22.08.07. Pressemeddelelse i anledning af 16-året for Ukraines uafhængighed

17.08.07. Ukraine's 2007 elections will also decide Ukraine's next president

17.08.07. Hvilken ideologi har Julia Tymoshenkos blok brug for ? (eng.)

17.08.07. Party lists of candidates standing for election

17.08.07. Yanukovych and gas price capping

15.08.07. Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Tymoshenko contesting election again

12.08.07. Ukraine ahead of Russia in WTO entry bid

06.08.07. Kolesnikov - ny valgkampsgeneral for Janukovytj

31.07.07. Ukraines økonomiske vækst blandt de højeste i Europa

18.07.07. Specialstyrker sat ind i giftulykke

18.07.07. Afsporing udløser giftudslip i Ukraine

18.07.07. Giftulykke i Ukraine den værste siden Tjernobyl

16.07.07. New political alliances emerge in Ukraine

15.07.07. Regeringen tror den bliver aflyttet af sikkerhedspolitiet

12.07.07. 10-året for partnerskabet mellem Ukraine og NATO

07.07.07. Companies in Ukraine paying more in bribes again

04.07.07. Yulia Tymoshenko comes out on top in Ukraine's crisis

04.07.07. In Ukraine, four steps to democracy

04.07.07. In Ukraine, four steps to democracy

By Taras Kuzio and F. Stephen Larrabee
Special to washingtonpost.com's Think Tank Town
June 28, 2007

The Ukrainian parliament has wound up its life and set the stage for early parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, four years ahead of schedule. The elections could give Ukraine's revolution -- recently mired in crisis -- new momentum and have an impact elsewhere in the post-Soviet space.

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych agreed to hold early elections after a tense two month stand-off, caused by Prime Minister Yanukovych's attempt to diminish the powers of the president and reverse many of Yushchenko's pro-reform and pro-Western policies. Yanukovych and his allies removed checks and balances by seeking a constitutional majority that threatened to sideline the president and create a powerful prime minister.

Yushchenko's decision to dissolve parliament and call for new elections demonstrated a resolve and decisiveness that had been often lacking in the past. Yushchenko had little choice. He had to reshuffle the deck or watch his authority -- and Ukraine's hopes for democratic reform and integration into Euro-Atlantic structures -- become progressively emasculated and diminished by Yanukovych.

Four steps are crucial if the crisis is to contribute to democratic consolidation in Ukraine:

First, all sides need to adhere to the compromise agreements that have been reached. These compromises should ensure that the checks and balances of the reformed parliamentary constitution are not again threatened by the pro-government coalition attempting to forcefully usurp monopoly power by seeking to establish a constitutional majority. Ukraine cannot continue to have periodic breakdowns and crises every six months. The nation's four crises since the Orange Revolution threaten to bring on Ukraine fatigue by Western governments giving up hope in Yushchenko's ability to promote democratic change in Ukraine.

Second, if Ukraine's 2007 elections are recognized as having been held in a "free and fair" manner by international organizations, as last year's elections were, the outcome should be accepted by all sides. Early elections will permit a new parliament to begin office with a democratic mandate built on a consensus on domestic and foreign policy goals enshrined in law. Yushchenko needs to act decisively following the elections by ensuring a coalition and government is in place, thereby not repeating last year's six-month post-election crisis.

Third, all sides in Ukraine need to adhere to the June 2005 recommendations of the Council of Europe's legal advisory board, the Venice Commission, and to join the president's constitutional commission. The Venice Commission recommended a range of improvements to the reforms in imperative mandates, inter-institutional relations, human rights and the constitutional court. These reforms, the Venice Commission said, would "improve the state of democracy and rule of law in their country."

Fourth, active Western support will be important. The crisis in Ukraine provides an opportunity to consolidate the democratic gains of the Orange Revolution through building democracy at home and integrating Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community of democratic nations. If fair and free elections are carried out, the European Union should quickly move to negotiate a free trade agreement with Ukraine following its entry into the World Trade Organization. NATO should continue to hold out the offer of a membership action plan that Ukraine may find appealing.

The West has a strong political stake in Ukraine's success. Ukraine's evolution will have a significant impact on the Western regions of the post-Soviet space. If democracy can be consolidated in Ukraine, the pro-Western orientation of Georgia and Moldova will be strengthened, while Alyaksandr Lukashenko's autocratic rule in Belarus will be weakened. But if Ukraine's democratic reforms fail, the prospects for reform and closer ties to Euro-Atlantic structures in all three countries will be set back, perhaps irrevocably.

Russia's political evolution could also be affected. If Ukraine's Orange Revolution gains new momentum, it will be harder for Russian President Vladimir Putin's successor to continue the progressive backsliding on democratic reform that has been a hallmark of Putin's rule.

Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.


04.07.07. Yulia Tymoshenko comes out on top in Ukraine's crisis

By Taras Kuzio

Ukraine's parliament closed on Friday, June 15, after a tense two-month crisis. This was a success for Yulia Tymoshenko and her eponymous bloc (BYuT), who were the only political forces consistently calling for early elections since the collapse of the Orange coalition last year. On April 2 President Viktor Yushchenko followed suit, disbanding parliament and calling for early parliamentary elections later that same month.

BYuT has come out on top in Ukraine's spring 2007 political crisis. Tymoshenko could again become prime minister if Orange forces win the September 30 parliamentary elections. And if not this year, she could set her eye on the 2009 elections.

Recent developments suggest that Tymoshenko's political fortunes are on the upswing. After only eight months Tymoshenko lost the prime minister's post in September 2005 when corruption allegations surfaced against the president's business entourage. Yushchenko then dismissed the government, a right he had under the 1996 constitution but does not have under the 2006 version. The move had two strategic consequences for his political allies.

First, the Orange camp fractured for 18 months. Our Ukraine and BYuT did not reunite until February 24, 2007. Oleksandr Moroz's Socialists and Anatoliy Kinakh's Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, both of whom had defected to Yushchenko in the second round of the 2004 presidential elections, had supported two Orange governments in 2005-2006/7 but moved to the Anti-Crisis coalition of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in 2006-2007.

Second, the Orange split permitted Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to revive their fortunes. In the seven months between the September 2005 cabinet crisis and the March 2006 parliamentary elections, the Party of Regions effectively doubled its popular support.

The Party of Regions placed first in the 2006 elections, and likely will do so again in September, but it cannot count on a landslide, especially in western-central Ukraine, where there is a greater degree of political competition with no dominant political force. Tymoshenko is steadily gaining ground across the country.

BYuT is seeking to use the 2007 elections to dent the popularity of the Party of Regions in its eastern-southern Ukrainian stronghold. Most members of the Party of Regions live in eastern (62%) and southern (21%) Ukraine, but in the 2006 elections BYuT placed second in every region of eastern-southern Ukraine except the two Donbas oblasts, the Crimean autonomous republic, and the city of Sevastopol.

Polls have consistently put BYuT in second place nationally, making it the leading Orange political force. Between the 2002 and 2006 elections BYuT tripled its support from 7.26% to 22.29%, while Yushchenko's Our Ukraine declined from 23.57% to 13.95%.

Part of this growth is due to disillusionment with President Yushchenko, which led to a large defection of Orange voters from Our Ukraine to BYuT and changed the configuration of national democratic forces. Our Ukraine has recovered some since 2006, and now includes the Yuriy Lutsenko People's Self Defense group (focusing on the youth vote) and Ukrainian Rightists (based largely on the two wings of Rukh) among its members. However, Our Ukraine's expanded bloc still is unlikely to dent BYuT's leadership of the Orange camp.

Since the 2002 and 2004 elections Tymoshenko has successfully improved her public image. Prior to the 2002 and 2004 elections, Tymoshenko's ratings had been influenced by her time as president of United Energy Systems (1995-97) and political alliance with disgraced prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko's Hromada (1998-99). Both made Tymoshenko seem an ally of business.

But to become prime minister, Tymoshenko must first win the 2007 elections. She and Yushchenko realize that the September election will be close. Polls suggest that neither the Blue (Party of Region) or Orange camp will score a landslide victory. Instead, each faction is likely to win somewhere around 45-55%. Therefore, they need to fight for every percentage vote. The number of votes wasted on parties that will fail to cross the 3 percent threshold will leave a large number to be distributed among the four leading political forces.

They must also tame the rivalry within the Orange camp. In the 2006 elections the Orange camp won, but it took three months to pick an acceptable prime minister and parliamentary speaker. Yushchenko and Our Ukraine refused to adhere to the pre-election agreement that the Orange party that placed first would receive the prime minister's position. Our Ukraine also refused to back Moroz for speaker, causing the Socialist Party's defection. This gave the Party of Regions and the Communists enough votes to establish the Anti-Crisis coalition and a parliamentary majority.

This split is less likely today. The national democratic wing of Our Ukraine now dominates its leadership. Our Ukraine leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko and Lutsenko have ruled out a coalition with the Party of Regions. (In 2006 Our Ukraine, then controlled by its business wing, sought a grand coalition with the Party of Regions). In an interview with Izvestiya in Ukraine, Tymoshenko repeated her stance that BYuT would either be in a "democratic coalition" with Our Ukraine or in opposition. Yushchenko has also stated his support for a "democratic coalition."

The 2007 elections will likely return Tymoshenko to head the government if the two remaining Orange forces win a majority of seats and, as is likely, BYuT comes first among the orange camp. If the Party of Regions and Communists win a majority, Tymoshenko will head the opposition, giving her a launching pad for the 2009 elections. Either way, she is poised to again be a major force in Ukrainian politics.

