Thursday, August 27, 2009

The sound of one hand clapping

Yushchenko's solo debate

Viktor Yushchenko in a desperate attempt to be seen relevant has called for a public debate on his proposed constitutional reforms in the lead-up to the January 17 Presidential election.

Yushchenko spouses the words "Democracy", "European Integration" and "strong leadership". Yet close analysis of Yushchenko's proposed constitutional changes reveal a hidden agenda, proposals that are far from being "democratic" or helping bring Ukraine closer to Europe. It's a recipe for disaster.

If adopted, Yushchenko's proposals,would see Ukraine revert back to a Presidential "rule by decree" autocracy and reject European values and European models of Parliamentary democracy. It would seriously divide Ukraine and entrench absolute power in Ukraine's head of state.

This issue should have been debated two years ago not on the eve of the next Presidential election.

Yushchenko has gone about it all wrong. The first step and question that needs to be addressed is "Should Ukraine take a backward step and reinstate absolute Presidential authority or does it adopt a European model of Parliamentary democracy?" 25 out of 27 EU states are governed by a Parliamentary system. Only France (Semi) and Cyprus are Presidential systems.

Yushchenko's hidden agenda is not about seeking democratic reform but more about trying to gain some attraction and relevance in the lead up to the January 17 presidential poll. His current support rating is below 4% and he needs an issue that can help give him some focus, even if what he is trying to sell is tainted by deceit and wrapped up in words talking about democracy, stability and strong leadership.

Already Yushchenko's national debate is doomed to fail. Ukraine's major parties Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Party of Regions are showing no sign of wanting to participate in Yushchenko's election agenda this side of the presidential ballot.

Whats more the changes to Ukraine's Constitution, as proposed by Yushchenko, would be required to be passed at a national referendum and the process of holding a referendum will not take place before January 2010.

Change can not be forced on the public who will naturally distrust the reject any proposal . Unless there is wide cross factional support any proposed referendum seeking change is doomed to fail - as Europe recently learned in its proposed adoption of a constitution.

Adding to Yushchenko worries is that his proposal would not resolve the ongoing political crisis facing Ukraine and will only make matters worst as the model proposed has a number of serious flaws in its design and on closer analysts is far from being considered democratic.

There are no proper checks and balances in Yushchenko's proposal. The President will have absolute authority and control and absolute immunity. Impeachment of the president being the sole means of accountability will be virtually impossible and can be only initiated by the proposed senate. He can dismiss the parliament if its not to his liking at any time without restriction or reason.

The system proposed by Yushchenko seeks to establish a US style Presidential system and not a European democratic parliamentary model.

Yushchenko wants to create a two-house Senatorial system based on Ukraine's 25 oblasts and two main city regions (Kyiv and Sevastopol). Each regional oblast/electorate would elect three Senators which would be won by which every party receives the highest number of votes (Which can be as low as 34%). After the first election one third of the Senate would face re-election every two years.

Yuschenko's proposal is undemocratic in that each oblast and region does not have equal number of constituents. Smaller Western Ukrainian oblasts with less then 350,000 voters elect the same number of Senators as regions that have 2.5 million voters. Western Ukraine will have considerable more power and representation then in Ukraine's more populous Eastern regions.


Table showing projected Senate seat allocations based on 2007 Parliamentary election results. This table shows the extent of distortion in the out come of Yushenko's proposed Senate System.


Party votes 2007 % seats %
BYuT 5740511 24.62% 48 59.26%
PoR 6318266 27.10% 30 37.04%
OU-PSD 152886 0.66% 3 3.70%
Sum 23315257 52.38% 81 100.00%
* 2007 Parliamentary Vote

Region Vote-2007 % Party
Chernihiv Oblast 242869 1.99% BYuT
Chernivtsi Oblast 189132 1.55% BYuT
Cherkasy Oblast 309421 2.53% BYuT
Crimea 536569 4.39% PoR
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast 789955 6.46% PoR
Donetsk Oblast 1720073 14.08% PoR
Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast 397326 3.25% BYuT
Kharkiv Oblast 659324 5.40% PoR
Kherson Oblast 213996 1.75% PoR
Khmelnytsky Oblast 345818 2.83% BYuT
Kirovohrad Oblast 178507 1.46% BYuT
Kyiv Oblast 485666 3.97% BYuT
Luhansk Oblast 932833 7.63% PoR
Lviv Oblast 752127 6.15% BYuT
Mykolaiv Oblast 304075 2.49% PoR
m.Kyiv 629904 5.15% BYuT
m.Sevastopol 118917 0.97% PoR
Odesa Oblast 526179 4.31% PoR
Poltava Oblast 292145 2.39% BYuT
Rivne Oblast 302552 2.48% BYuT
Sumy Oblast 271361 2.22% BYuT
Ternopil Oblast 342930 2.81% BYuT
Vinnytsia Oblast 433455 3.55% BYuT
Volyn Oblast 325709 2.67% BYuT
Zakarpattia Oblast 152886 1.25% OU-PSD
Zaporizhia Oblast 516345 4.23% PoR
Zhytomyr Oblast 241589 1.98% BYuT
Foreign Embassies 8566 0.07%
sum 12220229 52.41%

Total Vote 23315257 100.00%

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Poll: President's Party Biggest Losers

The Research and Branding opinion poll indicates that had fresh parliamentary elections been held last week Viktor Yushchenko's party "Our Ukraine-Peoples Self-Defense bloc" would receive less then 3% support and lose representation with the overall reduction in the number of seats flowing on to Arseniy Yatseniuk's "Front for Change" party and an increase in the number of seats allocated to Party of Regions and Bloc Lytvyn with a further loss of seats allocated to Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and one seat reduction to the Communist Party of Ukraine. The poll reflects much the same overall voting pattern as the presidential poll.

Joint parliamentary and presidential elections are unlikely to occur. As of July 23 Yushchenko has lost authority to dismiss Ukraine's parliament and looks set to lose all power at the next election.

Candidate Party Parliament Election 2006 Parliament Election 2007 Research & Branding Group
Date from
26-Mar-06 30-Sep-07 04-Aug-09
Date To


14-Aug-09
Link
% Seats % Seats % Seats *
Party of regions PoR 32.1 186 34.4 175 29.3 209
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko BYuT 22.3 129 30.7 156 15.5 111
Bloc Arseniy Yatsenyuk Y-Front



10.6 76
Bloc Lytvyn BL 2.4
4.0 20 3.9 28
Communist Party of Ukraine CPU 3.7 21 5.4 27 3.7 26
Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defence OU-PSD 14.0 81 14.2 72

Socialist Party of Ukraine SPU 5.7 33 2.9


Others <3%
19.8
5.7
6.9
Against all


2.7
10.8
Not going to vote




9.8
Not sure




9.5
sum
100.0 450 100.0 450 100.0 450

* notional seat allocation

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Yushchenko slumps to 2%

Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko has slumped to a low 2.0% according to the Research and Branding Group's most recent opinion poll.

The poll taken between August 4 and August 14 spanning the period where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivered a scathing criticism of Ukraine's embattled president showed a further marginal decline in Yushchenko's support and influence (Not that it can get much lower then 2%).

Research and Branding Group's polls show a high voter participation rate. The percentage of those polled that say they will either vote against all or not at all during the second round of voting is very high and raises a troublesome question, "What happens if the winning second round candidate does not receive an absolute majority of votes (50% or more)?"

At a cost of over 1.5 billion hrivina Ukraine may very well wish it had adopted a parliamentary collegiate system of electing its head of state.

Candidate Party 2004 Presidential election Research & Branding Group Research & Branding Group Research & Branding Group
Date from 31-Oct-04 01-Apr-09 12-Jun-09 04-Aug-09
Date To 26-Dec-04 09-Apr-09 22-Jun-09 14-Aug-09
Link [0] *** [1] ** [2] ** [3] **
Viktor Yanukovych PoR 39.3 44.2 27.9 38.4 26.8 38.8 26.0 39.6
Yulia Tymoshenko BYuT

15.6 29.3 15.8 28.8 16.5 28.0
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Y-Front

13.4
12.3
12.6
Petro Symonenko CPU 5.0
3.8
3.5
4.5
Viktor Yushchenko OU 39.9 52.0 1.9
2.1
2.0
Volodymyr Lytvyn BL

5.5
3.9
4.2
Inna Bohoslovska




3.0


Leonid Kuchma


2.0




Oleksandr Moroz SPU 5.8






Others <2%
8.0
4.9
6.2
7.3
Against all
2.0 3.8 9.0 19.0 8.0 16.6 9.9 19.0
Not going to vote


8.6 8.3 8.9 9.0 6.6 6.8
Not sure


7.4 5.0 9.5 6.8 10.4 6.6
sum 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
** Notional second round
*** Final results

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Parliament vetoes President

Yushchenko set to lose his deposit

Ukraine's parliament has overruled President Viktor Yushchenko's veto on the Law of the presidential election. The legislation was supported by 325 out of 371 MPs registered in the session. Under Ukraine's Constitution the parliament can override the President's right of veto with the support of 2/3rd majority of the 450 member Parliament.

Yushchenko has indicated that he would appeal to Ukraine's Constitutional Court but failed to outline on what grounds the appeal would be based. (His past success rate in appeals to the courts has not been high)

Earlier Yushchenko had objected to the proposed reduction in the official campaign period from 120 days to 90 days, even though Ukraine's Constitution provides for a 90 day election period for early Presidential elections.

The other point of contention is the deposit that is required to be paid by would be Presidential candidates. Under the new law the deposit is only refunded to those candidates that progress to the second round of voting. Ukraine has a two round presidential election system, if no candidate has an absolute majority of votes then the two highest polling candidates face off in a second ballot. (A total waste of time, money and resources given that if Ukraine adopted a preferential voting system they would achive the same result by holding one round of voting)

Current opinion polls show a second round ballot between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko is most likely with Viktor Yuschenko polling less then 4% support. Yushchenko is set not only to lose the first round but also his deposit (500,000 UAH)

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Opinion of the Venice Commission was expounded specially for Yushchenko… so that not to lay a bad trip on him

“The main goal of the new Constitution of Yushchenko is to implement an oligarchic mode in Ukraine”,- stated MP from BYuT faction VALERIY PYSARENKO making a comment on the draft law amending the Constitution presented by Viktor Yushchenko for the estimation Venice commission of Council of Euorope.
According to MP, Yushchenko’s team is telling a kind and beautiful fairytale for the whole country that the Commission has positively estimated the President’s draft law. In truth the commission is severe on the main proposals of the Constitution of Yushchenko which are related to the state system of Ukraine and people will expression.
“The President’s team cancels all democratic grounds which were defended and protected by Viktor Yushchenko in 2004. A retinue doesn’t want to disappoint their king so the opinion of  the Venice Commission was specially expounded in Ukraine for the President”, - noted MP.

“According to the draft law amending the Constitution of Ukraine presented by the President all state authorities will be separated between him and the parliament pretended a senate, which practically will be a knot of oligarchs. The composition of the parliament will decrease up to 83 members who will definitely find an opportunity to separate the country. And namely between these people and ex-presidents as well all state powers will be separated. And Viktor Yushchenko will get both a life-time Senate parliamentary and inviolability”, - stated parliamentarian.

In PYSARENKO’S opinion a draft law "On Making Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine", made by President Viktor Yushchenko has no chances to be approved in the parliament, that’s why there is a risk of constitutional revolution.
“Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko doesn’t support a draft law on the new Constitution. I think that Yushchenko’s dreams about an unlimited power will remain as his pink dreams forever”, - summed up PYSARENKO.pinion on the draft law of Ukraine amending the Constitution presented by the President of Ukraine

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yuschenko not on the rise

The latest poll to be published shows a detailed breakdown of the various contenders support for Ukraine's Presidential elections which are less then five months away. This poll also shows a likely 2nd round two candidate race outcome with Yanukovych (Party of Regions) winning with 52.2% of the registered vote.

The results of the poll are consistent with other polls published of late. Most polls show incumbent President, Viktor Yushchenko, in an unwinnable position with less then 4% support.

What's interesting in this poll is the number of voters who indicated they would vote in the second round is close to the required 50% turn out threshold. If the number of voters falls below 50% then Yushchenko may retain office even though his support rating is one of the lowest for a head of state in the world.

