Verkhovna Rada confirms Kinakh as prime minister
by Roman Woronowycz
Kyiv Press Bureau
KYIV - Ukraine's Parliament confirmed Anatolii Kinakh as the country's new prime minister with votes to spare on May 29 after the nominee received unexpected support from the Socialist Party.
After his victory, the new prime minister said he would continue to build on the reformist policies of his predecessor, Viktor Yuschenko, but would also work to be a consensus-builder.
"This will be an effective government ready for compromise when needed," said Mr. Kinakh. "We are ready to continue many of the policies of the Yuschenko government, but also to make changes where he erred."
Mr. Kinakh, 47, a husband and father of two daughters who has headed the League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said he did not see himself as a temporary caretaker of the government until the parliamentary elections in March of next year but would strive to make the changes needed to move the country ahead.
President Leonid Kuchma had proposed on May 21 that Mr. Kinakh lead a new government. The new prime minister received expected support from nearly all the pro-business centrist factions, and none from the center-right national democratic forces, also as expected.
No one, however, had seriously considered that the 16 votes of the Socialist Party faction would put Mr. Kinakh over the top. Because it was clear that the support of the center was not sufficient to give Mr. Kinakh the 226 votes he needed for a majority, Mr. Kinakh had attempted to gain the support of the Communist Party and its 112 votes in Parliament. In the days after his nomination, Mr. Kinakh said he was open to proposals from the party, but none that would compromise his stand on democracy and market orientation.
In the end the Communists decided not to take part in the vote because Mr. Kinakh "had not clearly declared whether he would support the Communist Party's program," according to RFE/RL News Service.
The real surprise came when the Socialist Party faction, led by Oleksander Moroz, the staunch and outspoken opponent of President Kuchma, decided to support the president's nominee, long-time associate and confidante.
After the vote, Mr. Moroz told reporters he believed the Kinakh candidacy was the best of any of the realistic alternatives. He explained that the president would closely control whoever sat in the prime minister's seat this time, anyway. The Socialist Party leader also stated that in his opinion the president had nominated Mr. Kinakh believing he would not be confirmed, which would allow for a caretaker government to run the country until parliamentary elections next March, a scenario the president preferred. Realizing this, the Socialist Party members decided to vote contrary to their ideological inclination in order to thwart the president.
"The president is probably in shock right now," explained Mr. Moroz. "He did not expect that this candidacy would be approved."
President Kuchma, however, seemed very pleased with the results of the vote. He immediately received the newly confirmed prime minister in his offices and signed the decrees relieving the acting government of Prime Minister Yuschenko and installing Mr. Kinakh.
"For the people, for Ukraine," said Mr. Kuchma as he congratulated Mr. Kinakh on his confirmation.
The vote by the Socialists caused some consternation in the corridors of the Verkhovna Rada. National Deputy Oleksander Turchynov, a leader of the Batkivschyna Party, who is just as vocal in his criticism of the president as Mr. Moroz, said after the vote that the action by the Socialists could threaten cooperation between the two parties.
"It is rather sad," explained Mr. Turchynov. "I lost some respect for [Mr. Moroz]."
The national deputy said he believed that Mr. Moroz and Mr. Kinakh had struck a "personal" deal, but would not elaborate. In fact, several days before the vote, Mr. Moroz had said he could support Mr. Kinakh if they found agreement "on certain points."
With the surprising support of the Socialists, Mr. Kinakh easily obtained the required parliamentary majority in the first vote call by a margin of 239-2, with 12 abstaining and 26 not voting. Not registering for the vote were the national deputies from the center-right, who had declared earlier they would not support the new prime minister's nomination as a show of support for Mr. Yuschenko, whose resignation was orchestrated and supported by the same pro-business factions that supported Mr. Kinakh.
The three center-right factions, Reforms-Congress, Ukrainian National Rukh (UNR), National Rukh of Ukraine, along with the Batkivschyna faction, all have said they will be in opposition to the new government.
After the prime minister's confirmation UNR leader Yurii Kostenko said his faction would only support those issues that would extend democracy in Ukraine and support economic reforms. He also said that while the so-called business clans, represented by the centrist factions who supported Mr. Kinakh, may have won this political battle, it will be a short-lived victory.
"The clans that today think they have captured Ukraine, will find out after the parliamentary elections that they were wrong," said Mr. Kostenko.
Mr. Kinakh's confirmation came after he had given a bland 30-minute address on his goals and priorities, which was marked chiefly by the disregard the national deputies gave the nominee during his presentation by talking and joking among themselves.
A central aspect of the new prime minister's speech was his commitment to open and constructive consultations and relations between the executive and legislative branches, including with individual parliamentary factions. Leading members of the centrist factions have said that Mr. Yuschenko's insolence in not maintaining communications with them was the prime reason they organized and supported his downfall.
Mr. Kinakh also underscored his commitment to tax reform and administrative reform, as well as social protection programs for the population, economic protectionism for domestic producers in the domestic and foreign market and development of the energy sector.
In an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia on May 30, he said he would propose tax reduction policies, and would seek energy alternatives to reduce Ukraine's dependence on Russian gas and oil.
Most political experts believe that Mr. Kinakh will support the policies that President Kuchma is pushing and will have much less room to maneuver politically than his predecessor, Mr. Yuschenko.
The first and most obvious evidence of the tighter control of the president over the prime minister appeared immediately, as the president's office and not the prime minister announced the new ministerial appointments.
In the two days following Mr. Kinakh's confirmation the president appointed three new members to the Cabinet of Ministers and announced he would retain 10 others. The new appointments are: Oleh Dubyna as first vice prime minister, a promotion for him from his position as the vice prime minister of industrial policy in the Yuschenko government; Volodymyr Semynozhenko, a national deputy who was minister of science and technology in 1996-1998, as vice prime minister of humanitarian affairs; and Yurii Bohutskyi, formerly a deputy chief of staff in the presidential administration, as the minister of culture.
Retaining their posts are: Finance Minister Ihor Mitiukov, Justice Minister Suzanna Stanik, Economy Minister Vasyl Rohovyi, Foreign Affairs Minister Anatolii Zlenko, Internal Affairs Minister Yurii Smirnov, Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk, Agricultural Policy Minister Ivan Kyrylenko, Labor and Social Policy Minister Ivan Sakhan, Minister of Health Vitalii Moskalenko and Emergency Situations Minister Vasyl Durdynets.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, June 3, 2001, No. 22, Vol. LXIX
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