Political sabotage

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Oct. 29, 2009, 9:30 p.m. | Editorial — by Editorial
By refusing to veto populist increase in wages approved by parliament, Victor Yushchenko puts at risk the country’s financial and economic stability. Millions of Ukrainians stood in freezing weather to protest election fraud and to support Victor Yushchenko’s candidacy during the 2004 democratic Orange Revolution. It was an admirable act of courage, but since then people have moved on to feel that their leader has betrayed them and many of the values they stood for.

Yushchenko ultimately deserves the blame for much of the political paralysis that has dominated during his tenure. As president, he has demonstrated a complete inability to put aside differences with rivals in favor of tough, pragmatic compromises which could have produced positive results for the country and citizens.

Tired of the relentless infighting, Ukrainians have long tuned out of politics, but polls show they are informed and wise enough to have rightfully lost trust in Yushchenko, who has failed as president to – among other heinous crimes – get his own poisoning case solved. Thus, it’s little surprise that polls put his popularity at about 3 percent.

This week, once again, Yushchenko demonstrated that personal dislikes and political selfishness shape his actions. In his most recent populist and destructive decision, Yushchenko chose to undercut his bitter rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, at the expense of the country’s economy and most vulnerable citizens.

By refusing to veto a populist wage and pension increase adopted by lawmakers last week, Yushchenko has put the prospect of further International Monetary Fund assistance at risk, which has for the last year helped to preserve the country’s economic and financial stability.

He ignored calls by the IMF and Tymoshenko’s government to veto the law, which violates cooperation agreements with the fund by proposing some $11 billion in additional budget expenditures in 2009-2010, which simply do not exist in state coffers.

This legislation was supported by lawmakers from most political blocs in parliament (Victor Yanukovych’s Regions, Volodymyr Lytvyn’s bloc, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and Communists). Notable exceptions were lawmakers backing Tymoshenko’s candidacy. The clear aim of Yushchenko and co-conspirators in this wicked plot is to derail IMF assistance ahead of the Jan. 17 presidential contest, thereby complicating the ability of Tymoshenko’s government to pay pensions and wages on time and in full.

Such a scenario could severely hurt her popularity. But it would also hurt the country badly, destabilizing the economy and fueling inflation.

That is something that a true president would not allow, at all costs.
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