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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Europe
 

Ukraine: BYUT CONGRESS--NATIONALIST WRAPPINGS, BUT POPULIST UNDERPINNINGS

     
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Reference ID: 07KYIV2075
Created: 2007-08-17 12:26
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Origin: Embassy Kyiv

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P 171226Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3419
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KYIV 002075
 
SIPDIS
 
SIPDIS
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: BYUT CONGRESS--NATIONALIST WRAPPINGS, BUT
POPULIST UNDERPINNINGS
 
 
KYIV 00002075  001.2 OF 004
 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4(b,d).
 
1. (C) Summary.  In a congress that emphasized Ukrainian
nationalism and loyalty to Tymoshenko, the diminutive
opposition leader presented her detailed program for the
country's future, "the Ukrainian Breakthrough." In a
75-minute speech, Tymoshenko laid out her ideas for
everything from increasing funding for sciences and education
to nationalized medicine to judicial reform.  She also said
there will be no grand coalition with Our Ukraine and
Regions, because she will not unite with "criminals."  Other
BYuT speakers called for economic and judicial reform and
European integration, but few offered specific ideas.  The
congress was the formal introduction of the Party of Reforms
and Order (PRP) into BYuT, although PRP party leader, former
Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk, has been an ally of
Tymoshenko's since he served in her government in 2005.  The
president of the conservative European People's Party gave
the same strongly pro-opposition speech he gave at the Our
Ukraine-PSD congress and welcomed BYuT as a new observer in
the party.  The party list is similar to 2006, with the
biggest change the top ten placements of bloc newcomers
Pynzenyk and former Socialist and key Tymoshenko ally Iosip
Vinskiy.  In private, MP Andriy Shevchenko, number five on
the new list, told Ambassador that the bloc was studying its
polling numbers--it was gaining on Our Ukraine in the west,
but starting to flag in parts of the center.  He also said
that he thought it was possible that Yushchenko would choose
a coalition with Regions in the end--to try to unite
Ukraine--even in if the opposition wins 226 seats.
 
2. (C) Comment.  Despite the new "nationalism" theme and
BYuT's decision to join a conservative European movement
(rather than the Socialist International), very little has
changed in the bloc.  Tymoshenko is still the lifeblood of
the movement, as evidenced by the thunderous applause she
received and everyone wearing clothes with her name on them.
The BYuT party list is the least changed out of any of the
big three in comparison to 2006.  And her speech was as full
as populist and left-center slogans as ever, regardless of
what Shevchenko told us about her change in personal
ideology.  Shevchenko's comments underscore what we have also
heard from OU leaders -- the two blocs are targeting the same
voters and will end up competing more against each than
trying to beat Regions or to woo disillusioned Socialist
voters.  This strategy could have the unintended consequence
of lowering the total number of votes the opposition gets,
because they will not be trying to find new supporters to
come out and vote.  End summary and comment.
 
Atmospherics: Nationalism and "We Love Yuliya" T-shirts
--------------------------------------------- ----------
 
3. (C) The August 4 BYuT congress emphasized Ukrainian
nationalism--Tymoshenko was in full traditional (albeit
stylish) peasant gear, folk singers performed, and Tymoshenko
talked much more about Ukrainian culture and history than did
anyone at the OU-PSD congress.  The vibe suggested that her
bloc is trying to position themselves as the new nationalist
party.  They also held a long tribute for retiring BYuT MP
and former dissident, Lev Lukyanenko, one of the few
political prisoners to be given a death sentence in the
post-Stalin era.  The delegates were a sea of white -- all
wearing BYuT gear--t-shirts, baseball hats, tank tops,
kerchiefs.  Organizationally, however, the BYuT congress
shared more in common with Regions than with OU--endless
speeches and no one actually counting votes, the assumption
being that there was unanimity on every motion made, although
we saw dissenters try to vote against on at least one
occasion.
 
Tymoshenko: Ukraine Needs a Breakthrough
----------------------------------------
 
4. (SBU) At an hour and fifteen minutes, Tymoshenko's speech
was the most detailed and well-thought out platform agenda of
any of the presentations at the major congresses.  Her
campaign slogan is "The Ukrainian Breakthrough" and she
outlined the "breakthroughs" that Ukraine must make.  A
"constitutional breakthrough" included a pledge to hold a
referendum on the concepts of a new constitution on September
30 (note: considered by most to be impossible to do), hold an
assembly to put the new constitution together, and hold a
second referendum on the entire constitution next year.  In
her "judicial breakthrough" she advocated popularly electing
judges, decreasing executive branch power over the judiciary,
and helping average people be able to afford to go to court
if they need to.  An "information breakthrough" focused on
the importance of media having more influence over government
and the need for new laws to protect journalists.
 
