Ukraine. According to Countryaah, the capital of Ukraine is Kiev. Parliament ratified a friendship agreement between Ukraine and Russia in January. A 10-year trade agreement between the two countries was signed in February by the country’s presidents Leonid Kuchma and Boris Yeltsin, respectively. Prime Minister Valerij Pustovojtenko argued that the agreement would favor trade between the two neighboring countries and, in the long run, improve Ukraine’s poor economy. At the same time, Kuchma, as a concession to Russia, assured that Ukraine would not seek NATO membership, which Foreign Minister Gennady Udovenko had designated in March 1997 as the country’s long-term goal. The agreement was one of several signs that Ukraine-Russia relations have improved significantly over the past two years.
On March 29, parliamentary elections were held. About 30 parties had succeeded in gathering the 200,000 votes required to stand for election. The Communist Party (the Communist Party of Ukraine) retained its position as the largest party and received 123 of the Parliament’s 450 seats. Political commentators said that this would make it difficult for incumbent President Leonid Kuchma to implement market-oriented economic reforms. One of the reasons for the continuing strength of the Communist Party was, according to several analysts, the widespread poverty in Ukraine. Many of the country’s residents had never before suffered so materially as after the 1991 independence in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Overall, parties with a left profile went forward in the election, while parties that supported the incumbent government declined. The turnout was unexpectedly high, almost 70%. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, criticized certain elements of the electoral movement. According to the OSCE report, the choice of violent incidents, arrests and various kinds of actions against candidates was disturbed. The government was criticized for trying to influence the election results through its control of national media.
As a result of the election results, Parliament Speaker Aleksandr Moroz resigned. It proved difficult to agree on a new one. After 19 votes without success, on July 7, a new President, Alexandr Tkatchenko, was finally able to vote.
In March, the World Bank strongly criticized Ukraine for failing to implement market economy reforms at an agreed rate. The bank therefore decided to withhold loan disbursements of approximately SEK 5 billion. until the conditions were considered fulfilled. The Government of Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed in July on a loan of SEK 17.5 billion. over three years, with the aim of improving the country’s macroeconomic situation. However, the loan was subject to certain conditions, including: that the country must reduce the budget deficit and inflation, privatize more state industries, implement a tax reform and fight against the black economy. Earlier in the year, the IMF had also postponed a loan disbursement to the country because the requirements were not considered fulfilled.
In May, some 70,000 coal miners from some 30 mines went on strike as a result of missing wages. According to spokesmen from the miners’ union, the workers had not received a salary of ten months, and the state’s debt to the miners was estimated at SEK 9 billion.
On January 20, 2005, Supreme Court President Viktor Yushchenko declared the winner of the presidential election. The court rejected Yanukovych’s closing request, which supported the December 2 election round. After a politically turbulent period, Yushchenko took over the presidential post on January 23. Russian President Putin, who had otherwise supported Yanukovych, wanted Yushchenko to congratulate the victory, declaring that the development of friendly and equal relations between the two countries remained Russia’s highest priority.
In February, Parliament overwhelmingly appointed Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister. Tymoshenko, allied with Yushchenko, was also one of the most radical supporters of reform and supporters of the fight against corruption. The key points of her government program were the efforts to get Ukraine into the EU and NATO.
In September, Yuschenko dissolved Yulia Tymoshenko’s government and dismissed her from the prime minister’s post. She was replaced by Yurii Yekhanurov. In this way, Yuschenko secured an exceptionally sharp political opponent. On his resignation, Timoshenko declared that Yuschenko had in effect destroyed the political alliance between them and the country’s future.
In January 2006, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine as Kiev refused to pay a 460% price increase. Acc. the Ukrainian authorities, the Russian move was a response to Ukraine’s attempt to gain greater independence from Moscow and establish closer ties with Western Europe. Otherwise, the Russian state gas company Gazprom sold gas to the former Member States of the Soviet Union at subsidized prices.
In March 2006, parliamentary elections were held, won by Yanukovich ‘Party of Regions, which got 186 of Parliament’s 450 seats. it was followed by Tymoshenko’s Bloc, which got 129 seats, while Yuschenko’s party had to settle for 81. In August, therefore, the president was forced to appoint his old rival Yanukovich as prime minister at the head of a pro-Russian coalition. However, cohabitation lasted briefly. In March-April 2007, the country experienced a parliamentary crisis, culminating in the resignation of President Yuschenko and postponing elections to May 27. That decision was challenged by the deposed prime minister and his supporters. The election was therefore held only in September, when the president and the deposed prime minister had reached a compromise. The election was won by Yuliya Tymoshenko’s block and the president’s block.
In April 2007, Ukraine and Poland were appointed by UEFA to host the European Football Championships in 2012. It has initiated a fierce construction activity in Ukraine, where roads, hotels and stadiums need to be expanded to cope with the championships.