“The gas crisis has positively influenced Ukraine's politics”
Today only the Presidential Secretariat officials criticize President’s opponents. While Yushchenko and Tymoshenko agree with each other over...
On the whole, the gas crisis had a good influence on Ukraine’s politics. The ruling class has become more consolidated, the positions of President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko have become closer. But the opposition Party of Regions’ reputation can be tainted and the Party can lose the confidence of its voters in the eastern Ukrainian regions.
Against a background of the gas dispute with Russia in 2006 and the clashes between Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko in 2008, one could expect that the relations between the top politicians will be still worse now. But, luckily for Ukraine, the ruling class’ position has become more consolidated.
Today only the Presidential Secretariat officials criticize President’s opponents. While Yushchenko and Tymoshenko agree with each other over the issues, which are strategic for Ukraine. The negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian Prime Ministers (Vladimir Putin and Yuliya Tymoshenko) as well as the negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian Presidents (Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yushchenko) will show how long this accord will last.
As regards the Party of Regions, its position is at odds with the interests of voters from the eastern Ukraine. Russia comes out for the gas supply route because of which the eastern Ukraine can be deprived of gas. The Ukrainian authorities are against that route.
If the Party of Regions actively backs the previous agreements with Gazprom and takes the pro-Russian line, the President or the Premier, or even the both will be the winners.
In the long term, if Ukraine withdraws from the conflict with minimum losses (if Russia’s foreign-policy goals are not achieved), the positions of the “orange” presidential candidates, above all of Yuliya Tymoshenko, will be strengthened against those of Viktor Yanukovych.
President Viktor Yushchenko will strengthen his positions too. But I doubt that this will allow him to rival Yuliya Tymoshenko in the presidential election. Anyway, Mr. Yushchenko’s line may become more popular. Nevertheless, I doubt he can compete with the major presidential candidates – Yuliya Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovych.