable to achieve Moscow's goals and if the January 2010 presidential elections in Ukraine do not give the result Russia wants, "one cannot completely exclude the application of direct force."
Given this Russian policy, one that places "the very survival of the Ukrainian state in its current borders" at risk, Kyiv must immediately adopt a number of "complex measures," Gorbulin and Litvinenko argue, some of which involve its domestic arrangements and others a new approach to its foreign partners.
"Above all," they argue, "the protection of the constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine must become the essence of state policy not only at the level of loud declarations but in reality." Kyiv must "immediately establish political stability on the basis of elite and social consensus regarding a European path of development."
Among the things that will require is a new constitution that will define Ukraine either as a presidential or a parliamentary republic rather than combining the two, the reduction of corruption in the state bureaucracy, the reform of the armed services, the development of an effective intelligence and counterintelligence service, and better propaganda of Ukraine's goals.
In foreign affairs, the two analysts suggest, Ukraine must continue its "strategic course" toward membership in NATO and the European Community, but this drive "must take on significantly more tactical flexibility," allowing Ukraine to "accentuate" positive aspects of its ties with Russia as well.
Such ties cannot be developed in isolation. Instead, Ukraine must use "the possibilities offered by international organizations" like the CIS, OSCE, UN, and Council of Europe and must be willing to think out of the box by considering such things as declaring the Black Sea a demilitarized zone.
In its relations with the United States, Kyiv should shift "the accent from the public and the official to the working level, above all in the sphere of security," and in ties with the EU, it should move from declarations to practical work, however limited that may appear to be at any particular moment.
And Ukraine should, Gorbulin and Litvinenko argue, "increase its dialogue with China, [again] in the sphere of security by making use of the fact that China became the first state guarantor of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity which it confirmed these guarantees in 2006."
Such policies, the two say, "can gradually if not lower tensions between Ukraine and Russia then at least limit their risk of conflict and also minimize the potential harm for the national interests of Ukraine." Perhaps more to the point, such actions will help those in Russia who want to organize their country "on the principles of freedom."
Russia lodges list of complaints against neighbor
Washington Post Foreign Service
KYIV, Ukraine -- Five years after Ukraine defied Russia and turned toward the United States and Europe in a peaceful, democratic revolution, Moscow is poised for a comeback in this former Soviet republic.
But rather than sit out the election, Russia has redoubled its efforts to portray Ukraine as a hostile neighbor, lodging a barrage of complaints against its policies and plunging relations between the two countries to their lowest point since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The vilification campaign has puzzled and alarmed analysts here as well as in Washington and Moscow. Many say Russia is trying to tilt the electoral field even further in its favor. But because that seems unnecessary, some are also asking whether Russian leaders might be laying the groundwork for a more serious confrontation with Ukraine, just a year after a brief war with another pro-Western neighbor, Georgia.
"Wars and conflicts begin with discussion of them as an option," said Valeriy Chaly, a foreign policy scholar at the Razumkov Center, a top research institute in Kyiv. "Now, for the first time in years, the word 'war' is being used here, and it's not dismissed as impossible."
The democratic uprising worried Russia's own authoritarians, and Ukraine's subsequent push to join NATO alarmed them further. Recriminations between Moscow and Kyiv became almost routine and culminated in a prolonged standoff over natural gas deliveries to Europe in the winter.
In recent weeks, though, Russian officials have ratcheted up the rhetoric, accusing Ukraine of sending troops to Georgia last year to kill Russian soldiers and of disrupting the operations of the Russian fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a letter last month that denounced his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko, and read like a brief for war.
The letter catalogued more than a dozen "anti-Russian" policies, including Ukraine's NATO bid, mistreatment of Russian investors, limits on the use of the Russian language, and efforts to promote a version of history that says the Soviet Union committed genocide against Ukrainians in the 1930s.
In a somber video released with the letter and staged with warships floating in the Black Sea behind him, Medvedev said he would refrain from sending a new ambassador to Ukraine, adding that tensions between the two countries had "hit unprecedented levels."
"Basically, we've entered a cold war," said Oleksandr Tretiakov, a parliamentary leader in Yushchenko's party who argues that Russia is trying to use its economic clout and control of the media to portray Ukraine as a "failed state" and unravel the Orange Revolution, which Moscow describes as a U.S.-engineered coup.
Some say the Kremlin is trying to distract its population from problems at home; polls show that Russians have more negative attitudes toward Ukraine than they do even toward the United States. But the message has resonated with many in Ukraine who are nostalgic for the Soviet era. Ukraine's 46 million people include 8 million ethnic Russians concentrated in the east and south.
A friendly government in Ukraine is a strategic priority for Russia. Ukrainian pipelines carry Russian gas to Europe, and the Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol under a deal that expires in 2017. But there is also an emotional bond, because both Russians and Ukrainians trace their history to a medieval kingdom that was centered in Kyiv.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the Kremlin cannot imagine Russia as a great power without Ukraine. The debate among policymakers, he said, is between moderates who want to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and ensure that it continues delivering Russian gas, and officials calling for a proactive strategy aimed at "soft dominance" over the country.
"Recently, it's moving toward the more proactive position," he said.
Both Putin and Medvedev have a personal stake in reversing the Orange Revolution, which was seen in Moscow as a humiliating defeat. Putin, when he was president, recognized the losing candidate as the winner of the election, while Medvedev, then Putin's chief of staff, supervised the heavy-handed campaign effort that backfired.
Mikhailo Pohrebinski, a political consultant who advised Ukraine's former president and often worked with Medvedev, said Russia's president appears to be building a case that Ukraine is violating its 1997 friendship treaty with Russia -- the only agreement in which Moscow has recognized Ukraine's borders.
The escalation of tensions comes at a difficult time for Ukraine, which has been hit hard by the global economic crisis and is struggling to enact painful reforms required for billions of dollars in emergency loans. With the January presidential election approaching, the nation's fractious leadership is even more divided and distracted than usual.
Russia has not endorsed a candidate, as it did five years ago when it backed the then-prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, who is now leader of Ukraine's largest opposition party and has made progress shaking his old image as a corrupt autocrat.
Though he may still be Moscow's favorite candidate, and is the front-runner in the race, Russia seems to be spreading its bets this time. Only Yushchenko has been attacked by name by Russian media, and he has proven such an unpopular and ineffective leader that he has little chance of winning reelection anyway.
Oleksandr Sushko, research director at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, said the Kremlin is trying to force itself onto the campaign agenda and hold a "casting call" in which the candidates must clarify their positions on the issues Russia cares about.
But all of the major candidates, including Yanukovych, favor further integration with Europe, and none is likely to make as many concessions as Russia demands once in office, he said. As a result, the Kremlin is trying to increase its leverage over them now, while also preparing for a confrontation if that fails.
Yanukovych's strongest opponent in the race is Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the Orange Revolution and former ally of Yushchenko's who says she will improve relations with Russia without sacrificing Ukraine's independence.
Tymoshenko won praise from Putin after negotiating a deal with him to end the standoff that cut fuel supplies to much of Europe last winter. But she committed Ukraine to buy a fixed amount of gas in the contract, and now, with demand down in the recession, she is trying to renegotiate.
She and Putin emerged from a meeting last month saying Russia had agreed in principle to give Ukraine a break. But critics say Tymoshenko has left herself open to be blackmailed by the Kremlin, perhaps just before the election. For example, Russia has objected to a deal that Tymoshenko signed with the European Union to help modernize and reform Ukraine's gas sector.
Julia Mostovaya, deputy editor of Kyiv's most independent newspaper, Zerkalo Nedeli, said Yushchenko's failure to pursue further democratic reforms after the Orange Revolution has left Ukraine vulnerable to Russian influence.
"It's a very dangerous situation now," she said. "We have two leading candidates without principles, and Russia has leverage to influence both."
October 14, 2009
Washington is less excited about the Jan. 17 presidential election than it was five years ago. Gone is the optimism of a new fresh start and a firm belief in a democratic, pro-Western opposition confirmed by the mass uprising of Ukrainians for their democratic rights in the Orange Revolution.
