What Yanukovych presidency would mean for Ukraine
Feb. 8, 2010, 8:40 p.m. |
Ukrainian opposition leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych speaks to the media during his news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. Voters in the first round of Ukraine's presidential election gave opposition leader Viktor Yan
A look at what the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, nemesis of the Orange Revolution, would mean for Ukraine.
NATURAL GAS TRANSIT:
Yanukovych has called to scrap a 2009 agreement obliging Ukraine to start paying full European prices for Russian gas. Instead, he says the country should receive a discount.
He has promised to create a consortium that would allow Russia to jointly operate Ukraine's vast gas transportation network, advancing Russia's goal of controlling the gas supply chain to Europe.
And he has pledged to help Russia build the South Stream gas pipeline, a project intended the pipeline to circumvent transport routes through Ukraine. Critics see it as weakening Ukraine's position as a gas transit country.
Yanukovych inherits an economy in shambles starting a weak recovery. After the 2008 financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund granted Ukraine a $16.4 billion line of credit. When the divided Orange government failed to cut subsidies for natural gas and control spending, the IMF froze lending at about $11 billion.
Reforms would be painful for consumers. Yanukovych is under pressure to repeal wage and pension hikes implemented during the presidential campaign. Some experts predict electricity prices will need to rise by 90 percent this year.
Yanukovych has said he will sign a previously negotiated association agreement with Europe, lowering trade barriers and paving the way for a visa-free travel regime. But he has said that Ukraine is not ready for EU membership and will not actively seek to join the bloc.
Outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko had advocated NATO membership, but Yanukovych has said that Ukraine doesn't need to join either NATO or the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization. He is expected to continue current limited levels of NATO cooperation, including participation in some military exercises.
While Yushchenko threatened to evict the Russian Black Sea fleet from its base in Sevastopol after the lease expires in 2017, Yanukovych has said the issue of the base should be resolved in a way that doesn't harm the interests of either Ukraine or Russia.
Yanukovych has talked about Ukraine following the lead of Russia and three other countries in recognizing the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Yanukovych has pledged to make Russian the second official language of Ukraine. The state's promotion of Ukrainian as the only official language has alienated many in the country's Russian-speaking east, Yanukovych's base of support.