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Analysis & Commentary: by David J. Kramer
Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund (GMF)
Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program: Focus On Ukraine
Washington, D.C., Thursday, February 11, 2010

Euractiv.com, Brussels, Belgium, Thu, 18 February 2010

INFORM: Newsletter for the international community providing
views and analysis from the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb 15, 2010, Issue 141

Just because the Orange revolutionaries lost in Ukraine, doesn't mean their cause did.
Analysis & Commentary: By David J. Kramer
Foreign Policy, Wash, D.C., Mon, February 8, 2010

Analysis & Commentary: By Tammy Lynch
The ISCIP Analyst (Caucasus/Central Asia/Western Regions),
An Analytical Review, Volume XVI, No. 8, Boston University,
Boston, MA, Thursday, 18 February 10

Analysis & Commentary: By Ivan Poltavets and Ievgenii Rovnyi
Inside Ukraine #5, International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, February 18, 2010

Analysis & Commentary: By James Sherr
Head, Russia & Eurasia Programme
Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs 
Chatham House Programme Paper, London, UK, Thu, 18 Feb 2010

Op-Ed, By Steven Pifer
The New York Times, NY, NY, Tue, February 9, 2010

We are a nation with a European identity, but we have historic cultural and economic ties to Russia as well. We can benefit from both.
Opinion Europe: By Victor Yanukovych
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Wed, Feb 17, 2010 

By Daryna Krasnolutska and Lyubov Pronina
Bloomberg News, Kiev, Ukraine, Wed, Feb 17, 2010


Analysis & Commentary: by David J. Kramer
Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund (GMF)
Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program: Focus On Ukraine
Washington, D.C., Thursday, February 11, 2010

KYIV,Ukraine - Contrary to earlier polls, Ukraine’s presidential election turned out to be much closer than expected. After the run-off held on February 7, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych claimed victory over Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko with more than a 3 percent lead, but Tymoshenko was not ready to concede.

She is expected to file court challenges over claims of fraud in individual polling stations, but international observers across the board, including the delegation I led for the International Republican Institute, deemed this election generally free and fair and any problems not to have been systemic in nature.

Tymoshenko, of course, has every right to pursue her legal options, but it would be unfortunate if her efforts led to weeks of squabbling and political paralysis. Ukrainians have had enough of that over the past few years, when they grew disillusioned with those associated with the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Based on the preliminary assessment of foreign observers, neither problems that may have occurred on Election Day nor a controversial change made to the electoral law three days before the election had an appreciable impact on the election itself. Barring the unexpected, Ukraine will see Yanukovych assume the reins as president.

There are some in the West who will be unhappy with the election outcome. They will see Yanukovych’s victory as the final nail in the Orange Revolution’s coffin and will want to keep their distance from Ukraine. This would be exactly the wrong approach to take. Leaders in the West need to engage the new president and his team immediately after he assumes office.

Here are some things they should do in the near term:

[1] Invite Yanukovych to the West. U.S. President Barack Obama will be hosting a nuclear security summit in April, and Yanukoych’s participation in that would be a good start. EU countries should also reach out to him out of recognition that Ukraine is a vital neighbor.

[2] Visit Kyiv. Western leaders should make Kyiv a key place to visit, not on the way to or from Moscow but on its own.

[3] Strengthen bilateral commissions on a level comparable to what Obama established with Russia last year. Dealing with Ukraine can be frustrating, but the alternative of keeping a distance is even worse, especially when Moscow will be reaching out aggressively to the new government in Kyiv.

[4] For the European Union, move forward on finalizing a free trade agreement with Ukraine and visa liberalization. It  should stress that future membership in the European Union, while not in the offing in the near-term, is a possibility. The door to the European Union must remain open to Ukraine if it undertakes the necessary reforms over the next few years.

[5] Avoid pressing on membership in NATO, especially since the majority of Ukrainians do not support NATO membership at this time. Injecting this issue into the political debate in Ukraine now would be distracting and counter-productive but NATO should keep its door open, too.

[6] Push for resumption of International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending if Ukraine’s parliament and leaders stop their inflationary and unaffordable budgetary and fiscal policies.

For Yanukovych, he should:

[1]  Appoint people to government positions based on experience and talent, not solely as payback for political favors, and include individuals from Tymoshenko’s bloc. Choosing a replacement for Tymoshenko, should she leave or be voted out by the Parliament, will be especially  important. After experiencing a nearly 15 percent drop in GDP last year, Ukraine cannot afford continued delays in fixing the economy.

[2]  Keep people who work well in the West, such as Ambassador Oleh Shamshur in Washington, in their positions. Continuity in personnel wherever possible will have a reassuring effect on the West.

[3]  Visit Brussels and Washington sooner rather than later. There is a caricature of Yanukovych as the pro-Russian candidate. Visiting Western capitals would go some distance toward disabusing those suspicious of him.

[4]  Pursue improved relations with Moscow, which deteriorated under outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko, but protect Ukraine’s interests on issues concerning energy security and the Black Sea Fleet. Similarly, reject Russian pressure to recognize the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

[5]  Avoid divisive issues like making Russian the second official language. This will cause a nasty debate in the Parliament and unnecessarily distract from issues like economic reform. Focus on urgent needs, including paying gas bills to Russia and resuming IMF assistance based on fiscal discipline.

[6]  Avoid a push for early parliamentary elections. Some in his party see this as a way to increase their control over the legislature. The last thing Ukraine needs is another election—the people here, despite impressive turnout numbers (68%) on Sunday, want to see their leaders govern effectively, not engage in endless electoral campaigns.

Ukraine, a country of 46 million people strategically located between Russia and countries of the European Union, has enormous potential to contribute to European stability and security. It is important in its own right, not through a Russian prism. It just held yet another election, following parliamentary elections in 2006 and 2007 and the re-run of the 2004 election, which passed international standard—no small accomplishment in this part of the world.

Whatever they think of Yanukovych, Western leaders need to get over their “Ukraine fatigue” and engage the country, its leaders, and its people more than they have in the past.

NOTE:  David J. Kramer is senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Washington, DC. Kramer headed the International Republican Institute’s election observation delegation to Ukraine’s second round of the presidential election. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GMF.

As a Senior Transatlantic Fellow, David J. Kramer works on issues related to Russia/Eurasia and wider Europe as well as democracy and human rights. He came to GMF after more than eight years at the U.S. State Department in various capacities, most recently as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor.

Before that, he was a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus affairs, as well as regional nonproliferation issues. He also served in the Office of Policy Planning and as senior advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs. Mr. Kramer received his master’s degree from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University.

About GMF
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan American public policy and grantmaking institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between North America and Europe. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working on transatlantic issues, by convening leaders to discuss the most pressing transatlantic themes, and by examining ways in which transatlantic cooperation can address a variety of global policy challenges.

Founded in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has seven offices in Europe: Berlin, Bratislava, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, and Bucharest.

LINK:  http://www.gmfus.org/publications/article.cfm?id=809 &parent_type=P
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Euractiv.com, Brussels, Belgium, Thu, 18 February 2010

BRUSSELS - "In the immediate future [Viktor Yanukovych] needs to demonstrate that he is not a Russian stooge, so the EU should use this opportunity to strengthen relations with Ukraine, pushing for reforms but offering assistance," argues Amanda Paul, a researcher at the European Policy Centre, in a February paper.

"Mr. Yanukovych's approach to the West, and the EU in particular, may in some respects not be totally dissimilar to that of former President Leonid Kuchma, as he may revert to the old game of 'being in-between' endeavouring to play the EU and Russia against each other.

In the medium to long term, however, Kiev's relations with Moscow will be determined by how Europe (and the US) set their relations with Mr Yanukovych, and given that he plans to visit Brussels early on in his presidency, the EU should send a strong message that it sees him as being pro-European.

The president-elect wants international recognition, and Ukraine will be unable to modernise without large-scale Western assistance and investment, so the EU should continue to push Ukraine on a number of key issues, including reforming the energy sector, improving the electoral system and constitutional and judicial reform. Ensuring the independence of the judiciary (especially the Constitutional Court) is a particularly urgent task as in its current state it cannot serve as an impartial referee.

Until now it has been more beneficial financially to delay reforms and only strong outside pressure, starting with the EU, could tip the balance and bring about change. Negotiations with the EU on a new Association Agreement will continue, although the final framework of the free trade zone – which is an essential part of the future deal - will depend on how deeper economic and regulatory integration with the EU is seen by Yanukovych's inner circle.

On the other hand, taking into account Ukraine's WTO membership, it is highly unlikely that the country will pursue cooperation with Moscow on the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union.

As a tangible incentive to making progress, the EU could push ahead on an issue close to the hearts of Ukrainians – namely visa liberalisation - by way of a visa-free roadmap as happened in the Western Balkans.

Ukraine finds itself at yet another crossroads. The Orange Revolution may be a thing of the past, but its legacy will live on: its achievements should not be forgotten but built upon. It is up to Ukraine's leadership and political elites to create a climate of political and economic stability and deliver some tangible results to the long-suffering population, rather than continuing with the destructive infighting of the last five years."

LINK:  http://www.euractiv.com/en/east-mediterranean/ukraine-under-yanukovych-relations-eu-analysis-260459

LINK:  http://www.euractiv.com/sites/all/euractiv/files/Ukraine%20und er%20Yanukovych%20(2).pdf

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INFORM: Newsletter for the international community providing
views and analysis from the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb 15, 2010, Issue 141
KYIV - Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said that she will challenge the results of the presidential election in court following evidence of widespread fraud. On Sunday, the Central Election Commission (CEC) declared Viktor Yanukovych the next president and published results identical to the preliminary results announced  last Wednesday.
The declared results confirmed a gap between Ms Tymoshenko and the Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych of just 3.48 percent, which amounts to some 900,000 votes.
Pre-empting the official result, Ms Tymoshenko addressed the nation on Saturday. She thanked her supporters and explained that, since the election on 7 February, her team had been working with lawyers to collect and catalogue evidence of election falsifications to be presented in court.
In particular, the premier cited irregularities in the southern autonomous region of Crimea – a Russian-speaking stronghold of Mr Yanukovych – where she alleged 3-8 percent of votes were fraudulently given to him. She said that overall Mr Yanukovych’s team had stolen more than one million votes, more then enough to sway the result in his favour.
A steely faced Ms Tymoshenko told TV viewers, “With all the evidence, I took the only possible solution - to challenge the election results in court.” Acknowledging that Ukrainians were weary from years of political instability, she stressed the need for stability and calm. But she drove home her message, “Not going to the courts today would mean leaving Ukraine to criminals without a fight."
While election monitors were quick to declare the election process had been “free and fair,” there has been growing disquiet that their proclamations were too premature, considering the fraud demonstrated by Mr Yanukovych’s supporters five years ago.
“Yanukovych’s team has learned much since 2004,” said First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov, “the falsifications we have witnessed are less obvious and much harder to verify, but they are there.”
In her address, Ms Tymoshenko said that several observers from the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) election monitoring mission supported her challenge and were concerned at “systematic fraud.”
Last week the OSCE and other bodies gave the Ukraine election a clean bill of health. It did however voice concern over a major change in-between rounds in the election process.

Legislation hurriedly instigated by the Party of Regions dispensed with the requirement for a quorum of representatives from both sides to approve the count. It meant that in 38,000 polling stations nationwide, local Party of Regions commissioners had the power to sign-off the results without the approval from commission members from the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT).
Yesterday the CEC said that it will not consider Ms Tymoshenko’s complaints. Meanwhile, Ms Tymoshenko’s representative at the CEC said that they will take the issue to the courts. He confirmed there are 43 cases in the Kyiv court of appeals concerning the inaction of the CEC in considering complaints. Going through the courts will be an uphill struggle for Ms Tymoshenko. Both the CEC and the courts are staffed predominantly by Party of Regions-run officials. 
“I very well know, as you do, the quality of our courts. But at the same time, I have a responsibility to you and the country to fight for the restoration of justice,” said Ms Tymoshenko.
[1]  Unusually high number of ballots with votes cast for Ms Tymoshenko intentionally damaged and therefore invalidated. 
[2]  With the help of local government bodies, parallel lists of voters were drawn up in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, enabling voters to vote twice.
[3]  Numerous changes in the voter list were made on the day of voting in violation of the law.  
[4]  Cases of voting by election commissioners or other voters for other persons not present at the polling station. 
[5]  Artificial increase in the turnout in Eastern regions of Ukraine caused by the transport between voting precincts of voters organised by the Party of Regions. Furthermore, intensive campaigning on the day of elections is in violation of the law.  
[6]  Numerous violations in the PEC protocols submitted to the DECs; violations of requirements on the corrections in the PEC protocols.
[7]  A suspiciously high number of voters who voted from home (more then 1 million), many of whom did not have permission to do so. A high incidence of home voting based on applications written in the same handwriting.
[8]  Counting of damaged ballots in favour of Viktor Yanukovych in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.          
NOTE: Questions or comments? Email the Inform Newsletter at nlysova@beauty.net.ua
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Just because the Orange revolutionaries lost in Ukraine, doesn't mean their cause did.