Although it had produced tremendous sympathy throughout North America and Europe, it would be no exaggeration to say that Washington was probably the most captivated of all NATO and European Union capital cities.
This euphoria was clearly seen in Victor Yushchenkoâ??s triumphant visit to Washington in April 2005 (witnessed by this author). During one long day, President Yushchenko had the honor to speak to both houses of Congress, attend a reception hosted by the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute and an evening banquet in his honor by the Ukrainian-American diaspora.
Yushchenko began to lose his support and popular image starting in 2007. But, as in Ukraine, the critical year that destroyed his image and popularity in the West and Ukraine was last year. In 2007-2008, political crises, inter-elite conflicts, calls for elections and paralyzed state institutions led first to Ukraine fatigue and then to Yushchenko fatigue in Washington and other Western capital cities. The outcome of this is that, on the eve of the 2010 elections, Yushchenko is no longer discussed as a serious candidate in Washington (or Brussels, the seat of European Union government).
As one U.S. government expert on Ukraine told me: "He is on another planet," a reference to Yushchenko's image of not being in touch with reality. This is a poor personality trait for any politician to have, especially a leader of a country. U.S. government officials who have visited Yushchenko in the last two years have noted his detachment from reality.
Yushchenko's clean image of five years ago has also evaporated. U.S. government experts on Ukraine and experts in Washington's many think tanks now have no reservations in stating that they believe Yushchenko is corrupt. "Yushchenko had the opportunity to transform the fundamentally corrupt gas relations with Russia after the Orange Revolution.Â It is hard to explain his embrace of the corrupt January 2006 gas agreements, unless people near him have a personal interest," Ed Chow, an energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said. The prestigious Economist magazine and Andrew Wilson, senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, have also pointed to energy corruption as having undermined the Yushchenko presidency.
A perhaps bigger disappointment in Washington is that of First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko. As an American, it was assumed that she would have a positive influence on the president. Instead, it is believed by Washington experts on Ukraine and by the Ukrainian-American diaspora in the city that the first lady has had a negative influence on Yushchenko. She is, particularly, blamed for inflaming of his relations with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. One will not hear a positive view about the first lady in most places in Washington.
A Ukrainian-American leader said that the first lady had "gone native;" in other words, she had become more Ukrainian than American in the course of her two decades of living in the country.
Washington is slowly evolving to a position where it believes that there are only two serious candidates: Tymoshenko and Party of Regions leader Victor Yanukovych. This does not mean, U.S. Helsinki Commission policy adviser Orest Deychakiwsky pointed out, that there is great enthusiasm for any of Ukraine's presidential candidates. This makes the 2010 race very different from 2004, when Washington clearly was sympathetic for Yushchenko. "Looking at the alternatives that are available, she looks the most appealing," a U.S. government expert on Ukraine said.
In 2006-2008, Tymoshenko's Washington and European image improved remarkably for the better, as seen by her successful February 2007 visit to the United States and her numerous visits to Brussels. Washington is little different to Ukraine with regard to the reasons why Tymoshenko lost support in the spring when there were coalition negotiations with Yanukovych and attempts to change the constitution. These set back her reputation and generated a view that there is little difference between them all.
Such views are not static but continue to evolve. This is clearly seen in Institute for International Relations senior fellow Anders Aslund who, in 2005, was Tymoshenkoâ??s biggest Western critic but is now one of her strongest Western supporters. This evolution of attitudes in Washington to Tymoshenko will continue in the course of the election campaign, especially after round one. Of the two main candidates (Tymoshenko and Yanukovych) the "momentum is currently moving in her direction in Washington," Deychakiwsky said.
Tymoshenko is a "natural politician," one U.S. government expert on Ukraine said, and she knows how to make every person in a room believe she is talking only to them. She is a "doer" and therefore has the potential to become, as Americans call them, a "transformational" president who could leave her positive mark on Ukraine through changing it for the better.
Of the main presidential candidates, some believe that only Tymoshenko has the possibility of changing Ukraine for the better. In the course of doing so, she could ensure that her name went down in Ukrainian history.
If this happens, her legacy would differ from Yushchenko's. There is a widespread view that his time in office was one of "wasted opportunities." In becoming a "transformational" president, Tymoshenko would be more likely to be elected for a second term (which Washingtonians believe is unlikely for Yushchenko). Yushchenko, like Leonid Kravchuk, will only go down in history as having served one term in office. Kravchuk entered the second round and won 44 percent of the vote; neither circumstance is possible for Yushchenko, who has up to 5 percent support at the moment, if polls are to be believed.
Of the major candidates for president, the best chance for implementing much-needed reform of the energy sector is probably with Tymoshenko. Â
Washington experts on Ukraine, such as Aslund, credit Tymoshenko with leading the government that took Ukraine into the World Trade Organization and that negotiated a $16.4 billion standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Tymoshenko is also credited in Washington with removing the corrupt gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo and with agreeing to pay market prices for Russian gas.
Washington still has reservations about Yanukovych, especially after he strongly backed separatism in Georgia when the Party of Regions supported resolutions in the Ukrainian and Crimean parliaments to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Even pro-Russian Belarus did not go this far. Yanukovych may have employed U.S. consultants Paul Manafort for five years. But they have failed to change Yanukovych's image in the United States. As one Washington expert on Ukraine said: "Manafort will work for anybody. It is wrong to believe that he has links to the Republican Party."
You can hear occasionally from Ukraine experts in the U.S., such as Atlantic Council senior fellow Adrian Karatnycky and others that there is little to be concerned about from a Yanukovych election victory. They point to the election of "pro-Russian" Leonid Kuchma in 1994, which did not lead to radical changes in Ukraine's geopolitical orientation. In any event, Karatnycky argues "this is not likely to be a pivotal election in which Ukraine will make a decisive geopolitical choice of either the West or Russia."
The comparison with Kuchma ignores three factors.
Firstly, Ukraine in 2010 is very different to Ukraine in 1994, when there was no organized pro-Russian political force except the Communist Party. Secondly, contemporary Russia is very different from the Russia of 16 years ago. So, too, is Boris Yeltsin different from the Vladimir Putin-Dmitry Medvedev duo. Thirdly, Kuchma and Yanukovych come from different backgrounds, the former from the Communist nomenklatura and the latter from working class and criminal. They also come from different ethnic backgrounds. Kuchma is Ukrainian, Yanukovych was born in Belarus and raised in Sovietized Donetsk.
Nevertheless, Karatnycky believes reforms have a better chance if Tymoshenko or Yatseniuk are elected, as he does not believe that Yanukovych has a firm grasp of economic policy. While he does not believe that President Yanukovych would be "slavishly pro-Russian," Karatnycky also remains concerned by the influence of the pro-Russian wing in the Party of Regions.
Yatseniuk has not made an impression on Washington and it is too late for him to do so. As a U.S. government expert said, he has not caught Washington's imagination in the same manner as Yushchenko had five years ago. When Yatseniuk first presented himself as a candidate last year, he was seen as a potential representative of a new pro-Western, younger generation.
Today, Washington does not know what Yatseniuk stands for (perhaps he doesn't know himself?). Yatseniuk "has no clear focus," has generated a "healthy degree of skepticism," as one expert said.
Skepticism has grown after Yatseniuk's lackluster performance at the September summit of the Yalta European Strategy, which was attended by Washington, D.C. Ukraine experts, such as Aslund and Ambassador Steven Pifer.Â American and European guests at the summit came to the same conclusion that -- of the three candidates who spoke -- Tymoshenko was by far the most polished, professional and convincing.
There is a widespread belief in Washington that Yatseniuk began his election campaign too early and that it is therefore now in trouble. In Yalta, Yatseniuk's attempt at showing he was a "tough guy" fell flat on Americans and Europeans.
Yatseniuk is also seen as too arrogant, especially for somebody who has only turned 35, a trait in evidence in the answers he gave at a luncheon in Washington when he was foreign minister.
Washington opinion is increasingly moving towards two viewpoints.
First is the view that the Jan. 17 presidential election will be mainly a contest between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych.