(press survey based on www.byut.com.ua; www.tymoshenko.com.ua; Ukrayinska pravda; Natsionalna Bezpeka i Oborona, no. 10, 2005; Politchniy Portret Ukrayiny, no. 33, 2005; Izvestiya v Ukraine, June 1)

07.07.07. Companies in Ukraine paying more in bribes again

by Nazar Kudrevsky, Kyiv Post Staff Writer

June 20 2007

Companies operating in Ukraine are spending more money on bribes in order to sift through Ukraine's murky business climate, according to the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting.

A survey conducted by the institute in April-May suggests that the average amount of bribes this year compared to 2006 has increased from 3.6 to 4.2 percent of an enterprise's annual sales volume.

In the study, officially called the Annual Assessment of Business Climate in Ukraine, 300 enterprises were surveyed on various issues critical to Ukraine's economy and investment climate. The companies were asked to respond to questions on bribes, corruption, tax evasion, security of property rights and difficulties in the regulatory environment.

Oksana Kuziakiv, executive director of the institute and head of the Business Tendency Survey, which included the survey on bribes, said the study results suggest that corruption is again on the rise in Ukraine, but still below the levels detected in 2004, before the pro-democracy Orange Revolution.

A significant increase in the amounts of bribes was detected in 2004, up to 6.5 percent of the annual sales volume of an enterprise, compared to 1.9 percent recorded in 2003.

The aggregate number of bribes started to decline in 2005, as the pro-Western administration of newly elected President Viktor Yushchenko took power, declaring its intention to fight corruption.

In that year the amount of bribes decreased from 6.5 percent to 1.4 percent of an enterprise's annual sales volume. In 2006, corruption started to increase again.

This year has seen an increase in bribery. Those surveyed, however, remain uncertain that bribes would help successfully cut corners or avoid red tape -- a huge barrier to businesses' operations in the country.

Nevertheless, Ukrainian businesses are often pressured by influential officials into paying bribes, often through would-be racketeering arrangements, as a way of keeping their businesses protected from various risk factors, including violations of the country's vague and contradictory legislation.

In 2003, about 25 percent of Ukrainian enterprises felt that a bribe would deliver no effect. From 2004 until 2005, this percentage increased from 29.6 percent to 65.8 percent. The year 2005 appeared to be the peak in this tendency.

In 2006 this percentage decreased by 2.3 percent, to 63.5 percent, and this year the tendency saw an 8.5 percent drop to 55 percent.

Over the period 2004 to 2007, businesses have considered it important to establish strong working relations with tax authorities and militia, allegedly common benefactors of bribes. The importance of maintaining relations with local authorities in regions increased last year.

The Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting, IER, is an independent research organization founded in 1999 by senior Ukrainian politicians and the German Advisory Group. The main purpose of the institute is to promote the principles of a free and democratic market economy.

12.12.07. 10-året for partnerskabet mellem Ukraine og NATO

Pressemeddelelse fra den ukrainske ambassade i København

Den 9. juli 2007 var der gået 10 år siden underskrivelsen af Charteret om det særlige partnerskab mellem Ukraine og NATO, som blev et basisdokument i forholdet mellem Ukraine og NATO, om end dialogen mellem Ukraine og NATO blev indledt tilbage i 1991.

                 I marts 1992 blev Ukraine medlem af Det nordatlantiske samarbejdsråd (NACC). Ukraine er medstifter og medlem af NACCs efterfølger Det euroatlantiske samarbejdsråd (EACC), som i dag har 26 NATO-lande og 23 partnerstater som medlemmer.

                 Den 2. juli 1993 vedtog det ukrainske parlament Verkhovna Rada Hovedlinjerne i Ukraines udenrigspolitik”, hvori det understreges, at ”afslutningen af blokopdelingen i Europa har betydet, at skabelsen af en fælleseuropæisk sikkerhedsstruktur på grundlag af eksisterende internationale institutioner som OSCE, NACC, NATO og EU får en hovedprioritet. Ukraines snarlige og fulde deltagelse i en sådan struktur vil give de nødvendige ydre garantier for landets nationale sikkerhed. I forhold til de omfattende ændringer, der har fundet sted efter Sovjetunionens opløsning og som har været bestemmende for Ukraines nuværende geopolitiske situation, skal landets oprindelige erklæring om i al fremtid at forblive en neutral og alliancefri stat tilpasses de nye forhold og kan ikke anses for at være en hindring for landets fulde deltagelse i den fælleseuropæiske sikkerhedsstruktur”.

                 I Charteret har NATO-medlemslandene bekræftet deres støtte til Ukraines suverænitet og uafhængighed, demokratiske udvikling, økonomiske opblomstring og status som atomvåbenfri stat, samt landets territoriale integritet og princippet om grænsernes ukrænkelighed. Også i dag spiller disse principper en nøglerolle i at sikre stabilitet og sikkerhed i Central-og østeuropa og på kontinentet som helhed.

        Siden april 1999 er forholdet efter Charterets bestemmelser blevet udformet i et fælles forum – Kommissionen Ukraine-NATO (KUN). Til dato har der været afholdt 2 møder i KUN på statsoverhovedniveau og over 20 møder på udenrigsminister og forsvarsministerniveau. Desuden er der nedsat fælles Ukraine-NATO arbejdsgrupper vedrørende diverse emner som militærreform, oprustning, økonomisk sikkerhed, planlægning i ekstraordinære situationer, samt videnskab og miljøbeskyttelse.

I 2005 skete der et væsentligt fremskridt i forholdet mellem Ukraine og NATO, da Ukraines præsident V. Jusjtjenko på et topmøde i KUN i Bruxelles erklærede Ukraines medlemskab af NATO for at være endemålet for Ukraines samarbejde med den nordatlantiske alliance. Dette signal fra Ukraines side blev modtaget positivt i Bruxelles og allerede i april blev der under et udenrigsministermøde i KUN taget initiativ til en Intensiveret dialog med henblik på medlemskab og tilsvarende reformer.

Forholdet mellem Ukraine og NATO har udviklet sig i positiv retning: Det startede med Charteret om et særligt partnerskab og fortsatte med en Handlingsplan godkendt den 22. november 2002 i Prag, indenfor rammerne af hvilken der arbejdes på den årlige Målplan Ukraine-NATO, frem til den Intensiverede dialog med NATO med henblik på opnåelse af medlemskab og tilsvarende reformer, som blev indledt den 21. april 2005 i Vilnius.

Målplanerne Ukraine-NATO er i årene 2003-2006 i det store hele blevet nået med et tilfredsstillende resultat. Ud af 409 tiltag i Målplanen Ukraine-NATO for 2006 er 297 (72,6%) gennemført til fulde, 82 (20%) er gennemført delvist og 27 (5,9%) er ikke gennemført. Opfyldelsen af Målplanerne har været medvirkende til, at Ukraine er kommet et stort skridt nærmere NATOs kriterier og standarder indenfor de opstillede samarbejdsfelter.

Et vigtigt eksempel på opfyldelsen af Målplanen Ukraine-NATO i 2006 var gennemførelsen i Ukraine af en Flerstrenget gennemgang af den nationale sikkerhedssektor, opfyldelsen af planerne for en militærreform, løsningen af spørgsmålet om en social tilpasning af de fritstillede medarbejdere i forsvaret. Der blev gennemført en række tiltag med henblik på at sikre et passende økonomisk og energimæssigt sikkerhedsniveau for vort land.

Den intensiverede dialogproces, som blev indledt efter NATOs Madrid-topmøde i 1997, og som tilbydes lande der har udtrykt en interesse i at blive medlemmer af den nordatlantiske alliance, er den første fase i den officielle proces, som skal gøre aspirant-lande klar til et medlemskab af NATO.

Den praktiske drøftelse af Ukraines og NATOs tilgange indenfor rammerne af iværksættelsen af den Intensiverede dialog fandt sted under et besøg af en delegation fra NATOs Nordatlantiske råd i Ukraine den 18-20. oktober 2005 med NATOs generalsekretær i spidsen. Indenfor rammerne af dette besøg afholdt man et ordinært møde i KUN med deltagelse af udenrigsministrene og forsvarsministrene, samt NATO-delegationsmedlemmers besøg i Ukraines regioner i et informations- og forklaringsmæssigt sigte. For første gang afholdt det ukrainske sikkerheds-og forsvarsråd et fællesmøde med NATOs Nordatlantiske råd under ledelse af Ukraines præsident V. Jusjtjenko med deltagelse af NATO’s generalsekretær J. Scheffer. Efter udenrigsministermødet i KUN blev der i december 2005 vedtaget en fælleserklæring, hvori der for første gang i et Ukraine-NATO dokument blev talt ikke kun om ”NATOs åbne døre”, men også om de konkrete perspektiver i en inddragelse af Ukraine i en medlemskabshandlingsplan.   

Indenfor det militære samarbejde med NATO er Ukraine i dag en af de mest aktive partnere for alliancen. En af de vigtigste og sværeste bestanddele i dette samarbejde er ukrainske fredsbevarende styrkers deltagelse i operationer under NATOs kommando. Ukraines deltagelse i freds- og stabilitetsoperationer under NATOs ledelse er et bevis på, at vores stat ikke er indifferent overfor de sikkerhedsmæssige regionale udfordringer i verden. Bidraget til opretholdelsen af den mellemfolkelige fred og sikkerhed har været en topprioritet i Ukraines udenrigspolitik, siden landet opnåede sin uafhængighed.

Den første operation, som Ukraine deltog i under NATO’s ledelse, var den internationale fredsoperation i Kosovo (KFOR), som blev gennemført indenfor FN’s mandat. Siden september 1999 har en deling af ukrainske fredsbevarende styrker på indtil 200 mand arbejdet under KFOR. Forinden deltog ca. 2800 ukrainske fredsbevarende soldater i fredsbevarende operationer andre steder på Balkan (IFOR og SFOR).

De senere år har Ukraine betydeligt øget sin deltagelse i fredsbevarende operationer. Siden februar 2006 har ukrainske officerer gjort tjeneste i NATO’s træningsmission i Irak. 43 personer fra Ukraines væbnede styrker arbejder for tiden i de i Irak etablerede træningscentre, hvor de underviser irakiske sikkerhedsfolk. For øjeblikket er Ukraine det eneste partnerskabsland, som er repræsenteret i denne mission.

I 2006 blev ukrainske fly indsat i Afrika, hvor de efter anmodning fra NATO’s side transporterede soldater fra Den afrikanske Unions fredsbevarende styrker, som deltog i den fredsbevarende operation i Darfur-provinsen.

I forhold til Ukraines bidrag til bekæmpelsen af den internationale terrorisme er det logisk, at vores land har tilsluttet sig NATO’s antiterroroperation ”Aktive forholdsregler”. Hovedmålet med denne operation, som blev indledt i 2001, er at afsløre og forhindre terrorhandlinger i Middelhavet. Siden den 25. maj 2007 har korvetten ”Ternopil” fra den ukrainske flåde deltaget i NATO’s operation ”Aktive forholdsregler” i Middelhavet.

Den seneste NATO-operation, som Ukraine har tilsluttet sig, er De internationale fredsbevarende styrkers indsats i Afghanistan. Siden den 12. maj 2007 har en ukrainsk militærlæge under litauisk kommando været tilknyttet den gruppe, der skal genopbygge den afghanske provins Gor.

Ukraines bidrag til bestræbelserne på at opretholde den internationale fred og sikkerhed er altid blevet værdsat af det internationale samfund. Ukraine er det eneste partnerskabsland, som deltager i alle de operationer, som NATO i dag gennemfører under FN’s mandat. I den forbindelse er det værd at nævne, at et ikke NATO-medlemslands ønske eller hensigt om at tilslutte sig en fredsoperation ikke er nok for at være med. Før et land bliver inddraget i internationale operationer, skal det blandt andet via deltagelse i fælles øvelser have bevist, at det har de fornødne ressourcer og lever op til visse kriterier teknisk og sprogligt.

Her på tiårsdagen for partnerskabet mellem NATO og Ukraine bestræber Ukraine sig på at bekræfte, at landet er konsekvent i de tiltag, som skal til for at opnå det endegyldige mål og for at sikre irreversibiliteten i den valgte kurs.

15.07.07. Regeringen tror den bliver aflyttet af sikkerhedspolitiet

Den ukrainske vice-premierminister Mykola Azarov er sikker på, at regeringen bliver aflyttet af sikkerhedstjenesten. Udtalelsen faldt i Azarovs interview med avisen "2000" i fredags.

"Vi har ganske almindelige glasruder i regeringsbygningen. Det er helt umuligt at beskytte sig mod aflytning. Det er helt umuligt at sidde og diskutere statshemmeligheder, når man på en afstand af 100 meter kan opstille et anlæg, som kan aflytte og indhente informationer om alt det der rører sig i vores kabinetter", sagde Azarov, som anses for at være den ubestridte nr. 2 i regeringen efter premierminister Viktor Janukovytj.

På spørgsmålet om han mener, at regeringsbygningen bliver aflyttet, svarede han:

"Det er jeg ikke et sekund i tvivl om. Udenlandske efterretningstjenester kan også aflytte os".

På spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt Tymoshenko, Baloha (lederen af præsident Jusjtjenkos sekretariat, red.), Lutsenko (lederen af den Jusjtjenko-venlige blok Folkets Selvforsvar - Vores Ukraine, red.), Jatsenjuk (udenrigsminister, red.) eller Kyrylenko (lederen af partiet Vores Ukraine, red.) vil stå i spidsen for regeringen efter valget til efteråret, svarede Azarov:

"Ingen af dem, som De har nævnt, vil være Ukraines premierminister. Ingenlunde. I dag er der intet alternativ til den nuværende premierminister i dette land".

"Derfor vil der efter valget, såfremt det i det hele taget finder sted, bliver dannet en koalition, som vil foreslå Viktor Fedorovytj Janukovytj som regeringschef", tilføjede Azarov og fortalte journalisten, at han for tiden læser en del litteratur på ukrainsk.

"Og i bevidstheden har jeg nu en klar opfattelse af hvad der er normalt ukrainsk litteratursprog. Desværre er der ikke så mange politikere i dag, som behersker det klassiske ukrainske litteratursprog", sagde han.

"Jeg kan godt lide at lytte til Borys Olijnyk og Moroz. Men når jeg hører det frygtelige blandingssprog (surzhyk), hvor man fordrejer russiske ord og udtaler dem på ukrainsk og omvendt, så...", indrømmede Azarov.

"Desværre bruger jeg ind i mellem selv samme sprog som dem. Og det har jeg det skidt med. Men jeg prøver i det mindste at tale rent russisk. Hvad ukrainsk angår, så arbejder jeg på at forbedre det", tilføjede Azarov. UP.

16.07.07. New political alliances emerge in Ukraine

By Taras Kuzio

As Ukraine prepares for the September 30 parliamentary elections, the balance of power among political forces is markedly shifting. The pre-democratic "Orange" camp is reconfiguring while the long-dominant Dnipropetrovsk camp is dwindling in influence.

On Thursday, June 28, President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party, headed by Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, and Yuriy Lutsenko's People's Self Defense signed an agreement to create an election bloc for the September 30 parliamentary elections. The election bloc still must decide who will head the bloc and who will take the first 10 places.

The Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense alliance has three advantages:

First, it likely will add another 6-7% to Our Ukraine's expected 14% vote level, returning the party to its 2002 level.

Second, it will attract voters in central Ukraine, the traditional stronghold of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), the Socialists, and the Agrarians. Although Yushchenko swept central Ukraine in the 2004 presidential election, Our Ukraine fared poorly in the region in the 2006 parliamentary races.

Third, the alliance rehabilitates Our Ukraine, as Lutsenko is popular among Socialist and Pora voters and NGO activists. Our Ukraine's popularity fell following "corruption" charges against its senior business leaders in September 2005.

The new Our Ukraine-Lutsenko alliance called upon other "democratic" forces to join them. The Pora party has agreed to merge with the new bloc. Other national democrats, including the Reform and Order party) joined BYuT earlier, while the Ukrainian Rightists are unwilling to give up their independence. The Ukrainian Rightists have balked at plans to merge Our Ukraine and People's Self Defense following the elections.

However, including the Ukrainian Rightists will not help the Orange alliance much. With returns of only 1-2% expected, the Ukrainian Rightists would add few votes. In addition, their main base of support, five oblasts of Galicia and Volhynia in western Ukraine, are already strongholds of Our Ukraine. The Ukrainian Rightists include several discredited politicians, such as the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, led by sacked Naftohaz Ukrainy chairman Oleksiy Ivchenko. Our Ukraine refused to include Ivchenko in its list. The Ukrainian Rightists may also include the extreme right All Ukrainian "Svoboda" (Liberty) party led by Oleh Tiahnybok, who was expelled from Our Ukraine's parliamentary faction in 2004 following a scandalous anti-Russian and anti-Semitic speech.

Despite these shifting alliances, Ukrainian politics are become more predictable. Most observers agree that the winning party will take 45-55% of the total, and no party is likely to win a landslide. This result mirrors the pattern of the Ukrainian presidential elections in 1994 and 2004, where the winner similarly took about 52%.

Only four of the five political forces now in parliament are likely to win seats for a 2007-2012 term. Parliament will feature two Blue forces (Party of Regions, Communists) and two Orange forces (Our Ukraine bloc, BYuT). These two camps are likely to have similar vote tallies and a similar number of parliamentary deputies. The Socialist Party, which won four parliamentary elections between 1994-2006, is now polling barely 1%.

This configuration makes Viktor Yanukovych and Tymoshenko the leading candidates for the more powerful prime minister's position. While President Yushchenko was willing to accept Yanukovych as prime minister in 2006, he no longer trusts Yanukovych in this position.

A three-party system appears to be emerging, composed of two Orange parties (center-left BYuT and center-right Our Ukraine-Lutsenko) and the centrist Party of Regions. Since the 2004 presidential and 2006 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party has lost support to the Party of Regions, and it is unlikely to survive as a serious political force.

One major development is the marginalization of the Dnipropetrovsk clan. Ukraine's regionalism means that no political force has nation-wide appeal. Two Orange political forces dominate western and central Ukraine, while the Party of Regions controls the other half of Ukraine. This is the first time in Ukraine's history that the Donetsk clan has controlled Ukraine. In the Soviet era, Ukrainian politics were dominated by the famous Dnipropetrovsk clan (which included Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev), Kyiv, and Kharkiv.

Although its influence dipped immediately following independence, the Dnipropetrovsk clan re-entered Ukrainian politics after Leonid Kuchma was elected president in July 1994.

After three years of political crises, the upcoming parliamentary elections give Ukraine a chance over the following five-year parliament to consolidate the democratic gains of the Orange Revolution. The three keys to this consolidation will be repairing the rule of law, which was badly damaged during the spring crisis, settling constitutional questions, and quickly establishing a parliamentary coalition and government following the elections.

(Washington Post, November 19, 2004, www.samooborona.in.ua, www.razom.org.ua, Ukrayinska pravda, June 25-28)

18.07.07. Giftulykke i Ukraine den værste siden Tjernobyl

Mindst 14 personer blev natten til i dag indlagt med forgiftninger i det vestlige Ukraine, efter at et godstog med fosfor afsporede.

Over 800 personer blev evakueret og de 14 forgiftede blev indlagt.

Toget kørte med 15 vogne med flydende fosfor, og ved afsporingen gik fosforen i brand. Den følgende giftsky ramte et større område, sagde redningsfolk i byen Lviv.
De fire, der var hårdest ramt af giftskyen var redningsmandskab, der blev sendt til ulykkesstedet. Den ene er fortsat i livsfare.

Værste ulykke siden Tjernobyl
Ulykken er en af de værste giftulykker i Ukraine siden ulykken på atomkraftværket i Tjernobyl i 1986. Ukraines indenrigsminister, Aleksander Kusmuk, kaldte afsporingen en katastrofe. 
- Efter Tjernobyl har vi med en sag at gøre, der kan skade mange mennesker, sagde ministeren efter, at han i dag så området.
Redningsmandskab siger, at giftskyen dækker et område på cirka 90 kvadratkilometer.
Der bor omkring 11.000 mennesker i det ramte område. Politiet har advaret de nærmestliggende landsbyer, men ukrainsk tv rapporterede i dag, at mange landsbyer ikke er blevet advaret. dr.dk/nyheder.

18.07.07. Afsporing udløser giftudslip i Ukraine

Mindst 14 personer er indlagt med forgiftninger i Lviv i det vestlige Ukraine, efter at et godstog med fosfor blev afsporet. Den værste ulykke i Ukraine siden Tjernobyl, siger myndighederne.

Flere end 800 personer fra 14 landsbyer er blevet evakueret og 14 personer indlagt på et hospital natten til tirsdag i det vestlige Ukraine efter en brand i et godstog, der kørte af sporet ikke langt fra byen Lviv.

15 vogne med flydende fosfor blev afsporet og brød i brand, og der udviklede sig en giftsky, som spredte sig over et større område, oplyser redningsfolk i Lviv.

Én person i kritisk tilstand
Fire af de mest forkomne var med i et af flere redningsmandskab, som blev sendt til ulykkesstedet. Tilstanden for en af de indlagte er kritisk.

Ulykken er en af de værste giftulykker i Ukraine siden ulykken på atomkraftværket i Tjernobyl i 1986, og Ukraines indenrigsminister, Aleksander Kusmuk, kalder afsporingen en katastrofe.

»Efter Tjernobyl har vi med en sag at gøre, der kan skade mange mennesker«, siger ministeren efter at have inspiceret området 70 kilometer fra Lviv.

Område på 90 kvadratkilometer berørt
Redningsmandskab siger, at giftskyen dækker et område på cirka 90 kvadratkilometer.

Der bor omkring 11.000 personer i det ramte område. Politiet har advaret de nærmestliggende landsbyer, men ukrainsk tv rapporterer, at mange landbyer i eftermiddag endnu ikke er advaret.

Godstoget havde 56 vogne og kom fra Kasakhstan og var på vej til Polen. ritzau

18.07.07. Specialstyrker sat ind i giftulykke

Specialstyrker fra Vestukraine er blevet sat ind på det sted, hvor et godstog med flydende fosfor kørte af sporet i mandags. Formålet med indsættelsen af styrkerne er ifølge det ukrainske forsvar at rense det forurenede område. Ifølge en talsmand for det ukrainske forsvarsledelse i det vestlige Ukraine er der oplysninger om, at det foregår en løbende evakuering af befolkningen i de ramte områder. Flertallet af indbyggerne forlader frivilligt det forurenede område.

På nuværende tidspunkt kender man stadig ikke til årsagerne til ulykken, og de lokale myndigheder tør endnu ikke sige, hvilken indvirkning de meget giftige fosfordampe vil få på miljøet og menneskene.

Ifølge kilder i guvernørens kontor i Lviv-regionen har det lokale sygehus i byen Busk i Lviv-regionen fået henvendelser fra borgere, der klager over svimmelhed, opkast og maveonde.

Der er på nuværende tidspunkt ingen officielle oplysninger om masseforgiftninger.

Den 16. juli kl. 16.55 afsporedes et godstog med 15 cisterner indeholdende flydende fosfor. Fosforen sivede ud af den ene af cisternerne, brød i brand og antændte de 6 af cisternerne. Ulykken skete på strækningen Krasne-Ozhydiv 40 km øst for Lviv. Som følge af branden opstod der en giftsky som spredte sig til udover et ca. 90 kvadratkilometer stort område.

Det forurenede område omfatter 14 landsbyer i Busk-distriktet med i alt 11.000 indbyggere samt enkelte områder i Radekhivskyj og Brodivskyj-distriktet i den nordøstlige del af Lviv-regionen tæt på naboregionerne Lutsk og Rivne.  

Kl. 22.29 mandag aften var branden slukket. 800 beboere er midlertidigt evakueret fra 6 landsbyer i Busk-distriktet. 14 personer er indlagte.  UNIAN, UP.


De mest frygtede kemiske kampvåben er nervegasserne, som udvikledes i Tyskland sidst i 1930erne. Mest kendt er Tabun, Sarin og Soman. Disse fosforholdige stoffer var oprindeligt tænkt som insektdræbende midler, men verdenskrigen sporede hurtigt forskernes interesse ind på den militære anvendelse. Giftangrebet i Tokyos undergrundsbane i 1995 blev foretaget med Sarin.

Nervegasser påvirker kommunikationen mellem nervecellerne til blandt andet hjerte, mave-tarmkanal og kirtler samt forbindelsen mellem nerver og muskler. Under normale forhold udskiller nervecellerne signalstoffet acetylkolin, som hurtigt nedbrydes igen af et enzym. Nervegasserne ødelægger imidlertid dette enzym, så nervepåvirkningen af organer og muskler bliver alt for kraftig.

Nervegas påvirker hele kroppen: Luftvejene sammentrækkes og åndedrættet besværliggøres, pupillerne trækkes sammen så synet forstyrres, musklerne sitrer og kramper, og som oftest får personen også krampe i vejrtrækningsmusklerne, så døden indtræder. Sarin er dræbende, især ved indånding, men også kontakt med huden udgør en betydelig fare. Under én milligram Sarin kan slå et voksent menneske ihjel.


31.07.07. Ukraines økonomiske vækst blandt de højeste i Europa

Den ukrainske præsidents sekretariat har på en pressekonference givet en positiv vurdering af Viktor Janukovytj-regeringens indsats på det økonomiske område, meddelte en talsmand fra præsidenten.

Talsmanden Oleksandr Shlapak fremhævede, at de makroøkonomiske nøgletal for 1. halvår 2007 er "ret gode" sammenlignet med SNG-landenes.

Ukraines økonomi er fortsat stærk, og den reelle BNP-tilvækst i første halvår udgør 7,9%, hvilket er mere end de seneste 7 år i Ukraine, mens det i gennemsnit er 8% i SNG", sagde Shlapak.

Præsidentens sekretariat er også glade for væksten i industriproduktionen i Ukraine med 12,1% mod SNG's 8% og væksten i detailhandelomsætningen på 125,8% mod 115% i SNG. "Produktionsvæksten og væksten i handel er de lokomotiver, som er blevet hovedårsagen til væksten i BNP", understregede Oleksandr Shlapak.

Han fremhæver stabiliteten i situationen på det finansielle marked og det forhold, at det er lykkedes at forøge nationalbankens valutareserver med hele 3,6 mia. dollars. "De ukrainske banker har heller ikke nedsat deres udlånsaktiviteter. Mens den samlede udlånsaktivitet i 1. halvår 2007 steg med 28,7%, er det vigtigt at fremhæve, at investeringerne steg betydelig mere med næsten 35%", sagde talsmanden og tilføjede, at befolkningens tillid til banksystemet fortsat er høj, idet omfanget af privates indlån i bankerne på 6 måneder er steget med næsten 28% og er nu oppe på 98 mia. UAH.

Et andet positivt element i regeringens arbejde er ifølge Oleksandr Shlapak opfyldelsen af budgettet. Han understregede, at budgetunderskuddet fortsat er på et "acceptabelt" niveau.

Shlapak fremhæver, at "vore finansmarkeder har glædet os" i løbet af 2007, ikke mindst fordi en ukrainsk virksomhed for første gang er blevet handlet på første trin på London-børsen. "Der er endnu ikke sket for en eneste SNG-virksomhed", understregede talsmanden.

Præsidentens sekretariat fremhæver også det forhold, at Ukraines økonomi "temmelig roligt" har overlevet væksten i energipriserne, og har bevaret en stabilitet i energisektorens og boligsektorens arbejde.

"Konklusionen er, at Ukraine hvad det økonomiske væksttempo angår fortsat er et af de førende europæiske lande med et enormt økonomisk potentiale", opsummerede Shlapak og tilføjede, at Ukraine fortsat er et attraktivt land i økonomisk henseende. UNIAN. Podrobnosti.

06.08.07. Kolesnikov - ny valgkampsgeneral for Janukovytj

De problemer, som findes internt i Regionernes parti, er ikke mindre end i den orange lejr. Men den politiske kultur i Regionernes parti er anderledes end i den orange lejr, og derfor dukker konflikterne ikke op til overfladen.

Den vigtigste konflikt er mellem lederen af valgkampen i 2007 Borys Kolesnykov og lederen af skyggevalgstaben i 2004 Andrij Kljujev, der har arbejdet som energiminister i Janukovytj-regeringen.

Det blev et vigtigt tab for Kljujev, at han blev fjernet fra Regionernes partis finansieringskilder. Ifølge kilder i hans modstanderes lejr, fandt man frem til, at partiets penge ikke altid var blevet anvendt korrekt.

Konkurrencen mellem Kljujev og Kolesnykov er naturlig, fordi valgstabschefen ikke kun er kassemesteren, men også den person, der befinder sig i et permanent parløb med partiets frontfigur Viktor Janukovytj. Stillingen som leder af valgstaben er et betydeligt springbræt til en forfremmelse efter valget.

Ifølge kilder i præsident Jusjtjenkos sekretariat er det længe siden de har set noget til Kljujev, fordi han for et halvt år siden mistede sin beføjelse til at føre forhandlinger på vegne af Regionernes parti. Omvendt kommer Kolesnykov ikke kun i præsidentens sekretariat, men også i lufthavnen "Boryspil", når præsident Jusjtjenko og premierminister Janukovytj mødes der.

Ifølge andre kilder har der været eksempler på, at premierministeren har bedt om en pause i sine forhandlinger med præsidenten for at rådføre sig med Kolesnykov, der er mangemillionæren Rinat Akhmetovs højre hånd.

Kolesnykov har etableret gode relationer til lederen af præsident Jusjtjenkos sekretariat Viktor Baloha, men har heller ikke fundet de rigtige ord til at berolige sine egne parlamentsmedlemmer.

Ifølge kilder indenfor Regionernes parti blev ingen af dem efter afslutningen af seneste parlamentssamling orienteret om, hvad de kan vente sig i fremtiden. Og her fire dage inden valgkampens start ved de endnu ikke, om de kommer med i Regionernes partis nye opstillingsliste.

Det er også klart, at det ikke er alle de nuværende parlamentsmedlemmer, der kan beholde deres pladser, fordi de forreste pladser på opstillingslisten er gået til nuværende ministre og andre politikere, som kommer til at skubbe de bagerste på listen ud af parlamentet - forudsat at valgresultatet ikke bliver bedre end sidst.

Regionernes partis nye opstillingsliste rummer udover samtlige ministre i den nuværende regering også politikere, der tidligere har vendt dem ryggen; nemlig forretningskvinden Inna Bohoslovska og forretningsmanden Vasyl Khmelnytskyj. Sidstnævnte  begyndte sin karriere som sponsor for Ljudmyla Kutjmas projekter, og efter den orange revolution var han en kort overgang i Julia Tymoshenkos blok, men gik efter dannelsen af anti-krise koalitionen mellem Regionerns parti, kommunisterne og socialisterne over til Regionernes parti.

De menige deputerede fra Regionernes parti har gennem hele forløbet manglet at få en klar udmelding fra ledelsens side. Den ekstraordinære parlamentssession, som Oleksandr Moroz indkaldte for at demonstrere parlamentets legitimitet, gik på tværs af Kolesnikovs planer, men passede fint til Kljujevs ønsker.

Kjujev er interesseret i at få valget udsat, fordi et valg under de nuværende omstændigheder vil betyde, at hans indflydelse på Regionernes parti vil blive afgørende svækket.

Desuden kunne en ekstraordinær session godt have været en reaktion på Kolesnikovs manglende åbenhed i spørgsmålet om opstillingslisten.

Moroz ville aldrig have taget det skridt alene, uden at have nogle garantier fra Janukovytjs parti. Ifølge Ukrajinska Pravdas kilder var det netop Kljujev, som var Moroz' allierede i spørgsmålet om at få indkaldt parlamentet til en ekstraordinær session.

Ifølge avisen kilder holdt Kjujev møder i sin virksomheds mødelokaler, hvor det ifølge kilderne blandt andet blev drøftet, hvordan man finder penge til at udbetale sociale ydelser, som er blevet fastslået af forfatningsdomstolen. Dette skulle være et hovedpunkt i koalitionens valgkamp.

Det er symptomatisk at forhandlingerne om en ekstraordinær session foregik på et tidspunkt, hvor Akmetovs vigtigste repræsentanter i Regionernes parti - Borys Kolesnikov og Rajisa Bohatyrjova var i gang med andre projekter: Kolesnikov tog til Moskva for at mødes med partiet "Forenet Rusland", mens Bohatyrjova var i USA for at mødes med den amerikanske vice-udenrigsminister David Kremer.

Men i mandags kom det frem, at parlamentets ekstraordinære session ikke finder sted på det af Moroz og Kljujev foreslåede tidspunkt. Regionernes partis politiske råds præsidium besluttede, at deres parlamentsmedlemmer ikke ville deltage i en ekstraordinær session. Dette ser mærkeligt ud, fordi Moroz to dage forinden havde forklaret sessionens nødvendighed med, at 179 deputerede har krævet dette, herunder over halvdelen af Regionernes partis parlamentsgruppe.

Sessionen blev skubbet til den 7-10. august, og den vil ikke have en eneste effekt udover den propagandamæssige, fordi Regionernes partis weekenden forinden har færdiggjort og offentliggjort deres opstillingsliste.

Svækkelsen af Kljujevs indflydelse på Regionernes parti er en følge af hans forgæves forsøg på at øge koalitionen til 300 parlamentsmedlemmer. Dette var Kljujevs bundne opgave.

Ganske vist forsøger en del af koalitionen fortsat at komme op på 300 deputerede, som vil gåre det muligt at overtrumfe præsidentens veto. Kilder i Julia Tymoshenkos blok fortæller, at de bliver tilbudt at trække deres erklæringer om nedlæggelsen af deres mandat tilbage.

Ukrajinska pravda er kommet i besiddelse af kopier af erklæringer, som er udarbejdet i Verkhovna Radas sekretariat og som tidligere deputerede fra "Vores Ukraine" og Julia Tymoshenkos blok bliver tilbudt at underskrive.

På mødet hos Kljujev diskuterede man ifølge kilder spørgsmålet om øgede beføjelser til den selvudråbte leder af Julia Tymoshenko-fraktionen Mykola Zamkovenko mod at han skal agitere de deputerede for at slutte sig til koalitionen.

Selvom effekten af disse erklæringer også er tvivlsom er kongresserne blevet afholdt og deres beslutninger, som annullerer parlamentsmedlemmernes mandat, er trådt i kraft.

Konkurrencen Kjujev-Kolesnikov er ikke den eneste kilde til uenighed indenfor Regionernes parti og hele anti-krise koalitionen.

Efter at Kolesnikov blev leder af Regionernes partis valgstab, fjernede han Ihor Tjaban fra informationsafdelingen. Ihor Tjaban er Eduard Prutniks mand, og Prutnik anses for at være nærmest gudsøn til Janukovytj.

Tjaban er minoritetsaktionær i den ukrainske udgave af det russiske ugeblad "Argumenty i fakty". Det fortælles, at Tjaban blev så sur på Kolesnikov, at han skabte problemer for valgstaben med at få reklamer i de aviser, som hører til Borys Lozhkins holding, som udgiver "Argumenty i fakty" og en masse andre russiske aviser i Ukraine.

Ved det seneste valg stod Tjaban for hele Regionernes partis kommunikation med massemedierne. I dag er denne opgave overladt til Olena Bondarenko, som er Borys Kolesnikovs allierede og hans tidligere pressesekretær.

Relationerne mellem anti-krise koalitionens koordinator Rajisa Bohatyrjova og Mykola Azarov befinder sig i en vanskelig fase pga. finansminister Azarovs angreb på Licitationsstyrelsen. Bohatyrjova er også i konflikt med Oleksandr Moroz, som ifølge hende ser hende som konkurrent til posten som parlamentets formand.

 Samtidig er de nye ledere af Regionernes partis stab utilfredse med eksekutivkomiteen. Ifølge dem er Volodymyr Rybak, som står i spidsen for dette organ, ganske enkelt ude af stand til at løfte opgaven, fordi han samtidig arbejder i regeringen.

Spørgsmålet om udskiftningen af Rybak er blevet udskudt til perioden efter valget for ikke at øge de interne konflikter i partiet.

Magtforskydningen i Regionernes parti er åbenlys også hvis man ser på dem, som står i spidsen for valgstaben. I mange tilfælde er der ikke tale om lederne af partiets regionale afdelinger, hvilket ellers ville være logisk. Det er ikke udelukket , at dette kun er den første serie, som vil fortsætte med udskiftningerne af de lokale ledere af Regionernes parti allerede efter valget.

Efter at Kolesnikov blev leder af den centrale valgstab, har Oleg Logvinov afløst ham som leder af Regionernes partis regionale stab i Donetsk. Logvinov er generaldirektør for Kolesnikovs selskab "Konti". Oleksandr Jefremov er fortsat leder af valgstaben i Luhansk. Jefremov var guvernør i regionen i Kutjmas sidste periode.

I Kharkiv har man besluttet at oprette to valghovedkvarterer, fordi størstedelen af vælgerkorpset lever i regionshovedstaden. Kharkivs borgmester Mykhajlo Dobkin er leder af Regionernes partis valgstab i byen Kharkiv, mens Vasyl Salyhin, som er formand for regionalrådet, er leder af den regionale valgstab.

Parlamentsmedlem Andrij Pintjuk skal være leder af valgstaben i regionen Sumy, parlamentsmedlem Vasyl Lukjanov skal være leder af valgstaben i Poltava-regionen, parlamentsmedlem Oleksandr Vilkul skal være leder af valgstaben i Dnipropetrovsk-regionen. Alle anses de for at være en del af Kolesnikovs bagland, og de har afløst personer, som stod Kjujev nærmest.

