Who’s in and who’s out?

“Who’s in and who’s out” is a conversation many embassy staff have in embassies around the world from time to time relating to the nations to which they are posted and the political personalities of that nation.

It may sound a little childish to play such games, and indeed it may not always turn out to be entirely accurate, but it is a part of diplomatic and political life.

It can occasionally be muddled, but most of the time, the results of such discussions are there or there abouts when it comes to who is “in” and who is “out”.

When talking of the “in’s” and the “out’s”, we are not talking about the obvious cases of those getting sacked.  The world, lest we forget is not so black and white - especially so when it comes to Ukraine.

There are a lot of people that cannot be allowed to be “out” lest they are powerful enough to undermine the structure, but also and just as equally cannot afford to be allowed all the way “in” as either their loyalty is doubted or their vision of the future does not exactly fit with the picture of others.

The “in’s” and “out’s” tend to fluctuate.

The “in’s” and “out’s” are important.  Especially so when sending a message you want heard either by those who are “in” - but also to those who appear “in” but are actually “out”.

The two most obvious “in’s” that are actually “out” - at least currently in Ukraine - are Deputy First Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovsky and Petro Poroshenko the Minister for Trade and Economic Development.  There are others but not as well known or powerful in their own right - as well as Viktor Pinchuk who blows “in” and “out” although he is never really “in” or “out”.

Both men due to their positions will sit on numerous boards and on numerous committees along side their official titles.  To judge just how far “out” these “in’s” are, it is necessary to look at events such as this, where Khoroshkovsky has been removed from a State board of little significants as far as public profile is concerned,  for no apparent reason.  The more events of this nature, the further “out” these “in’s” are - quite obviously.

This may seem a bit “so what?”, but which “in’s” are “out” as the presidential elections in 2015 get closer is significant - particularly when “outs” like Khoroshkovsky and Poroshenko own some of the most watched national TV channels in Ukraine.

Thus how far “out” these necessary “in’s” can be pushed is a fine art.- particularly if your current policies are contrary to their business interests.

Should Poroshenko run for President and Khoroshkovsky back him, then Yanukovych has a serious problem both in terms of financial ability, media coverage/ownership and public profile.  Lest we forget, Poroshenko is not a member of the Party of Regions but an independent.

If that were to happen, then the noises from men such as Boris Kolesnikov, Deputy Prime Minister and Rinat Akhmetov’s most loyal top dog in parliament are indeed necessary to heed - for that would display where Akhmetov himself is placing his bets.

It is a little too early to speculate upon who will run for President in 2015, especially as the “in’s” and “out’s” may very well change between now and when runners and riders will declare their participation, but there are currently  fault lines within the Party of Regions, normally know for its discipline, that cannot be ignored.

What western and eastern diplomats will do with the obvious fault lines in the run up to presidential elections, how and if they will be exploited or encouraged, remains to be seen.  But opportunity presents itself nonetheless - and unlike the armchair pundits and media, the international diplomatic corps will not limit itself to the view that it is Yanukovych or somebody from the opposition parties.  If there is a viable alternative to Yanukovych from within the Party of Regions set up, such an option will not be dismissed out of hand.

For now it is Khoroshkovsky and Poroshenko to keep a watchful eye on, (and their media outlets), not only by how Yanukovych treats them and their reactions to their treatment, but also by way of what discrete international overtures come their way by those hoping to exploit any perceived differences.

18 months from now, who is “in” and who is “out” may have significant internal ramifications within the Party of Regions relating to candidates for the presidential elections.

As it is, already from the opposition ranks, both Yatseniuk and Klitschko seem have one eye on this race - which may not bode well for a less than united opposition before the personality contest that is the presidential election.

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