Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych`s orbits

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych`s orbits

The most influential people in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych`s inner circle are businessman Rinat Akhmetov, First Deputy PM Mykola Azarov, Deputy PM Andriy Klyuyev, and the head of the prime minister`s secretariat, Serhiy Lyovochkin.

The most influential people in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych`s inner circle are businessman Rinat Akhmetov, First Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev, and the head of the prime minister`s secretariat, Serhiy Lyovochkin, a website has said.

Each of the four has his own group of loyal people among cabinet ministers and prime minister`s advisers. The Lyovochkin and Klyuyev groups have conflicting interests in the fuel and energy sector. Akhmetov has special status and is the only one whom Yanukovych treats as equal, the author says.

The following is the text of the article by Serhiy Leshchenko entitled "Viktor Yanukovych`s orbits" and published by Ukrayinska Pravda website on 3 March; subheadings are as published:

Over 18 months, Viktor Yanukovych has covered the path from a ward at the resort of Karlovy Vary to the cabinet on the seventh floor of the government building.

The politician who was considered to be "a shot-down pilot" is now seizing more and more of the steering instruments in the cockpit. By the way, this is not a mere metaphor. Yanukovych really did study to fly planes for some time. [ellipsis here and throughout as published]

Having returned to big politics, Yanukovych has changed his entourage. Many old names were replaced with new ones. Some stars have faded, others drifted away from the centre, while still others approached so close as to be in danger of being burnt.

LYOVOCHKIN-KLYUYEV

The front line in Yanukovych`s team runs between Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev and the head of the prime minister`s secretariat, Serhiy Lyovochkin.

Since the times of the complicated business history of Donbass [coal-mining area in Donetsk and Luhansk regions], Andriy Klyuyev has been using an armoured Mercedes - he survived several assassination attempts.

Lyovochkin has also been using the same kind of transport since his relations with Viktor Medvedchuk deteriorated during their work in the administration of [former President] Leonid Kuchma.

Klyuyev`s ascetic image is manifested in his was of brewing tea soldier-style - right in a mug, which he then drinks in the presence of his guests. Klyuyev once worked at a coal mine, and he does not understand the Kievites who burn up their lives at night clubs.

It is also telling that Klyuyev`s post-graduate thesis in Soviet times was on construction of missiles silos in zones of tectonic instability.

Lyovochkin`s thesis was entitled "The US state debt".

Working as first aide to the president in 2004, Lyovochkin defended a PhD thesis on macro financial stabilization in Ukraine. Thus he repeated the record achievement of Dmytro Tabachnyk, who received his PhD at the age of 32 when he was the head of the presidential administration.

Klyuyev`s official tax declaration mentions over 50m [presumably hryvnyas]. He and his brother are the owners of Ukrpidshypnyk [ball-bearing producer].

According to Lyovochkin, his tax declaration has a figure "with more than six zeros". He sold the Kiev footwear factory to [Russian businessman] Konstantin Grigorishin. His sister deals with the family`s business matters.

Lyovochkin is linked to the Klirinhovyy Dim bank, and the UESU-Avia. After articles linked him to [gas import monopolist] RosUkrEnergo, he filed a libel suit for 500,000 hryvnyas [100,000 dollars].

Klyuyev is the hawk in Yanukovych`s team, but Lyovochkin also does not suit the role of a dove.

KLYUYEV`S ORBITS

The conflict between Klyuyev and Lyovochkin is also connected with Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko, who is close to Lyovochkin and does not allow Klyuyev to deal with the area he is in charge of - gas issues.

Klyuyev, for his part, from time to time plays on Boyko`s nerves by hinting that RosUkrEnergo could be removed from the Ukrainian market.

As Boyko reduced Klyuyev`s influence on the fuel and energy sector, the deputy prime minister finds compensation in other areas. In particular, he influences personnel policy in the Interior Ministry.

For instance, with Klyuyev`s assistance, the most controversial figures of the Orange Revolution period, Serhiy Popkov and Mykola Plyekhanov, were appointed at the Interior Ministry.

Yuriy Lutsenko [former Interior Minister] said that Yanukovych suggested that he return Plyekhanov as "a valuable professional who lost his job" to the Interior Ministry, but Lutsenko refused.

After the coming of [new Interior Minister Vasyl] Tsushko, Plyekhanov is in charge of personnel policy in the ministry, and Popkov is working as head of the Interior Ministry`s main staff.

Mykola Dzhyha is in charge of Yanukovych`s people in police. The prime minister supported Dzhyha`s appointment to "help" Lutsenko as his first deputy.

However, neither Lutsenko nor Dzhyha himself showed any enthusiasm to implement this vision of the head of government. Now Dzhyha can influence the ministry from parliament.

Klyuyev is also considered in Yanukovych`s team to be the man behind a moratorium on land sale. Opponents are convinced that the ban was prolonged to allow land to be bought up cheaply.

Klyuyev also organized the transfer of profitable state assets, the Ukrspetseksport state weapons exporter and Oshchadbank state bank, to the control of the prime minister`s team.

This was done using similar technique.

In the case of Ukrspetseksport, Klyuyev at first only met its head, Serhiy Bondarchuk, and advised him to submit a voluntary retirement notice. After Bondarchuk refused, the government issued a resolution making the company subordinate to the Cabinet of Ministers instead of the president.

Yushchenko appealed against the resolution in Constitutional court. The next step was audits by the State Auditing Directorate. Then the tax administration came to the company and began to study the company`s operation during Yanukovych`s first term as prime minister.

The same happened to Oshchadbank. To subordinate the head of the bank`s board to him, Klyuyev through his MP brother [Serhiy Klyuyev] is trying to change the people in the bank`s supervisory board appointed on parliament`s quota.

When it became clear that this is not enough, changes to the law were organized to completely change the system of appointment to the bank`s supervisory board. At the same time, inspections by the Main Auditing Directorate were sent to the bank.

Political commentator Dmytro Vydrin, describing his first meeting with Klyuyev right after his move to Kiev, recalled that Klyuyev greeted people without getting up from his desk. Vydrin was astonished and predicted that Klyuyev would never make a politician.

But his manners have improved significantly since then, and he has become one of the main communicators with the orange camp.

Klyuyev`s kiss with Poroshenko [traditional friendly greeting between Ukrainian men] in the heat of coalition talks last year was more eloquent than words.

Klyuyev has close links with MP Volodymyr Sivkovych. The latter, due to his KGB past, is the source of special information in the prime minister`s team. Sometimes, he hunts with Yanukovych.

When Klyuyev was an MP, his subgroup in parliament included Taras Chornovil. Rumours have it that the former member of Our Ukraine switched to the Party of Regions in 2004 not only because his opinion was ignored in the orange team, but also because Klyuyev, unlike Chornovil`s nationalist-democratic colleagues, helped him solve many difficult personal problems, linked with the health of Chornovil`s relatives.

Chornovil`s five minutes of fame started before the third round of the presidential election, when Yanukovych, deserted by everyone, appointed him head of the election headquarters. Chornovil`s influence has greatly decreased now, although he is still present in the media space as one of the Party of Regions spokespersons.

Chornovil, just like Hanna Herman [former chief of Radio Liberty bureau], are tasked with creating an illusion of democracy in the party. At first they promised that MP Oleh Kalashnikov, who beat up a journalist, would lose his seat in parliament. This never happened.

Presently, they are opposing the secretary of the Donetsk city council Levchenko, who called for making the Russia language a state one, leaving Ukrainian for folk songs and funny stories.

Anatoliy Tolstoukhov is also near Klyuyev. Tolstoukhov manages the 500-strong staff of the cabinet`s secretariat. He was minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in Yanukovych`s previous government and even lived in the government building during the Orange Revolution.

But the incumbent leaders recalled Tolstoukhov only after the 2006 elections. He was not running on the Party of Regions list, but with the marginal Eko Plus 25 Per Cent, which was set up by the shareholders of the Industrial Union of Donbass company.

So, his appearance in the second row from Yanukovych looks like thanks for the ordeal the loyal minister experienced. In particular, after the revolution, his home was searched over a criminal case.

Tolstoukhov was accused of ordering the publication of the results of the second round of the presidential election in the Uryadovyy Kuryer newspaper despite a court ruling [suspending their publication].

Dmytro Vydrin recalls Tolstoukhov as the senior in his group in the Kiev institute of political science: "He was very organized in that capacity and did everything in a timely manner. But he is a strong official. And because he is an official, he, unlike a businessman or a politician, cannot be described. He is simply an official!"

LYOVOCHKIN`S ORBITS

Despite his young age, Serhiy Lyovochkin entered big politics in 1999. The then 27-year-old Lyovochkin was appointed Kuchma`s "scientific consultant".

It is commonly believed that Lyovochkin junior was lobbied by Lyovochkin senior, who headed the State Department for Implementation of Sentences, which was in charge of all Ukrainian prisons. Allegedly, knowledge about Yanukovych`s volatile youth, which he received in this post, allowed him to promote his son in Kiev.

However, according to eye witnesses of the events, it was vice versa. Serhiy Lyovochkin was brought to Bankova Street [where the presidential administration was situated] by Kuchma`s chief of protocol on Yanukovych`s request.

Lyovochkin`s father became head of the department thanks to Volodymyr Lytvyn`s efforts [when he was head of Kuchma`s administration], rather than the then Donetsk governor [Yanukovych]. Lyovochkin senior met Yanukovych only in 2000, while his son knew him five years earlier.

The only fact beyond doubt is that from the outset, when he was appointed to Kuchma`s administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin was positioned as a representative of Viktor Yanukovych`s interests in Kiev. The parliamentary elections in 1998 confirm this.

Lyovochkin was running in a constituency in Donetsk, where Oleksandr Rzhavskyy won by a miracle. According to Rzhavskyy`s election headquarters, the Donbass administration actively helped Lyovochkin then.

The owners of the title "president`s scientific consultant" at that time were divided into two types.

[1] The first type appeared on Bankova Street on the day they received their ID and never disturbed the administration with their presence ever since.

[2] The others carried out Lytvyn`s instructions. Lyovochkin was in the second group. In late 1999, he visited the USA as part of Kuchma`s delegation.

A rapid rise in Lyovochkin`s career occurred in 2002, when Kuchma appointed him as his first aide to counterbalance the head of the presidential administration, Viktor Medvedchuk.

