Thursday, December 25, 2008

Poll shows Yanukovych and Tymoshenko to face off in Presidential elections due next year

Recent public opinion poll confirms what has been known for some time that both Viktor Yanukovych (20.7%) and Yulia Tymoshenko (17.9%) are front runners and most likely candidates to face off in a final elections for Ukraine's President

Both of the main contenders do not have 50% or more of the vote but they are the two highest polling candidates and as such they will be the only candidates left standing for the second run-off ballot.

All other election hopefuls lag far behind the two poll leaders and would not be in the race.

Incumbent President, Viktor Yushchenko, is polling less then 4% is not expected to be re-elected to office.

Elections for the President are due to be held by the end of next year.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tymoshenko accuses Yushchenko of Presidential coup to prolong his term of office

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's Prime Minister has expressed concern that Ukraine's President, Victor Yushchenko is preparing plans to declare a State of emergency and install Martial law in order to prolong his term of Office. Effectually installing an authoritative dictatorship over Ukraine.

The concerns expressed by Yulia Tymoshenko reflect warnings given by other Ukrainian Politicians. Taras Chornovil earlier this year exposed a plot by the Office of the President along similar lines.

Tymoshenko noted that the Ukrainian Constitution envisages cancellation of all elections if the emergency rule is introduced in the country.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said she wants to stop the process and prevent Viktor Yushchenko from installing a dictatorship in what would be seen as an act of desperation to prolong his term of office as President. Presidential elections are due to he held by the end of December 2009.

Viktor Yushchenko had unsuccessfully tried to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament in October 2008. Last week his own political faction rejected the President's tactics and agreed to the reformation of Ukraine's Governing Coalition forcing the President to abandon fresh parliamentary elections.

This latest round of reprisals, accusations in what has been dubbed the Battle of the Oranges, follows serious allegations against Ukraine's President being involved in a plot to destabilise Ukraine's economy designed to causing a major loss of confidence and devaluation of the Ukrainian currency (Hryvnia)


Only 6% of Ukrainians Trust Yushchenko

A recent opinion poll published in Kyiv Post shows that only 6 percent of those surveyed trusted Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, who had the highest level of distrust (34.1%) of all politicians listed in the survey 

NameTrust Distrust
Viktor Yushenko6.0%34.1%
Yulia Tymoshenko21.2%22.8%
Victor Yanukovych22.2%20.4%
Volodymyr Lytvyn16.1%5.5%
Arseniy Yatsenyuk16.7%5.1%
Viktor Baloha0.2%14.6%
Petro Symonenko11.8%14.2%

31.8 percent does not trust anyone, 6.2% found it difficult to respond, and 11.5 percent does not know who to trust. The poll was held on Dec. 7-20. A total of 2,000 respondents took part in the poll.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ukraine's opposition to force fresh elections in Spring 2009

The leader of the opposition in the Ukrainian parliament, Viktor Yanukovych, has indicated that the opposition will force a fresh election in Spring 2009.

Under the terms of Ukraine's constitution the opposition have the right to force fresh elections of their choosing. In 2007 the opposition lead by Yulia Tymoshenko resigned on mass forcing fresh parliamentary elections to be held.

Viktor Yanukovych has also called for the position of the President to be elected at simultaneous polls.

"If we speak about the elections, both the parliamentary and presidential elections should be held simultaneously," he said in an interview with the Inter TV channel on Sunday night.

Victor Yushchenko, Ukraine's President, has refuted the notion of holding simultaneous elections.

Yushchenko speaking in an interview on Ukrainian Television "Inter TV" said that the presidential campaign begins actually in half a year and presidential and parliamentary elections should not be held simultaneously.

When ask if he would support simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections Ukraine's President commented "Should we be talking of a system of two simultaneous elections today? Would it benefit the country? My personal answer to the question is negative"

Ukraine's Prime Minister,Yulia Tymoshenko, has joined a growing chorus of Ukrainian political leaders calling on Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko to resign.

Presidential elections are scheduled to be held at the end of next year. The President is currently elected in a two round ballot system, Each round is estimated to cost approximately 100 Million US Dollars and a total cost of 200 Million dollars. Similar costs are involved for the conduct of Parliamentary elections.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Ukraine PM calls for President to quit in battle of the Oranges

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's Prime Minister has called on Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, to resign.

The latest salvo comes as Ukraine's President, former head to the National Bank, faces allegations of involvement in a conspiracy to undermine the value of Ukraine's currency.

The prime minister demanded the resignation of Mr Yushchenko, and named Dmytro Firtash, the billionaire and Gazprom partner in the supply of natural gas to Ukraine and Europe, as a co-conspirator in the alleged currency speculation.

“I believe the president of this country, who works according to the [principle] that whatever is worse for the country is better for me, who makes money out of the misery of people, must step down,” Tymoshenko said.

The latest attack escalates sharply a long-running political feud between Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko at a time when the country‘s economy is struggling.

Ukraine's currency is currently trading at a record low of 9 hryvnya to one US dollar placing considerable strain on Ukraine's economy in the wake of the world financial crisis.

Earlier this year the President of Yushchenko accused Ukraine's Prime minister of high treason following her refusal to involve Ukraine in the conflict between Russia and Georgia. The once partners and allies in the Orange revolution of 2004 have been at log a heads trading insults and verbal attacks as Ukraine approaches the new year.

Both candidates are expected to challenge each other at the presidential elections which are due to be held in December 2009.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Ukraine's President backs down on threat of snap election

After months of indecision and political instability Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's embattled president, has back down on the threat of a snap poll. The announcement published in the Ukrainian media (UNIAN) comes after the decision of his party "Our Ukraine - Peoples Self-Defence (NUNS)" decided, against the president's will, to reform a governing coalition with bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and bloc Lytvyn.

The president had called a snap election last October following the announced withdrawal of NUNS from the coalition in September.

The president has been under pressure to cancel the election which up until yesterday he was actively pursuing.

The reformation of a governing coalition and pressure from within the President's faction has forced a change of view.

The announcement of the decision to cancel the election and move against the parliament is welcomed as Ukraine faces a serve financial crisis in the wake of the world economic recession. A fresh election and the political fall out would only exacerbate Ukraine's already unstable situation.

Viktor Yushenko's support ratings in public opinion polls has dropped to below 4% in recent months. Had fresh parliamentary elections been held this month the president's party "Our Ukraine (Nasha Ukraina)" risked falling below the 3% representation threshold


Ukrainian hryvnia gains ground against the USD amidst speculation of insider trading

The Ukrainian currency (the hryvnia/grivna) has increased value against the US dollar. Yesterday the hryvnia dropped to a all time low of 10-10.5. Earlier today it was selling at 8.5-9.0 to the US dollar.

Less then six months ago the Ukrainan hryvnia was trading around 4.85 to the US dollar

After years of robust economic growth, Ukraine has sunk into a deep recession, pressured by a drastic fall in the exports of steel, the core of the economy. A lack of confidence in the banking system, coupled with constant political turmoil under President Viktor Yushchenko has spurred a sharp devaluation in the national currency

The collapse in the value of the local currency has prompted allegations of insider trading and speculative involvement by Ukraine's National Bank and the Office of the president

Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, has indicated that she will call on international organizations to investigate into laundering illegally acquired money if the central bank of Ukraine does not stabilize the hryvnia’s value in the nearest future.

According to the Prime Minister, the hryvnia’s value tumbled due to “special speculative operations planned at the currency market of Ukraine and organized with assistance of the central bank and some other banks of Ukraine”

I can list a number of banks, but I’d like to focus on one of them”, she said

“There is a number of banks that were involved in the same operations. In fact, the bank that was just bought for 600 million dollars, received from the the financial resources at 7 billion 100 million hryvnias”, Yulia Tymoshenko said adding that “the bribes made up from 3% to 7% of the total amount of financing allocated by the central bank to a bank”.

Yulia Tymoshenko pointed out that Firtash [a Ukrainian tycoon] and the Presidential Secretariat are standing behind the Nadra bank today. For them to earn more money, “at present they need to tumble the hryvnia’s value vs dollar. And today a number of special banks, including Nadra bank, are holding nearly a billion dollars waiting for the moment when the hryvnia will fall to the lowest level that could be achieved in this situation. As soon as hryvnia falls to that level, these banks will throw currency at the market, and the hryvnia’s value will strengthen”.

The Prime Minister stated that she has all documents confirming the various financial transactions. She vowed to pass the documents for consideration of parliament and other superiority institutions for review


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Allies desert Yushchenko; new movements emerge

Kyiv: Kyiv Post Editorial by Alina Pastukhova

President lost control of his faction in parliament, a portentous development as more of his allies are fleeing his camp to back Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko lost control of his faction in parliament, a portentous development as more of his allies are fleeing his camp to back Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Also, two upcoming leaders started new political movements in a country that already has 159 officially registered political parties.