Vilkul er søn af formanden for regionalrådet og leder af en af Akhmetovs største virksomheder. Lederen af Regionernes partis regionale afdeling Borys Petrov skal være leder af valgstaben i Zaporizjzja, mens parlamentsmedlem Oleksandr Kozub skal være leder af apparatet.

Serhij Larin bliver leder af valgstaben i Kirovohrad-regionen, hvilket umiddelbart kan betragtes som en ærefuld eksil - han har indtil nu arbejdet som næstformand for hele Regionernes partis eksekutivkomite.

Parlamentsmedlem Vitalij Khomutynnik bliver leder af Tjernihiv-valgstaben. I Tjerkasy regionen er det Ukraines tidligere ambassadør i Rusland og tidligere leder af Kutjmas administration, Mykola Biloblotskyj, som bliver leder af Regionernes partis regionale valgstab.

Det overordnede billede er, at Regionernes parti satser på at fravriste Julia Tymoshenkos blok stemmer i det centrale Ukraine og beholde status quo i Øst-og Sydukraine, partiets traditionelle højborge. UP.

12.08.07. Ukraine ahead of Russia in WTO entry bid

By Frances Williams, in Geneva

Ukraine is on track to complete negotiations to join the World Trade Organisation by the end of this year and Russia has a fighting chance of doing the same, trade officials said yesterday.

The two former Soviet republics are the largest economies remaining outside the WTO, which today welcomes the tiny Pacific island of Tonga as its 151st member.

Despite its turbulent domestic political scene, Ukraine has made faster progress than Russia in its WTO application in the last couple of years, largely due to the pro-western stance of President Viktor Yushchenko who has made WTO membership and closer trade ties with the European Union a key goal.

Russia's 14-year-old accession bid has meanwhile become embroiled in disputes with the US and EU over intellectual property piracy and restrictions on agricultural imports.

In addition, formal meetings of the working party negotiating Russian membership are being blocked by neighbouring Georgia, which insists Russia stop trading with its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and end its ban on Georgian wine and mineral water.

Earlier this year Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner, referred to a "level of mistrust" between Moscow and Brussels unseen since the cold war, while just last month a frustrated President Vladimir Putin criticised the WTO as "archaic, undemocratic and inflexible".

However, Maxim Medvedkov, head of Moscow's WTO negotiating team, said yesterday: "I hope that with the support of the membership it will be possible for Russia to complete negotiations by the end of this year."

Mr Medvedkov said Russia had now completed bilateral market access negotiations with over 50 WTO members, counting the EU as one, leaving only talks with Saudi Arabia still ongoing.

WTO accession procedures require applicants to negotiate market opening for goods and services with all trading partners that request it, as well as conclude a multilateral accord on how they will apply WTO rules.

Agricultural subsidies and Russia's food health regulations that have led to the barring of imports from the US, Poland and Thailand, among others, remained sticking points in the multilateral negotiations, Mr Medvedkov acknowledged.

Moscow wants to be allowed to spend up to $9.2bn in annual farm subsidies compared with about $4bn last year.

With so many issues still to settle, Russian hopes of wrapping up accession talks this year look optimistic. By contrast, Ukraine and its trading partners were this week putting the finishing touches to its detailed entry terms. 

15.08.07. Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Tymoshenko contesting election again

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

by Pavel Korduban

The campaign for the September 30 parliamentary elections officially kicked off in Ukraine on August 2. This campaign will see the same contenders as in the March 2006 election: President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc (NUNS), except last year it was just Our Ukraine, without Yuriy Lutsenko's Self-Defense; the Party of Regions (PRU) of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, which represents Eastern Ukraine's big businesses; and the populists from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT).

The Communists and the Socialists, which barely made it into parliament in 2006, again will be fighting for their survival. The Communists have better chances than the Socialists, who apparently lost much of their electorate because of their largely unexpected coalition with the PRU. Both are set to enter a coalition with the PRU again, once in parliament.

So far, the campaign is focused on domestic problems, such as corruption, the cancellation of the deputy immunity from prosecution (a top issue with both NUNS and BYuT), amending the constitution, the demographic problem (all three main players promise more money for one-time payments for childbirth) and, to a lesser extent, the official language issue. Foreign political issues are not high on the agenda, and none of the main players have positioned themselves as pro-Russian or decidedly pro-Western. NUNS is pro-NATO; the PRU reluctantly concedes that NATO membership may be on the agenda in the future; and this issue is not among BYuT's top priorities.

Rumors persist about PRU infighting. Several newspapers have speculated that Yanukovych may be replaced as prime minister by either Ukraine's richest man, Renat Akhmetov, who is viewed as the PRU's main financier, or Akhmetov's right-hand man, Borys Kolesnikov. Both have denied this. Akhmetov said he is not planning to work in the executive at all, and Kolesnikov repeated in several interviews that there is no need to replace Yanukovych as head of the cabinet.

The PRU, confident of its strength, has been the only force among the three main players to not form a bloc. Instead, several small parties ceased to exist to enable their leaders to join the PRU's list for the election. The list, adopted at the party's pre-election convention on August 4, includes a record number of government officials: five deputy prime ministers and 11 cabinet ministers. The head of Yushchenko's office, Viktor Baloha, has suggested that the PRU will not resist the temptation of using "administrative resources," meaning the government's illegal participation in the campaign in favor of one party, a frequent charge against former president Leonid Kuchma.

NUNS has ostentatiously crossed Yushchenko's aides, including Baloha, from its list, in order to preclude accusations against Yushchenko of interference in the election process. Furthermore, Yushchenko in August 6 dismissed six advisers who had decided to run for parliament on the NUNS list. There are, however, two key ministers among the top 10 on the NUNS list: Foreign Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko. The PRU has already accused Hrytsenko of having recourse to administrative resource, claiming that military servicemen were spotted distributing NUNS campaign materials.

One of the main questions that the election should resolve is whether the current opposition will remain united. Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine (NU) leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko have pledged that their parties would be together, and never form a coalition with the PRU. Lutsenko, who tops the NUNS list, however, has not ruled out his party's cooperation with the PRU in a new parliament on specific issues like constitutional amendments or new electoral legislation. "We have to take into account that about one in three Ukrainians backs the PRU," he told Inter TV, urging "dialogue" with the PRU. Yanukovych, addressing the PRU convention on August 4, urged a broad coalition, but he did not mention either NUNS or BYuT specifically.

Tymoshenko, addressing her convention on August 5, said that corrupt officials should be imprisoned for life, and that judges should be elected by popular vote. BYuT also seeks a new constitution in order to strengthen the presidency. Tymoshenko also promised to do her utmost to revise gas agreements with Russia. She wants to remove intermediaries in the natural gas trade, and she also pledged to return to cheaper gas prices for Ukraine.

Recent opinion polls show that not much should change in parliament after the election, so Yushchenko and Tymoshenko's hopes for a parliament dominated by their coalition will hardly come true. The PRU is the confident leader of popular sympathies. Some 30-33% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for it, according to the polls conducted independently by SOCIS and the Public Opinion Foundation in June and July. NUNS and BYuT will contest the second position. They should score respectively 13-15% and 14-17.5%, according to the pollsters. The Communists should score 3.5-5%. The Socialists may fail to clear the 3% barrier, as public support for them hovers around 1.1-2.5%.

(Glavred.info, July 30; UNIAN, July 28, August 1, 4; Segodnya, August 2; Interfax-Ukraine, Channel 5, August 4; Inter, August 5; Ukrayinska pravda, August 6)

17.08.07. Yanukovych and gas price capping

Taras Kuzio

Aug 15 2007

In May 2005, when the Yulia Tymoshenko government introduced limited and temporary price caps on oil, President Viktor Yushchenko threatened to remove her from office. Western observers also quickly jumped on the bandwagon and used price capping and re-privatization as two sticks with which to beat the Tymoshenko government.

The result has been that in some business circles and among foreign investors the enduring memory of the 2005 Tymoshenko government is price capping and support for mass re-privatization. Both memories are taken out of context and are merely used by the same group of critics of Tymoshenko who refer to her negatively as ‘populist’ (see “Whose ‘populist’ in Ukrainian politics,” Kyiv Post, July 5).

Why then the deafening silence over the price capping on a far greater scale of gas prices by the Viktor Yanukovych government?

Prime Minister Yanukovych told his government on July 18 that ‘his government would never undertake populism.’ In reality, the bans on export of grain and gas price controls are two big examples of populist price controls introduced by the Yanukovych government to win votes.

On Dec. 19 of last year, the Anti-Crisis parliamentary coalition adopted the 2007 state budget. Article 3 of the budget law states that all enterprises with state ownership of more than 50 percent, as well as joint ventures and Joint Activity Agreements (JAAs) concluded with these enterprises must sell their monthly production to a company specified by the government.

In a Jan. 16 government resolution (No. 31), Naftogaz Ukrainy was named as the company authorized by the government. Naftogaz became de facto the only company authorized to buy gas from JAAs and then sell it on to the Ukrainian population. The aim of these policies introduced by the Yanukovych government is to control the price of gas for the population on a scale far greater than temporary oil caps in 2005. The difference between the historic selling price of gas in Ukraine to industrial end-users at market prices of $4.88 mcf (1,000 cubic feet) and the fixed government price of $1.63 is more than 300 percent.

Many Western companies have opted to therefore halt all sales of gas rather than sell at a capped unprofitable price. The new capped price does not cover the costs of exploration, development and production, leading to lower production and investment. Cardinal Resources, a public limited company traded in London with a US subsidiary, Carpatsky Petroluem, is one of a number of Western companies which have halted all gas sales and instead placed their gas into storage.

The Yanukovych government policies have two negative outcomes.

Firstly, foreign investors, such as Cardinal, have an adverse cash flow because they cannot sell gas at market prices. To agree to sell their gas at the capped price to Naftogaz Ukrainy would be to sell it at a loss.

Secondly, Cardinal, as with other foreign investors, sees the government’s price capping policy as particularly having a negative effect on foreign investors. Price capping reduces the incentive for foreign investors to come to Ukraine at a time when only 28 percent of Ukraine’s gas demand is met by domestic production.

Government price capping of gas directly contradicts Ukrainian legislation, such as the Civil Code and the Law on Foreign Investment. In April, Europa Oil and Gas (Holdings) plc won their case in court of the right to sell gas at market prices but the government continues to ignore the court ruling. This is not the only evidence of a non-listening government. Cardinal Resources sent letters on the gas price capping policy to Prime Minister Yanukovych last December, to Minister for Fuel and Energy Yuriy Boyko in March and to the CEO of Naftogaz Ukrainy in May.

Cardinal Resources failed to receive responses to two of the letters and only a curt and non-committal reply from the Deputy Minister for Fuel and Energy. A March letter from US Ambassador William Taylor to Minister Boyko also failed to receive any response. Two meetings between Boyko and Cardinal Resources produced no results.

A July paper published by the prestigious Washington think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), described how it was ‘extremely difficult’ for Western energy companies to obtain a foothold in the Ukrainian market. Western investors have the potential to make Ukraine independent in its energy needs, thereby making Ukraine free of Russia’s monopolist and corrupt energy relationship.

It has long been evident though that a large proportion of the Ukrainian elites wish to maintain the status quo because they receive large rents from the existing corrupt energy relationship with Russia. Energy corruption therefore overrides Ukraine’s national interest and the country’s national security.

According to Ambassador Keith Smith, author of the CSIS report, a major factor blocking Western investment in the energy sector is ‘control of natural resources by groups hostile to Western investors.’ The Yanukovych government is effectively squeezing Western investors out of Ukraine, Ambassador Smith concludes. The two groups which benefit from these price capping policies are the corrupt intermediary RosUkrEnergo, which, according to a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report, is the biggest money laundering operation in Europe, and local oligarchs. Only one political force -- the Tymoshenko bloc -- has consistently opposed the use of RosUkrEnergo as a middle man.

The Ukrainian population meanwhile suffers while Western investors pause, or withdraw. Desperately needed foreign direct investment (FDI) and technologies are directed toward governments that show themselves amenable to international standards of economic behavior.

The Yanukovych government’s policy puts into question its stated desire to join the WTO, establish a free trade zone with the EU and eventually join the EU. Price capping also puts into doubt the government’s declared interest in attracting foreign investors and its stated desire for energy security and independence. These policies are far more populist than anything introduced in 2005. The unwillingness of the Yanukovych government to respond to the concerns of foreign investor, or to have any common courtesy in responding to the US Ambassador, necessitates a stronger response from the US government, EU and WTO. A demarche should point out that the Ukrainian government’s price capping policy is inconsistent with international norms on attracting foreign investment, attaining WTO standards consistent with membership and the Ukrainian government’s statements on seeking energy self-sufficiency.

A failure to change the price capping policies should warn against returning the Yanukovych government to office after the Sept. 30 pre-term parliamentary elections. Ukraine’s post-election new government should be committed to three policies: attracting foreign investment, battling corruption and energy independence. The Yanukovych government has proven that it has no commitment to any of these three policies.

Dr. Taras Kuzio is a Research Associate of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School for International Affairs, George Washington University and President of the consulting firm Kuzio Associates. 

17.08.07. Party lists of candidates standing for election

With the parliamentary election campaign under way, political parties in Ukraine have made their electoral lists public. The following are electoral lists for some of the main parties in the elections (listed in alphabetical order): Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, Communist Party of Ukraine, Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense Bloc, Party of Regions, and the Socialist Party of Ukraine.

Party Lists are in alphabetical order, and are in Ukrainian.


Party List of Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko:


Party List of Communist Party of Ukraine:


Party List of Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense Bloc:


Party List of Party of Regions:


Party List of Socialist Party of Ukraine: http://ua.proua.com/speech/2007/08/07/110524.html


17.08.07. Hvilken ideologi har Julia Tymoshenkos blok brug for ? (eng.)

Ukrayinska Pravda
August 14, 2007

Reply to Oleksandr Sokolovsky (Ukrayinska Pravda, 9.08.2007)

Dr. Taras Kuzio
It is interesting to see such a lively debate in the Ukrainian media on the ideological orientation of political parties. That Ukraine is gradually evolving towards a more ideologically structured political system was the aim of those political forces (primarily the opposition) who supported the April 2004 changes to the election law that made parliamentary elections fully proportional.

The evolution towards fewer and more ideologically driven political parties is a medium term process. The 2006 and 2007 elections will assist this evolution but the process will take time, just as it does in any democracy.

What is surprising is to what degree there is so much focus in this discussion on the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc (BYuT). While I would never deny the need for such a debate one wonders why there is far less focus on the other main political parties in Ukraine.

In reality, the ideological orientation of all Ukrainian parties (and not just BYuT) are in flux. Many parties have long not adhered to their ideological principles (i.e. the Communists who are ready to collaborate with the oligarchs) or those who have betrayed their orange voters (i.e. the Socialists) in exchange for state positions. The Communist Party was always a virtual opposition party during the 1990s. Today, after the Communists and Socialists joined the Anti-Crisis coalition, what remains of any left-wing ideology in them?

The Party of Regions is the most confusing "party" of all in parliament. The very term "party" is an incorrect definition of what it constitutes the Party of Regions. The "party" unites ex-Communists, pan-Slavists, trade unionists, centrist reformers, corrupt ex-Kuchma officials, disaffected defectors from the orange camp, Donetsk regional nationalists, big businessmen and billionaire oligarchs. The Party of Regions resembles more an anti-orange popular front than a "political party". Such a popular front could never hope to create a single ideological profile.

Our Ukraine-Narodna Samoborona is likewise a symbiosis. Our Ukraine itself was always composed of a national democratic wing that had grown out of Rukh and other national democratic parties who were closer in spirit to BYuT. It also included a pro-business wing that defected largely from the Kuchma camp after Viktor Yushchenko's government was removed in April 2001.

Since 2002 Yushchenko has fluctuated between these two wings of Our Ukraine, supporting at times cooperation with Arise Ukraine! protests while at other times seeking a parliamentary coalition with pro-Kuchma centrist parties. This fluctuation reached its apogee after the March 2006 elections when one wing of Our Ukraine negotiated a coalition with BYuT (through Roman Besmertny) and another wing negotiated a coalition with the Party of Regions (through Yuriy Yekhanurov).

Our Ukraine went into the 2006 elections headed by its business wing (Yekhanurov). This year it is fighting the elections headed by its national democratic wing (Yuriy Lutsenko and Vyacheslav Kyrlylenko).

Our Ukraine's long standing multi-vectorism is compounded by the addition of Lutsenko's Narodna Samooborona to the Our Ukraine bloc. Lutsenko's anti-corruption and anti-oligarch rhetoric is close in spirit to the program of BYuT. Yet, the president seeks to have close relations with big business and oligarchs, as testified by his second meeting with them in July.

Our Ukraine and Rukh have, it is true, long had observer status in the EPP. At the same time, their ideological profile is not clear cut. Our Ukraine-Narodna Samoborona has set for itself the task of building a center-right party by merging its constituent parties after the elections.

Why then is the Kongres Ukrainskykh Natsionalistiv (KUN) a member of the Our Ukraine-Narodna Samoborona bloc? KUN is closer to the populist nationalist right found in Austria, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Slovakia than to the center-right parties that belong to the EPP. If KUN had deputies in the European Parliament they would be members of the Union for Europe of the Nations faction, not the EPP, where they could sit alongside similar parties, such as Italy's Alleanze Nationale.

Mr. Sokolovsky also takes too narrow a view of Conservatism in Western democracy. In reality there are many differences and nuances.

The US Republican Party, for example, has little in common with most parties in the EPP. Americans are far more religious than Europeans: sixty percent of Americans regularly attend Church compared to only 20 percent in Europe. Little wonder therefore that religion plays such an important role in American political and social life, including in the Republican Party.

There were close similarities between the old Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and that of Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives. Today, there is little that the high government spending neo-Conservative US Republican and the Thatcherite, British Conservatives have in common except that they are both labeled as "Conservatives."

The British Conservative Party was a status quo party until the 1970s. But, this fundamentally changed with the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

Thatcher was very against maintaining the status quo. She represented a wing of the British Conservative Party that wished to change the status quo in a very radical way. Nicolas Sarkozy is a contemporary adherent of this radical Conservatism that is against the status quo and seeks deep reforms. Both Thatcher and Sarkozy believe such fundamental change would reinvigorate Britain and France's national identity.

Both Thatcher and Sarkozy were opponents of those who represented the status quo wing of the British and French Conservatives (Edward Heath in Britain and Jacque Chirac in France). In Britain the status quo Conservatives were labeled "Wets" and the reformers "Dry-es".

The Socialist International (SI) unites mainly unreformed center-left parties. The British Labor Party ("New Labor") is a member of the SI because of long standing tradition. Nevertheless, the policies pursued by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have more in common with Bill Clinton's Democratic Party than the constituent parties of the SI. The Labor Party became New Labor in the 1990s because it had to change if it wanted to win an election, which it did in 1997 when New Labor came to power.