Source: UkrNews - Socis center for social and political studies

Publication Date 17 August 2009
Poll Date July 24 to August 4, 2009

2,000 respondents in all regions of Ukraine.

Margin for error rate 2.8%


Candidate Party
2nd round
1st round
Viktor Yanukovych PoR 26.10% 25.00%
Yulia Tymoshenko BYuT 24.40% 20.50%
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Y-Front
14.50%
Viktor Yushchenko OU
3.80%
Petro Symonenko CPU
3.70%
Volodymyr Lytvyn BLP
5.90%
Vitalii Klychko EPON
2.60%
Oleh Tiakhnybok Svoboda
1.50%
Serhii Tihipko

1.40%
Inna Bohoslovska

1.30%




Unknown
49.50% 19.20%




sum
100% 100%

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Passing of time

Another opportunity lost

Ukraine's embattled president, Viktor Yushchenko, has less then five months remaining of his five-year term of office.

With the passing of August is also the passing of last opportunity in which any proposed amendments to Ukraine's constitution can be initiated before the Presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010.

Under the terms of Ukraine's Constitution any amendments must be proposed before and later confirmed by the Parliament during the following Parliamentary session. The next regular session of the Parliament commences on September 1

If Ukraine was to adopt changes to its Constitution before the Presidential election it would have to do so next week.

Yulia Tymoshenko's government surprisingly has proposed holding an extra-ordinary Parliamentary session on August 21, ten days before the next regular September session is due to start.

There are at present two items on the agenda both seeking to overturn the President's obstructionist right of veto.

One is the proposed changes to Ukraine's budget and the need for appropriate funding of preparations for hosting the Euro 2012 Football Championship.

The second more controversial issue is proposed changes to the laws on presidential election. Changes that Yushchenko has falsely claimed are detrimental to democracy in Ukraine.

Next week will be the last chance to make a real difference and change the way Ukraine elects its head of state.

The proposed changes would reduce the time set for the presidential election campaign from four months down to three. There is nothing extraordinary or wrong in this proposal. The time required for the official Presidential campaign can be as little as two months, as is the case of any early presidential or parliamentary election. Three months provides sufficient time for nominations and the preparation of the ballot. Narrowing the time of the official campaign period should also reduce some of the indirect costs involved in the campaign. It will not effect the overall Presidential campaign which has already started.

The law also requires candidates to pay a higher deposit in order to nominate for election. The aim is to reduce the number of minor candidates that do not have any real prospect of being elected nominating and negatively effecting the outcome of the election. The real sting in the tail is that only those candidates that progress into the second round of voting will get their 500,000 UAH deposit back.

Any minor candidate such as Yushchenko (Our Ukraine) or Yatseniuk (Y-Front for change) who fails to secure second place will be gambling on the outcome and will risk losing their deposit. They will have to decide if it worth the risk.

Under Ukraine's two round presidential voting system, if no single candidate has 50% or more votes then the two highest polling candidates face off in a run-off ballot the following month.

A vote for a minor candidate is a vote wasted

The problem with Ukraine's first past-the-post Presidential electoral system is that minor candidates play a negative role in the outcome of the election. They take votes away from the main candidates in the process deny any other candidate the benefit of their support. This is particularly the case with Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko, who has less then 4% in the polls, is considered to have no hope of surviving the first round of voting and will not be reelected to a second term of office.

According to the polls Arseny Yatseniuk (13%) is five percentage points below Yulia Tymoshenko (18%) who is currently in second place to face off in a second final ballot against Party of Regions candidate, Viktor Yanukovych (23%).

Both Yushchenko and Yasteniuk are members of "Our Ukraine" and as such are competing for the same votes. United they could out-poll Yulia Tysmochenko but divided and competing against each other they risk losing their deposit.

The pressure is on for one or the other to pull out of the race. A reduced official campaign period and the possible loss of their deposit just adds to the pressure Yushchenko is under.

Yushchenko will try and portray that the proposed amendments to the law of the presidential election are undemocratic and designed to limit participation and choice.

The proposed law is not the problem (although maybe the deposit should be refunded to those that can secure 10% or 12.5% of the overall vote). The real problem is the two-round first-past-the-post voting system. At a cost of over US $100 Million per round the two round voting system denies minor candidates the opportunity to make a positive contribution in the outcome of the election.

A better alternative would be for Ukraine to adopt a single round preferential voting system where voters rank in order of preference candidates of their choice.

If no candidate has 50% or more votes then the candidate(s) with the least votes are excluded from the count and their votes redistributed according to the voters' preference. Results known within days not months after the first ballot. One round of voting at half the cost as the two round system.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yushchenko is more unpopular in Ukraine than in Russia

12 August, 2009, 13:25
Source: Russia Today

Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to refrain from sending the Russian ambassador to Kiev has been interpreted by the media and analysts as Moscow’s rupture with the Ukrainian president.

Medvedev cited as the main reason behind his decision as “the openly anti-Russian stand” of the leadership in Kiev. In addition to this, new Russian ambassador Mihail Zurabov had been waiting for Ukrainian approval for some weeks.

Yushchenko recently signed an agreement for Zurabov to visit Kiev, but the new Russian ambassador still had to deliver his credentials before taking the position. Kommersant daily even wrote about a joke among Ukrainian diplomats who said that Zurabov “would be passed on to the next president.”

Now it seems that the joke has come true, and Moscow will try to mend ties with Kiev only after Ukrainians elect a new leader. “Dmitry Medvedev, in a videoblog, has reset the relations with Viktor Yushchenko,” Vremya Novostey daily wrote.

“The Russian leadership has made a principal decision to strain relations with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who is preparing to run for a second term in the presidential election in January,” the paper said.

“The Kremlin has never expressed its complaints against Yushchenko in so concentrated and tough a manner,” the daily said. “This approach is in the interests of any other presidential hopeful in Ukraine.”

Medvedev no longer considers Yushchenko the president and Moscow calls the Ukrainian policies “openly anti-Russian,” Kommersant daily wrote. “The Georgian scheme” is being used – “no relations with Mr. Yushchenko until the power changes in Kiev,” the paper said.

“Thus, Moscow has not only entered the presidential campaign in Ukraine, as in 2004, but has indicated clearly who should lose in this competition,” Kommersant wrote. However, the paper believes one of the reasons behind Medvedev’s decision could be the “latest actions of the Ukrainian president in the gas sphere, which is extremely sensitive for Moscow.”

Another daily, Vedomosti, believes that “a new gas war” is too minor a reason for such extensive statements. The paper called the argument between Russia and Ukraine “a quarrel of Siamese twins.”

“Russia depends on Ukraine not less than Ukraine on Russia,” the paper said in an editorial.

“What rational result Moscow would like to achieve by its maneuver?” Vedomosti asks. If Russia has entered the Ukrainian presidential election, as in 2004, then “this support will not add votes to traditionally pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich,” the daily said.

At the same time “Yushchenko’s extraordinarily low rating” may go up, the paper stressed. However, Russia may “be playing some smart game in favor of [Ukrainian Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko, Vedomosti assumed.

“Russia with Ukraine and Russia without Ukraine are two different forces,” the paper stressed. “Quarreling with Ukraine, Russia is losing weight, not gaining it,” the daily added. “Attempts to exert pressure (it does not matter whether in the gas sphere or psychological one) force Ukrainian politicians to insist more on confrontation with Russia.”

At the same time, Business-FM radio quoted the president of the “Polity” Foundation, Vyacheslav Nikonov, as saying that Medvedev “is making a proposal of peace to Viktor Yushchenko.”

Peter Rutland, Professor of Government at Wesleyan University, believes there is a nexus of reasons behind Russia’s step. “President Medvedev’s announcement about delaying the dispatch of the new Russian ambassador to Kiev signals his frustration with recent actions by the Ukrainian government – the two-month delay in the approval of the new Russian ambassador, the expulsion of a Russian diplomat, and bans on some movement of Russian naval equipment in Sevastopol,” Rutland told RT.

“Then there is the July 31 loan agreement brokered by the European Commission, which Medvedev said was ‘absolutely incompatible’ with Russia’s prior arrangements with Naftohaz,” Rutland added.

The Kremlin’s decision “also comes against a broader backdrop of a deliberate use of nationalist rhetoric by President Yushchenko during what will almost certainly be the final six months of his presidency,” Rutland said.

The explanations of the Russian side are clear, Rutland said. “What is not so clear is what Medvedev hopes to gain by the announcement,” he added. “To some extent it will just provide more ammunition for Western critics, who argue that Russia is out to undermine Ukraine's viability.”

“Yushchenko is politically dead, many leading positions in the Ukrainian government are empty (foreign affairs, defense, finance),” Rutland stressed. “In this context surely it would be more rational for Russia to adopt a hands-off approach. Diplomacy of empty gestures, such as refusing to send an ambassador, will achieve nothing.”

Perhaps the gesture was meant “to bolster Medvedev’s image as an assertive president before the domestic Russian audience,” Rutland said. He added, however, that it was “not a very good basis on which to conduct a nation’s foreign policy.”

Moscow’s decision seems “linked to two things: the departure of the controversial figure of [former ambassador Viktor] Chernomyrdin from Kiev and the Ukrainian presidential election campaign that is just beginning,” David Marples, a distinguished university professor at University of Alberta, said.

However, this does not seem to affect the presidential campaign much, “because Yushchenko is more unpopular in Ukraine than he is in Russia,” Marples told RT.

“It is a counter-productive move though because it only draws attention to the Ukrainian president and his position on Georgia, NATO, etc.,” Marples stressed. “And it gives the impression of Russian interference in the campaign, similar to that of then-President Vladimir Putin in 2004.

As for the efforts of both leaderships “to use history as a political tool,” Marples called them “reprehensible.”

The Ukrainian leader now has several options, analysts say. He could even “withdraw his ambassador from Moscow for a while,” Marples said.

Yushchenko also has an opportunity “to make independence and freedom from Russian intervention (especially in Crimea) as part of his election platform,” Marples added. “It was already a key element of his rhetoric, but now it appears to have more substance, which is why Medvedev's move is, in my view, a political error.”

Some 44% of Russians polled by the Levada Center at the end of July said their attitude to Ukraine is “good or very good.” In July 2001, 71% of those surveyed thought the same. Now 47% of respondents said their opinions of Ukraine are “mainly bad or very bad.”

Meanwhile, readers of the Russian president’s blog in the internet are discussing Medvedev’s statement about the relations with Ukraine. Komsomolskaya Pravda daily wrote that “most people ask the president not to go too far because the Ukrainian government is not the entire Ukrainian people.”

Sergey Borisov, RT

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Russia Ukraine relations turmoil directed at Yushchenko

Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev:

See also "Medvedev fires warning shot across Kiev’s bow, but will Yushchenko pay heed?"
- Russia today report

Relations between Russia and Ukraine: a New Era Must Begin




August 11, 2009

Relations between Russia and Ukraine: a New Era Must Begin

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: A few days ago, I sent a letter to the President of Ukraine. It was not an ordinary document, I should say, as it contains a number of complex and unflattering characteristics of the actions by the top political leadership of Ukraine. In my today’s address I would like to explain the reasons behind my step.

There has been public concern in both Ukraine and Russia of late over the state of our bilateral relations. Ukrainian politicians themselves have admitted that relations are at an extremely low point today, and it is hard not to agree. The strain in relations between our countries has indeed hit unprecedented levels.

I have on many occasions stated that Russia seeks to be a predictable, strong and comfortable partner for its neighbours, all the more so for a country with which we share common historical and cultural roots. We are more than just neighbours; our ties are those of brothers.

Nikolai Gogol, the great writer and son of both Ukrainian and Russian peoples, said, “There are no bonds more sacred than the bonds of brotherhood”. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Gogol’s birth, we remember these words once again. These celebrations are yet another vivid illustration of our peoples’ spiritual closeness.

Set against this background, the difficult – to say the least - relations our countries have been experiencing make an even stronger contrast. Let’s take a look at what is actually happening.

The leadership in Kiev took an openly anti-Russian stand following the military attack launched by the Saakashvili regime against South Ossetia. Ukrainian weapons were used to kill civilians and Russian peacekeepers. Russia continues to experience problems caused by a policy aimed at obstructing the operations of its Black Sea Fleet, and this on a daily basis and in violation of the basic agreements between our countries. Sadly, the campaign continues to oust the Russian language from the Ukrainian media, the education, culture and science. The Ukrainian leadership’s outwardly smooth-flowing rhetoric fits ill with the overt distortion of complex and difficult episodes in our common history, the tragic events of the great famine in the Soviet Union, and an interpretation of the Great Patriotic War as some kind of confrontation between two totalitarian systems.

Our economic relations are in a somewhat better situation and are developing, but we have not yet succeeded in tapping their full potential. Again, the problem is that Russian companies frequently face open resistance from the Ukrainian authorities. Bypassing Russia, Ukraine’s political leaders do deals with the European Union on supplying gas – gas from Russia – and sign a document that completely contradicts the Russian-Ukrainian agreements reached in January this year.

But no matter what the complexes or illusions motivate the actions of individual Ukrainian officials, we will always value our fraternal ties with the Ukrainian people and will strive to strengthen our humanitarian cooperation. It is with this aim in mind that we plan to open branches of the Russian Science and Culture Centre in several Ukrainian cities and will do all we can to support Ukrainians living in our country in their efforts to develop their national culture.

Patriarch Kirill’s recent pastoral visit to Ukraine was also an event of great significance. I had a meeting with the Patriarch following the visit, and he shared his impressions and said many cordial words. We both are of one and the same opinion that the two fraternal peoples may not be separated as they share common historical and spiritual heritage.

I am confident that our relations with Ukraine’s people will overcome any problems. They cannot be destroyed by politicians’ selfish interests, fickle changes in the global situation, or individual leaders’ mistakes, and all the more so, cannot be undone by empty words and pseudo-historic research.

I am certain that a new era will begin. Nevertheless, in the current situation, I have made a decision to refrain from sending the Russian ambassador to Ukraine. The new ambassador will commence his duties at a later stage, and naming the exact date for it will depend on the positive dynamics in bilateral relations.

There can be no doubt that the multifaceted ties between Russia and Ukraine will resume on a fundamentally different level – that of strategic partnership – and this moment will not be long in coming. I hope that the new leadership of Ukraine will be ready for the break through. We will in turn make our best for it to happen.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ukraine in Crisis

A US point of view

Ukraine in Crisis a US perspective

Ukraine is of strategic importance for the United States (Exactly in what way it is not stated. The US does not rely on Ukraine for any trade, resources or energy nor does it share any borders)

First Speaker David Kramer - Topic: Internal politics and economic situation in Ukraine

Allegations of Ukraine being a failed state in perpetual crisis, a country that is in dire situation.

Closer analysis reveals that while Ukraine is going though great difficulty it is not a failed a state or a state that is at risk of losing its independence or sovereignty but the economic situation is a serious threat to Ukraine. Ukraine's leaders need to focus on this and if need be put their political differences aside.

GDP has declined since last fall (Autumn) 14% to 15%. First quarter this year GDP declined 20.3% with estimates of the first half of the year averaging out at 18% In contrast this follows on from an average growth over the past seven years of nearly 7% per year.

The local currency plunged 40% this year and has stabilized as a result of the IMF assistance stimulus package of 10 billion US dollars since the start of the world economic crisis.


Ukraine has experienced a significant impact on the economic crisis due to it reliance on the price of heavy metals and chemicals which have fallen as a result of the world economic crisis.

Budget deficit has risen to 6.5% of GDP. Prime-minister Yulia Tymoshenko has promised to reduce spending and reign in the budget deficit. The IMF has demanded a reduction in the subsidy and an increase in energy prices. Ukraine needs to focus on Energy efficiency and develop its own resources.

President Yushchenko, who is on 2.3% in the polls, chances for re-election are not that significant

There are many in Ukraine who want better relations with Russia and with the west. They should be able to do both.

Ukraine remains a fragile democracy.

The last question proposed a follow up question, "What is the biggest threat to Ukrainian security to day?" All participants appeared to agree on the answer, "Ukrainians". Ukraine's inability to formalize a compromise position and pursue that in a focused way.

Warning: The attached video requires a high speed internet connection. (Min 256kb)

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