COMMENTARY By Viktor Shlynchak
www.Glavred.info, Kiev, Ukraine, in Russian, 26 Feb 04
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Mar 02, 2004
The Ukrainian presidential chief-of-staff appears to be playing a game to
gain more power, a web site has said. Pondering on the question of why
Viktor Medvedchuk may want seek the dismissal of the cabinet of ministers,
the author says it looks like a move to prevent representatives of Donetsk
Region - who currently control the cabinet - from inheriting the powers now
enjoyed by the president, if political reform is successful. He may be
readying to get a seat in parliament from where he can control a government
headed by his own loyal figure, the web site suggested.
The following is the text of the article by Viktor Shlynchak, entitled
"Medvedchuk's Tower", published on the Ukrainian web site Glavred on 26
Ukrainian President's Chief-of-Staff Viktor Medvedchuk (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin
(Click on images to enlarge them)
To choose a road, you have to know where you want to get to, Carrol's rabbit
said. It seems that it is finally clear why Viktor Medvedchuk has sat for
two years in the presidential administration, hurting his own image and, as
a state servant, losing money...[ellipsis as published]
Very soon, the main crisis manager of the main state office, judging from
everything [going on], will try to achieve the dismissal of that government,
[sitting] in Hrushevskyy Street [the Cabinet of Ministers]. Viktor
Medvedchuk, who for a long time has not answered the blunt question: "where
do you see yourself?", has, as the boxers say, "opened himself up". It is
being planned that after political reforms are successfully introduced, Mr
Medvedchuk will move into a parliamentary chair which is soon to be freed up
by the new head of the Central Election Commission [CEC], Serhiy Kivalov.
Why? To run the government!...[ellipsis as published]
The main intrigue, as usual, was put into the mouth of [Ukrainian President]
Leonid Kuchma. At the last press conference (in time, not in fact), the
president announced that Viktor Yanukovych will remain the prime minister,
"if there are no cataclysms". The first part of the answer can be let out
the other ear. This because more than one prime minister has been promised
his "untouchability", and then heads start rolling.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin
But as for cataclysms, one might have to wonder a bit about them. What kind
of cataclysms are being talked about? What is it - a social explosion or
real explosions? Or, as deputy [parliament] speaker Oleksandr Zinchenko said
in his last interview with Halytski Kontrakty [economic weekly]? We remind
[our readers]: "Those, who plan to take part in the campaign should be ready
for the fact that they will have another Tuzla waiting for them [an
international crisis erupted in October 2003, when Russia cast doubt on
whether Tuzla Island in Kerch Strait really belonged to Ukraine]," Zinchenko
said, "that is, new factors will appear, new irritants, which will severely
change the rules of the game during the course of the elections."
Indeed, the question is not so interesting for those linked to Donetsk. It
is clear that the presidential rating of Yanukovych in great part is held up
by the chair in which the potential presidential candidate sits. Even in
case of an unsuccessful start in the presidential campaign, Yanukovych is
counting on staying at the helm of the cabinet until 2006, that is, until a
new parliament is elected.
It is namely this idea which is written into the new clauses of the
constitution, which is to come into force four months after political
reforms are passed (in July-August). And most of the representatives of
Donetsk Region found this very thing to be in their interests. Yanukovych's
recent remarks testify to these intentions.
However, such a scenario for the development of events is wholly
unacceptable to Viktor Medvedchuk, since the personal influence of Mr
Medvedchuk on "the processes" would shrink to nothing. The author and
ideological mentor of political reform who has spent so much time, effort
and energy on reformatting the centres of influence (trimming the powers of
the president, which post could be won by [opposition leader Viktor]
Yushchenko, and strengthening the roles of the prime minister and
parliament) is quite unlikely to agree to being given the role of watching
from the sidelines. And Medvedchuk is not likely to calmly watch as
presidential powers slowly trickle over to prime minister Yanukovych.
Therefore, Yanukovych's dismissal is, if not a question of life or death, at
the very least, is a question of the utmost importance.
The task, which is meant to "burn" Yanukovych, is being prepared in the very
best traditions of political tricks. In the beginning, representatives of
the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine [USDPU, of Medvedchuk] started
talking about the current prime minister as the "candidate from the
incumbent powers" (we recall comments by [USDPU parliamentary faction
leader] Leonid Kravchuk).
The next move can be forecast. One should expect that behind outward, public
(apparently sincere) support, pressure will be put on Mr Yanukovych and work
planned to discredit him will be carried out (encouraged). The exacerbation
of relations is most likely to be in the month of May.
The most primitive way to explain the departure of the "single candidate
from the majority" from the post of prime minister - is to announce, for
example, "democratic" approaches to holding the presidential campaign. A
fair game. Fair powers-that-be. The principled President [Leonid] Kuchma,
who declines to interfere in the campaign (let them compete, lads!). The
West will simply applaud such refinement. Perhaps they will even believe in
the "not using administrative resources or positions".
It is not even worth bothering about just who Viktor Medvedchuk will push
into the prime minister's chair. It will be a figure loyal to the USDPU or a
cleanly "technical" figure, who will have the chance to be prime minister
until 2006. "The lucky one" could turn out to be Transport Minister Heorhiy
Kyrpa or Defence Minister [Yevhen] Marchuk.
In this way, Viktor Medvedchuk will get the chance to demonstrate "flying
like an ace", taking the main opponents (that is, those from Donetsk) out of
the government, while at the same time "hanging" the next president (whoever
he may be).
According to information to which Glavred is privy, there has already been a
conversation between Viktor Medvedchuk and Serhiy Kivalov concerning the
Odessa constituency which is to be freed up. Truthfully, the CEC manager has
not yet sent in his official request to withdraw his MP authorities. And
there is reason to believe he will "drag out" this procedure for as long as
possible. Then the CEC will announce a date for an election in constituency
No 136 (in August-September).
And then the presidential election is just around the corner. Medvedchuk
will quietly enter parliament, while at the same time creating a
"pro-authorities" majority under his protege. And from within the
parliament, he will carry out the celebrated "anti-crisis actions", directed
Leonid Kuchma has no place in this. But...[ellipsis as published] Is
everything as smooth as butter? At first glance it looks just so. But in a
few Donetsk headquarters serious work is already under way to keep in hand
that which they have gripped and keep tasting that which they have tried.
There are three ways to go:
run and fall before the president's knees, so that he, with a pointing
finger, "will not allow...[ellipsis as published]";
agree with the opposition on supporting the prime minister, if the question
of his dismissal is raised; and
ignore political reform.
The question of their future will be decided on what the "Donetsk people"
What partners does Medvedchuk have? If you play "in the dark", many. If card
after card is displayed, then aside from the USDPU faction and 20 or so
close MPs, he will have no-one to lean on. What to do? That's right. Another
crisis. By the way, how is the weather on Tuzla?
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