Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 89

Ukrainian National Bank head Viktor Yushchenko’s enemies in parliament have failed to persuade the lawmakers to vote no-confidence in him. An ad-hoc parliament commission headed by former Economics Minister Viktor Suslov of the leftist Peasants Party faction accused the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) of incurring a US$100 million loss from placing a part of the NBU currency reserves in an allegedly second-rate bank in Cyprus. It, however, turned out that the bank in question is a branch of one of the world’s strongest financial groups, Credit Suisse. The commission in the draft resolution summing up its investigation into the NBU activities recommended that President Kuchma dismiss Yushchenko and suggested that the investigation materials be submitted to the prosecution. The parliament, however, at its closed sitting yesterday, rejected this resolution (Studio 1+1, STV, May 6).

Suslov, who reportedly harbors ambitions to replace Yushchenko, called on him to resign voluntarily. Suslov abstained from directly accusing his opponent of illegal operations with the NBU reserves, saying that Yushchenko bears “moral and political responsibility.” Yushchenko replied that he would resign immediately if “any member of the NBU has done anything illegal.” He, however, made clear that this will not happen, calling conclusions of the ad-hoc commission “filth” and insisting that there were no illegalities in the NBU work.

The investigation against NBU was probably politically motivated: Last autumn, when Suslov’s commission was set up, Yushchenko was generally regarded as a strong presidential aspirant. He refused, however, to participate in the presidential race. It is not quite clear which force was behind the NBU investigation. Commenting on the commission’s conclusion, Yushchenko said, “Those who wrote it, know who ordered it.” Another liberal reformer, Viktor Pynzenyk–leader of the Reforms and Order Party–suggested that certain financiers wanted to make money on the inflation which would be unleashed on Yushchenko’s resignation. The crusade against Yushchenko was launched in October by the United Social Democratic Party parliament faction, then chaired by former Premier Yevhen Marchuk, and the organization Marchuk headed in early 1990s, the Security Service (SBU), which then turned to the parliament to help examine the NBU. Liberal observers in Ukraine say that the country escaped financial collapse and default on foreign loans during last year’s crisis due largely to the NBU’s professionalism (Ukrainian media, May 4-6; see the Monitor, October 22, 1998).–OV

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