Vol 2, No 8
28 February 2000
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Review for Ukraine
All the important news from Ukraine
since 19 February 2000
February saw Ukraine in deep parliamentary crisis. For a relatively long period, the right-wing majority and the left-wing minority have not found any areas of common interest. After the forced resignation of the left-wing speaker, Parliament was close to early dismissal. But the conflict has been resolved. A new speaker has been elected, the minority left has returned. At the same time, they have defined their own new strategy to relinquish responsibility for the decisions of the majority, allowing Parliament to adopt a budget for the coming year. Although the workings of the Parliament have been restored, it seems that the political crisis has not yet reached its final stage.
The Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) has become the first left-wing party to face a serious threat to its unity and identity: Petro Simonenko, leader of the Ukrainian Communists, confirmed reports concerning the creation of a new Communist party in the country. He also claimed that the "CPU-2" project had been planned by the presidential administration in order to disorientate the electorate of the real Communist Party of Ukraine.
The Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) showed signs of fragmentation last December, and dissatisfaction with the defeat of the left candidates during the last presidential campaign has raised questions about the party's strategy, internal structure and political course. Last week, Ivan Chyzh, a member of the SPU Political Council and a key figure in the reform movement, ominously announced that serious political decisions would have to be made if the SPU did not take into account his position on party reform. The Party examined the matter last weekend, and as a result, eight high-ranking party officials have voluntarily resigned due to changes in the SPU's political orientation. In an interview with the newspaper Facty, Vasyl Arestov, one of the eight, said that the dissenters intend to uphold real socialist principles and a clear left position.
Quarrels on the left are paralleled by quarrels on the right. After a brief consensus during the budget debate, the right of centre majority seems to be falling apart again. The main participants in the current disagreement are the two wings of RUKH (Popular Movement of Ukraine). The crisis in RUKH, once the most popular and largest right-wing party, began last year with the death of V'yacheslav Chornovil, RUKH founder and its first leader. This time, the conflict concerns the distribution of parliamentary committees. RUKH-U, headed by ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Henadiy Udovenko, is unsatisfied with the "unfair" decision to give four parliamentary committees to the rival faction RUKH-K, which has only 23 members.
On 21 February, the government and the National Bank allowed the national currency to float. A joint statement by the Cabinet and the bank, quoted by Radio Liberty, said the floating exchange rate would "correspond to Ukraine's level of integration in the world economy, balance the demand for and supply of foreign currency... as well as keep Ukrainian goods competitive and enterprises profitable." Until now, the Ukrainian government enjoyed relative success in keeping the hryvna between 5.2 and 5.5 hryvnas per US dollar. The exchange rate has not been influenced too much by the changes in the Ukrainian government and the recent parliamentary crisis.
The Ukrainian budget for 2000 is based on a currency rate one US dollar to 5.78 hryvnas.
Despite the persistent request by the Council of Europe to postpone the decision to hold a constitutional referendum on 16 April until after the final appraisal of the Venetian Commission, President Kuchma considers such a referendum to be the only possible way to overcome the current parliamentary crisis and begin the normal political work of the state.
Natalya Krasnoboka, 25 February 2000
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