While Kolomoyskyi himself is not on the ballot, the candidates he is backing are leading the polls in the mayoral elections in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa. Ever since his firing by Poroshenko this spring, the oligarch has been locked in a nationwide war with the President for control of almost every aspect of business and political life in Ukraine. The President won some initial battles against Kolomoyskyi by reducing his influence over the state companies Naftogaz and Ukrtransnafta, as well as defeated his right hand candidate Gennadiy Korban in a Special Parliamentary Election in Chernihiv. However, the Local Elections in some major Ukrainian cities give Kolomoyskyi “home court advantage” against the President and an opportunity to settle the score.
Here are the rundowns of the three largest cities outside Kyiv where Kolomoyskyi backed candidates are leading in the polls:Dnipropetrovsk – the Bible says that “a prophet is without honor only in his hometown” (Mark 6:4) but as for Ukrainian oligarchs, and specifically Igor Kolomoyskyi, “oligarchs are highly honored in their hometowns”. Kolomoyskyi’s financial contributions to the city’s development, as well as his decisive moves to prevent separatism in Dnipropetrovsk, have made the oligarch an honored man in his hometown. Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third largest city, will play host to a brutal battle between Poroshenko and Kolomoyskyi proxies in a race which proves the old adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
Kolomoyskyi’s candidate for Mayor of Dnipropetrovsk is Borys Filatov. Filatov, an independent Member of Parliament, Chairs the powerful Special Control Commission in Parliament on Privatization. He served as Kolomoyskyi’s First Deputy Governor when the latter was Governor before being easily elected to Parliament (57-19% over his nearest rival) last October from Dnipropetrovsk District 27 (October Rayon). Filatov is running as the candidate from Kolomoyskyi’s patriotic oriented Ukrop (“Dill”) Party. As a just a drop in the sea of resources that will be spent in this campaign, Filatov’s supporters gave away cold water to local residents during the summer under tents with the banner “Borys Filatov Foundation for Clean Water”. Suffice to say that local voters can expect much more than a mere cup of water before Election Day…
Filatov’s main opponent is former Yanukovych Vice Premier Minister and Dnipropetrovsk Governor Oleksandr Vilkul. Vilkul is also respected locally and proven to be a canny politician with good survival instincts. Running as the candidate of the Opposition Bloc, Vilkul has both his own resources as well as the financial support of Donetsk oligarch (and Kolomoyskyi enemy) Rinat Akhmetov. During the summer months, Vilkul and former four term Dnipropetrovsk Mayor Ivan Kulichenko (now a Member of Parliament with the Poroshenko Bloc) colluded on how to defeat Kolomoyskyi. Initially Kulichenko planned to enter the race as well but when internal polling showed Vilkul more likely to defeat Filatov than the former Mayor, Kulichenko (age 60) decided to live out his “retirement” in Parliament (with immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed as Mayor). Instead of Kulichenko, the Solidarity Party nominated 35 year old MP Maksym Kurachiy. Kurachiy won a narrow upset victory in Dnipropetrovsk District #25 (Krasnogvardiskye Rayon) last October over Zahid Krasnov with “Community Strength”, who was believed to be backed by Kolomoyskyi (28-27% or by just 441 votes out of 65,000 cast). Krasnov, a prominent civic activist, may enter the mayoral election as well since polls show his support around 15% which would make him a possible “king maker” in the runoff. An August poll showed Vilkul leading Filatov 34-33% in round one, but if Krasnov throws his support behind Filatov in round two (as he is expected to do), that could be decisive in favor of Kolomoyskyi’s candidate. The same poll showed Filatov edging Vilkul in round two by a 33.8-33.4% margin. As an additional insurance policy geared towards the runoff, Kolomoyskyi ally