Bucking their nominal leader, Yushchenko’s parliamentary faction Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense signed a formal coalition agreement with Tymoshenko’s and Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn’s factions on Dec. 16. After several days of intrigues, 37 out of 72 Our Ukraine members joined the coalition, forming a coalition of 213 deputies – still short of the 226 majority.

The signing of a new coalition deal caused a bitter split in the faction and resignation of its leader, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, and deputy head Roman Zvarych, who remain loyal to the president. “I think that the faction’s decision [to join the coalition] is moronic, and I cannot be a leader of a moronic faction,” said Zvarych.

Mykola Martynenko and Borys Tarasyuk are among the candidates vying to lead the faction, while the split and alienation of Yushchenko from his own party will continue. “The president’s influence on the faction will continue to decrease,” said Taras Stetskiv, an Our Ukraine – People’s Self Defense deputy who also supported the coalition of three. “Yushchenko ignored his chance to allow the whole OU-PSD faction to join the coalition and lost his only chance for becoming its leader.” Stetskiv predicted that eventually up to 60 people will sign the coalition agreement.

While the pro-presidential camp continued to fight, other ex-presidential allies, ex-Rada speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk and ex-Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko announced that each of them is starting their own political movements. Yatsenyuk’s is named Front of Changes while Hrytsenko’s movement is called Civil Position. Both may become political parties.


Yushchenko threatens expulsion of Members of Parliament who supported the reformation and stability of Ukraine's governing coalition

In a surprise attack on Ukraine's democratic process Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's beleaguered President, is seeking revenge on those members of his party that supported the reformation of the so called democratic coalition.

Ukraine needs more then anything political stability to help weather the worst of the current economic crisis. Instead of helping to restore stability,Victor Yushchenko is trying to pull it apart.

Ukraine has suffered political instability since the forced reelection of Ukraine's Parliament in September 2007 elections. Victor Yushchenko and members of his staff pulled out of the governing coalition in September this year with the President seeking to call another round of Ukraine's parliamentary ballot. The destabilisation of Ukraine's political governance has taken its toll on Ukraine's economy with Ukraine suffering from the global financial crisis more then any other country in the region. Ukraine's currency has been devalued and is now trading at around 9 hryvnia to the US Dollar 40% lower then before the latest political crisis.

Yesterday members of Our Ukraine and the People's self Defence fraction(NUNS) voted 37 out of 72 to restore stability and reform the governing coalition to help fight the current economic collapse in doing rejecting the direction and wishes of Ukraine's President.

Victor Yushchenko expressed concern that the lawmakers, who supported the reformation of the governing coalition will be expelled from the party forcing then out of the Parliament.

“Next week we will hold a second stage of the party session, and I’m confident that the session will determine its position concerning the people who supported the coalition contrary to the decision of the party, [will decide] how to expel these people from the list of members of parliament. Any political force would do so”, Victor Yushchenko said. “It’s a good process, a process of purification."

Yesterday 37 out of 72 members of Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense party faction supported formation of the parliamentary coalition with the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko and the Lytvyn’s Bloc.

Oblivious as to the effect Ukraine's political crisis is having on the economy, Victor Yushchenko in commenting on the decision to restore stability to the government said "it (The reformed coalition) is even more shameful”.

Nothing can be further from the truth. If anything the acts of the President in his desperate attempt to destroy the governing coalition that brings not only shame but hardship on the Ukrainian people. Yushchenko has lost all respect and if he continues down this path of destruction he will have to be removed from office. It would be best of all if he just resigned and handed over the reigns to someone who is capable of establishing confidence, law and order. The President's term of office expires next year.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NUNS declare independence from Yushchenko

Reducing President's influence over the government

Our Ukraine - Peoples Self Defence (NUNS) have signed the agreement with Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Bloc Lytvyn to reform a Governing Coalition and in the process has sidelined Victor Yushchenko and his head of staff Viktor Baloha. The decision to reunite the factions was opposed by Ukraine's President who continued to advocate the Parliament's dismissal.

Had fresh parliamentary election been held,based on current public opinion polls the presidents party Our Ukraine would have been decimated and ran the risk of losing representation in the new parliament.

