Friday, July 07, 2006

Somewhere Kuchma smiles 

The weirdness in Ukraine gets weirder. Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, which came in third in the parliamentary elections this spring, had been poised to create a coalition with his erstwhile prime minister Yulya Tymoshenko and keep out the Party of Regions, controlled by Yushchenko's opponent Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych, you may recall, was the loser in the bitter elections that gave us the Orange Revolution. But after yesterday's reversal in the parliament -- where the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko coalition choice for speaker of the Parliament was kicked to the curb in favor of old Socialist and key coalition member Oleksandr Moroz -- it appears Yushchenko and Yanukovych are discussing a grand coalition to avoid going back to the electorate for another round of voting. Yushchenko, if he can prevent a government from forming before July 22, could call new elections himself, and that will be his trump card in negotiations over the new coalition.

So the question now is whether this grand coalition -- which probably would include Moroz' remaining Socialists, some of whom have left the party in a huff, despite some statements from Yushchenko's party that including Moroz is "impossible" after his volte face from the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko coalition -- can form a stable government. The evening's activities where the new Orange coalition broke down is well-described in this article in Ukrainian Pravda and speculates that the possibility of Tymoshenko returning to the premiership are now quite remote. She's figured out her only hope is that the new coalition fails to take hold.

Behind all this, I think, is a smiling Leonid Kuchma, the former president who never had to deal with a parliament that could create such problems for the presidency. It was fairly obvious after the elections that Moroz would be a key player. What makes the current situation strange, though, is that if anyone is responsible for Kuchma being hung with Gongadze-gate around his neck, it's Moroz. So while Kuchma might be laughing, the last laugh might yet be Moroz'.