Anatoliy Krupskiy is planning to enter the race as the candidate from the oligarch’s Renaissance Party. Ironically Krupskiy was Kulichenko’s First Deputy Mayor. In Dnipropetrovsk, “politics makes strange bedfellows”. As a result, Igor Kolomoyskyi momentarily has the upper hand in the Dnipropetrovsk Mayor’s race over President Poroshenko.Kharkiv – Incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Kernes has agreed to be the candidate of Kolomoyskyi’s “Renaissance” (Vidrozhennya) Party in Ukraine’s second largest city. The Renaissance Party, with its’ accompanying faction in Parliament, is Kolomoyskyi’s vehicle for electing his supporters in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The patriotic Ukrop Party is Kolomoyskyi’s vehicle for Kyiv and the west. A last minute change to the new local elections law allows mayoral candidates to run as independents. Thus, Kernes, who is locally popular in spite of two pending criminal cases, could have chosen to run as such. However, the Mayor’s alignment with Kolomoyskyi, both reinforces long standing business ties as well as demonstrates defiance of the Poroshenko administration. Kernes’s star pupil, former Governor Mykhailo Dobkin (and failed 2014 Presidential Candidate from the Party of Regions), had hoped to have the Mayor run under the Opposition Bloc banner this election. However, in payback for a 2010 court ruling which prevented Motherland Party from running in Kyiv and Ternopol for the 2010 local elections, a Kharkiv court denied registration to the Opposition Bloc in Kharkiv for the 2015 local elections. Of course the Renaissance Party label is merely cosmetic for Kernes (who was winning over 60% of the vote against all opponents in a poll last month) however his alliance with Kolomoyskyi gives the oligarch a likely victory over the President in the country’s second largest city.
The Kolomoyskyi backed Kernes faces opposition from Solidarity’s Aleksandr Davtyan, a local businessman and oblast council deputy with Armenian heritage. Davtyan served two terms as an independent on the city council before being elected to the oblast council with Yatsenyuk’s “Front for Change” in 2010. Prior to that, Davtyan served as Austria’s Honorary Consul in Kharkiv and still maintains large investments in that country. The Davtyan and Company Group owns the downtown Kharkiv Hotel and the popular “Objective” TV and Radio Company. Before the 2008 economic crisis, Davtyan himself was worth an estimated $72 million US dollars. Davtyan’s late entry into the race adds some intrigue to what would otherwise be the equivalent of a coronation for Kernes. While Kernes remains the favorite, Davtyan’s entry into the race creates the first real possibility of a runoff election taking place. Though Kernes is likely to triumph comfortably in the runoff, the Poroshenko administration “backup plan” is to win court convictions against Kernes for his involvement in crimes against Euromaidan activists in 2013-2014. Two court cases have been successfully delayed by Kernes’ legal team until after the election. If Kernes is convicted of the crimes though, he will be removed from office and a new election held most likely in spring. A decent showing by Davtyan against Kernes this November would position him as the front runner for any special election in the future. Former Yanukovych Deputy Governor and owner of Ukraine’s largest golf course Yuri Sapronov is also in the race. Meanwhile, local businessmen Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy and Oleksandr Feldman were persuaded by Poroshenko Chief of Staff Borys Lozhkin to finance the constructive opposition party “Our Land” (Nasha Krai). While Yaroslavskiy and Kernes have been enemies since Kernes was complicit in the Yanukovych family’s raiding of some of Yaroslavskiy’s assets in 2012 (including the soccer team “Metallist”), the addition of Feldman (who owns many of the large markets in Kharkiv) was somewhat of a coup. Thus, while Poroshenko is making strategic moves to win the war in the long term, Kolomoyskyi appears likely to win the battle for Kharkiv this autumn.