Lyovochkin became "a good cop" with Medvedchuk being "the bad guy". It was with the help of his mediation that Yushchenko managed to meet Kuchma in those years. The first aide was also the point of contact for Western diplomats in Bankova Street.

Among Lyovochkin`s achievements was the cancellation of the scandalous election of the Mukacheve mayor. Medvedchuk could not tolerate an alternative channel of information for Kuchma and, according to some reports, he initiated arrest of Lyovochkin junior several times but without success.

However, despite good contacts with the Orange camp - Lyovochkin was even at Yushchenko`s family birthdays recently - he worked for Yanukovych`s victory.

His name, together with Klyuyev`s, is mentioned on the "Rybachuk tapes" on a transit server [which was allegedly used to help falsify the presidential election results; the recordings of senior officials were made public during the Orange Revolution by Yushchenko ally Oleh Rybachuk].

In the same year [2004], Leonid Kuchma agreed to change the gas middleman. RosUkrEnergo became the operator of Turkmen gas supplies to Ukraine. The press wrote repeatedly that this was done with Lyovochkin`s help. An indirect proof is his close relations with the ideologists of the scheme, Yuriy Boyko and Dmytro Firtash.

Lyovochkin even sued Yuliya Mostova from the Zerkalo Nedeli weekly for 500,000 hryvnyas to make journalists disinclined to mention the issue. The suit will lead him straight to the list of enemies of the press.

Yet another hidden motive for such actions by Lyovochkin could be an attempt to join in the war between Yanukovych and Defence Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Mostova`s husband, by making an additional hook to hold the last propresidential minister on.

During the Orange Revolution, Lyovochkin organized secret meetings between Yushchenko and Kuchma, and after the revolution he became parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn`s adviser. [Transport Minister Yevhen] Chervonenko, for instance, offered him a post of deputy transport minister.

In Yanukovych`s current team, Lyovochkin wanted to be minister of the Cabinet of Ministers. But this post was occupied by Tolstoukhov.

Another post in the prime minister`s close entourage - head of Yanukovych`s secretariat - was occupied by the former deputy head of Medvedchuk on Bankova Street, [Oleksiy] Ishchenko.

But he was dismissed after a few weeks and Lyovochkin was appointed to the post. He turned the prime minister`s service into his secretariat, became independent of Tolstoukhov and began a lobby struggle.

Lyovochkin strengthened Yanukovych with advisers, of whom he is in charge. Some of them could see Yanukovych in flesh only once or twice in these months because their work was collected by Lyovochkin at the entrance to the prime minister`s office. He recruited into his team the people tested in Kuchma`s times.

Four advisers are dealing with international issues for Yanukovych. They solve many issues without even informing the Foreign Ministry.

The closest one to the prime minister in this group is the former Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, who is de-facto Yanukovych`s personal manager for these issues.

It is said that, for instance the Estonian prime minister`s visit to Ukraine was prepared by Hryshchenko, bypassing the Foreign Ministry. He also organized Yanukovych`s trip to the USA instead of the Foreign Ministry.

Hryshchenko`s predecessor in the Foreign Ministry, Anatoliy Zlenko, who received the tile adviser for special international issues, has failed to find anything to do in Yanukovych`s team.

The appointment of Andriy Fialko as Yanukovych`s adviser was aimed to neutralize the activity of Anatoliy Orel. They opposed each other for a long time, when working in Kuchma`s administration: Fialko has a pro-Western vision, while Orel has pro-Russian.

Orel - the former teacher of Italian at the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow - played the defining role in Yanukovych`s foreign policy before the appearance of Lyovochkin.

During that period he managed to make a few surprises for his boss. For instance, he crossed out the essence from Yanukovych`s letter to Javier Solana [EU high representative for common foreign and security policy] that the new government will support a border regime with the Dniester Region agreed with the European Union.

However, Orel was pushed away to Yanukovych`s distant orbits and the limit of his ambitions was to be appointed ambassador to Russia or Italy. Orel even tried to show his usefulness to the Orange team, saying that 90 per cent of Ukrainians in Italy voted for Yushchenko thanks to his diplomatic work in Rome.

A group of advisers is in charge of economic issues in the Yanukovych government. For instance, former Foreign Trade Minister Andriy Honcharuk deals with entry into the World Trade Organization. He was the only one from among his colleagues who accompanied Yanukovych in Davos.

Former minister Ihor Yushko is in charge of finance. He and Honcharuk are close to [Kuchma`s son-in-law and big businessman] Viktor Pinchuk.

Pavlo Haydutskyy (deputy head of Kuchma`s administration) became Yanukovych`s adviser after dismissal from Bankova Street in 2006. Yanukovych`s speeches show sometimes that their macroeconomic ideology is written by another prime minister`s adviser, Anatoliy Halchynskyy (Kuchma`s former adviser).

The group of Yanukovych`s legal advisers includes Leonid Pidpalyy (former deputy head of Kuchma`s administration), Mykhaylo Ryabets (former chairman of the Central Electoral Commission) and Pavlo Yevhrafov (retired Constitutional Court judge).

The former governor of Dnipropetrovsk Region, Volodymyr Yatsuba, is the secretary of the council of regions under Yanukovych, with the help of which the prime minister is trying to control the regional governors.

Yanukovych`s another adviser is the former head of the Department for State Affairs and Kuchma`s former doctor, Oleksandr Vozianov.

Experts see only one explanation for this appointment - taking into account Vozianov`s connections with Feofaniya hospital [for top state officials], Yanukovych can learn secrets of health condition of many Ukrainian politicians.

Lyovochkin also supervises political consultants Yuriy Levenets and Andriy Yermolayev, and adviser on mass-media image, Hanna Herman, who also edits Yanukovych`s speeches from time to time.

Apart from advisers, Lyovochkin`s influence also extends on Tolstoukhov`s subordinates. For instance, Yanukovych`s staff lawyer and first deputy minister of the Cabinet, Olena Lukash, or Tolstoukhov`s another first deputy, Ivan Kutsyk, are also close to Lyovochkin.

State service also connected Lyovochkin with another person, on whom the prime minister`s security depends, the head of his personal guards, Ihor Sulima. Sulima got the job in autumn 2004 after his predecessor was dismissed over an egg-throwing act of terrorism against Yanukovych in Ivano-Frankivsk.

Much has been written about Yanukovych`s constant need for heightened security: in connection with an additional metal detector installed outside his office and after heightened security measures on the days of the prime minister`s visit to his home city of Donetsk.

The move of two bodyguards from Donetsk to Kiev during his first term as prime minister also shows that Yanukovych cannot live in peace in this world and trusts only well-tried people. These two former policemen were employed by the State Guarding Service. Since then either one or the other accompany Yanukovych everywhere.

As it happens in politics, Lyovochkin`s present closeness to Yanukovych could unite against him other ambitious people in Yanukovych`s entourage.

However, Lyovochkin has recently strengthened his status by joining the Party of Regions and immediately getting a seat in its political council. So, from now on, apart from supporting Yanukovych in the Cabinet of Ministers, he will also deal with his party life.

"Earlier, there were days when Yanukovych held up to 30 meeting per day. It was impossible to live in such conditions! Today, Lyovochkin is the bottleneck through which one has to pass if one wants to get to Yanukovych," people who know the Cabinet`s kitchen explain. Lyovochkin also has the facsimile of Yanukovych`s signature.

Another Viktor Yanukovych`s "favourite", Eduard Prutnik, is Serhiy Lyovochkin`s close friend and Christian relative [either godfather of his child or father of his godchild].

During recent elections he was in charge of PR escort of the incumbent prime minister and after the coalition was created he received the post of the head of the State Committee for Television and Radio.

Ambitious Prutnik positions himself as "the proper boy" in the eyes of western diplomats. He is talking about readiness to create public television and goes to Brussels in order to get the money for information booklets about NATO.

Prutnik is building up muscles in his post. He has brought the state printing industry and Ukrtelefilm under his control and is going to compete with [Transport Minister] Mykola Rudkovskyy for the RRT system.

The RRT system is potentially lucrative because it encompasses broadcasting towers, FM radio transmitters and cell phone transmitters etc.

Another project aimed at accumulating money flows is the creation of a mega television channel on the basis of regional television and radio companies and Kultura television channel with a joint advertisement shop.

From 2007, Prutnik supervised the distribution of funds of national television and radio companies. He has also secured for himself the status of number-one expert on media law in the anticrisis coalition.

The figure of the Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko worries not only the opposition but also Yanukovych`s colleagues in the Party of Regions.

Some fear that very soon, due to the RosUkrEnergo scheme, Boyko is going to have the influence like [former transport minister] Heorhiy Kyrpa had in the heyday of favouritism under Kuchma.

And if Yanukovych competes for the presidential post, Boyko will be the only candidate for the prime minister`s post without alternative and he will have plenty of resources to achieve this goal.

At the moment, Naftohaz Ukrayiny is managed from Boyko`s office. Almost immediately after he was appointed fuel and energy minister six months ago Boyko established control over Ukrhazvydobyvannya which until then was under the patronage of Yushchenko`s teammate Ivan Vasyunyk and this broke one of the conditions in the foundation of a grand coalition.

Ukrhazvydobuvannya is the most tempting asset of Naftohaz where the money is not spent but made. And from the 1 March, when the head of Ukrhazvydobuvannya, Yevhen Bakulin, became the head of Naftohaz, Boyko achieved monopolistic control over this state owned monster.

Boyko`s another party comrade is Yanukovych`s international adviser, Kostyantyn Hryshchenko. Boyko and Hryshchenko together recently tried to carry out a project named the Ukrainian Republican Party [which Boyko heads].

Another person close to Boyko is the first deputy internal affairs minister, Mykhaylo Korniyenko. Before he came back to the Internal Affairs Ministry, when [Vasyl] Tsushko took the post of the interior minister, Korniyenko was deputy head of Naftohaz and security chief in this state- and Boyko-owned company.

Before the last parliamentary elections Korniyenko was deputy internal affairs minister for links with the Supreme Council. Despite of peace-making title of his post, some sources say that he accumulated and later made public information about opposition leaders and their family members.

The fact that Boyko in fact drove Volodymyr Sheludchenko out of Naftohaz, because the latter could not compete with the minister, is another fact to prove that Boyko has a special position in Yanukovych`s team.

This is given that Sheludchenko was close to Yanukovych since the times of joint work in Donetsk Region when he was in charge of Donetskoblhaz and also was Yanukovych`s tennis partner.

PLANETS AND METEORITES WITHOUT "COVER"

Oleksandr Lavrynovych received his portfolio of justice minister in the Yanukovych government due to the same reasons that helped him to take this post for the first time when Kuchma was the president - Lavrynovych is knowledgeable in nuances of the judicial field and has grounds to aspire for one of the first places in the contest of officials most devoted to their bosses.

Internal Minister Vasyl Tsushko has become closer to Yanukovych recently due to his charisma of "a simple fellow", whose street smartness is to Yanukovych`s liking.

In addition, Tsushko is very sensitive to any wishes of the anti-crisis coalition not only as regards staff reshuffles but also the smearing of [former Interior Minister] Yuriy Lutsenko`s image.

Another Socialist minister, Mykola Rudkovskyy, also has limited impact in his area, where people from Donetsk occupy leading posts.

He stumbles at scandalous reputation that has already been imprinted in popular wisdom: "He is obnoxious like white-and-blue but makes a fool of himself like orange."

The story of a photo of Rudkovskyy holding a piece of paper which contains words of harsh criticism of Defence Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko should not mislead anyone. According to information from government sources, they were not written by Rudkovskyy in order to give it to Yanukovych.

The sources say the author of those words was Andriy Klyuyev, from whom Rudkovskyy simply took the draft before a government session and awkwardly got into a picture taken several minutes later.

Rudkovskyy and Shufrych have long history of relations. Their relations go back to the times when the richest Socialist and the most scandalous Social Democrat were partners in the gas-extraction business in Poltava Region. Shufrych`s appointment as minister is originated in the principle of Donetsk people "not to give up our guys".

A few people remained with Yanukovych before the third round of [2004 presidential] election, and Shufrych was one of them. In addition, with Shufrych coming to the government Yanukovych received a direct communicator with his main opponent, Yuliya Tymoshenko [Shufrych and Tymoshenko are said to have had a romance].

Another person from Yanukovych`s entourage is in contact with the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc: Mykola Demyanenko, who is improving relations with YTB MP Bohdan Hubskyy. Demyanenko ensures Yanukovych`s comfort.

Demyanenko was the office manager in the Donetsk regional administration when it was headed by Yanukovych. During Yanukovych`s first term as prime minister Demyanenko was first deputy minister of the Cabinet of Ministers for these matters. He is an MP now.

Another man who has close personal relations with Yanukovych is Anton Pryhodskyy, who is the focal point of all railway transportation of the Donetsk group. The prime minister`s son, Viktor Yanukovych junior works under Pryhodskyy in the parliamentary Transport Committee.

The Crimean dacha, where Yanukovych or members of his family sometime stay, is called "a family-type holiday hotel" of the Interregional Industrial Union corporation, which is co-owned by Pryhodskyy and [businessman and MP Rinat] Akhmetov. Pryhodskyy is considered to be one of the most effective lobbyists in Yanukovych`s inner circle.

According to the MP himself, he is one of the few who are not afraid to contradict the prime minister, proving that they are right.

Pryhodskyy is in charge of Crimea. The Crimean parliament speaker, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, is his creation.

Oleksandr Melnyk, who was detained by Lutsenko as head of the Seilem gang, implements Pryhodskyy`s vision in Crimea. Taking into account that the peninsular is Yanukovych`s electoral reserve, the results Yanukovych`s team gets in the next election depends on Hrytsenko`s actions.

Pryhodskyy is also described as the man in charge of the Constitutional Court in Yanukovych`s team. The prime minister has his own man among the Constitutional Court judges, Vyacheslav Ovcharenko. Before his appointment to the Court, Ovcharenko was the head of a court in Yanukovych`s home town, Yenakiyeve.

If one digs deeper into Ovcharenko`s biography, one can find out that even before receiving higher education, in mid-1980s he worked as legal adviser to the car repair plans in the Ordzhonikidzevuhillya [coal company].

Yanukovych worked as head of Ordzhonikidzevuhillya`s automobile fleet. Presently, Ovcharenko is Yanukovych`s eye and ears in the Constitutional Court, on which the remit, and thus the future, of the incumbent prime minister depends.

One of Yanukovych`s most valuable achievements in recent months was the appointment of Volodymyr Radchenko as deputy prime minister. The head of government got his man in the Security Service, which is formally under Viktor Yushchenko`s supervision.

In Radchenko`s case Yanukovych carried out a quick operation - right after he learnt that Radchenko attended an interview at the presidential secretariat, he appointed him deputy prime minister on the following day. This was not discussed with the coalition colleagues, as the news reached them right in parliament.

Yanukovych`s appointment as head of government marked the transfer of the Prosecutor-Generals` Office under his influence. At first, Oleksandr Medvedko began to follow the head of government. Then, even against Medvedko`s will, he was strengthened with 100-per-cent Donetsk man, Renat Kuzmin.

The final act of raising the flag of the Party of Region over the Prosecutor-General`s Office was the appointment of another deputy prosecutor-general, Viktor Pshonka. He became Yanukovych`s communicator in this agency.

