Orange, Yes, But Which One?*

When we last looked in, Viktor Yushchenko had been inaugurated, Viktor Yanukovych had grudgingly conceded, and orange was the color for all would-be world-changers.

Unfortunately, while we weren’t looking, Ukraine’s cabinet was collapsing into in-fighting and neglecting to do the things that people put them in office for. On the positive side, an investigation into the Gongadze affair was making, you’ll pardon the word, headway.
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Package Deals.

Earlier today, in slightly surprising move after days of gridlock, the Ukrainian Parliament finally approved a package deal of electoral reforms and constitutional changes in a 402-21 vote with 19 abstentions. President Kuchma immediately signed the compromise into law. In addition to the package elements already known, President Kuchma apparently agreed to dismiss the prosecutor general, while the parliament voted in favor of – apparently substancial – devolution measures to break the separatist/irredentist momentum in the East, and the opposition agreed to lift the blockade of government buildings at 6pm CET (via Le Sabot) – also – see Nick’s post below.

While Yuchenko must have come to the conclusion that, despite his recently aggressive rhetoric, a prolonged stand-off would weaken his position in the run-off more than a compromise about the future President’s powers, the Guardian reports that his camp’s support for the agreement is lukewarm at best.

It is unclear right nowto which extent the compromise has popular support – Some of those tired and freezing on the streets may be relieved, yet the IHT mentions that some protesters aren’t happy about the developments and still want to truly change Ukraine’s power structure.

But Yushenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko, the warrior Audrey profiled below, who once portrayed Mr Yushenko as “soft politician”, is unhappy with the compromise – her party accordingly voted against the measure -, speaking of a capitulation, and seems to be considering some kind of legal action against it. The Times Online quotes her saying “[t]his is a victory for Kuchma[, t]his vote helps reduce the powers of a president Yushchenko… [w]e could have won without it.”

In a related legal development, according to Radio Free Europe, ITAR-TASS and dpa report that Interpol temporarily removed the warrant for Yuliya Tymoshenko’s arrest from its official website ( pending further information from the Russian authorities who accused her of bribing Russian military officials (while keeping one for her husband). Interfax reports that Russian prosecutors will keep up their charges against Mrs Tymoshenko.

I’m sure all this can also become part of a package deals.

The Warrior Audrey.

Yulia Tymoshenko
2004 may be well the year of Ukraine’s warrior princesses. First, singer Ruslana managed to put Ukraine on Europe’s musical map by winning the Eurovision song contest with her Wild Dances in May, and now, in early December, it doesn’t seem unlikely that the other warrior princess, Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the most mysterious political figures in Ukraine, will become Prime Minister.

The Guardian’s Nick Paton Walsh claims that, “while for the time being she is proving a great and popular rebel leader, no one really knows what she stands for,” and, on Neeka’s Backlog, Veronica Khokhlova confirms The Economist’s warning (via The Independent) that, “though she may look like Audrey Hepburn, anyone who has got this far in a country where politics often resembles a Jacobean revenge tragedy must have an edge” by wrinting about Mrs Tymoshenko that

“she’s an awesome politician – full of dignity, full of class, soft yet has some very deadly poison hidden underneath, very convincing when she speaks, prepared wonderfully to any kinds of questions, be it about the opposition’s plans, her own finances or her alleged radicalism. She’s beautiful, too, but her looks are as much of an asset as they are not.

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