Odesa – Ukraine’s fourth largest city is truly the “New Orleans of the Black Sea” when it comes to colorful politics. Incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov faces a rematch with three term former Mayor Eduard Hurvits. Trukhanov owes his May 2014 Special Election victory to the support of then Kolomoyskyi Governor Ihor Palytsya. Though the “Shuster Live” Exit Poll showed Hurvits winning the election 43-36%, Palytsya utilized the full weight of administrative resources to ensure Trukhanov’s victory after a suspicious vote count that lasted several days. Trukhanov, a former Party of Regions MP and formerly the Deputy Head of the Odesa Port, has since found himself in a difficult position with Poroshenko’s appointment of Mikheil Saakashvili as Governor. In addition, the Poroshenko-Kolomoyskyi war has forced Trukhanov to publicly put distance between himself and the Dnipropetrovsk oligarch. Kolomoyskyi’s recent attack against Saakashvili in which he called him a ‘drug addict’ further encourage the incumbent to appear independent. However appearances can be deceiving and the “distance” is contrived. For example, Trukhanov’s “Belief and Actions” Party gave 30% of their party list to handpicked Palytsya (read Kolomoyskyi) candidates. Thus it seems that Kolomoyskyi and Trukhanov have agreed to create a “legend” about a split – without an actual split.
Meanwhile, in the pro-European camp, the Solidarity Party snubbed former Mayor and UDAR MP Eduard Hurvits in favor of Saakashvili adviser Sasha Borovik. The order from Bankova street was “get a new, young face”. However if Bankova street is banking on Borovik to win the election, it would seem they appointed the wrong candidate. The day before Borovik’s announcement, Gazetta.ua picked up on locals murmuring about Borovik’s work in the KGB and published the article “Sasha Borovik, ex-KGB School Student wants to be Odesa Mayor”. With internal Solidarity polling showing the party at just 7% in Odesa, and with Borovik a virtual unknown to local voters, being tagged as a KGB officer is not a vote enhancer. In addition, during a time of lustration, an Andropov Institute student is hardly the “new face” the public is expecting. For Solidarity to get Borovik into a runoff with Trukhanov, it would require Governor Saakashvili to make use of wide scale administrative resources. While Saakashvili gets high marks for reforms in Georgia, the most frequent criticism of the former President was for some occasional undemocratic actions. With Saakashvili now in contention for a higher post in Kyiv after the local elections, it is doubtful that the Governor will risk his revitalized career trajectory on a long shot candidate for Mayor of Odesa.
However, the likelihood of a runoff remains high due to Hurvits’ filing as an independent. In Odesa, all political parties, and particularly pro-European parties perform poorly. Personalities, rather than partisan labels, play a greater role. This bodes well for the three term Mayor’s independent candidacy as Hurvits consistently places second in the polls behind Trukhanov. More importantly, his electorate is based around his personality rather than a partisan label. Thus, despite Borovik’s entry into the race, Hurvits remains the most likely opponent of Trukhanov in the runoff.Trukhanov has had a good last two weeks. The entry of Borovik into the race will siphon votes from Hurvits and the Opposition Bloc announced that they will not run a candidate for Mayor. Vadim Rabinovich has previously stated his desire to run for Odesa Mayor with the Opposition Bloc, as he received six percent of the vote there in the presidential election last year. That six percent tally was impressive for a candidate who received just two percent nationwide, and was based merely on having the same name as a fictional Odesa character. However, not all news was good for Trukhanov as controversial MP Serhiy Kivalov announced his unexpected candidacy for Mayor of Odesa. Kivalov, who was Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine in the fraudulent 2004 Orange Revolution election, remains quite an odious political figure in Kyiv. However in Odesa, Kivalov is a colorful personality with a stable base of support. Kivalov’s candidacy is payback to Trukhanov, for supporting Kolomoyskyi’s candidate against him during his re-election last October. The cagey politico defeated a total of 39 opponents including candidates to win a 29-23% victory over Kolomoyskyi’s Volodymyr Rondin in Odesa District #135 (Prymorskiy Rayon). With Hurvits and Borovik competing for the pro-European electorate, Trukhanov and Kivalov will now compete for the pro-Russian electorate. Though Trukhanov is likely to triumph over Kivalov, the former CEC Head’s candidacy almost guarantees his Ukrainian Sea Party seats on the city council (with 5-7% of the vote). Thus, with seats on the new city council, Kivalov will continue to exert influence on Odesa politics regardless of who is elected Mayor. Another candidate who will siphon votes from Trukhanov is Strong Ukraine’s (Tyhypko’s party) Svetlana Fabrikant. Serhiy Tyhypko received 19% of the vote in the 2014 Presidential Election from Odesa region and also his Strong Ukraine Party won their only parliamentary seat in last year’s election south of Odesa (District #143 Izmayil).
