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Where is Ukraine going?

by Jerome a Paris Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 01:45:42 PM EST

6 months after coming to power, "Orange revolution" president Yushchenko has been forgotten by most of the Western media. Ukraine was briefly mentioned as likely "collateral damage" from the French and Dutch no votes, but that's it.

From the story below (no link as I got it from an e-mail distribution list), it appears that his grip on effective power is not so strong and that may spell trouble for him in the future.

I do not follow the situation over there to oclosely anymore, so I cannot comment meaningfully on it, but I copy the full story, which is fairly detailed.

First defeat for Ukraine's new leader raises doubt on reforms

KIEV July 10-The mayhem in Ukraine's parliament last week not only dealt a humiliating first defeat to the nation's new pro-Western leader, but raised doubts about his ability to enact promised reforms by exposing weaknesses of his team, analysts say.

President Viktor Yushchenko's administration began last week hoping to deliver the international community concrete results of its pro-Western ambitions -- passage of 14 bills required for Ukraine's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

It ended it with a bleak picture -- in chaotic sessions marked by fistfights and bedlam, lawmakers approving only half of the bills before adjourning for their summer recess.

"The authorities faced a most serious test," wrote the respected Dzerkalo Tyzhnya weekly. "They failed."

"This was the first real defeat for the new team," said Vadim Karasyov, an analyst.

Passing the WTO bills was key because Ukraine is hoping to enter the 148-member club by the end of this year, ahead of Russia with whom tensions have risen since Yushchenko mounted an "orange revolution" to defeat the Moscow-backed candidate in last year's presidential election.

It would have translated Yushchenko's oft-repeated aspirations to drive Ukraine toward eventual membership in the European Union into concrete results.

"Everyone has tired of declarations not backed by real reforms, both here and abroad," Dzerkalo wrote.

But now Kiev's bid to join the WTO at its ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December is in real jeopardy, analysts say.

Parliament must still approve the remaining bills, but when it reconvenes in September, its focus will be on a legislative election next March, which promises to be as bitterly-fought as last year's presidential race.

And though Yushchenko put a brave face on his defeat -- "the president is certain that the rest of the legislation will be passed before October," his press service said in a statement -- others did not share in the optimism, both for the WTO bills or any other painful reforms.

"This parliament will not approve 'euroeconomic' rules of the game when it returns," Dzerkalo wrote.

The week wasn't supposed to end like this.

After Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced that consultations with lawmakers showed that nearly two-thirds of the chamber would back the WTO measures, Yushchenko and the entire cabinet came to the legislature on Tuesday evening.

It was the day before a WTO committee examining Ukraine's bid was to meet in Geneva and the administration was hoping all 14 bills would be approved as a packet.

But lawmakers balked, refusing to even consider the measures. Yushchenko left the chamber empty-handed.

During the next two days, bedlam erupted every time a WTO bill came up for a vote, with opposition deputies swarming the speaker's tribune, sounding sirens through megaphones, and throwing occasional punches at their ideological opponents.

Most in Kiev blamed the government for the debacle, saying it had had tried to ram through the legislation without carrying out necessary consultation with lawmakers.

"You can't substitute dialogue and arguments with blatant pressure," said parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. "The only information I had on some of the bills that I was putting up for a vote was their number."

Moreover, the government failed to secure support from its allies -- many Socialist deputies voted against the measures.

Yushchenko added fuel to the fire by turning a blind eye on members of his administration who had not officially given up their deputy seats, as dictated by law and demanded by the opposition.

"By allowing his subordinates to break the law so obviously, the president gave the opposition a major trump card," wrote the Den daily.

Meanwhile trade officials in WTO's seat in Geneva took a cautiously optimistic tone, applauding the fact that the government did manage to push through some important bills, but warning that much remained to be done.

"It looks quite good, but... everything still very much depends on what happens from now to autumn," said a trade official in Geneva who requested anonymity.

It's a sad state of affairs when China joins the WTO before Russia and Ukraine.  
by corncam on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 10:51:32 PM EST
"You can't substitute dialogue and arguments with blatant pressure," said parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. "The only information I had on some of the bills that I was putting up for a vote was their number."

Indeed. But this is how market 'reform' is usually rammed down people's throats.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:32:59 AM EST
...BTW, the article doesn't bother to detail those laws either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A good source of information can be found in Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda

I have monitored Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, and I have tried to stay current on Ukranian news at least weekly by checking a couple of Ukranian news sources.

In my humble opinion, the situation in Ukraine is tough to decipher.  There is a strain between the alignments of the opposition parties and the parties in power.

The uniting force of the opposition is "Pro-Russian" and ties itself to the former regime of Kuchma and the other leading party of Yanokovich --the party of regions.

Yuschenko with Yuliya Tymoshenko have a weak coalition of different parties which has a pro-reform agenda.

It is extremely difficult for the current administration to get things together -- the reforms which are necessary are also painful.  It is nearly impossible to deliver on all the goals promised to the people because the institutions in place are very corrupt.

by CJB (1350ATyahoo.c0m PREPEND USERNAME IN FRONT OF ADDRE) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 10:24:20 AM EST
I just got an email from my politically-active Ukrainian friend Irena yesterday.  She lives in Kiev.  I would sum up her sentiments as "guarded optimism."  Based on her description of the mood in Kiev I'd say the Ukrainians are very realistic in their expectations of Yushchenko.  I wouldn't read this as a big failure - just one small step in a very long journey.  You can't change 80 years of history in 8 months.  
by rast (deavod (at) hotmail (dot] com) on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 10:32:46 AM EST
I've followed events in Ukraine little since Yushchenko's election, so I don't know what to say.  But I do know that expecting Yushchenko to do everything he promised is a wrong assumption, given the messy business of democracy.  Even if his party controls the Parliament (does it?), it is natural to expect the opposition to oppose his measures (yes, I'm redundant).  It's entirely possible that there may be a compromise of some sort to pass his proposals, but I can't say for sure.

(BTW, I hate to be a nag, Jerome, but you should never start a sentence with a number.  It should always be spelled out.  So instead of 6 months after coming to power..., it looks like Six months after coming to power....)

by DH from MD on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 12:27:24 PM EST

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