Links between [ombudsman] Nina Karpachova and the Party of Regions appeared right after the arrest of Borys Kolesnykov, whom the ombudsman defended. The Orange accused Karpachova of betrayal, and the white-blue invited her to their election list.

Karpachova, violating the law, was the ombudsman and MP at the same time. She wanted to become deputy parliament speaker, but when she understood that the idea has no prospects, she decided to remain the ombudsman.

This caused a storm of protests by Western [human-rights] organizations, which were indignant that the defender of human rights is politically biased.

Rayisa Bahatyryova was another candidate for deputy speaker. Having not received the post to the left hand of Oleksandr Moroz, the most influential woman in the Donetsk team felt a strong feeling of ingratitude to Yanukovych.

Bahatyryova has become close to the Arfush brothers [who publish the Paparazzi magazine and organize beauty contests], who not only act as her promoters in France, but also are said to have helped her with treatment leading to striking improvement of the appearance of the anticrisis coalition`s coordinator.

Many connect these changes with rumours about Bahatyryova`s ambitions to head the Party of Regions, because Yanukovych has to concentrate on his work as prime minister. However, people in Yanukovych`s inner circle are opposing this as much as they can.

Bahatyryova is working much on her own image and is trying to actively remind people of herself. In particular, a group of writers prepares texts that appear in various publications with her signature.

Bahatyryova is also trying to establish contacts in the international arena. In January she, without attracting much attention, visited Paris, where she met the French foreign minister.

However, sources say that it was not the ID of the Party of Regions that helped her but... acquaintance with the lover of a French government official, who works in the public relations industry.

Bahatyryova`s first deputy in the faction, Vasyl Kyselyov, heads the Party of Regions in Crimea, one of the basic regions on the voters of which the prime minister`s rating is held. Kyselyov distributes roles among his colleagues: it depends on him when and what MP speaks and on what issues.

Judging by public speeches, Kyselyov is now trying to occupy the niche held by Yevhen Kushnaryov [who died after a hunting incident], the role of the factions` spokesman. But this experiment causes doubts in its success - Kyselyov has made fool of himself recently.

Trying to oppose the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, which blocked the electricity switchboard room, he began appealing to Tymoshenko`s past and touched the taboo topic in the Party of Regions: "Who is a worse criminal - who stole hats [reference to Yanukovych] or stole 7bn dollars?"

The deputy head of the parliamentary faction, Mykhaylo Chechetov, is responsible for the voting results that are shown on parliament`s screen. He conducts 186 votes of the Party of Regions and several more defectors in the hall under the dome.

Chechetov gives orders whether to vote for or against a motion. The high price of mistake in this post is shows by the example, where the Party of Regions supported the ban to raise utility rates last year.

The anticrisis coalition had to cancel the popular decision, but the Yanukovych government failed to clearly explain to the electorate why they had to do so.

Yanukovych also has a personal minister for relations with the Supreme Council. There was no such post in previous governments, and some people even suspect that it was created specially for Ivan Tkalenko. He was head of the Party of Regions` secretariat in the time when Yanukovych was its leader.

Tkalenko has friendly relations with deputy prime minister Volodymyr Rybak and fairly good relations with Mykola Azarov. However, despite high status - minister after all - Tkalenko`s duties are to merely send papers between the government and parliament and nothing more.

AZAROV`S ORBITS

[First Deputy Prime Minister] Mykola Aarov is responsible for macroeconomic policy of the government. The number of his opponents inside the Party of Regions is increasing, but his ambitions don`t decrease.

Azarov became one of the most influential figures in Kiev politics much earlier than Yanukovych. When Yanukovych was only one of 25 governors, Azarov`s agency [State Tax Administration] were putting Borys Feldman [head of the Slovyanskyy bank] behind bars.

In 2001, Yanukovych only dreamed about moving to the capital and brought Holand-Holand rifles worth dozens of thousands of dollars to Kuchma as presents while Azarov was creating the Party of Regions in its present form by merging marginal parties. Thanks to his leadership in the tax administration, the party`s numbers grew with great speed.

Azarov has much older history of relations with Viktor Yushchenko, which began when the latter was the prime minister. They did not become enemies after Yushchenko`s dismissal and, it is said, Azarov even took part in talks on uniting the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine in the 2002 [parliamentary] elections.

In 2002, Azarov - one of Leonid Kuchma`s favourites - had real chances to become prime minister instead of Yanukovych.

According to eye witnesses, once Azarov and Yanukovych began a quarrel in the presence of the then president. In 2004 Azarov de-facto ruled the government instead of Yanukovych, when the prime minister was busy campaigning for presidency.

The situation now is radically different for Azarov. He is a subordinate of the prime minister, while his hands are itching to hold the cabinet`s steering wheel.

His dissatisfaction grew even more when Yanukovych publicly, in the presence of journalists, criticized Azarov, who still remembers the scope of his remit three years ago. Azarov could do anything in Yanukovych`s first government - up to employing his own son as prime minister`s adviser.

"In the current situation Azarov is guarding the house, but strategic decisions where to spend money or what to privatize seized to be within his remit," a fellow party member of the first deputy prime minister has said, describing the situation.