With more intrigue, sub-plots and betrayals than a Shakespearian play, Odesa’s mayoral election promises an exciting finish. A runoff between Trukhanov and Hurvits remains the most likely outcome following the first round of elections on October 25th. Under the new election law, runoff elections must be held within three weeks which would most likely put the runoff on November 15th (unless the local Territorial Election Commission changes it). Lots can happen between now and November 15th but for now, Kolomoyskyi clearly has the upper hand on Poroshenko in this strategic city.• Oleksandr Klymenko’s Big Comedy Adventure (feat. Aaron Shaviv) – Ukrainians were stunned by the bizarre advertisements appearing on Independence Day from former Yanukovych State Tax Administration Head Oleksandr Klymenko. The first ad on YouTube (with 170,000 views already) begins by showing Klymenko on February 22, 2014, infamously knocking down the x-ray scanner and scuffling with Immigration Service Officers at the VIP section of Boryspil Airport, before their fleeing the country on a private jet. The ad entitled “Reconcilation” then switchs to a coffee shop where Klymenko and one of the officers from the scuffle watching the video together. Klymenko is wearing a polo shirt to show off his manly physique and sporting an Osama Bin Laden style beard (albeit slightly better groomed). Nothing says you are hiding out with too much time on your hands better than a scary Taliban beard. The Immigration Officer looks up to the ceiling and sighs, “Don’t get me wrong. I was following orders from above…”. Klymenko shrugs it off and says, “I understand. It’s a pity you didn’t understand me then”. The immigration officer replies, “Now I look at the country and I understand all” before asking Klymenko the straight faced questions, “will you return to Ukraine?” Klymenko looks him in the eyes and paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. By saying, “Of course. Of course I will return. Because if not us then who?” The two men who were once scuffling smile and “pound dog” each other as an acoustic guitar begins strumming in the background. The men walk out of the café, with Klymenko gentlemanly offering his new friend to walk ahead of him and states, “Together. Shoulder to shoulder. Hand in hand. And in our unity is our strength. We are Ukrainians”. A second ad entitled, “Match for Ukraine” features a soccer game in which referees systematically call penalties on players and then orders their executions by beheading and firing squads. Klymenko, who speaks Russian in the ad, even quotes the wise King Solomon when he says, “there is a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together” (Ecclesiastes 3:5).
In addition to the ads, Klymenko sports a fancy website, Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Wikipedia entry. The English language on his website is written by a native speaker which suggests that Klymenko has hired some Western consulting help. In fact it appears Klymenko has not just any Western consultant, but Aaron Shaviv, British-Israeli political consultant who is credited with Netanyahu’s most recent come from behind victory. Hiring a high powered consultant like Shaviv is definitely not cheap, but when you have an impossible task, one definitely cannot pinch kopeks. Ironically, Shaviv who once created the famous “Bibi-sitter” ad for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears to be the baby-sitter for fugitive Oleksandr Klymenko.
Klymenko’s website is a model for how to design a site when money is not an issue. Readers can read Klymenko’s “Life Principles” with gems such as “I cannot stand injustice”, “the most important thing of a successful project – is the team” and the kicker, “The notion of power in society is perverted. I perceive power not as a goal, but as an element of freedom and a tool…it is a tool, which helps to change the world for the better via achieving good purposes. If you use it for other purposes, it destroys you…power as service to the people…power for the sake of development, and not yourself personally. Power like the cross, not as a reward”. In addition to his life’s wisdom, an Orthodox church calendar is also available so you won’t’ miss a single religious holiday without “Uncle Oleksandr” there to share it with you. The website also contains the “Top 5 Questions” that “ordinary” people ask Oleksandr. For example, “Are you part of the team of Azarov?” to which Klymenko replies, “I have read the book of Nicholay Yanovich. Please, believe me, we are completely different formations of politics. If it comes about technologies, innovations, ERP-systems, new ways and approaches, you can talk to me about it. If you support ‘classical school of management’, you should ask him”. Well, that is a relief! Another “Top 5 Question” is “Hello, I am student and I am 22 years old, I really want to make a successful career, as yours. I can not work for 3000 per month. Can you tell me, what should I start with?” Wise “Uncle Oleksandr” replies, “First and foremost, you should finish your education. It is an important part of life! The main and required task for you is to study in order to have someone to rely on in the future. Successful career can not be built with the help of a magic wand. It is everyday work, focus on your tasks, a team, which you united around yourself, people, with whom you go through your life. The most important – is motivation. If you have the desire and belief in yourself, you will be successful!” Perhaps the more honest answer would have been, “Hey kid, if you wanna be successful like me, use my tested formula: work hard, stay in school, and tie yourself to a corrupt regional governor on his way up to ultimately become his money man. Never fails! You said 3000 hryvnas per month? Try three billion hryvnas a month kid!”
The amusement and audacity of the ads aside, what is Klymenko’s end game? It is believed that his motivation is to persuade Ukrainian authorities to “let him back in” under the guise of a future presidential run. By being a candidate for President (albeit an election still four years away), it would make him untouchable for prosecution of any crimes while in office. Klymenko’s return has been debated at top levels in the Ukrainian government already, although publicly the line hasn’t changed. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on September 23rd, “If he considers it necessary to come to Ukraine, let him come, we’ll accept his penance and decide on his punishment…We perfectly know where he is and how he is”. Let’s hope Ukraine’s authorities will stick to their guns…
• Personnel Moves: Oleksandr Shevchenko has quit the Poroshenko Bloc faction. Shevchenko, elected in a Special Election to Parliament in Ivano Frankivsk District 83 (Ivano Frankivsk city) last May in conjunction with the Presidential Election. Shevchenko was re-elected over former two-term City Mayor Zinoviy Shkyutyak 41-34% last October. The local businessman said, “I have made the decision to leave Petro Poroshenko Bloc in the Parliament of Ukraine. The decision was determined not by the current situation and by those attempting to escape the sinking Titanic. Still, there are lots of possibilities on its deck for those aiming at political careers and governmental engagement. But there are key issues, which are high above political maneuvers and career priorities”. Shevchenko’s disagreement appears to be with Deputy Faction Head Ihor Kononenko who has become known as the “enforcer”. Shevchenko added, “If the Petro Poroshenko betrays its oaths due to external pressure, my human duty, my status as a Ukrainian MP, there is no other choice for me to leave as my patriotic dignity tells me. As the promises for the leader of this team turned out to be pre-election public relations”.
