Friday, April 06, 2007

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Ukraine's outlook to negative from stable yesterday, citing uncertainty created by the crisis and warning that it was difficult to see a good outcome for the economy.

"The main reason for Yushchenko's popularity in 2004 was that people remembered what he had done as prime minister," said Andriy Bychenko, a director at the Razumkov Center for Economic & Political Studies in Kiev. "His was the first government under which Ukraine's economy grew since it became an independent country" in 1991.

This time, Mr. Yushchenko's record has been much less impressive. His popularity has crumbled, and the less Western-oriented candidate he defeated in 2004, Viktor Yanukovich, has returned as prime minister and has assumed many of the president's powers. Mr. Yanukovich has made few of the economic changes investors want, yet greater certainty under his rule has revived investment.

Both sides claim the recent crisis is about protecting the constitution, but most analysts believe it is simply the culmination of a long-running zero-sum political struggle for power, which has seen Mr. Yushchenko gradually stripped of authority. In recent weeks, 11 legislators have defected to Mr. Yanukovich's camp from parties supporting the president. That has brought Mr. Yanukovich's governing coalition closer to the 300 votes he needs in parliament to amend the constitution and write the president out of power. "Yushchenko cannot afford to back down or to lose," said Taras Kuzio, a Ukraine analyst and associate professor at George Washington University, speaking in Kiev. "If he does, it will complete the reversal of the Orange Revolution."

The Wall Street Journal

No comments: