Review of the passing week and preview of the coming week's news by Kyiv Post.
Next Week's News
Victory Day parade in Kyiv
Ukrainian female soldiers march during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade, which will take place May 9 at 9 a.m. on Khreschatyk Street in Kyiv. This year celebrates the 65th anniversary since victory in World War II. President Viktor Yanukovych will join Russian and Belarusian counterparts in Moscow on May 8 to honor veterans of the war. He will return to Kyiv the next day to preside over the military parade that will also include soldiers from Russia and Belarus. Parades with naval ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will be held in Sevastopol, Kerch, Kherson and Odesa.
Verkhovna Rada reconvenes
Parliament will resume its work on May 11, but will its members leave the eggs, smoke bombs and fisticuffs behind? Lawmakers made world news with their brawling April 27 session, when parliamentarians skirmished before voting to ratify a 25-year extension of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s presence in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who claimed 236 votes in favor of ratification when only 211 deputies registered for the session, dodged eggs with the help of umbrella-wielding bodyguards. More confrontation is expected before lawmakers go on summer break in July. The political opposition has vowed to step up public protests of the fleet extension agreement.
Medvedev to visit
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, meets with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kharkiv on April 21. The Russian leader will return to Kyiv on May 17-18, when more bilateral trade agreements are expected to be announced. This will be their sixth meeting since March 5.
Quote of the week
“Clearly understanding the inevitability of positive changes for our country after the resumption of cooperation with Russia… the so-called opposition resorted to its usual lies, provocations, [and the] hysterical creation of senseless committees. The current opposition had the last five years to save the country and failed.”
– Prime Minister Mykola Azarov during a cabinet meeting in Kyiv on May 5.
Adoption of 2010 budget paves way for loan talks
Week in Review
President Viktor Yanukovych on April 29 signed into law the government’s budget, adopted by lawmakers on April 27, during the ratification of a 25-year extension of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.
Adoption of the new budget paves the way for fresh talks with Ukraine’s main lender, the International Monetary Fund. The government remains reluctant to adopt fiscal austerity measures and free-market reforms sought by the IMF. However, it hopes to have taken enough budget-balancing steps to gain fresh loans of $12 to $20 billion after a previous IMF loan package was suspended late last year.
The Hr 267 billion ($34 billion) budget envisions a deficit of 6 percent of gross domestic product, within IMF guidelines, and heavy borrowing on international markets to fill the gap. Some analysts have described the plan as optimistic. Government officials said an IMF mission will visit Kyiv in the coming weeks for a fresh round of talks.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
Bloomberg: Europe distracted as ‘pushy’ Putin hunts in Ukraine
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s call to combine gas export monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine’s state energy company is part of a strategy to lock in Ukraine and its assets while Europe is focused on Greece, Bloomberg news agency reported on May 4, citing Russia expert Alexander Rahr at the German Council on Foreign Relations.
“The European Union is focused on Greece, so Russia is taking its chance,” said Berlin-based Rahr. “This is pushy. It’s Putin’s way of negotiating, of showing that Russia is on the winning side.”
According to Rahr, Putin’s economic and political offensive shouldn’t be interpreted as Russia strong-arming Ukraine, since both countries will benefit from the deals concluded.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “is in favor of opening his markets for investment from Russia and other countries, but he also has his demands and a price he will ask for, such as access for Ukrainian companies to energy exploration in former Soviet republics, including Russia,” Bloomberg quoted Rahr as saying.
Rahr said Ukraine needs Russian gas subsidies and financial assistance to stabilize its economy. Putin said Russia’s VTB bank group could soon lend Ukraine $500 million for budget financing needs.
By May 17, top Ukrainian, Russian leaders will have held their 10th meeting since Yanukovych in power
Meetings between President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
- Washington, D.C.
Meetings between Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin