Premier Yushchenko voted out
On Thursday 26 April the Verkhovna Rada (parliament of Ukraine) passed a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. The voting was 263 to 69. The Communists, the United Social Democratic party, the Working Ukraine group, the Democratic Union, the Regions of Ukraine, and the Yabluko factions supported the no-confidence resolution. The People's Movement of Ukraine, the Reforms-Congress party, and the Motherland party voted against it.
This is the first time in the history of independent Ukraine that a premier has been dismissed by the parliament.
The vote followed a week of political turmoil and closed-door consultations between different parliamentary factions, the president and the premier, who cut short his visit to Greece in order to participate in the meetings on the eve of the no-confidence vote in parliament.
According to Ukrainian legislation, the government's resignation has still to be formally completed. Following the no-confidence vote the government submits a letter of resignation to the president, which has then to be signed by him.
The prime minister can maintain his position until a new premier is nominated by the president and approved by parliament. Yushchenko has refused this opportunity and has no intention to continue as "acting" prime minister. He has said he will submit his resignation to the president shortly.
President Leonid Kuchma expressed "dissatisfaction" with the outcome of parliamentary vote and spoke in favor of "preserving stability in Ukraine." However, his position was in fact far from clear. Some analysts that Kuchma could have influenced the outcome of voting if it was in his interest to do so.
Likely candidates for the position of premier include Mr Medvedchuk of the United Social Democratic Party and Deputy Chairman of the Parliament, Serhiy Tyhypko of the Ukrainian Labour Party, and Mykola Azarov of the recently created Regions of Ukraine Party and Head of the State Tax Administration. Each represents a parliamentary group which would like to have control of the prime minister's post in the run up to the elections next spring.
It is anticipated that Yushchenko will become leader of the consolidated democratic opposition. In his final speech after the vote he said: "As a citizen, I am convinced that democracy in Ukraine has suffered a serious loss." He continued: "I am not going to leave politics. I am going now in order to come back!"
A member of the People's Movement of Ukraine said after the vote that "Ukraine lost its premier, the best premier, but gained the leader of the nation."
Mass rallies in support of premier
During the no-confidence vote in the parliament between 16 and 20 thousand people (according to different sources) protested at the doors of the parliament. The protest was staged by the allied democratic opposition consisting of the National Salvation Forum, the Ukraine without Kuchma committee, the For Truth movement and Ukrainian Pravytsya (block of parties, consisting of the People's Movement of Ukraine and the Reforms-Congress party).
Several days before the vote a group of ten students staged a hunger-strike near Verkhovna Reda, demanding the preservation of the current government.
West expresses support for Yushchenko...
Western policy makers see Mr Yushchenko as a pro-western reformer. On Tuesday 24 April, Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Horst Kohler said that Mr Yushchenko has "gained a lot of credibility outside of Ukraine, and I think he also deserves support inside of Ukraine."
According to the Russian newspaper Commersant-Daily, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, during his telephone conversation with president Kuchma on 24 April, explicitly supported Mr Yushchenko and said Germany is interested in a "consistent policy of reforms carried out by Ukraine."
...whereas Russia is quite reserved
The recent developments in Ukraine have caused a relatively reserved reaction in Russia. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko described the resignation of the Ukrainian cabinet as "the domestic affairs of Ukraine" and said that "it would be impolite to comment on this situation."
Other commentators supported such a position and some said that the Ukrainian government made a democratic decision and Yushchenko was sacked despite the pressure from the West.
PACE supports Ukraine's membership in Council of Europe
On 26 April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution regarding Ukraine. At the urgent request of rapporteurs Hanne Severinsen and Renata Wohlwend the point on exclusion of Ukraine from the organization was written off the resolution and was replaced by a softer formulation.
If, by the beginning of PACE's June session, Ukraine does not record any significant progress in the fulfillment of its commitments, in particular adoption of such legislation as the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedures, PACE will examine the possibility of withdrawing Ukraine's right to vote at PACE and address the question of the exclusion of Ukraine from the Council of Europe.
Representatives of all political groups in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe supported Ukraine's membership and were opposed to strict sanctions against Ukraine. Rapporteurs stressed that that the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly have to do everything to ensure that human rights and supremacy of law are adhered to in Ukraine.
Members of Ukraine's delegation to PACE described the move as a victory, beit a temporary one. Many in Ukraine were bewildered by the recommendation of the PACE monitoring committee on 5 April to suspend Ukraine's membership to the Council of Europe.
Iryna Solonenko, 27 April 2001
- Archive of news reviews for Ukraine
- Archived articles about Ukraine in CER
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page
The Day, daily newspaper
Unian news agency
Ukrainian New Channel Television