The presidential election is to take place in 2004 in Ukraine
It deems that observers were right, when they said last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin went to Kiev in order to find out, if Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was going to run at the next presidential election or not. It has been just a few days, and the significant statement was officially released.
Leonid Kuchma, the President of Ukraine, stated on February 4th, on the opening day of a regular session of the Ukrainian parliament, that he was not going to run for presidency at the presidential election in the year 2004. Kuchma set out his assurance that the present personnel of Ukraine’s coalition government with Prime Minister Viktor Yakunovich at he head, would perform the activities until the presidential election in 2004.
The Ukrainian parliament registered the draft law “About Social and Legal Guarantees for the Ukrainian President, who Stopped His Activities.” The registration of the draft law took place the same day. This document preserves the title of Ukraine’s president for life, and determines social and legal guarantees, which remain valid for life both for the ex-president and for the members of his family. These guarantees will be null and void, if a president of Ukraine was impeached, committed serious crimes, or pulled out from the Ukrainian citizenship. Social and legal guarantees for a former president of Ukraine and his family will be funded at the expense of the state budget. The budget will contain a separate article of expenditure, while the draft law will stipulate the control over the targeted use of the budgetary funds.
Some observers estimated the appearance of this document as a choice for Leonid Kuchma: either he volunteers to leave and gets all guarantees, or he is impeached and gets no guarantees at all. Others compared the situation, in which Leonid Kuchma finds himself today with the one, which Boris Yeltsin experienced. The two situations are similar to a certain extent, for the two presidents have low rating, while the left opposition makes attempts to initiate the impeachment procedure.
Will Ukraine’s incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yakunovich become Leonid Kuchma's successor? If it happens, this will cause active counteraction on the part of many Russian politicians. The leaders of the movement Union of Rightist Forces have been claiming lately that Viktor Yuschenko, the leader of the Ukrainian opposition, will be Ukraine’s next president. They said that Russia was supposed to back his candidacy. Yuschenko is known for his views about Ukraine to get integrated in the European community and to get closer to NATO. However, Yakunovich is known as a “strong economist.” He stands for strengthening Ukraine’s state organization and for developing ties with Russia. Probably, this factor became the major one for the Russian leadership. Leonid Kuchma has come to the realization of that.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.