Secondly, Ukraine experts, such as professor Paul D'Anieri believe that Tymoshenko is likely to win the second round. Karatnycky agrees, believing that, despite the economic crisis, she will likely win support from "second echelon" candidates (Sergiy Tigipko, Yatseniuk, Anatoliy Grytsenko) in the three weeks between rounds one and two.
October 19, 2009
After what is widely seen as five years of missed opportunities under incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's three-month election campaign has begun.
Past presidential elections in Ukraine have been a contest for control of the "swing" region of central Ukraine that Leonid Kuchma and Yushchenko won in 1994 and 2004, respectively. But to win nationwide, a candidate needs either western or eastern Ukraine as well.
Kuchma won by winning the east and the center, Yushchenko the west and the center. The last three elections were won by slim majorities of 52-56 percent.
The upcoming presidential elections will be different, and the first in which western Ukraine will play a strategic role in deciding the winner. Central Ukraine continues to be dominated by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whereas opposition Party of Regions Chairman Viktor Yanukovych has a dominant position in eastern-southern Ukraine.
The presidential election is set for January 17, 2010; if no candidate wins outright in the first round, a runoff will take place three weeks later.
Western Ukraine's central role in the upcoming elections is the product of five years of infighting and fragmentation of the center-right. The Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense bloc (NU-NS) that entered parliament in September 2007 included nine parties that had promised to merge into a single pro-Yushchenko party that would support his bid for a second presidential term.
Instead, the nine have grown to 14, with the establishment of two new parties, led by Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko (Self Defense) and former chief of staff Viktor Baloga (United Center), plus three NGOs that are embryo parties led respectively by former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko (Civic Initiative), former parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk (Front for Change), and Vyacheslav Kyrylenko (For Ukraine!).
Of NU-NS's 72 parliamentary deputies, approximately 40, a slim majority, support the democratic coalition underpinning the Tymoshenko government (together with the Tymoshenko and Volodymyr Lytvyn blocs).
Of the remaining 32 deputies, 17 belong to the single pro-Yushchenko group, For Ukraine!, while a further 10 belong to United Center.
President Yushchenko's election campaign is hampered not only by his low popular support, which he routinely dismisses as unimportant, but also his lack of a political machine. Yushchenko is honorary chairman of the People's Union-Our Ukraine (NS-NU) party, one of the original nine in the NU-NS bloc, and his chief of staff Vera Ulianichenko is its leader. Both the NS-NU and Yushchenko personally can count on only 2-3 percent support.
The NS-NU has been bankrupt since the spring, when Ukrainian businessmen withdrew their funding after it became evident that he was a lame duck president unable to win a second term.
At least five of the figures who played key roles in the Orange Revolution will be competing for the presidency: Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Yatsenyuk, Hrytsenko, and Yuriy Kostenko, leader of the People's Party, one of the original nine in the NU-NS bloc.
The nationalist-populist leader of the Svoboda Party (formerly called the Social-National Party) Oleh Tyahnybok, who won a majoritarian seat in 2002 and joined the Our Ukraine faction (only to be expelled two years later for anti-Semitic remarks), will also be competing for the western Ukrainian vote.
Not Easy Breaking In
The two leading candidates in western Ukraine are Tymoshenko and Yatsenyuk. Yatsenyuk leads among younger and educated voters in the three Galician oblasts, while Tymoshenko leads in the remaining four oblasts of western Ukraine. Overall, Tymoshenko has a 6-7 percentage-point lead over Yatsenyuk throughout western Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk's popularity has catapulted him to third place in national opinion polls, but this should not make him overly self-confident, and his ratings have dropped by a third since the summer. Yatsenyuk's popularity is being squeezed from four directions: Tymoshenko, Ukraine's best election campaigner and most charismatic politician; incumbent Yushchenko, who has the same voter base as Yatsenyuk; Hrytsenko; and Serhiy Tyhipko.In addition to Yatsenyuk, Hrytsenko and Tyhipko also figure within the "second tier" of candidates. Tyhipko has roots in the Dnipropetrovsk clan's Labor Ukraine Party, but is increasingly challenging Yatsenyuk for the position of the "new face in politics" among disillusioned voters.