Andriy Shevchenko – was official appointed as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada. The appointment of the three-term former Member of Parliament has been widely praised as Shevchenko has an affable manner and favorable reputation. While the appointment marks a break in Shevchenko’s relationship with Yuliya Tymoshenko, it revitalizes his relationship with Poroshenko. In 2003 Poroshenko tapped Shevchenko to be the founder of his 5th Channel television station before the Orange Revolution. The move positions Shevchenko for a bright return to Ukraine in the future as a Cabinet Minister – or perhaps higher…David Sakvarelidze – was appointed as the new Odesa Prosecutor General by Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Sakvarelidze has been working as Deputy Prosecutor General for Ukraine under Shokin, but the two have been in open conflict since July. It was at that time that Sakvarelidze had opened a case against the so called “diamond prosecutor” (See Ukraine Update 7/13: “Diamond Arm”, Dill and Cabinet Cracks”) only to have it scuttled by Shokin himself. The conflict between Shokin and Sakvarelidze led to President Poroshenko brokering a “sit down” truce in early August. The tensions between the two stem not only from the “diamond prosecutor” case, but are also due to Sakvarelidze and the Georgian Team’s contention that the Prosecutor General post should have been awarded to them. Following a decision by Viktor Shokin in early September to continue in the post and not resign (despite 200 MP’s having signed a petition calling for his dismissal), Sakvarelidze began looking for exit routes. The quickest and easiest route was to join the “Georgian Team” in Odesa under Governor Saakashvili. Brighton Beach, New York (a suburb of New York City) is known as “Little Odesa” because of the large number of immigrants tracing their routes back to Odesa. In the same way, Odesa has now become “Little Tbilisi” because of the large influx of Georgian politicians who have followed Saakashvili to the city. Thus, Sakvarelidze went to “Little Tbilisi” to serve as Prosecutor General. As Odesa Prosecutor, Sakvarelidze will not have to deal with Shokin on a daily basis, as Saakashvili can trump Shokin with the President when needed. On a practical level, Saakashvili needs allies in Odesa as the enormous task of fighting corruption too is huge for any single man – no matter what his achievements in the past. On a strategic level, Sakvarelidze has specifically been brought to Odesa to fight Kolomoyskyi for control of strategic business assets like the port. Unable so far to cut the Gordion Knot of Odesa courts, Saakashvili has taken an Alexander the Great approach, and simply cut the knot with his sword by bringing in Sakvarelidze. Now the real battle in Odesa is about to begin…
Alexander Kvitashvili – the Georgian born Minister of Health managed to continue in his post longer when Parliament refused to accept his resignation. Kvitashvili wrote a resignation in June following his loss of support from President Poroshenko. However intervention by Saakashvili, and a general fear of how it would look internationally for Ukraine to dismiss a Minister who is still a “newly minted” Ukrainian citizen, saved Kvitashvili’s job (at least for now). Only 170 MP’s voted to accept the resignation which means Kvitashvili will survive until the post-election anticipated government shakeup occurs.
Ihor Mosiychuk – the Radical Party MP was stripped of his immunity and arrested in a “made for TV” event. Mosiychuk is accused of offering a “price list” for MP’s services and demanding bribes. While Mosiychuk appears to be guilty based upon Prosecutor General Shokin’s video footage, the move did little to allay the public anger over lack of prosecutions. If anything, many Ukrainians began asking why it was so easy with a low level MP like Mosiychuk but “big fish” like Serhiy Klyuyev are allowed to flee after their immunity is lifted. Mosiychuk was put in 60 day pre-trial detention and immediately announced that he was going on hunger strike. Given the sheer size of the MP, he will surely be able to outlast the 60 day detention…
Artem Vitko – the former Commander of the 1st Luhansk Battalion and MP has quit the Radical Party Faction in Parliament. Vitko said, “I do not want to be part of this political force. I regret that I spent part of my life here”. Faction Leader Oleg Lyashko hit back and accused Vitko of being “bought”. Lyashko is now pushing the CEC to register the next person on the Radical Party list, Tetyana Yushkova a 52 year old Kyiv lawyer, to replace Vitko in Parliament. Vitko was number seven on the Radical Party list to Parliament.
Yuliya Tymoshenko – while the former Premier still harbors hopes of returning to power, things are not going her way lately. The last month has seen Tymoshenko try to rally support for “stopping repression” against Svoboda, complain that a “Gang of Seven” are ruling the coalition (but only naming six), and allege that the Russian Alfa Bank profited from Ukraine’s bond restructuring. In the meantime, her faction is the smallest coalition partner in the government and lacks influence on the agenda. Threats to quit the coalition have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Meanwhile a petition was started on the new Presidential website e-petitions page to “appoint Yuliya Tymoshenko as Ambassador to Honduras“. In the same way that a “Deport Justin Bieber” White House petition received 273,000 signatures out of the 1000,000 needed, the “Exile Tymoshenko” petition to the Secretariat has already garnered 23,000 of the 25,000 signatures needed for consideration. Of course, Tymoshenko would never agree and Ukraine doesn’t even have an embassy in Honduras, but the negative PR from the petition is an irritant for the former Premier.