Azarov`s health is another problem. He has problems with his stomach. In addition, orthodox Regionals cannot forgive Azarov his appearance on Maydan [the heart of the Orange Revolution] together with Yushchenko`s after the revolution.

At the same time, Azarov together with Yuriy Boyko are the most powerful lobbyists of the pro-Russian policy in the government.

It is said that at a Cabinet meeting Azarov "buried" the discussion on a law which was seemingly neutral.

It was about the work of foreign defence lawyers on Ukraine`s territory. Azarov was extremely indignant that defence lawyers have to read their oath in the state language and said: "Why are we discriminating the Russian language?"

Although presently Azarov`s powers are limited, his influence on the government`s work is one of the biggest even now. It is said that his consultations with astrologists add to his confidence.

All the financial sector is in Azarov`s hands. Vadym Kopylov, who is close to Azarov, is the de-facto head of the Finance Ministry. Anatoliy Brezvin, who is not an alien to him, heads the tax administration, the beloved child of the first deputy prime minister.

Azarov`s man, Volodymyr Makukha, also heads the Economics Ministry. However, Makukha could be sacrificed according to the scenario: "Yanukovych punishes the official responsible for raising utility rates." The prime minister has already warned the minister that the latter is the first on the row to be dismissed.

The situation with Labour Minister Mykhaylo Papaya is somewhat different. He owes his post to Yanukovych`s personal sympathy. But due to his duties, Papaya works closely with Azarov and has a conflict with Tabachnyk.

They say that the minister and his curator, humanitarian deputy prime minister are constantly quarrel over staff appointments in the state bodies subordinated to them.

Dmytro Tabachnyk was included in Yanukovych`s second government to remind the prime minister of comfortable work together in 2002-04 and also because other candidates refused.

Chances were good that Yevhen Kushnaryov or Rayisa Bohatyryova wouldbecome deputy prime ministers instead of Tabachnyk but they chose to focus on the work inside the [parliament] faction.

Volodymyr Rybak is a representative of "old fellows from Donetsk" in the Yanukovych government. Chances are slim that he will introduce radical reforms in the public utilities sector and Yanukovych has already shown signs of dissatisfaction with Rybak`s work. Rybak however must remain a symbol that the previous generation of Donetsk elite is not forgotten.

Rybak is in fact a founder of the Party of Regions back in 1990s. It was then called the Party of Regional Revival.

Rybak is notable for his peaceful nature and reluctance to start conflicts. Immediately after the Orange Revolution, he said straightforwardly that he recognized Yushchenko as president and criticized Nestor Shufrych who called dfor continuing the struggle.

Among present leaders of Donetsk region, Anatoliy Blyznyuk, the head of the regional council, is the most close to Yanukovych.

When the prime minister was leaving his governor`s office he managed to persuade Leonid Kuchma to appoint Blyznyuk as governor, because he trusted him more than the other candidate, Vasyl Dzharty.

The current head of the regional administration, Volodymyr Lohvynenko, comes from the Donetsk-based group Enerho which is connected to former Prosecutor-General Gennady Vastly and businessman Viktor Nuisances.

They are not Yanukovych`s closest favourites, but witnesses say that when the issue of a new Donetsk governor rose, it was Yanukovych who proposed Lohvynenko to Yushchenko.

The Donetsk mayor, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, is close to Yanukovych because of regional registration of the prime minister. Also in 2004 he played his role and made sure that Yanukovych also had his Maydan in Donetsk.

Yanukovych`s monoregionalism remains his problem - people who are not from Donetsk remain on remote orbits of the present government team. The leaders of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya regions are important for Yanukovych because they represent regions that are used to inflate his rating at elections.

Oleksandr Yefremov and Viktor Tyhonov from Luhansk reached higher ranks in the hierarchy of the Party of Regions than others. They are in charge of two parliamentary committees - on parliamentary regulations and on state building and regional policy.

This is another proof to the principle inside Yanukovych`s team - to thank those who were persecuted after the revolution.

Kharkiv is represented in Yanukovych`s entourage by Kharkiv mayor Mykhaylo Dobkin and the head of the regional council, Vasyl Salyhin, who was acquainted with the mayor since 1990s.

In the previous parliament Dobkin remained with the United Social Democratic Party almost until the very end and protected [Hryhoriy] Surkis`s Poltavaoblenerho regional energy distribution company from [Russian businessman Konstantin] Grigorishin`s managers with his own body, locking himself in the director`s office.

However, right before the election, understanding the catastrophic situation around the ratings of Medvedchuk`s bloc, he joined the Party of Regions and ran from it for the mayor of Ukraine`s second largest city in terms of population.

Oleksandr Peklushenko represents Yanukovych in electorally close Zaporizhzhya, where the situation is difficult because governor Yevhen Chervonenko is not controlled by the Party of Regions.

Kiev is another strategic region for Yanukovych. He remembers the lesson of 2004 - revolutions occur in capitals. This is the prime minister`s weak spot. The Kiev branch of the Party of Regions headed by banker Vasyl Horbal failed to change the situation in Kiev - Yanukovych is not accepted here.

According to some sources, Horbal became the head of Yanukovych`s Kiev headquarters at the presidential elections with the help of Viktor Medvedchuk. It is not ruled out that soon there will be attempts to move Rayisa Bahatyryova`s son, Oleksandr - a deputy in the Kiev council, to the first posts in Kiev.

