The orange crisis is ripe
The orange crisis is ripe

The orange crisis is ripe

20:05, 20 July 2006
6 min. 1339

It is finally clear who holds power and who is in opposition in Ukraine. The anti-crisis coalition formed by the Party of Regions said it is determined to have Viktor Yanukovich back in the prime minister`s seat.

It is finally clear who holds power and who is in opposition in Ukraine. The anti-crisis coalition formed by the Party of Regions said yesterday it is determined to have Viktor Yanukovich back in the prime minister`s seat. The president-loyal Our Ukraine stands on the defensive trying to foil these plans. It threatens with the dissolution of the Supreme Rada and bargains over a compromise candidate. The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc is in opposition and back to the street again.

                             UNDER THE RADA`S WALLS

Ukraine`s Supreme Rada had a session yesterday in the state of besiege with a few thousand activists of conflicting political forces surrounding the building. The Orange were represented with activists of the Pora party, the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc and the pro-presidential Our Ukraine. Members of the Pora were the most inventive. They spread out their mattresses and lay down in front of the entrance to the  arliament at five  o`clock in the morning.

After the party`s avant-garde had their stronghold by the doors, Evgeny Zolotarev, the Pora`s leader, announced the start of the Orange forces` protest rally, called Unfrozen Democracy. The aim of the rally is to prevent the anti-crisis coalition of the Party of Regions, Socialists and Communists from assuming power, he said.

"This coalition of traitors and separatists will curtail democracy in Ukraine and hinder the country`s rapprochement with Europe," Evgeny Zolatarev made a  prediction. "Therefore the Pora will stay not only on Maidan but under the Rada`s walls as well."

Meanwhile, Zolotarev`s associates executed the party`s order and sprawled in front of the Rada`s doors trying not to let in the Party of Region`s deputies who were coming for an important session. The most fearless deputies stepped over the protestors while less conflict-prone ones entered the parliament through the doors that the Party of Region`s squad had win over from the Pora. "Let them step over. They may find it useful stepping over their people and feel their real sentiment," Evgeny Zolatarev commented.

Yulia Timoshenko`s advocates stood on the defensive against the Regions out on the street. They were waiving flags with the Timoshenko Bloc`s logo and held posters reading "Moroz is a traitor!" [Alexander Moroz, the Rada`s speaker.], "Dissolve the Supreme Rada!" "Justice Exists! We must fight for it!"

They blocked traffic in the crossroads of Grushevsky and Shelkovichnaya streets organizing a kind of check-point. They checked passes and didn`t let in anyone apart from journalists and the parliament`s staff. At one point, activists from the Timoshenko Bloc and the Regions` Party started a fight but the police soon stopped it.

                     TRIUMPH OF THE PARTY OF REGIONS

The Rada`s session was held despite all the impediments and street fights. The Party of Regions seemed to have gained control over all strategically important objects. Their activists blocked the tribune, the presidium as well as boxes for the government and courts` representatives. To be on the safe side, the White-and-Blue even occupied boxes for foreign delegations and ambassadors.

Alexander Moroz, the parliament`s speaker, opened the session repeating the announcement of setting up the anti-crisis coalition and disbanding the alliance of the Timoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine and Socialists. Moroz also informed that the new union nominated Viktor Yanukovich as prime minister.

Afterwards, the deputies started distributing the parliament`s committees. Vladimir Rybak, chair of the Party of Regions` executive committee, said that the coalition would control 15 committees. His party will have nine of them, and the other three will go to their allies, Socialists and Communists. The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine are to share the remaining 12 committees. The former will get seven and the latter will get five committees.

The Party of Regions were in a cheerful mood yesterday. "We`ve done a good job. We announced the coalition and nominated Yanukovich as prime minister," Anna German, Yanukovich`s aide shared her enthusiasm with Kommersant. "Now we`ll have to wait till the president submits the candidacy of our leader to the  parliament. Once we have the prime minister, the government won`t be a problem."

The new parliament can be shaped in two days as all seats have been distributed, Ms. German noted. Asked if the anti-crisis coalition has other candidates for the premiership, Anna German proudly replied. "Viktor Fyodorovich`s candidacy is a matter of principle for us. It goes without saying. He is a symbol and it`s no longer his personal decision. His premiership is the people`s will."