Oleg Musiy – the former Minister of Health and Euromaidan Doctor left the Poroshenko Faction in Parlimament. He is running for Kyiv mayor with Svoboda Party but is a technical candidate. His departure from the faction though is more significant as it signifies a growing discontentment with the President.
Dates to Watch (for Ukraine unless otherwise noted):
October 1: Russian Gas Supplies Resume: Russian gas supplies to Ukraine will resume as of October 1 due to a new trilateral agreement reached among Ukraine, Russia and the EU. Using $500 million of financing from the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), Ukraine will purchase two billion cubic meters of gas, to supplement the 15 billion already in underground storage. This move will be adequate to get Ukraine through the winter unless the winter season is particularly harsh. If the weather is bitterly cold, then Ukraine will need to purchase additional gas from Russia. However with this trilateral agreement in place and the price set at $232 for the fourth quarter, the mechanism for doing so already exists. Russia is clearly betting on a tough winter and estimates that Ukraine will need to purchase seven billion cubic meters of gas between now and the end of March.
October 2: Normandy Four Summit in Paris: There is reason for optimism that a real ceasefire agreement will be announced at this summit. Putin’s recent comments and actions suggest that a permanent ceasefire may be imminent and United Nations or European Union peacekeepers could be deployed to the occupied Donbass. But as usual, we will see…
October 18: Local “Elections” in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.
October 25: National Local Elections for Mayor and City Councils.
November 1: Local “Elections” in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic.
November 8 or 15, 2015: Runoff Election Date under the New Election Law. The new election law stipulates that mayoral runoffs in cities over 90,000 populations may be held “up to” three weeks after the first round of elections. The decision depends on the Territorial Election Commissions (TECs) in the respective cities to make a determination and set a date. Thus, the runoffs could be held on November 8th in one city and November 15th in another city– at least in theory. In reality, the confusion with the new election law and natural need for time to prepare will likely result in all runoffs being conducted on November 15th.
December 25: $3 Billion in Russian Bonds are due for Payment: This debt is the last remaining hurdle to Ukraine’s full restructuring. Having won concessions from the Franklin Templeton Group, the Russia debt is a minor but important obstacle at this point. Premier Yatsenyuk has called on the Russians to either accept the same terms as the Franklin Templeton Group (a 20% cut in principal) or to collect the debt directly from Yanukovych and his friends in Russia. Meanwhile the Cabinet of Minister has suspended debt payments following completion of the September 23rd coupons. This gives Ukraine additional negotiating leverage with the Russians who have refused to budge on restructuring the $3 billion debt incurred during the final weeks of the Yanukovych regime. Russia is promising to go to court in the United Kingdom to get the full amount due. Bonds are typically legalized under British law.
January 31, 2016: New EU Expiration Date for Donbass related Sanctions on Russia
January 31, 2016: End of the Current Session of Parliament.
February 21, 2016: Donbass Local Elections in the Occupied Territories? The so-called DPR and LPR leaders have proposed these dates to the Trilateral Contact Group as the dates for elections to be held under the Minsk Agreements. Elections in February would be another violation of the Minsk Agreement which requires elections to be held this year. Meanwhile, former Kuchma Chief of Staff Roman Besmertniy had joined the Ukrainian side for negotiations. Besmertniy also served as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Belarus under Yushchenko and has close relationships with the Belarusian government.
February 2016: Stockholm Arbitration Hearings on Counter Claims between Naftogaz and Gazprom. Naftogaz is seeking $16 billion dollars and a decision is expected by June 2016.
June 23, 2016: New EU Expiration Date for Crimea related Sanctions on Russia