Analysis & Commentary: By David J. Kramer Foreign Policy, Wash, D.C., Mon, February 8, 2010 

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych's apparent victory in yesterday's presidential election over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko -- at last count, he had about a 3 percent lead and was pushing Tymoshenko to concede -- has many observers ready to proclaim the death of the Orange Revolution.

Indeed, the revolution's hero, Viktor Yushchenko, got less than 6 percent of the vote last month in the election's first round. If his prime minister, Tymoshenko, loses too, the election will certainly mark a reverse-changing of the guard. This year's victor, Yanukovych, was the very leader ousted after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets of Kiev in chilly November and December, 2004.

Nothing like that is expected this time because much has changed since 2004. And despite its apparent reversal, the Orange Revolution is partly responsible for the much improved climate this time around.

For sure, Ukrainians have good reason to feel disappointed with what became of the Orange Revolution of 2004; its dreams were never realized, leading to tremendous disillusionment among Ukrainians and observers in the West. President Yushchenko's dismal showing in the first round reflected the population's strong disapproval of his leadership.

Tymoshenko, Yushchenko's erstwhile Orange Revolution partner, also bore responsibility as current prime minister -- overseeing a disastrous economic performance last year that saw GDP decline nearly 15 percent. Even in Europe and Washington, "Ukraine fatigue" had set in.

So now, five years after so many Ukrainians went to the polls to enthusiastically vote for their candidate, this time around many held their nose while casting their ballots, voting as much against Yushchenko as for a candidate. Turnout in the first round, while lower than in 2004, was a respectable 67 percent; in the second round, it was 68 percent. (Ukrainians, trained during Soviet times to turn out to vote, still take their civic responsibility seriously, even in freezing cold temperatures.)

But while less invigorating than the 2004 campaign, this year's vote was also quite a bit cleaner. Last time, the leading opposition candidate, Yushchenko, was poisoned with dioxin; those responsible have still not been held accountable. The media in 2004 operated in a climate of fear and were given orders from the administration on what to write and report. The party in power engaged in massive electoral abuse, for example by spending state resources to support the candidacy of the incumbent, Yanukovych.

Russia weighed in -- in an incredibly heavy-handed manner, providing some $600 million in support of Yanukovych's campaign. As if the message wasn't clear enough, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood at Yanukovych's side twice during the race to demonstrate his country's support for the incumbent, once during a military parade down a main street in Kiev. Of course, Moscow's support eventually backfired as Ukrainians decided that they (not the Russians) should choose their leader. 

No such funny business was repeated this time around, nor during parliamentary elections in 2006 and 2007. None of the candidates faced harm or intimidation. The media are today the freest and most diverse in the former Soviet Union. Although some journalists are still on the payrolls of candidates and business interests (it doesn't help that oligarchs own most of the TV stations), they are free to slam the government and candidates at will -- without fear for their lives.

Administrative abuses have been minimal, evidenced by the fact that the sitting president came in an embarrassing fifth place. And even Russia largely stayed on the sidelines, having learned its lesson the hard way five years ago. Besides, this time Moscow seemed ambivalent between the two front-runners. As one observer put it, Moscow likes Tymoshenko but doesn't trust her; they trust Yanukovych more but don't like him.

All these positives add up to an election that is fundamentally different from the 2004 vote. This is in fact the third ballot, after the two parliamentary ones in 2006 and 2007, to have passed the test of international election observers. In other words, Ukraine has shown that it knows how to conduct good elections in a relatively democratic space. That neither candidate in this second round was terribly appealing should not detract from the gains that have been made over the past five years.

Moreover, results in the first round also offered hope that some relatively "new" faces may not be far in the offing. These included former foreign minister and speaker of the parliament Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former central bank governor and businessman Serhei Tigipko (who also ran Yanukovych's campaign in 2004). The latter's third-place showing surprised many people and suggested that new political leaders are gaining momentum. 

So what is up next for Ukraine? We are likely to see court challenges by the Tymoshenko camp, which, given the narrow deficit she faces, is not unreasonable. Hopefully, these legal challenges will be resolved as soon as possible, since the last thing Ukraine needs is a long, drawn-out, legal process that leaves the country in a state of uncertainty or paralysis. 

Once the results are official and the new president is sworn in, it is vital that the West engages right away. There is no doubt that Russia, which agreed to send a new ambassador to Ukraine after the first round, will be looking to step up its engagement with the new team in Kiev.

The West should do the same, not out of a sense of competition with Moscow but out of recognition that Ukraine is important and matters in its own right. Ukraine, a country of 46 million strategically located between Russia and the European Union, holds tremendous potential as a contributor to regional stability. If all goes according to plan, it could even become a model for other countries in the region, including Russia, to follow.

But here's the message to those writing the obituaries of the Orange Revolution: Put down your pens and step back from those keyboard, get over your Ukraine fatigue, take aspirin for the headaches still to come, and do everything possible to ensure that the positives from 2004 do not go to waste. 

NOTE: David J. Kramer is senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington. He headed the International Republican Institute's election observation delegation to Ukraine's second round of the presidential election. He writes here in a personal capacity.

LINK:  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/02/08/ why_the_orange_revolution_didnt_just_die

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Analysis & Commentary: By Tammy Lynch
The ISCIP Analyst (Caucasus/Central Asia/Western Regions),
An Analytical Review, Volume XVI, No. 8, Boston University,
Boston, MA, Thursday, 18 February 10
BOSTON - On 16 February, Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko made good on earlier statements by officially filing documents with the country’s Supreme (Higher) Administrative Court to overturn the country’s presidential election results. (1)

One day later, the Court suspended the official declaration of results by the Central Election Commission (CEC) while it examines the three large boxes of documents submitted with Tymoshenko’s complaint. (2)

The court, however, declined to halt the scheduled 25 February inauguration of Yanukovych, saying its jurisdiction only allows it to deal with the actions of the CEC. However, electoral legislation grants the court only up to five days to rule on complaints of election fraud, so the decision must be released by 21 February – four days before the inauguration.

Previously announced election winner—and current candidate—Viktor Yanukovych responded to the court’s action with silence. Yanukovych’s ally Hanna Herman, however, dismissed the move as a “mere formality.” (3)

Herman is correct, to a point. In accepting the complaint for consideration, the court must automatically suspend the declaration of results. It is not meant to suggest any conclusion regarding the legality of the results. 

However, the court also had the option to find no legal cause to examine the complaint. Tymoshenko’s evidence apparently met the minimum burden of proof for consideration of the claim.