The only political forces interested in fundamental change and in upsetting the corrupt status quo in Ukraine are BYuT and the national democratic wing of Our Ukraine-Narodna Samoborona. These are Ukraine's closest equivalents to the anti-status quo Thatcher or Sarkozy. Those millions of Ukrainians who stood on the Maidan in winter 2004 also stood for change and against the status quo.

The business wing of Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions are the adherents of status quo politics in Ukraine. It is they who do not seek any fundamental changes of the political-economic system introduced under Kuchma.

Ukraine needs fundamental change, just as did the "sick man of Europe" that Britain was called in the 1970s and France is called today. The Orange Revolution promised Ukrainians change.

Fundamental change and reform is what one wing of Western European Conservatives represented by Thatcher and Sarkozy stand for. It is this tradition, which represents one wing of the EPP, that best fits BYuT -- not the stagnant Socialist International.

BYuT made the right choice in opting for the EPP and not the SI.

17.08.07. Ukraine's 2007 elections will also decide Ukraine's next president

Volume 4 , Issue 160
August 16, 2007

By Taras Kuzio

Ukraine’s September 30 parliamentary elections will decide the country’s next government and most likely determine the outcome of the presidential elections two years later. As seasoned Zerkalo nedeli commentator Serhiy Rakhmanin pointed out, the “pre-term parliamentary campaign gives [President Viktor] Yushchenko a great opportunity to launch the presidential campaign ahead of time.”

The conflated election campaigns have led to electoral populism. Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine-Self Defense (NUNS) coalition have launched a campaign to remove parliamentary immunity, a campaign issue last raised by President Leonid Kuchma in an April 2000 referendum. The Party of Regions, which now dominates parliament, replied by calling for the end of immunity for all officials -- president, prime minister, judges, and deputies.

These moves should discourage corrupt oligarchs and businessmen from running for parliament and help separate business and politics. But the anti-oligarch election rhetoric does not square with the continued presence of oligarchs in both the Party of Regions and NUNS. Yuriy Lutsenko’s People’s Self Defense, Our Ukraine’s ally in the 2007 elections, was established by an oligarch, Davyd Zvannia. The Privat oligarchic group, allied to former senior Yushchenko adviser Oleksandr Tretyakov, has eight representatives in the NUNS list.

The leaders of Self-Defense claim to have reformed. Lutsenko admitted, “Yes. We are the only political force that publicly accepted its mistakes, including the choice of personnel, and cleaned out and renewed ourselves.” The party removed businessman Petro Poroshenko, whose name is associated with the corruption charges that led to the September 2005 political crisis.

According to Zerkalo nedeli, the NUNS election list was heavily influenced by Lutsenko and Ihor Kolomoysky, the controversial head of Privat. Thus the changes look more like musical chairs than cleaning house.

NUNS needs to regroup after Our Ukraine’s poor performance in the 2006 elections, when it obtained fewer seats than in 2002. The coalition also needs reinforcement to compete with the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc (BYuT), another veteran of the Orange Revolution. Finally, NUNS needs nation-wide support. Anti-oligarch and anti-corruption sentiment mobilized many western-central Ukrainians to participate in the Orange Revolution. These sentiments are not popular among voters in eastern Ukraine, who have had no qualms about voting for a convicted felon supported by oligarchs -- Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych’s Party of Regions has always included corrupt and discredited former Kuchma officials and oligarchs, such as Renat Akhmetov, who has ignored calls by the president to not run for parliament. Akhmetov ranks seventh on the Party of Regions election list.

NUNS has unequivocally stated that its election and future coalition partner is the BYuT. Senior NUNS leaders have publicly refuted suggestions that they may enter a coalition with the Party of Regions. Lutsenko has stated that NUNS would only enter a grand coalition if BYuT also agreed. Yushchenko has been less clear in his intentions. Following the 2006 elections Yushchenko sent two close allies to separately negotiate with BYuT and the Party of Regions, a strategy that he may repeat this year.

The parliamentary coalition established after the 2007 elections will heavily influence the outcome of the 2009 elections. With the prime minister’s position strengthened following constitutional reforms in 2006, the office is an even better launching pad for the presidency.

However, Yushchenko has proven unable to work with two of his three prime ministers, Yulia Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, because he sees both as potential competitors for the presidency. Ideally, Yushchenko would prefer that neither of them become Ukraine’s next prime minister. The Party of Regions is leading the polls, so the Orange camp is battling for second place. If NUNS places second, Yushchenko would likely chose a non-threatening technocrat, such as former prime minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, for the job.

If BYuT finishes second, as seems likely, Yushchenko could again be tempted to negotiate a grand coalition with the Party of Regions. His only condition would be that Yanukovych not be prime minister. Yushchenko has reportedly reached such an agreement through Yekhanurov, who has always been close to the Party of Regions, and presidential secretariat head Viktor Baloga.

This scenario poses three risks for Yushchenko.

First, forcing NUNS into a grand coalition with the Party of Regions might be more palatable than in 2006, as it would not include the Communists and Yanukovych would not be prime minister. However, it would split NUNS and prevent the planned post-election unification of its constituent members into a pro-presidential party and vehicle for Yushchenko’s re-election in 2009.

Second, it would push BYuT into opposition, where it has always felt rather comfortable. Tymoshenko was the only one of four opposition leaders who did not stand in the 2004 elections. If Tymoshenko was in opposition in 2007-2009, during which time Yushchenko supported a grand coalition, the president could lose orange voters.

Third, the Party of Regions could renege on any agreement to stand aside in 2009, and members could submit their own presidential candidate. Alternatively, they might find it difficult to persuade their voters to back Yushchenko, after seven years of hostile propaganda against him.

Yushchenko is convinced that the 2007 elections are the key to his re-election in 2009. But not repeating the same strategic mistakes made against Tymoshenko and Yanukovych in 2005-2006 will also play an important part in deciding Ukraine’s future.

(Zerkalo nedeli, August 11-17; Inter TV, August 6; Ukrayinska pravda, August 2, 13

22.08.07. Pressemeddelelse i anledning af 16-året for Ukraines uafhængighed

Den 24. august 1991 udråbte Ukraines parlament Ukraine som en selvstændig stat. I en folkeafstemning senere samme år bakkede over 90% af Ukraines borgere op om parlamentets beslutning.

De patriotiske bestræbelser på at etablere en selvstændig ukrainsk stat i det 20. århundrede viste sig at være begrænsede i tid. Derfor hænger denne dato for alle ukrainske borgere først og fremmest sammen med en bekræftelse af, at det ukrainske statsbygningsprojekt er livsdueligt. Og netop fordi vores land har haft en så vanskelig historie, har det ikke kunnet undgås, at befæstelsen af uafhængigheden og udbygningen af staten har været en vanskelig proces, hvilket kan ses den dag i dag.

Det principielt vigtige er, at der i vores land er vokset en generation op, for hvem begrebet ”et uafhængigt Ukraine” er helt grundlæggende begreb på linje med begreber som ”menneskerettigheder”, ”ytringsfrihed”, ”valgfrihed”, ”religionsfrihed”, ”bevægelsesfrihed” og ”de nationale interesser”.

Hvert eneste år er denne dag en skæringsdato for vores stat og er et barometer for det vi har opnået og de udfordringer, vi står overfor. 2007 blev ingen undtagelse.

Ukraine har i år opnået gode fremskridt i såvel indenrigspolitikken som udenrigspolitikken.

I den politiske sfære har forfatningsreformen som en helt ny faktor i det moderne Ukraines politiske liv skabt grundlag for tilpasningen af ukrainsk lovgivning til europæiske og internationale demokratiske standarder.

Omfordelingen af beføjelsen mellem den udøvende og den lovgivende magt sker med henblik på at opnå et mere effektivt ledelsessystem, der er i stand til at påtage sig ansvaret for gennemførelsen af politiske, økonomiske og sociale reformer med udgangspunkt i det ukrainske folks viljesytring.

I dag er Ukraine i gang med forberedelsen til det ekstraordinære parlamentsvalg, som skal bekræfte irreversibiliteten i de demokratiske ændringer og Ukraines fremskridt på vej hen imod en styrkelse af samfundet.

I første halvdel af 2007 har de basale økonomiske indikatorer udvist en stabil positiv dynamik: den gennemsnitlige vækst i BNP pr. måned blev med 7,9% en af de højeste i Europa og SNG-landene; industriproduktionen steg med næsten 12%, mens investeringerne steg med 32,2%. I dag har Ukraine den laveste arbejdsløshed nogensinde på 2,6%.

Vores land er i den afsluttende fase i forhold til den indtræden i Verdenshandelsorganisationen, som er en forudsætning for en integration i det internationale økonomiske system.

Ukraine er blevet styrket i den udenrigspolitiske sfære som en ligeværdig aktør på den internationale scene. Landets politik er velovervejet og forudsigelig. Vores relationer til vores partnere bygger på gensidige fordele og et godt naboskab.

Vi befinder os i det afsluttende år for realiseringen af handlingsplanen Ukraine-EU, der er en vigtig indikator for, hvor langt Ukraine er nået i forhold til integrationen i Europa. Det ukrainske styres opgave er at sikre opfyldelsen af de forpligtelser, som Ukraine har påtaget sig i forhold til denne handlingsplan. Desuden er Ukraine og EU i fuld gang med at udarbejde et nyt aftalegrundlag og en etablere en frihandelszone.

Sidst men ikke mindst står Ukraine foran at skulle afholde slutrunden i Europamesterskabet i fodbold i 2012 sammen med Polen.

Ukraines uafhængighedsdag den 24. august blev for 16 år siden et pejlemærke for dusinvis af millioner af ukrainere i alle dele af verden, og en forsikring om, at de kan være trygge på vegne af deres lands fremtid.