By reforming the coalition NUNS hopes to provide stability and remain in a position of infulgence as opposed to being sidelined on the side benches.

The Party has struck out in opposition and declared independence from its former leader and President of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko. There is wide speculation that NUNS no longer believe that Yushchenko or his secretariat are acting in the countries best interest. Yushchenko had overplayed his hand and his potential to lead the party or be re-elected to a second term of office is non existent. By seeking to distance themselves from the President they hope to regain public confidence and once again position themselves to play a meaningful role in the Ukraine's development.

The signing of the agreement yesterday heralded a significant power shift in the President's faction which included the resignation of Yushchenko's closest parliamentary advisors, Viacheslav Kyrylenko, and his deputy Roman Zvarych.

The new coalition has a new name “National Development, Stability, and Order”.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ukraine's new coalition is official

Our Ukraine - Peoples Self Defence agree to the revised coalition

Kyiv Post have reported that the Our Ukraine and People's Self Defence faction have formally decided to re-form a governing coalition with Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Bloc Lytvyn to the desperate cries of dissatisfaction from supporters of Ukraine's embattled President Victor Yushchenko.

The decision of the President's faction is a clear sign that Yushchenko's policies of division and undermining of Ukraine's Democratic government have taken their toll. Had Ukraine been forced to another round of Parliamentary elections Our Ukraine, who had slumped in public opinion polls to below 4%, ran the risk of losing representation in the new parliament.

The determination of the faction to support a realignment with Ukraine's governing party promoted the resignation of the leader of the Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense Bloc faction, Viacheslav Kyrylenko, and his deputy Roman Zvarych. Both had played a crucial role in undermining the government's success. Roman Zvarych was the man responsible for the failed negotiations that lead to the collapse of the Orange Revolution Alliance and the decision of the Social Party of Ukraine to form a governing coalition with Party of regions and the Communist party of Ukraine back in 2007

The new alliance which includes bloc Lytvyn, whose leader was elected as Speaker and potential successor to Yushchenko, is widely seen as a serious blow and loss of face for Ukraine's President who has lost all respect. Victor Yushchenko has twice sought to dismiss Ukraine's parliamentary government bring the country close to civil unrest and collapse and in the process he has undermined Ukraine's economic and democratic development.

The people of Ukraine have grown weary of the President's power struggle and his term of office. Yushchenko failed to deliver on the Countries expectation since the 2004 Orange revolution that saw him elected to office. The President's dramatic fall from grace has been tormentuous if not spectacular from a high of 52% in 2004 to a dismal 4% in 2008.

It is unclear as to Yushchenko's next move. Technically he can force though fresh elections but to do so would be a oaramount to treason and rejection of the democratic process. Whilst he had the authority to dismiss the parliament it is doubtful that he can do so now.

There are some that claim Yushchenko is on borrowed time. An agreement has been reached to allow the President to see his term of office out but much of that depends on what actions the president takes.

If he continues his attack on Ukraine's democratic coalition then the agreement may come unstuck. There are reports on the media that Yushchenko will use the budget and threat of blocking supply as his next weapon of attack. If he does this will only exacerbate Ukraine's economic crisis and further undermine public confidence in the Office of the President.

Come next summer the President loses the power and authority to dismiss Ukraine's government. Ukraine will move into the process of election of a new president and it is unlikely that Yushchenko, given his poor performance, will be supported for re-election. Without the support of Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko or Party of Regions Yushchenko's termof President has come to an end.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Coalition revival - back to square one and another round of the carrousel

After months of political instability and division the on again off again coalition is back on. Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko has reunited with Our Ukraine People's Self Defence and Bloc Lytvyn. KyivPost

In what can only be seen as a back down by Ukraine's beleaguered President, Victor Yushchenko and his fledgling party Our Ukraine. Back in September 2008 The President's faction withdraw from the governing coalition which sparked another round of cat and tail constitutional political crisis. Yushchenko tried to dismiss the parliament but was unable to get his way. Fresh elections were seen as a disaster for Our Ukraine who were languishing in the polls and if forced to face a new election ran the serious risk of being ousted from office. The President made a serious blunder and no one within his party and beyond supported his actions. Not the least members of Ukraine's Parliament who continued to support confidence in the Tymoshenko govenment.