Regardless, most experts suggest that Tymoshenko’s complaint is very unlikely to be found valid by the court. While the evidence presented “surpassed all expectations,” according to analyst Volodymyr Polyakov and others questioned by Ukraine’s media, most agree that to overturn the results, clear evidence of systemic fraud would be required. (4)

Tymoshenko’s evidence appears instead to show possibly significant, but regionalized, irregularities that may or may not have affected the outcome. font-family:"MS Mincho";mso-bidi-font-family:"MS Mincho"'>?In addition, at least one analyst suggests that Yanukovych possesses allies on the court.  Therefore, “Tymoshenko knows she has little chance of winning, but she will use the proceedings to make strong accusations,” according to Viktor Nebozhenko. (5)

Ihor Zhdanov, a former close ally of President Viktor Yushchenko and one of Ukraine’s more respected political analysts, suggests that Tymoshenko’s key evidence includes a reported increase of around 300,000 individuals on the voter lists on election-day. (6)

Following round one of the election, the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations also cited concern about an increase of 400,000 people on the voter lists on that election-day. (7) It is unclear how or why hundreds of thousands of voters came to be added only as votes were being cast during round one and round two.

It is also unclear if the additional voters were added uniformly in all regions or only in specific areas. However, it is understandable why this issue, in a race determined by under 890,000 votes, would be viewed as critical by Tymoshenko’s team.

In its official English-language newsletter, the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko also alleges irregularities with “a suspiciously high number of voters who voted from home,” including “a high incidence of home voting based on applications in the same handwriting.” The Bloc also claims that “an unusually high number of ballots for Ms. Tymoshenko [were] intentionally damaged and therefore invalidated,” and “parallel lists of voters were drawn up in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, enabling voters to vote twice.” (8)

Yanukovych’s team, as well as the Central Election Commission, vigorously deny these charges.

Since evidence has not been released publicly, it is not known if these statements are supported with clear, convincing documentation. For this reason, Ukrainians have called on the Court to conduct an open, transparent hearing, which will allow the evidence to be entered into the court of public opinion.

These calls became louder after President Yushchenko—a staunch Tymoshenko opponent—met with the head of the Supreme Administrative Court. The meeting occurred just hours before his rival officially filed her case. (9)

Any suggestion of irregularities that impacted the election outcome will fly in the face of the findings of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, which found the election free and fair. "Yesterday's vote was an impressive display of democratic elections,” the OSCE said in a press release. “For everyone in Ukraine, this election was a victory.” (10)

The OSCE’s voter list numbers also do not correspond with Tymoshenko’s stated 300,000 voters added to voter lists during round two. The OSCE documented an increase of individuals on voter lists during round two of 150,773 but did not include foreign precincts, including those in Russia. The

OSCE confirms, however, that 400,000 individuals were added to voter lists during round one, and suggests that it is unknown how those 400,000 were dealt with between election rounds:

“Changes to the voter lists were only partly entered into the voter register, due to the fact that the procedures for transmitting data on voters added to the lists were adopted late and were not applied in a uniform manner. In addition, 21 DECs  [District Electoral Commissions – ed.] only partly submitted the information to the register maintenance bodies (RMBs).

As a result, some voters had to re-apply to be added to the voter lists for the second round. Some RMBs failed to check whether voters added to voter lists on election day were legitimately added to the lists.” (11)

The OSCE also noted, “Some 1.4 million voters (3.9 per cent of the total number of voters) were registered to vote by mobile ballot box, about 220,000 voters more than in the first round.” (12)

The organization, however, did not find that these issues directly affected the outcome of the election. In fact, while many monitoring groups found regional or localized problems—including pens with disappearing ink at 17 polling stations in Kyiv—none called the election unfair or unfree.

And in reality, this is largely true. With over 25 million votes cast, questions remain about a small fraction of them – under one million. The majority of voters cast their ballots in an election that was conducted freely following an open, spirited campaign that was covered by a generally free media. This is something of which to be proud – and something rare in the former Soviet Union.

But because the margin of victory was so small, the questionable votes identified by Tymoshenko are now an issue.

Should this court find Tymoshenko’s complaint credible, it’s only real option is to nullify the CEC declaration of victory and order the Commission to investigate these irregularities fully. It has no jurisdiction to overturn results. Should the CEC fail to act, Tymoshenko could file another complaint to overturn the results with the Ukraine Supreme Court, based on fraud.

Since this seems unlikely, Viktor Yanukovych probably will be inaugurated as planned on 25 February.

At this point, he will be Ukraine President, but Tymoshenko will remain Prime Minister – in the office that holds much of the country’s real power.  The Prime Minister is nominated and confirmed by parliament. The President’s only duty in this regard is the ceremonial job of entering the nominated name into parliamentary consideration.

The closeness of the election and Tymoshenko’s success so far in undermining Yanukovych’s victory means it will be more difficult for Yanukovych’s party to replace her as Prime Minister. Should the new president want to do so, he will need to do one of two things:

       (1) launch an all-out political battle against the head of government, providing Tymoshenko with the opportunity to claim victimhood and withdraw to lead the opposition – as Yanukovych and his new PM take responsibility for the continuing recession; or

       (2) dissolve the parliament and call new parliamentary elections, hoping that Tymoshenko’s claims of election fraud haven’t allowed her to shore up her support. New parliamentary elections with an equal or stronger Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko would be disastrous for Yanukovych.
So, while Tymoshenko is unlikely to win the court battle over election results, it appears she already has made significant progress in the new political war for power and influence.

Source Notes:
(1) “Ukraine’s PM Lodges Appeal,” Reuters/Montreal Gazette, 17 Feb 10 via http://www.montrealgazette.com.
(2) “Ukrainian election results suspended on appeal,” Associated Press, 17 Feb 10 via Google News.
(3) “Court Suspends Ukraine Vote Results,” AP/Moscow Times, 18 Feb 10 via www.moscowtimes.com.
(4) “Experts on Tymoshenko chances to win lawsuit,” Zik – Western Information Agency, 2136 CET, 17 Feb 2010 via http://zik.com.ua.
(5) “Court Suspends Ukraine Vote Results,” AP/Moscow Times.
(6) “Experts on Tymoshenko chances to win lawsuit,” Zik-Western Information Agency.
(7) Ukraine Presidential Election, Report on Pre-Election Period, January 18-February 4 2010, page 2, via       http://www.isfed.ge/pdf/enemo_report_on_pre_election _period_ukraine.pdf.
(8) “Inform Newsletter,” 15 Feb 10 via email.
(9) Ukrayinska Pravda, 1616 CET, 15 Feb 2010 via http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2010/02/15/4773483/.
(10) Press Release: “Run-off confirms that Ukraine's presidential election meets most international commitments,” OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – Elections, 8 Feb 10 via http://www.osce.org/odihr-elections/item_1_42681.html.
(11) “INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSI O N Ukraine — Presidential Election, Second Round 7 February 2010 STATEMENT OF PRELIMINARY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS,” 8 Feb 10, page 3 via http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2010/02/42679_en.pdf.
(12) Ibid, page 6.