Yatsenyuk's western Ukrainian voters could also turn away from him over his inconsistency on issues that they consider crucial to Ukraine's national identity. Although elected to parliament in the NU-NS bloc, Yatsenyuk has de facto ditched key elements in its platform, such as abolishing parliamentary immunity; legal recognition of Ukrainian nationalist partisans who fought against the Nazis and Soviets in the 1940s; NATO membership; and energy independence (Yatsenyuk supports a gas consortium with Russia).
He has also recently become skeptical of EU membership and withdrew his signature from a January 2008 letter to NATO's Bucharest summit (which he signed together with Tymoshenko and Yushchenko) seeking a Membership Action Plan.
These are all issues on which Yushchenko (and to some degree Tymoshenko) are challenging Yatsenyuk. Ironically, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's bitterly critical August letter to Yushchenko will only have served to improve his ratings in western Ukraine and therefore eaten into Yatsenyuk's popularity.
Touted last year as representing the younger generation of Ukrainian politicians and therefore by implication as "pro-Western," Yatsenyuk looked decidedly less so at the September Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit.
YES, an NGO established five years ago by oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, invited Yanukovych, Tymoshenko, and Yatsenyuk to present their platforms to a special "Freedom of Speech" ICTV live program and to European guests (ICTV is one of four television channels owned by Pinchuk). Of the three, Yatsenyuk, according to Ukrainian media reports, was the most disappointing and vacuous.
Tymoshenko Stands UpTymoshenko's campaign team have realized the strategic importance of western Ukraine and reached out to the North American diaspora, which retains its influence over the region. Addressing the annual meeting of the World Congress of Ukrainians in Lviv on August 21-22, on the eve of Ukraine's Independence Day, Tymoshenko stressed her support for Ukrainian remaining the only state language, an issue of particular concern to western Ukrainians and the Ukrainian diaspora.
On October 13, the Tymoshenko bloc organized a parliamentary hearing on links with the Ukrainian diaspora. Tymoshenko's reaffirmation of support for the Ukrainian language forced Yanukovych to announce prematurely that, if reelected president, he would elevate Russian to the status of the second state language. This policy, which figured in his 2004 campaign program, will ruin his chances completely in western Ukraine, and to some degree in the central region as well.
The January elections are likely to require a runoff, as in 2004, this time between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. But unlike five years ago, when Yushchenko ran as the united opposition candidate, this time around the former Orange Revolution parties and leaders are fragmented.
Ukrainian intellectual groups are increasingly calling on the "Orange" camp to unite around Tymoshenko, as they had united around Yushchenko. That lack of "Orange" unity in turn improves Yanukovych's chances, so it is likely that this time the bitter second round will pit him against Tymoshenko.
Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, adjunct research professor at the Institute of European and Russian Studies at Carleton University, and editor of the bimonthly "Ukraine Analyst"24.10.09. Ukraine fears for its future as Moscow muscles in on Crimea
Last month, a group of east European leaders and intellectuals gathered in the Livadia Palace, where Britain, the US and the Soviet Union held the Yalta conference in February 1945. The idea was to discuss Ukraine's strategic future. But the discussion was overshadowed by one question: will there be a war between Russia and Ukraine?
The scenario is not as daft as it seems. In August, Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, gave his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko, an unprecedented diplomatic mugging. In a seething letter, and subsequent video message, Medvedev reprimanded Yushchenko for his "anti-Russian" stance. He told him that, as far as Russia was concerned, the pro-western Yushchenko was now a non-person.
After reeling off a list of grievances, Medvedev said he would not be sending an ambassador to Kiev. He also said he was reviewing Russia and Ukraine's 1997 friendship treaty – a hint that Moscow may no longer respect Ukraine's sovereign borders. The message was blunt: whoever wins Ukraine's presidential election in January has to accept Russia's veto over the country's strategic direction.
In recent weeks, pro-Kremlin newspapers have been speculating that Crimea might soon be "reunited" with mother Russia, solving the fleet issue. The best-selling Komsomolskaya Pravda even printed a map showing Europe in 2015. The Russian Federation had swallowed Crimea, together with eastern and central Ukraine. Ukraine still existed, but it was a small chunk of territory around the western town of Lviv.
Last month, Ukraine's nervous intellectual class complained in a letter that the west had abandoned it. Other eastern European countries also share a strong sense of betrayal following Barack Obama's decision last month to cancel America's planned missile defence shield in Poland – a key Ukrainian ally – and the Czech Republic. The shield was seen by many east Europeans as a guarantee against future Russian aggression.
"A lot of people in this part of the world are seriously shitting themselves," one analyst in Yalta admitted bluntly. "We don't know what Obama's deal [with Moscow] was. They think that Russia will take it as a green light," he added. Washington insists it dropped the shield following a new assessment of Iran's nuclear threat. But many in Ukraine believe the White House sacrificed its commitments to eastern Europe in order to "reset" relations with Moscow. The reasoning is clear: Washington needs Russia's help on Iran and other issues. The Bush administration strongly rejected Russian attempts to pressure Ukraine. Obama, in contrast, is preoccupied with Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. Few are under any illusions that he is prepared to wade in to help Ukraine should Russia choose to attack.
The Europeans, of course, disapprove of Moscow's imperial muscle-flexing. But so far Brussels hasn't offered its own clear alternative. It has indicated that Ukraine has no hope of joining the EU in the foreseeable future.
In May, the EU invited Ukraine and five other post-Soviet states to join a new "eastern partnership" – a scheme scathingly described by one EU thinktank as "enlargement-lite". But the EU, unlike Russia, has refused to liberalise its visa regime for Ukrainians. Moscow, meanwhile, says the partnership is a cack-handed attempt by the EU to build its own rival influence sphere.
Most residents showed little enthusiasm for a possible war. "I served in the Red Army when we all still lived in the Soviet Union. There's no way I would fight against Russia," Yevgeny – who declined to give his second name – said.
Others, however, said that the mood inside Russia had grown more hostile, following a wave of state propaganda depicting Ukrainians as the enemy. The Kremlin has accused Kiev of arming Georgia during last year's South Ossetian war. "A friend from St Petersburg visited recently and asked, 'Why do you hate us?'" Alexander, a 32-year-old taxi driver, said.
"There could be an accidental or deliberate confrontation," Andrew Wilson, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, predicted. "Another unspoken problem is that the Black Sea fleet is a bit like the East India Company – all over the place. You have all this extra infrastructure, you have commercial activities, lighthouses and all sorts of back-door operations."
This month, Russian deputies adopted the first reading of a military doctrine that sanctions the use of the army abroad to protect national interests. "There are signs that the Kremlin would not rule out using forceful means to reach its foreign-political aims," the Ukrainian intellectuals said in their appeal to Obama.
To a large extent, Ukraine has itself to blame for the mess. Since the 2004 pro-western Orange Revolution Kiev has been in a state of political crisis. Yushchenko has fallen out with his one-time ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister. They have been involved in a power struggle that has paralysed governance and brought the economy to the brink of default.
In an interview with the Observer, presidential candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Ukraine would not be bullied. Yatsenyuk – former parliamentary speaker, and a mere 35 – is contesting the presidency against Tymoshenko, Yushchenko and the pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich. "There is no going back to the USSR. There can be no more empires, and no more spheres of influence," Yatsenyuk declared.
Of the four main contenders, Yanukovich has positioned himself as the Kremlin's favoured son. He draws support from Ukraine's Russian-speaking industrial south and east. He has said he will recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia's Russian-occupied provinces.
Yanukovich lost in a re-run to Yushchenko. Yanukovich is ahead in the polls, but Putin has better relations with the populist Tymoshenko, who may steal through to win in a run-off second vote.
Whoever wins will face the problem of how to deal with Moscow. In his video address, Medvedev made clear that he regards Russia and Ukraine as indivisible "brothers". Russian civilisation emerged from Kievan Rus – a confederation of city-states based around Kiev in the ninth century. According to this view, Ukraine is an integral part of Russia – and essential if Russia is to be an empire once again.
