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Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections: Implications for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations

Recorded on September 27, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Ukraine is undergoing a deep institutional crisis.  The upcoming early parliamentary elections represent a compromise between the parties of President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.  In addition to their intense personal rivalry, the forthcoming elections are likely to reflect the major geographic and political splits within the country.  The elections, it is hoped, will bring an end to the deadlock resulting from an Eastern-leaning parliamentary majority, headed by Yanukovych's Party of Regions, and a Western-leaning President and parliamentary opposition block. The campaign is mostlyfocused on domestic issues such as corruption and the rule of law, butforeign policy priorities are at stake and the contention over the path and pace of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration will also persist.

The implications for US-Ukrainian relations are vast. Will the elections help Ukraine regain its democratic momentum and strengthen domestic rule of law? More importantly, will the elections lead to greater internal cohesion and allow a unified Ukraine to move forward as it pursues both domestic reforms and foreign policy agendas? The outcome of this close race is crucial, particularly at a time when Russia is seeking to increase its influence in Eurasia