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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Road Rage: President Plans Plebiscite, Tymo Explores Ufology, Yanuk Hires GOP Talent
Parliamentary Race Keeps Busy As Contenders Step on Gas and Forge Ahead

Following the controversial vote by the anti-orange majority in the Verkhovna Rada to fire the Cabinet, ostensibly for entering into a bad bargain with Russia, President Yushchenko has outlined his coping strategy. He has repeatedly declared the vote unconstitutional and thus non-binding. Legal experts point out that the vote contravenes the established parliamentary procedure. They also believe that, according to the newly-amended Constitution, the existing Cabinet stays in office until the parliamentary election.

Secure in this knowledge, President Yushchenko has called on the Rada to revoke its decision, or face possible disbandment. He has also withdrawn from the reconciliation pact signed with Yanukovych last year, known as the memorandum. By voting yes, the President said, Yanukovych breached the agreement in a way that destabilized the country. Harshly criticized, from day one, by Yushchenko supporters as an act of appeasement, the memorandum’s demise has produced no signs of mourning in Yanukovych. Performing a verbal autopsy, the leader of the Regions Party said that the deal’s useful life had long expired, due to, what he called, failure to abide by the terms on the part of the President.


To discuss the current state of affairs, President Yushchenko convened a national security council meeting. Meanwhile, in a bid to project the image of responsibility, the anti-orange majority abandoned its all-out ambition in favor of surgical strikes. The highlanders of the legislative branch trimmed their hit list down to several figures, on a floating basis: Naftogaz CEO Ivchenko, Energy Minister Plachkov, and Justice Minister Holovaty. They also resorted to stonewalling the appointment of Constitutional Court Justices needed to fill the vacant benches. President Yushchenko intends to seek the Court’s opinion on the vote.

The communists had their share of roof raising in the Rada: When in the Rada, do as the Russians do. Staying true to their tacit tradition, the communists had lashed out at Foreign Minister Tarasiuk and Defense Minister Hrytsenko, calling their conduct detrimental to relations with Russia and vehemently demanding their resignation. A major stress episode overwhelmed Lenin’s disciples when the recent “Battle of the Beacon” between Ukraine and Russia broke out. Ukraine has been trying to regain a set of coastline navigation facilities currently occupied by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, headquartered in Sevastopol under a leasing agreement. According to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, the leasing agreement signed in 1997 does not include the beacons. Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the spokesman for the Russian Fleet argue quite the opposite. Unwilling to sit idly by, until Kyiv and Moscow finally come to terms, Ukrainian youth activists have long assumed a role in the effort, staging pickets and attempting entry. In the recent “Battle of the Beacon,” which kicked up a storm of publicity, the Russian marines reinforced the facility with an armored personnel carrier, but later withdrew it. Ministers Tarasiuk and Hrytsenko, who came under attack afterwards, have been openly pro-NATO, a four-letter word in the communists’ vocabulary. They even went as far as to advocate the notion of reciprocity in relations between Ukraine and Russia: Should market forces prevail, an increase in gas prices should be matched with a corresponding increase in rent paid by Russia for using the Crimea naval base. They have asserted that any troop movements by the Russian forces outside the military base must be discussed in advance with Ukrainian authorities. Traumatized by Ukraine’s patriotic policy, the Communists decried what must have looked to them like a stream “diplomatic atrocities” committed by these Ministers. Moscow’s best friends have been paying lip service to Ukraine, the country in whose parliament they hold seats, while serving Russia, the country whose parliament, in 1993, resolved that the Crimea is part of its territory. If Russia nuked Ukraine, the comrades would probably fire Foreign Minister for appealing to the UN Security Council and Defense Minister for passing out hazmat suits in the Rada. As long as Moscow remains the patron, Ukraine’s brand of communism will blend Marxism-Leninism with masochism, to suit Moscow’s taste.
It's a small world: In fact, Leopold von Sacher Masoch was Marx' contemporary. Born in Lemberg, Austria-Hungary (now Lviv, Ukraine), Masoch would owe a certain amount of his material to the melancholic theme in Ukrainian folklore that he had steeped himself in as a child. The Ukrainian communists would leave Masoch's gender masterpieces far behind in their genocidal acts, as Stalin's marionettes.

Despite the Rada’s rampage, the Cabinet continues working as normal. After an extra week in session to bring the pressure to bear on the President, the Rada went on recess this Friday. On Vodokhreshcha, Jan. 19, (Epiphany Day), the President and his entourage went ice cold swimming, an old-time ritual commemorating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River. May the President recharge his batteries for the tough times ahead.


In an effort to defuse speculations of her anti-orange orientation following what many perceived as a telltale vote, Yuliya Tymoshenko employed humor. “Our merger with the Regions Party will only be possible if aliens take me onboard the flying saucer and perform illegal tests on me, depriving me of my memory and mental faculties. Short of this, no conditions for such a merger exist,” she quipped. Hilarious! Of course, her supporters would hate to believe such a thing could ever happen. But if Fox Mulder still “wants to believe,” he probably should consider an assignment to Ukraine. His “UFO skills” may prove indispensable in putting the Orange Revolution back together. Background: In December 2004, The X-Files star David Duchovny, along with Jack Palance, Robert Wise — a total of 130 Hollywood talent — had signed a petition in support of the Orange Revolution.

Far from toning down her criticism of the gas deal, Yuliya has been on the lookout for opportunities to burnish her orange record. An occasion presented itself on Den Sobornosti, Jan. 22, (Unification Day), a patriotic holiday celebrated in honor of the 1919 reunion between Ukrainian sister states — the Western Ukrainian National Republic, with the capital in Ivano Frankivsk, and the Ukrainian National Republic, with the capital in Kyiv. Known by their Ukrainian acronyms as ZUNR and UNR these states were soon overtaken by Poland and Soviet Russia, respectively. Now hear this! In the spirit of the holiday, Yuliya’s Party issued a statement urging the Regions Party to remove its leader, Yanukovych, and a number of top running mates from the ticket for organizing a breakaway witchfest in Sivero Donetsk. The statement obviously referred to the November 2004 “emergency” convention, where pro-Yanukovych extremists had championed the idea of an autonomous republic to be created in southeastern Ukraine. This ill-fated publicity stunt aimed at putting the brakes on Maidan had violated Ukraine’s Constitution and, following Yushchenko’s inauguration, had became the subject of an inquiry by the Prosecutor General, but had led to no indictments, so far.


Unbelievable. Never in their wildest dreams would Yanukovych supporters imagine their idol shopping for American talent. But that’s what “hired guns” are for: You pay, they play. In fact, Yanukovych strategists have increasingly drawn on the immortal Clintonesque theme “It’s the economy, stupid.” coined by Clinton strategist James Carville. Moreover, according to The Wall Street Journal, Paul Manafort — the man who helped conservative Bob Dole run for president in 1996, and worked for a score of African regimes — is bringing his bag of tricks to Ukraine. Paul, sorry for not wishing you good luck.


Addressing the nation on Jan. 23, a day that marked the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Yushchenko said he did accept the politreforma, the new constitutional amendment transferring core authority functions to the Parliament. Still, the President voiced concerns about the manner in which the politreforma had been passed, adding that “society should have a say.”

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