KYIV 00002075  002.2 OF 004
 
 
Tymoshenko's "anti-corruption breakthrough" would give more
power to the political opposition and provide more stringent
punishments for officials caught in corruption (including
life sentences, which drew loud applause).  Ukraine needs a
"demographic breakthrough," she argued, including guaranteed
access to medicine for all, financial assistance for young
parents to increase the birthrate, and more government help
for families.  An "intellectual breakthrough" would be based
on allocating more state money for science.  There was a
connection between the "transportation" and "energy"
breakthroughs because Ukraine must improve its ports and
without new investment in these two areas, Ukraine cannot do
anything.  Tymoshenko called for an "investment breakthrough"
that included creating an investment ombudsman and zones of
development-investment in depressed areas.  As part of the
"agricultural breakthrough" she called for making the
agricultural sector run more likes a business, producing
higher quality goods, uniting the government and investors,
and establishing a land market and agricultural goods market.
 
5. (SBU) In addition to her program, Tymoshenko said that the
opposition had fought for new elections, persevered, and
won--the "mafia" will not win again.  Corruption had split
the country and anti-Ukrainian forces used the constitution
to build an anti-democratic system of power.  Now, they must
defend Ukraine's role in the world.  She was proposing a new
national idea, she said, that would bring fairer standards
and communication between people and government.  People need
to know about Ukraine's history and culture, but she believed
that children today don't know enough about their own
country.  Regarding the language question, Tymoshenko said
that if people want two official languages, let "them" learn
Ukrainian, then she'll discuss it.  She also called for a
revival of Ukraine's spirituality.  In closing, she said that
there will be no grand coalition--she will not be in a
coalition with "criminals" who don't see Ukraine as an
independent country.  There are two options for BYuT.  They
will get 226 seats by themselves and form the government or
they will form a coalition with OU-PSD.  She closed by
quoting both Nike "Just Do It" and Jonathan Livingston
Seagull.
 
Other Speeches Spanned the Policy Spectrum
------------------------------------------
 
6. (C) The other BYuT speakers seemed arranged to each
address a different aspect of the "breakthrough," although
they were light on specifics.  Pynzenyk spoke about improving
Ukraine's economic standards and said that the 2005
Tymoshenko government, in which he served as Minister of
Finance, was the most efficient in Ukraine's history.  Yevhen
Korniychuk--a former diplomat who took over the Social
Democratic Party, the third party in BYuT, when his
father-in-law Vasyl Onopenko left to become Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court--looked uncomfortable addressing such a
large crowd, but said that he would be involved in judicial
reform and criticized the influence politics currently has in
the judiciary.  Deputy Rada Speaker Mykola Tomenko talked
about getting rid of the myth that all political parties are
the same by emphasizing that BYuT has had no one in the
government since September 2005.  He also talked about
canceling immunity for parliamentary deputies.  Foreign
policy guru Hryhoriy Nemyria talked about European
integration, although he said that it will be easier and more
effective if Ukraine has good relations with its neighbors,
especially Russia.  MP Andriy Shevchenko, a former
journalist, mocked Yanukovych for using a teleprompter during
his speech.  Former Deputy Prime Minister for Agriculture
Ivan Kyrylenko quoted Lenin while talking about parlaying the
trust of the people built while in the opposition into a
victory on September 30.
 
Party Business was Straightforward
----------------------------------
 
7. (SBU) The bloc now formally comprises three political
parties--Tymoshenko's Batkivshchina, the Social Democratic
Party, and PRP.  At the beginning of the congress, the bloc
elected a new presidium in order to include Reforms and Order
into the party leadership, which is now Tymoshenko, her
right-hand man Oleksandr Turchynov, Socialist defector and
key Tymoshenko ally Iosip Vinskiy, PRP leader Pynzenyk, and
head of the Social Democratic Party Korniychuk  The bloc also
voted to give the political council the power to expel
candidates from the list who are determined to be not
treating their responsibilities seriously enough before
election; after the election, however, only a bloc congress
can expel MPs.
 
European Politician Calls for Orange Victory
 
KYIV 00002075  003.2 OF 004
 
 
--------------------------------------------
 
8. (C) BYuT also hosted Wilfred Martens, head of the
conservative European People's Party, who also spoke at the
Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense congress (reftel).  He gave
the same impassioned, pro-orange speech he gave at OU-PSD and
said they hoped BYuT and OU-PSD would win on September 30.
He also welcomed BYuT as a new observer in EPP.  (Note.
Shevchenko told us that BYuT had wanted to join a European
political organization and had been trying to decide between
the conservative EPP and the Socialist International.  In the
end, BYuT chose EPP because Socialist is a bad word in
Ukraine right now and Tymoshenko wants to be in the "club"
that includes Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy--a choice
Shevchenko was glad to see.  Clearly, ideology had little to
do with Tymoshenko's decision.  End note.)
 
Party List Shows Few Changes
----------------------------
 
9. (C) The BYuT party list is the most similar to its 2006
iteration of any of the three major parties.  List slots were
allocated with 350 for Batkivshchina, 50 for the Social
Democrats, and 50 for PRP, so it heavily favors Batkivshchina
 There are three new members in the top ten--Vinskiy,
Pynzenyk, and Korniychuk, but two of the three 2006 top ten
missing from the current list left politics completely, so
really there is only one major change.  It is clear that
Tymoshenko values loyalty, placing Turchynov, Tomenko, and
Vinskiy directly below her.  She also has in the top ten
Shevchenko, who covers the youth angle, Vitaliy Kurylo, an MP
from Luhansk to cover the East, and Mykola Petruk, the
Commander of the Ground Forces during the Orange Revolution
who warned her about the impending attack by MOI troops on
the Maidan protesters, to cover her Maidan credentials.  The
Brodskiy bloc is gone from the list, as is businessman Vasyl
Khmelnitskiy, who joined Regions, but most of the big
businessmen from 2006 are still on the list.
 
Shevchenko on Competition, Coalitions, and Ideology
--------------------------------------------- ------
 
10. (C) MP Andriy Shevchenko, number five on the new list,
told Ambassador July 30 that BYuT internal polling had shown
that the bloc's ratings had dropped in some central
oblasts--including Kyiv, Cherkasy, and Sumy--and that BYuT
was now neck and neck with OU.  On the other hand, BYuT's
standing had gone up in Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattiya, OU
strongholds in 2006.  There is no chance of avoiding fighting
between BYuT and OU in the West and Center, although signing
an agreement might help a little.  He also warned that the
democratic forces do not have a plan B, especially
Tymoshenko, who is always so focused on plan A that when that
does not go as planned, it is a disaster.  (Note.  He seemed
to be implying that if the opposition does not win the
election, there is little thinking as to what to do next.
End note.)  Shevchenko said that he had tried to develop a
contingency plan in the spring 2006 in case Regions ended up
in the government, but Tymoshenko forbade it--she spends so
much time convincing people of her ideas, he said, that she
tunes out alternatives.
 
11. (C) The best realistic outcome for the election would be
BYuT and OU getting 51% of the vote and Tymoshenko becoming
Prime Minister.  However, he thought that even if the
opposition wins a narrow majority, there was still a 50
percent chance that Our Ukraine would choose a coalition with
Regions anyway, because Yushchenko could see a broad
coalition as uniting the country, even if it only brought
temporary stability.  In addition, Shevchenko said that
Yushchenko fears Tymoshenko might become president, but his
thinking is flawed, because a Regions--OU coalition will
actually boost Tymoshenko's chances in the next presidential
election.  Presidential Chief of Staff Baloha is working with
the Akhmetov wing of Regions on a broad coalition--which
Shevchenko thought might split OU and possibly Regions as
well.
 
12. (C) Ideologically, according to Shevchenko, Tymoshenko
had moved from left-center towards the right, but her
campaign will be populist.  Shevchenko himself is not a
member of Batkivshchina and he was one of three BYuT MPs who
did not vote to override presidential vetoes on the land
moratorium and banking law.  He said that he had started
traveling around the country in June and had found that
people were not ready to talk about the elections; they were
disgusted with all politicians.  No parties have new ideas,
so NATO and Russian language will probably come up again.
13. (C)  Comment. Shevchenko's comments echo what we have
heard from OU-PSD leaders -- that the two democratic blocs
 
KYIV 00002075  004.2 OF 004
 
 
see each other as the main competition in the election.  This
situation is likely to be exacerbated by the agreement the
two have reached that gives the bloc with the most votes, the
right to pick the prime minister, if they get a majority of
votes.  However, such a strategy distracts attention away
from trying to pick up new voters, especially in the center
and non-Donbas east where disillusioned Socialist, and to a
much smaller extent Regions, voters are looking for possible
alternatives.  Shevchenko's comments also indicate that at
least one BYuT leader is realistic about the possibility of a
broad coalition between Yushchenko and Regions, but his
warning suggests that if it happens, Tymoshenko will be
blindsided and without a plan to respond.  End comment.
 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website:
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev.
Pettit

 
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