Back at the Livadia Palace someone had incongruously installed several plastic aliens next to the table where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met. Last month's conference was organised by Yalta European Strategy, a pro-European organisation that campaigns for Ukraine's accession to the EU.
Some participants were optimistic. The Kremlin's messages should not be read too seriously, they suggested. "It's noise. It's nothing to do with reality," Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Hryhoriy Nemyria, told the Observer dismissively. "We need more Europe in Ukraine. We are not looking at alternatives."
27.10.09. Janukovytj fører fortsat over Tymoshenko
23,17% af de adspurgte vil ifølge en meningsmåling fra instituttet TNS stemme på oppositionslederen Viktor Janukovytj. 17,92% af vælgerne vil stemme på regeringslederen, Julia Tymoshenko, mens 6,5% vil stemme på den tidligere parlamentsformand Arsenij Jatsenjuk.
De øvrige kandidater opnår følgende tilslutning i meningsmåling: præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko - 3%, Petro Symonenko og Serhij Tihipko - 2,67% hver, parlamentsformand Volodymyr Lytvyn - 1,75%, Anatolij Hrytsenko - 1,25%, Leonid Kutjma - 1,08% og Oleg Tyahnybok - 1%.
Resten af kandidaterne ville opnå under 1% af stemmerne. 19% af de adspurgte har endnu ikke besluttet sig, 9,67% ville stemme "mod alle", mens 8,5% vil boykotte valget.
Ifølge meningsmålingen er Janukovytjs tilslutning steget med 4% fra august til oktober, Tymoshenkos med 6,8%, mens resten af kandidaterne ikke har oplevet en nævneværdig stigning i deres vælgeropbakning.
Adspurgt om, hvad de vil stemme, hvis Tymoshenko og Janukovytj kommer i 2. valgrunde, vil 29,17% stemme på oppositionslederen, mens 26,33% vil stemme på regeringslederen. UP.
Den samlede ukrainske statsgæld - den gæld, staten garanterer tilbagebetalingen af, er faldet med 0,6% i løbet af september 2009, oplyser Ukraines finansministerium i dag ifølge Interfaks-Ukrajina. Faldet i statsgælden udgjorde 0,2 mia. dollars, så denne nu udgør i alt 34,9 mia. dollars.
Ifølge finansministeriet er statsgælden i år vokset med 41,9% eller 10,31 mia. dollars. Omregnet i den ukrainske møntenhed UAH faldt den samlede statsgæld i september med 0,3% til 279,62 mia. UAH. Siden årets start er statsgælden målt i UAH vokset 47,6% med 90,21 mia. UAH. UP.
I Ukraines vælgerkomite i Kiev mener man, at det er for tidligt at tale om indførelse af undtagelsestilstand og aflysning af præsidentvalget i januar næste år. Det oplyser lederen af Ukraines vælgerkomite, Oleksandr Tjernenko, til Tv-stationen "Inter".
"Der er to aspekter her - et juridisk og et politisk. Hvis vi tager det juridiske aspekt, så har man § 4 i loven om undtagelsestilstand, som åbner mulighed for at indføre undtagelsestilstand i tilfælde af en pandemi (og svineinfluenza er en pandemi), siger han.
Tjernenko påpeger, at undtagelsestilstanden bliver besluttet af Det nationale sikkerheds- og forsvarsråd, efterfulgt af et præsidentielt dekret, som skal godkendes af parlamentet inden to dage.
"Indtil videre er der ikke noget grundlag for at erklære undtagelsestilstand. Jeg håber, at der vil komme en afklaring i løbet af nogle dage. Det vil selvfølgelig være et chok, men man kan godt afholde et valg. Men situationen har uden tvivl ændret valgets dagsorden", siger formanden for Vælgerkomiteen.
Tjernenko understreger, at det er vigtigt, at valgkommissionerne bliver ved med at holde møder og gøre klar til valget, også selvom de alle skal have gazemasker på. UP.
Ifølge ukrainsk lovgivning er det regeringen, der foreslår indførelse af undtagelsestilstand, hvis anledningen ikke er krig eller terror, men andre trusler som eksempelvis pandemi. UP.