CONTACT: Tammy Lynch (tammymlynch@hotmail.com)

LINK: www.bu.edu/iscip; Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology & Policy at Boston University, 141 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215.
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Analysis & Commentary: By Ivan Poltavets and Ievgenii Rovnyi
Inside Ukraine #5, International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, February 18, 2010

KYIV - Dear colleagues, please find at the following links the February issue of Inside Ukraine "Yanukovych Uncovered," http://www.icps.com.ua/eng/index.html or http://www.icps.com.ua/files/articles/55/63/Inside_Ukraine_ ENG_5_Febr_2010.pdf

The official results of the run-off election announced by the Central Election Commission made Viktor Yanukovych the new President of Ukraine. The OSCE and other international observers concluded that Ukraine's election was fair and transparent and world leaders have already congratulated the President-elect. Still, uncertainty about how the political situation might evolve in Ukraine remains high.

In this special issue of Inside Ukraine, ICPS takes a revealing look at Viktor Yanukovych. We do a little reality check on major myths about Mr. Yanukovych. We look at the challenges that the new President will face, appointments he may make, the foreign policy agenda that he will push through, and the domestic policies he will have to back or oppose.

We also suggest 7 tests for Mr. Yanukovych that will allow both Ukrainians and the international community to understand where Ukraine is heading.

Enjoy, Olga SHUMYLO, Director, International Centre for, Policy Studies, Kyiv, Ukraine, http://www.icps.com.ua/eng/index.html

LINK:  http://www.icps.com.ua/files/articles/55/63/Inside _Ukraine_ENG_5_Febr_2010.pdf
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Analysis & Commentary: By James Sherr

Head, Russia & Eurasia Programme

Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs 
Chatham House Programme Paper, London, UK, Thu, 18 Feb 2010

On 14 February, Ukraine’s Central Electoral Commission officially declared Viktor Federovych Yanukovych the country’s fourth elected president since Ukraine declared independence on 24 August 1991. It was, in the words of Ukraine’s authoritative web-based journal Glavred, ‘the most boring election in the history of Ukraine’s independence’.  That  is good news.  In Russia elections are boring because one knows who is going to win. In Ukraine no one has any idea who will win, nevertheless elections are boring. That is one of the Orange Revolution’s few triumphs.

But worries now overshadow them. For nineteen years Ukraine has defined itself unequivocally as a European rather than a Eurasian state, and it generally has been accepted that the quality of its independence is inseparable from its ability to distinguish itself from Russia. Leonid Kuchma, the author of Ukraine’s controversial ‘multi-vector policy’, which during the ten years of his presidency (1994-2004) sought to counterbalance Russia and the Euro-Atlantic community, was also the author of a book entitled Ukraine Is Not Russia. Today, many hope and many fear that this era is drawing to a close.

The truth of the matter will not be known for some time, and it will not be determined by Yanukovych alone.  If, as expected, his victory is confirmed by the courts (who face legal challenges from his rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko), he will come to power in an economically ruined country, deeply dependent on Western-dominated financial institutions.  He will also be governing a highly pluralistic state and will swiftly find (if he does not grasp the point already) that he will not be able to use power effectively unless he shares it. His parliamentary coalition will have to be based on compromises if it is to endure at all.

Most offices of state, not to say the most competent officials in the country, link Ukraine’s future with Europe, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and armed forces have acquired a decidedly Euro-Atlantic orientation. The more competitive business sector is not only drawn to European markets, but increasingly to a European model that promises emancipation from the rent-seeking bureaucracies, avaricious politicians, shadowy intermediaries and weak property rights that have plagued economic relations in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, as President, Yanukovych will wield considerable power, and it is prudent to worry about how he might use it.  He will also have the support of a large, embittered and vindicated constituency which, unlike the disillusioned supporters of Tymoshenko, loathed the Orange Revolution too much to feel betrayed by it.  For most of his career, Yanukovych has behaved in accordance with the axiom, ‘influence is good, control is better’. 

Although keen to appear as an exponent of consensus and reconciliation in his scripted audiences with Western journalists, his less guarded comments suggest that the instinct for domination has not disappeared.  Speaking on Rossiya 24 television on 13 February, he stated, ‘[t]he new authorities have come.  The old authorities, who have not been recognised by the Ukrainian people at this election, should go’.  ‘Not recognised’ is a bold statement for someone whose victory rests on 3.48 percent of the vote.
Yanukovych, his inner circle and his constituency are also convinced that a course that sets Ukraine at cross purposes with Russia is dangerous for the country’s security and distressing to the majority of its people.  However, the risk is not that Yanukovych, any more than Kuchma, will choose to be a ‘vassal of Russia’.  It is that the steps he takes will inadvertently damage his other professed objectives: closer relations with the EU, cooperation with NATO and the economic success of Ukraine.

These worries will now be felt in four key areas of policy:

[1]  Energy.  Yanukovych has articulated two firm principles regarding energy. He will renegotiate the Tymoshenko-Putin January 2009 Ukraine-Russia gas supply contract (which, in the opinion of most energy specialists, has brought greater transparency to European energy markets), and he will resurrect the 2002 scheme to transfer ownership of Ukraine’s state-owned gas transit system to a three-way consortium.  As he told Russia-24, ‘I would like us to return to the format of relations we had five years ago’.  Yet five years ago, there was no gas consortium, because Kuchma had no intention of going forward with it.

There also were no bypass projects, such as South Stream, which Yanukovych hopes Russia will now abandon. What existed then were heavily subsidised gas prices, which Yanukovych plainly hopes Russia will restore in exchange for de facto ownership of the gas transit system. What also existed and what President Yushchenko, to everyone’s surprise, revived was an opaquely structured market dominated by intermediaries.

A key stakeholder in these arrangements, Yuriy Boyko, a former chairman of the state-owned supply company, Naftohaz, and subsequently Minister of Fuel and Energy, is now widely tipped to return to the latter post.  If Yanukovych’s aspirations bear fruit, they will have a profoundly retrograde effect on European gas markets. 

They will reverse the trends in the direction of market-based pricing, which have been gathering momentum even in Russia’s internal market, and to diminished dependency on Russian supplies. They will remove the greatest impetus towards energy diversification and efficiency in Ukraine (which, before the financial crisis, was the sixth largest consumer of natural gas in the world).

They will deprive Ukraine of leverage in future pricing disputes with Russia. Not least of all, they will demolish the rationale for proceeding with EU and US-sponsored modernisation schemes, such as the 23 March 2009 EU-Ukraine agreement,  and they will threaten future IMF assistance.

[2]  Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, whose lease in Crimea, according to the 1997 accords, is due to expire in 2017. That Yanukovych is open to extending the lease is unsurprising, and it is widely rumoured that Tymoshenko expressed the same openness to Prime Minister Putin during the gas negotiations of November 2009.   But under today’s terms, which render significant aspects of the Fleet’s activity—economic, military and intelligence related—unspecified and unregulated?

Or on the basis of a NATO-style Status of Forces Agreement which would subject these activities to codification, oversight and agreement? Thus far, Yanukovych has spoken only of a ‘package’ embracing ‘quite a few issues’,  and this does not quell fears that he would allow today’s murky and potentially menacing arrangements to continue.

[3]  NATO. Yanukovych’s pledge to ‘participate actively’ in President Medvedev’s European security initiative will mean little until the West’s core institutions, NATO, the EU and the OSCE agree to do the same.  His formula of maintaining cooperation with NATO whilst deferring discussion of membership for the indefinite future means equally little in view of political realities in Europe. But what will ‘cooperation’ mean in practice? 

Today it means an institutionalised role for NATO in Ukrainian defence reform and the extensive participation of Ukrainian armed forces in NATO-led operations.  Until a new defence minister is appointed, it is impossible to say which of these arrangements will continue and in what form. Were the NATO-Ukraine Commission and joint planning process to dissolve, the relationship as it has evolved since 1997 would cease to exist.

[4]  Economic Stability and EU Relations. The revival of  Kuchma-style hard corruption, not to say politically repressive measures, would take EU-Ukraine cooperation off the table. The appointment to the premiership of Mykola Azarov, architect of the Kuchma-era tax police and, by many accounts, some of the financially coercive measures of that era, would give substance to the first worry, if not the second. 

The appointment of Serhiy Lavochkin (former adviser to Kuchma) as Chief of Staff and Boyko’s reappointment would add to these worries, which surely would be compounded  in the event of a major redistribution of property and a reopening of investigations against Tymoshenko for alleged wrongdoing in the 1990s. The ranks of those seeking revenge and restitution are not small.  (Boyko himself was twice interrogated by the Security Services (SBU) in 2005 and, according to its then chairman and Tymoshenko loyalist, Aleksandr Turchynov, was on the point of arrest).

This catalogue of dread, assiduously presented by Yulia Tymoshenko’s campaign team, would fundamentally alter Ukraine’s place in Europe.  But is it realistic?


There are four good reasons to hope that it is not realistic:

[1] Parliament. Without a parliamentary majority, the new president’s top appointments will not be confirmed.  At present, Tymoshenko still enjoys a de jure majority, and her ouster as Prime Minister  could prove more difficult than many assume. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions is well short of a majority, with 172 seats in the 450-member unicameral chamber, the Verkhovna Rada.  Were the Communists (27 seats) and the bloc of the Rada’s chairman, Volodymyr Lytvyn (20 seats) to join them, they would be in striking distance of one, but the terms demanded by the Communists might be unpalatable to Lytvyn’s supporters and many inside Regions itself. 

It is more likely that a majority of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine People’s Self-Defence bloc (36 out of 71) would join Regions in coalition along with Lytvyn and even some 20-25 members of the 153-member Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko. But there would be terms: sooner or later, the return of a ‘safe pair of hands’ like Yuriy Yekhanurov as Prime Minister (the post he held under Yushchenko between September 2005 and August 2006) and prominent positions for Petro Poroshenko (current Minister of Foreign Affairs) and several other ‘pragmatic’ figures in the Orange pantheon. 

Moreover, Yanukovych would have to maintain this majority by pursuing policies that it will support.  His threat to escape these constraints by calling a snap election rings increasingly hollow.  The gap between him and Tymoshenko was rapidly closing in the hours before polls closed on the 7th, and the odds are that a new election will return fewer seats to Regions than it already has.

The certainty of a tough parliamentary opposition, the growing capacity of third-force politicians like Serhiy Tyhypko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Anatoliy Grytsenko and the approach of local elections (30 May) will only add to the ranks of those determined to hold Yanukovych to account.

[2]  Divisions in the Party of Regions.  Viktor Yanukovych might be an authoritarian figure, but by comparison to the personalised Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, the Party of Regions is a pluralistic party.  The party’s biggest financier and Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, has no wish to see Ukraine put additional barriers between itself and Europe, whether through defiance or incompetence. Like at least half of the party elite, the most probable new foreign minister, Konstyantyn Gryshchenko (now ambassador in Moscow), has never sought integration with Russia, but integration with Europe by means that do not antagonise Russia. 

Yanukovych himself whilst in office always kept his distance from the dogmas of the party’s ‘swamp’, which he thunderously defended on the campaign trial.  He has already backed away from his promise to make Russian an official language, instead calling for observing the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages ‘which will enable the Russian-speaking population and other ethnic groups to speak their mother tongue’.  As Prime Minister under Kuchma, he was the architect of the NATO-Ukraine memorandum on strategic airlift and supported the Membership Action Plan that he now opposes.

[3] A Transformed Energy Market. Yanukovych’s gas consortium initiative is out of kilter with economic and political reality.  For one thing, two gas crises and the Russia-Georgia war have changed the climate in Europe. Diversification and marketisation are now seen as imperatives, and the measures proposed by the European Commission have begun to take root.

Two years ago, the odds were very strong against the Nabucco pipeline being built; today they are moderately in favour. The global economic crisis, the rapid expansion of US gas production and the attractiveness of LNG have created a more open gas market and a sharp fall of demand for Russian pipeline gas. The German appetite for the consortium is therefore not what it was. 

Although the ambitions of Gazprom and the Kremlin to control Ukraine’s GTS are unchanged, Yanukovych’s quid pro quo—a return to subsidies—is not only unpalatable, but unaffordable. Those in Moscow most expected to welcome his proposal are likely to cold shoulder it. So, very likely, are the parliamentarians of Ukraine who would be obliged to overturn the 2006 law prohibiting such a step (which at the time Yanukovych supported).

[4]  Relations with the West.  The West’s influence is now inescapable, however Washington and Brussels plan to make use of it. Ukraine’s GDP fell by 14 percent in 2009, inflation is running at an annual rate of over 12 percent, budget revenue plunged by 20 percent, banking deposits by 26 percent, and capital flight rose to $13.6 bn. External debt exceeds $30 bn, and debt servicing requirements stand at $4 bn per annum.

