On Tuesday (October 20) the Ukrainian parliament created a special commission to investigate the activities of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Creation of the commission followed a sensational statement of the Social Democratic Party (United) faction of October 19, which accused the NBU of illegal operations with state currency reserves. The faction, headed by the former Security Service (SBU) head Yevhen Marchuk, who has presidential ambitions, reported that the NBU deposited US$75 million on the account in a presumably low-level bank in Cyprus, and authorized to service Ukraine’s foreign loans the First Investment Bank, allegedly co-founded by relatives of the NBU head, Viktor Yushchenko. The SBU deputy head Anatoly Belaev promptly turned to the parliament to help investigate the NBU activities (Ukrainian media, October 19-20).
Yushchenko refuted all the allegations in his report to parliament on October 20. Leftist factions, however, called on President Kuchma to dismiss Yushchenko, pressure on whom is mounting. Rumors about a possible dismissal of Yushchenko began circulating several weeks ago, when Kuchma accused the NBU’s strict monetarism for the current economic crisis (see the Monitor, October 9). Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko later complained about the NBU’s “excessive” independence in his report to the parliament (see the Monitor, October 14). Yushchenko’s most ardent opponent in parliament, leftist Peasants Party faction member and former Economics Minister Viktor Suslov, apparently harbors ambitions to replace Yushchenko. The SDPU attack on Yushchenko can be explained either by possible cabinet’s plans to shift the blame for a possible financial collapse on the NBU head (SDPU new leader Viktor Medvedchuk’s and the SPDU’s own support of the current cabinet is widely known) or by possible difficulties some SDPU faction members “with a banking background” are experiencing due to the strict monetary policies of Yushchenko.
Several small right-wing parties, including the Republican Christian Party, the Christian People’s Party, the Reformy i Poryadok (Law and Order), and the influential Rukh, earlier announced that they may decide to support Yushchenko in the campaign of 1999 (Holos Ukrainy, October 20). The chief banker himself has several times publicly denied having any political aspirations. Yushchenko is highly regarded both in the West and in the banking circles at home for his professionalism, integrity and demonstrative reluctance to play political games.–OV
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