To add to Yushchenko's troubles Ukraine faced a serious loss of confidence and an emerging economic crisis sparked by the US-world financial slowdown. Ukraine was hardest hit by the double whammy of political instability and slow done in the world economy. None of which served Ukraine well. Yushchenko, whose public support dropped to as low as 3.6%m was no longer in control.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has managed to buy time by refusing to support the President's ill fated call for fresh parliamentary elections. Having failed to previously patch up relations with Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine Party, Yulia started negotiations with Party of Regions over the possibility of forming a broad coalition with a 2/3rds constitutional majority. With it came the real possibility of constitutional change and the ousting of Ukraine's President.

The bids were on the table and Yushchenko was left holding a losing hand. Fresh elections were not going to solve Ukraine's problems and ran the risk of undermining his position even further. If fresh elections were held Party of Regions would merge victoriously regaining control over the government.

Yushchenko had to do something to find a way out of the mess he had created, he was outwitted and outmaneuvered. Pressure was brought to bear form all concerned, not the least Poland and the United States, that the coalition had to be reformed at all costs.

As recent as this week Victor Yushchenko was demanding that his nominee, Ivan Plyushch be elected Speaker of the Parliament. Plyushch was the main cause of division and the collapse of the governing coalition. He refused to support the nomination and election of Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minster preferring to sit on the side benched in isolation. With a majority of one this caused great angst in the government circles as it fueled division and instability. Further the election of Ivan Plyushch as speaker would have caused significant problems in expanding the governing coalition and increasing its parliamentary majority. Neither Bloc Yulia Timochenko, People's Self Defence and Bloc Lytvyn wanted Plyushch as speaker.

There were only two real options. Our Ukraine supports the reformation of a new coalition with Bloc Lytvyn or Yulia negotiates a super coalition with Party of Regions.

Today the decision was made to reform the governing coalition, to wind back the clock and for the President to eat humble pie.

How long and how stable the new coalition will be is any one's guess. Judging by past experiences we can expect little change in the outcome for the long term.

The appointment of Lytvyn as speaker has also raised the question as to why Yushchenko and his party did not support the formation of a Orange coalition back in 2006 when it had the chance to do so. In 2006 Yushchenko's party Our Ukraine divided the Orange forces and refused to allow the then Orange coalition partner Olexandr Moroz,Socialist party of Ukraine, to assume the position of speaker of the parliament. A decision along with bitter division and political rivalry that was the last straw that caused the collapse of the Orange coalition. Had Yushchenko and his party agreed to share power back in 2006 Ukraine would not have undergone the extent of political instability it has had over the last two years.

Lytvyn's appointment did not come easy and required the support of the Communist Party of Ukraine and three breakaway rebels from Party of Regions (Taras Chornovil, Vassyl Hrytsak, and Yukhym Zvyahilskiy). Not all of Our Ukraine People's Self Defence voted to support Lytvn's election causing doubt as to the extent of stability the reformed coalition will be able to deliver.

Presidential blues

In the short term Ukraine can breath a sigh of relief but the long term forecast is not so bright.

Come July next year Yushchenko loses the ability to hold the Parliament to ransom and the power to dismiss the Parliament. Ukraine will move into Presidential election mode in all seriousness. If fresh elections are to be held then they will have to entail election of the President. Yulia Tymoshenko is on record saying that she is prepared to support a single nominee from the "democratic" coalition but she fell short of indicating support for Viktor Yushchenko. It is difficult to see her supporting him for a second term let alone being able to secure his election.

The question is who can take on then role of president and win the next election?

Given Yushchenko's standing in the polls and his lack of performance and trust Yushchenko is not in a position to win a second term of office even with Yulia's support, should she decide to offer him another chance. Yushchenko's term of office has come to an end.

Constitutional reform faces the abyss

The other main issue is constitutional reform and the completion of Ukraine's transition to a parliamentary democracy.

Ukraine has been struggling to make the transition form Presidential rule and to adopt a European Parliamentary democracy since it declared itself an independent state in 1991. Other former Soviet states states such as Poland and Romania and the Baltic states all adopted a parliamentary system and all are now members of the EU.

The reformation of a coalition with the Presidential forces has brought into question the ability of the government to enacted necessary changes. Yushchenko and his party will not support a parliamentary system of governance. Yulia for the sake of the coalition stability will have to forsake this much needed reform.

By breaking free from the chains of the President's Party Yulia was in a position to see Ukraine adopt a European model of governance putting an end to the policies of division and instability of Presidential rule by decree.