Debt servicing terms, credit ratings and macro-economic assistance are hostage to the confidence of the Western banks and institutions upon which Ukraine is now dependent.  The basis for a policy of conditionality is possibly stronger than it ever has been, and it will be puzzling if Western representatives and prominent Ukrainians do not point this out.

Given all these factors, it would be surprising if Yanukovych’s presidency did not enhance what has been the defining feature of Ukraine’s political culture:  distrust of power. The country that elected him seeks stability, not repression, and if Yanukovych forgets this, he will swiftly discover that the polity is far from powerless.  Whether this mixture of ambitions, impulses, pragmatism and constraints leads to responsible government, a new set of stalemates or a muddle remains to be seen.  But the West needs to be acting, not just watching, because once again there is everything to play for.

NOTE:  Article published by USUBC with the permission of the author, James Sherr.
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Op-Ed, By Steven Pifer
The New York Times, NY, NY, Tue, February 9, 2010

If Viktor Yanukovich, the winner of the presidential race in Ukraine, acts quickly to address his country’s pressing problems, he could move it out of the doldrums and cure the “Ukraine fatigue” afflicting Washington and most European capitals.

As Viktor Yushchenko exits the presidency, Ukraine faces a host of problems. It suffered a crushing 14 percent fall in gross domestic product in 2009. Unwise pricing policies and widespread corruption have put the critical gas sector in virtual bankruptcy. The nasty in-fighting between Mr. Yushchenko and his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, kept Kiev from implementing needed responses to these challenges.

As a result, Ukraine fatigue has again gripped the West. This malady first broke out in 1998 in the U.S. Congress. American legislators, weary of the slow pace of reform and mistreatment of U.S. investors, scaled back their generous assistance earmarks for Kiev. A subsequent outbreak was cured by the 2004 Orange Revolution, as Ukrainians inspired the West with a determined defense of their right to have their votes counted fairly.

Unfortunately, Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko, close allies during the Orange Revolution, could not cooperate in power and failed to build on the revolution’s promise. Ukraine fatigue returned with a vengeance. The country has ceased to be a priority for the European Union and, given everything now on the Obama foreign policy plate, barely registers on Washington’s radar.

Mr. Yanukovich’s victory on Sunday rings with irony. After all, the Orange Revolution threw out his tainted election. But the Ukrainian electorate has given him a new chance. He now has an opportunity — and the responsibility — to show he can provide the decisive leadership his country needs.

Whatever the preferences might have been in the Washington and Europe, Ukrainians have made their choice. No compelling evidence of major voting irregularities has emerged, and international observers praised the election for meeting democratic standards, now the norm for Ukraine. The West should congratulate and engage Mr. Yanukovich, and urge him to get on with addressing Ukraine’s daunting problems.

A serious attack on corruption would create better conditions for both Ukrainian and foreign businesses. Reforming the gas sector would strengthen Ukraine’s energy security and benefit Europe: Gas spats between Kiev and Moscow have twice in the past four years halted gas flows to Europe. Coherent policymaking in Kiev would give Western capitals something with which to work.

Tackling this reform agenda will require tough decisions by Ukraine’s new leadership. The United States and European Union should jointly send a message to Kiev containing three key points:

[1]  First, the West welcomes Mr. Yanukovich as the democratically elected leader of Ukraine. However, a reversal of the democratic progress that Kiev has made in the past five years would have profoundly negative consequences for relations with the West.

[2]  Second, the West understands that Mr. Yanukovich’s foreign policy may differ from his predecessor’s. The doors to integration and cooperation with institutions such as the European Union and NATO nevertheless will remain open; Kiev should indicate how far and how fast it wishes to proceed.

[3]  Third, the West will assess his seriousness by the seriousness of his policies. The West cannot want Ukraine to succeed more than Ukrainians do. Should Mr. Yanukovich avoid crucial actions such as energy sector reform, that is his choice — even an understandable one given the tough politics that surround the issue. The West will still seek good relations. But Washington and Brussels should make clear that in such circumstances, Kiev should not expect the West to extend itself by intervening, for example, with the International Monetary Fund to cut Ukraine slack on meeting its loan obligations.

The goal should be to encourage Kiev to take steps that will make Ukraine more democratic, more stable and more capable of fending for itself. That will advance the country’s interests and make it a better partner for Europe. If Kiev proves unwilling to take such steps, the county will linger in the doldrums — and Ukraine fatigue in the West will grow.

NOTE: Steven Pifer is a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 10, 2010, in The International Herald Tribune.

LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/opinion/10iht-edpifer.html?scp=1&sq=pifer%20ukraine%20&st=cse

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We are a nation with a European identity, but we have historic cultural and economic ties to Russia as well. We can benefit from both.
Opinion Europe: By Victor Yanukovych
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Wed, Feb 17, 2010 

Over the past month, Ukraine has demonstrated twice that it cherishes the values of democracy and the belief that it is important for people to vote. Ukraine's presidential election was validated by all of the major international observer groups as free, fair and transparent, which attested to the Ukrainian people's resolve for a democratic election. The people of Ukraine desired change and their voices were heard. Now we have the great responsibility to help our fellow countrymen, who have cast votes for me hoping for a better life.

This election was defined by a financial and economic crisis that has devastated our country. Before the global economic crisis, Ukraine was one of Europe's top emerging markets, and economic prosperity did not seem beyond our reach in the near term. Now all that has changed, and the people demanded change in the way our Government works in Ukraine.

We must still put an end to the political turmoil that has crippled Ukraine and held our country hostage for so long. I will work ardently to do this as president. The only way that this can be accomplished is for the top political forces and their leaders, immediately after the presidential election results have been declared and certified, to avoid confrontation and unite for the sake of saving our country. We are a nation capable of great things but we will accomplish none of them if we continue to bicker among ourselves and ignore the enormous challenges that we must confront.

Let me say here, a Yanukovych presidency is committed to the integration of European values in Ukraine. Ukraine should make use of its geopolitical advantages and become a bridge between Russia and the West. Developing a good relationship with the West and bridging the gap to Russia will help Ukraine. We should not be forced to make the false choice between the benefits of the East and those of the West.

As president I will endeavor to build a bridge between both, not a one-way street in either direction. We are a nation with a European identity, but we have historic cultural and economic ties to Russia as well. The re-establishment of relations with the Russian Federation is consistent with our European ambitions. We will rebuild relations with Moscow as a strategic economic partner. There is no reason that good relations with all of our neighbors cannot be achieved.

If we hope to become a bridge between two important spheres we cannot merely talk and make promises; we must deliver concrete policies and achieve real progress. If we hope to join the European Union we must secure political stability and establish ourselves as an economically viable nation. We must be pragmatic and focused to achieve EU membership. We must create transparent policies that allow our economy to thrive and demonstrate that Ukraine will add value to the EU as a new member state.

I am committed to conducting a policy that would strengthen our links with respected international financial institutions, and increase our standing in the world economic community. My election program, "Ukraine for the People," is a deep and comprehensive plan that clearly specifies how to achieve social and economic progress. It is not an easy task. We will be confronted with the same conflicts as Europe and Washington have faced—how to stimulate our economy to create jobs while not decreasing the social protections needed by our citizens. We must defeat corruption, which has become rampant over the last several years and has damaged our ability to attract foreign investment.

If we hope to join the EU and raise the standard of living of Ukrainians to that of other European nations, we must restore our economy from within. There are three fundamental objectives the Ukrainian economy must achieve in order to thrive: First, we must create jobs; second, we must stabilize prices so people can afford the necessities that they need to live; and third, we must ensure our citizens receive adequate wages and pensions. Giving our citizens a basic economic foundation is a critical first step to restoring the broken bond between the people and the government of Ukraine.

And so that is my agenda—to restore economic vitality and calm the political turbulence that has plagued our nation; to enable Ukraine to take advantage of its natural positioning as a thriving bridge between Russia and the West; and finally, to prepare a free and open Ukraine, economically and politically, to join the European Union when the time comes.

Ukraine is a beautiful country with hard-working and virtuous people who ask only for a chance at a better life. I know that if we can come together, we will achieve great things. As president, I plan to give Ukrainians the nation they deserve—a Ukraine for the people.

NOTE:  Mr. Yanukovych is president-elect of Ukraine.

LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870480420 4575069251843839386.html?KEYWORDS=ukraine

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By Daryna Krasnolutska and Lyubov Pronina

Bloomberg News, Kiev, Ukraine, Wed, Feb 17, 2010
KIEV - Ukraine’s President-elect Viktor Yanukovych may be stepping up efforts to move the former Soviet state closer to Russia and end a standoff that’s obstructed gas flows and heightened regional tensions for half a decade.

In the 11 days since beating Yulia Timoshenko in a runoff vote, Yanukovych signaled on his Web site he may allow Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to stay in Ukrainian waters. He asked for Russian help to ease gas flows into Europe and yesterday said he wants Ukraine to join Russia’s customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Kommersant reported.

Yanukovych’s “policy will steer the country toward a return of good, friendly relations with Russia,” said Sergei Markov, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party. “What we observed before was an artificial attempt to make Russia and Ukraine quarrel.”

Yanukovych, 59, who has promised to restore Russian as Ukraine’s second official language, also says he will seek to balance Russian and European Union ties. While he wrote in the Wall St. Journal yesterday that he wants to prepare Ukraine for EU membership “when the time comes,” his actions indicate his ambition to renew relations with Moscow may be stronger than he signaled previously.

“Yanukovych is still under the influence of his election win,” said Yuriy Yakymenko, an analyst at the Kiev-based Razumkov Center for Political and Economic Studies. “He pledged to implement all changes that Russia would like to see, ignoring Ukraine’s political context and without thinking whether he really can do it.”


The defeat of outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko in the Jan. 17 first round ended an era of tense Ukraine-Russian relations that contributed to a souring of ties between Moscow and Washington.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Putin used Yushchenko’s ambition to steer the country into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an excuse to ramp up antagonism between the two former Cold War adversaries and prompted fears of a military clash in the region.

The Kremlin curbed natural-gas deliveries to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009, withheld a new ambassador to Kiev and accused Yushchenko of supplying arms to Georgia during Russia’s war with its southern neighbor in August 2008.

Yushchenko, who defeated Yanukovych in the 2004 Orange Revolution, had targeted NATO membership and joining the European Union as ways of freeing Ukraine from Russian influence. Ukraine’s economic collapse since then, which has left it reliant on a $16.4 billion International Monetary Fund loan, and his bickering with Timoshenko have left voters jaded and contributed to his defeat.

In yesterday’s Journal article, Yanukovych pledged to rebuild ties with Ukraine’s nuclear-armed neighbor. “We are a nation with a European identity but we have historic cultural and economic ties to Russia as well,” he wrote. “We will rebuild relations with Moscow as a strategic economic partner.”

Russia, which traces its statehood to medieval Kiev, shares close economic, linguistic and religious ties to its neighbor. Without Ukraine, Russia stops being an empire with a foothold in Europe, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard.”

Ukraine was incorporated into the USSR in 1922 and it was known as the breadbasket of the Soviet empire because of its agricultural produce.

Much of industrialized eastern Ukraine is populated by Russian speakers whose first loyalty was always to Moscow. The Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea, associated with some of Russia’s greatest writers including Chekhov, Bulgakov and Tolstoy, was given to the Ukrainian soviet republic by Russia in 1954.

Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea and 80 percent of Russian gas exports to Europe go through Ukrainian territory. Eastern Ukraine will become part of Russia “in five years,” said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia, on Ekho Moskvy radio. “The east is Russian. The population is largely Russian,” Yanukovych is “basically Russian.”

Though Yanukovych has made clear he won’t stick to the NATO membership aspiration, some of his promises to Russia will require significant legislative upheaval to enact.

His offer to allow the Black Sea Fleet to stay past 2017 ignores Ukraine’s constitution, which doesn’t allow foreign troops outside the terms of the lease. Yanukovych will need to secure a 300 vote majority in the 450-seat parliament to overturn that law.

Ukraine’s military strategy stipulates that the country should target NATO entry, though membership would require a referendum. Yanukovych’s request to join the customs union seems not to take into account Ukraine’s membership in the World Trade Organization since May 2008.

“Yanukovych’s comments obviously reflect a change in policy,” Yushchenko said at a meeting of his Our Ukraine Party on Feb. 16.

Yanukovych has been congratulated on his victory by U.S. President Barack Obama, EU Commission President Jose Barroso and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, though Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was first to invite him for an official visit, Interfax reported on Feb. 15.

“Russiagains by having a friendlier and even preferential relationship but not a dominant one,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow. “That delivers the Holy Grail for the Kremlin. Good business andgood politics: Putin’s dream.” NOTE: With assistance from Kateryna Choursina in Kiev, Lucian Kim and Patrick Henry in Moscow. Editors: Tasneem Brogger, Chris Kirkham.

To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at +38-044-490-1252 or dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors for this story: Chris Kirkham at +44-20-7673-2464 or ckirkham@bloomberg.net.

LINK: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-17/yanukovych-s-russian-overtures-may-signal-ukraine-s-allegiance.html

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