Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Before There Was Castro Watch, There Was Yushchenko - Yanukovych Watch, And Lukashenka Watch

"Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has [hours] left until the deadline to submit to parliament the name of his Orange Revolution rival [Russian-backed and NATO membership opponent] Viktor Yanukovych as the country's new prime minister....

It's a deal he might be able to tolerate if he can keep his pro-Western policies on the agenda of a grand coalition that includes his 'Our Ukraine' bloc.

Yushchenko would also like to see 'Our Ukraine' lawmakers hold a number of key cabinet posts. The constitution grants the president the right to name appointees to key ministerial posts, including defense and foreign affairs.

But Yushchenko is eager to see 'Our Ukraine' hold even more posts.

The Ukrainian president's popularity, however, is shrinking rapidly. Many politicians and ordinary Ukrainians say he has turned his back on the values of the Orange Revolution that brought him to power in 2004.

So, with little in the way of leverage, Yushchenko is spending the day brandishing his most powerful weapon: the threat to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections. ...

Viktor Yanukovych has said he can work with Yushchenko. The Ukrainian leader is meeting today with parliamentary faction leaders to discuss the possibility. The president has the legal right to dissolve parliament for failing to form a government within a prescribed term.

Few believe he will carry out his threat. 'Our Ukraine' would likely fare poorly in a fresh election, leaving Yushchenko even weaker than he is now.

Yushchenko's office said today the parliamentary majority had drafted a national-unity agreement with 'Our Ukraine'. The draft has been submitted to the president, Verkhovna Rada speaker [Socialist Party leader] Oleksandr Moroz [whose switch from the Orange Coalition bloc to the pro-Russian and state-corporatist bloc led to the current political crisis], and parliamentary faction leaders for consideration.

There are few details about the terms of the agreement or how it deals with points of contention like Yushchenko's drive for Ukraine to join NATO and the European Union.

But the deal could pave the way for Yushchenko's bloc to join the new coalition rather than languish in the opposition.

Some observers worry that Ukraine's four-month political impasse has cost the country dearly in terms of international esteem and support.

Others, however, see a bright side. One Ukrainian business magazine, noting the country's crisp growth in gross domestic product this year, suggests that "when politicians are only busy amongst themselves...the economy functions well.""

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "Ukraine: Deadline For Government Nears" August 1, 2006


August 2, 2006 -- "Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko faces a hard choice today as he struggles to decide whether to nominate his archrival as prime minister or dissolve parliament.

Yushchenko's spokeswoman, Iryna Herashchenko, said he may announce his decision this evening.

Fresh elections could plunge Ukraine into chaos and prolong its deepening political crisis.

Political leaders in Ukraine have been trying to form a government since parliamentary elections in March.

The nomination of Viktor Yanukovych, who heads the pro-Russian Party of Regions, is backed by a majority in parliament. But Yushchenko wants to ensure that any new government continues his pro-Western policies -- including Ukraine's bid to join NATO.

Marathon talks between Yushchenko and Yanukovych on August 1 failed to resolve their differences. But an official from the Party of Regions said today that they are close to a compromise on the NATO question."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "Ukrainian President To Decide On Premier" August 2, 2006.

Yushchenko (center) with Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin (left), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (rear), and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Did the West pick a poor time, this past June, to try to establish a NATO outpost on the 'historically' Russian Crimean peninsula?

Photo credit: Agence France Presse via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With thanks.


"The core target for the next few years is to enhance Belarusian security at the local and global levels and build up a forward movement towards multipolar world, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko declared today when meeting with heads of the Belarusian consulates.

At the same time he noted that “security is the necessary condition for the dynamic development”.

Alexander Lukashenko highlighted that the international community acknowledges Belarus’ contribution to enhance the international and regional security. Yet, the West has recently voiced some statements about Belarus posing a threat to the regional security and stability.

“Is it a complete ignorance or a deliberate attempt to turn everything upside down? I believe that we have to face it calmly, with dignity. We have to strengthen our armed forces and positions in the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO --the core post-Soviet member states response to NATO],” the president said.

At the same time, he added that Belarus will continue meeting the obligations under the international agreements, participate in enhancing international and regional security, halt attempts to link issues on the international security with a so-called humanitarian subject-matter and seek an equal dialogue.

“Practice shows that we can do that. Take, for example, the resolution banning development of new weapons of mass destruction initiated by Belarus on the UN General Assembly in 2005. The US delegation put it to the vote. As a result, Belarus received great support from many countries. Just two states failed to approve it – US and Israel,” the president added."

Belarus [Official State] Telegraph Agency "Alexander Lukashenko speaks about necessity to build up forward movement towards multipolar world" August 1, 2006


"Four Belarusian opposition activists went on trial today in Minsk.

The trial is being held behind closed doors.

Ambassadors of several European Union countries, as well as opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich arrived at the courtroom but were not allowed in.

The four were arrested in late February, in the run-up to the disputed March presidential election, in which President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was reelected.

Tsimafey Dranchuk, Mikalay Astreyka, Enira Branitskaya, and Alyaksandr Shalayka are accused of belonging to an unregistered organization "infringing upon the interests and rights of citizens."

The organization to which they belong, Partnerstva (Partnership), is an election observer group."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "Belarusian Opposition Activists On Trial" July 28, 2006

Belarus' rigged presidential elections in March prompted demonstrations in a number of neighboring countries including democratic Ukraine.

Photo credit: European Press Agency via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With thanks.


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