AKHMETOV`S ORBITS

The personality of Rinat Akhmetov requires a separate investigation and the drawing of a separate universe. This is the only person in Yanukovych`s team whom he treats as equal and even with emphasized respect.

"For instance, when Yanukovych organizes a meeting somewhere Klyuyev is told: `come to that place`, Azarov is not invited at all, and they negotiate with Akhmetov: `let us meet there or where it is more convenient for you`," sources describe relations in Yanukovych`s team.

According to eye witnesses, Yanukovych - already in the capacity of prime minister - flew on Akhmetov`s plane and was even summoned to a meeting with Akhmetov in his Kiev office.

Sources in the prime minister`s entourage deny the second fact. As regards the plane, they say: yes, this happened once when Yanukovych returned from Yevhen Kushnaryov`s funeral.

Akhmetov influences Yanukovych`s position through the parliamentary faction of the Party of Regions. Nobody knows the number of people who are oriented directly towards the richest Ukrainian businessman and this is the subject of constant discussions among political experts. It varies from 60 to 100.

Ironically, Akhmetov is most interested in friendship between Yanukovych and Yushchenko, because the country`s stability depends on this and thus the value of his business.

Understanding that complete ownership of the System Capital Management [SCM] poses the threat of becoming the victim of an outside attack, Akhmetov is preparing for selling shares at stock exchanges.

Then the price of internal political stability amounts to a certain number of billions of dollars which he gets or loses in the initial public offering of shares.

Akhmetov`s friend Borys Kolesnykov heads the Party of Regions in Yanukovych`s home base, Donetsk Region. Kolesnykov himself treats his party leadership skeptically, and treats even more skeptically most government officials.

Kolesnykov remembers Yanukovych`s inadequate reaction after his arrest [after the Orange Revolution] and will hardly ever forgive this.

Also, he won`t forget the anecdote in the form of a commercial of the Jeans mobile operator, which was widely spread in Kiev: "Yanukovych is calling Kolesnykov and asking: `Borys, where are you? I am at the seaside!"

Another important person in Yanukovych`s entourage is US consultant Paul Manafort, who was in charge of Yanukovych`s election campaign and lobbying his interests in the USA. He was included in Yanukovych`s team by Akhmetov. Manafort had a contract with SCM before that.

Vasyl Dzharty was the head of the Party of Regions` election headquarters during the last parliamentary election campaign. On the night after the voting, an Ukrayinska Pravda correspondent witnessed Dzharty reporting to Manafort that he had observed all Manafort`s instruction during a TV interview. It is widely believed that Dzharty is close to Akhmetov.

In particular, it is said that the FC Shakhtar president [Akhmetov] lobbied Dzharty`s appointment as Donetsk Region governor after Yanukovych moved to Kiev.

However, sources in Akhmetov`s inner circle say that reports about their close relations are invented, and the president of Shakhtar reprimanded Dzharty right in the parliamentary session hall last year for spreading rumours that he and Akhmetov have close contacts.

Coal Industry Minister Serhiy Tulub was one of the first among the officials in the present government who moved from Donetsk to Kiev. In 1998, he moved from the office of Yanukovych`s deputy to the post of the coal industry minister.

Before May 2000 he was the minister of fuel and energy and left this post after a scandal with then Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. When the time came for Tymoshenko`s dismissal, she accused people who objected her scenario of reforming the coal mining sector of organizing her dismissal.

It seems it was Tulub who represented their interests. Back then, this Donbass-based business was concentrated around Ihor Humenyuk, Rinat Akhmetov`s partner.

At the moment the link between Tulub and Akhmetov can be seen in the Miner`s glory order which was handed by the minister to the president of the football club. It is believed that with Tulub`s help managers from Akhmetov`s enterprises received leading posts in state-owned mining companies Rovenky Antratsyt and Sverdlov-Antratsyt.

Volodymyr Kozak is at the outer orbits. The director of Ukrzaliznytsya [Ukrainian railways] sits on one of the biggest money flows in Ukraine. Prior to this, Kozak was in charge of Lemtrans company, owned by Akhmetov and Pryhodskyy.

YANUKOVYCH AND ETERNITY

Apart from political contacts, Yanukovych is also close to some religious leaders of Ukraine - the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy, Volodymyr, and Donetsk and Mariupol metropolitan Illarion.

"The prime minister dines with Volodymyr on Christmas eve all the time in metropolitan chambers, pays visits to him on his name-day, Easter and Epiphany," Hanna Herman says.

Svyatohorska Lavra stays under Yanukovych`s patronage. His wife also intensifies religious influence on him.

According to Herman, Yanukovych "now maintains contacts with monks of Mount Athon, whom he met during the Olympic Games in Greece". Yanukovych became religious after an unexpected encounter with an elderly monk Zosima in Soviet times, when, according to Herman, "Yanukovych was going through the most difficult time in his life".

Now everything is changing in his biography.

This news was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor. 

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Serhiy Leshchenko

Ukrayinska Pravda website, Kiev, in Ukrainian 3 Mar 07

BBC Monitoring Service. United Kingdom, Sat, Mar 10, 2007

If you see a spelling error on our site, select it and press Ctrl+Enter