The Regions`s upbeat mood was not spoilt even by the news that President Viktor Yushchenko`s staff are mapping out judicial and political plans to dissolve the parliament. Oleg Rybachyuk, head of the staff, announced it yesterday. "I`m not joking when I say that the coalition has an opportunity to find an agreement by July 25 and shape the government that would unite the country. This government has to be headed by a compromise prime minister," Rybachyuk insisted in an interview with the Ukrainian press. The Party of Regions was not afraid of those threats. "All this talk about dissolution of the Rada is merely putting up a bold face. We offered them a coalition but they lost this chance. They could have had their own prime minister, and they`re trying to find the way to lose the least," Anna German told Kommersant.

                               FEARS OF OUR UKRAINE

The presidential staff`s threats about drafting plans to dissolve the Rada mean that the bargain between the two political forces (pro-presidential Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions) is still ongoing. The game is for the premier`s seat. Our Ukraine does not really need to have the post. It`s more important that Viktor Yanukovich will not occupy it. Otherwise, Viktor Yushchenko will be spectacularly defeated after he rose to power overcoming Yanukovich.

"They [Our Ukraine] are telling us now: `We`ll enter a coalition with you if you call off Yanukovich`s nomination.`" Anna German said confirming rumors in the parliament. "You can`t make business in this way! Their time has gone! We are the party-in-power now and all others are opposition."

Apparently, promises to dissolve the Rada are a part of political bargain and Viktor Yushchenko`s strongest trump. Nikolay Poludenny, the president`s aide for legislation, admitted that there are no real grounds for this step.

The Rada can be dissolved if a coalition is not created 30 days after the legislature`s first session, he said. The coalition exists so there is no reason for this move.

A reason for dissolving the parliament and staging early elections will appear in case the anti-crisis coalition fails to shape the government before July 25. The president`s law advisor called this rationale the strongest one but added that this outcome would be highly unfavorable. "Dissolving the Rada means early elections and a new confrontation. No one wants it," Mr. Poludenny told Kommersant. "This step is possible if the parliament shows that it`s incapable to execute its powers, which it has been doing since the first session. The president, however, did not make this decision."

Indeed, early election does not play in favor of Our Ukraine and Viktor Yushchenko, and the opposing party is perfectly aware of this. "There`s no way for the president to dissolve the parliament. He is the last person to benefit from an early election. The latest polls held by our experts show that Our Ukraine can muster the maximum of 7 percent of the vote. In the worst case, we may even fail to enter the Rada," Anna German said.

                       FAILURE OF YULIA TIMOSHENKO

Meanwhile, the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc is trying hard to avoid any compromising contacts with the Party of Regions. Yulia Timoshenko and her supporters demand that the president disband the parliament. "We are pressing for the dissolution of the Rada. This is the president`s prerogative, and he has all the powers needed for it," Vitaly Chepinoga, spokesperson for Yulia Timoshenko, told Kommersant.

This tactics is the only valid option for the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc after the anti-crisis coalition shattered Timoshenko`s hopes to head the government. On top of it, some deputies from the bloc dashed to Viktor Yanukovich`s camp once it became clear that she would not be prime minister.

Three deputies said yesterday they were leaving Timoshenko`s faction, and it seems only the beginning. A great number of businessmen entered the parliament in the Bloc`s list and they are unlikely to prefer to stay in political opposition which will harm main trade. The party, however, tries to tone down the developments.

"This is a real challenge for the deputies. It`s a positive thing that we can get rid of the people who value money more than any aim or idea," Ms. Timoshenko commented on the deputies` escape. "The Party of Regions has acted as a wolf that is purifying the forest. At least, now we can see who has sold themselves and who still remains human."

Yulia Timoshenko and her allies now have to act as the staunchest Orange force. This fact obviously is good for their image of the only true revolutionaries and fighters against corruption. On the other hand, this position does not imply any political responsibility as only the president can dissolve the Rada.

Pressing for an early parliamentary election, the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc, however, has taken an active part in distributing seats in the parliament`s committees. What is more, the Bloc accepted the Party of Regions`s suggestion and agreed to keep the seat of the parliament`s vice-speaker.

The post is reputed to go to Alexander Turchinov, Yulia Timoshenko`s closest associate. "It doesn`t contradict other things. We want the Rada to be dissolved but we are not sure that the president will do it," Vitaly Chepinoga explained. "Committees and the seat of the speaker are very important achievements, and we will need them when we turn to opposition."

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY: Vladimir SolovyevKommersant, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The article was monitored by The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service, Morgan Williams, Editor.

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