3. ‘HEROES OF THE KUCHMA EPOCH: SOME GOING INTO PARLIAMENT, SOME INTO THE SCRAP HEAP OF HISTORY’

Electoral fortunes of figures in previous Ukrainian administrations Derkach-yes; Volkov-no; Pinchuk-no; Akhmetov-yes; Azarov-yes.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY:
By Leonid Amchuk Ukrayinska Pravda web site, Kiev, in Ukrainian 16 Dec 05 BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tue, Dec 20, 2005

KYIV – MP Andriy Derkach, who used to be a prominent supporter of the old regime, has joined the Socialist Party, a website has said. In looking at the fortunes of figures who were prominent in the previous authorities, it said Derkach was welcomed with open arms, despite the unsavoury reputation of his father. His return to parliament is virtually assured.

No such luck for influential MP Oleksandr Volkov and former President Leonid Kuchma’s son-in-law, tycoon Viktor Pinchuk, rejected from the election lists of former premier Yuliya Tymoshenko and parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, respectively.

However, Rinat Akhmetov, said to be Ukraine’s richest tycoon, is set to sail into parliament on the opposition Party of Regions list.

The following is the text of the article by Leonid Amchuk entitled “Heroes of the Kuchma epoch: some going into parliament, some onto the scrap heap of history”, posted on the Ukrayinska Pravda website on 16 December; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

We should consider 15 December 2005 the day of the end of the cassette scandal [recordings made in former President Leonid Kuchma’s office apparently by former bodyguard Maj Mykola Melnychenko, implicating Kuchma and other senior officials in serious crimes].Of course, a miracle may happen and it will be decided to use the Melnychenko recordings as evidence in the [murdered journalist Heorhiy] Gongadze case.

But anyway this whole topic that has lasted five years is right now being packed away into a cardboard box, pre-packed with mothballs, sealed with adhesive tape and taken away into the archive. Maybe that’s the place for it.

The cassette scandal is now history, because on Thursday [15 December] it became clear even to completely romantic people that the former major’s recordings will no longer have any influence on current processes.

On 15 December a landmark event happened – at a sitting of parliament it was announced that Andriy Derkach was joining the Socialist Party faction. The Socialist Party [SPU] number two, Yosyp Vinskyy, promised that now Derkach would “certainly” get a place in the shoe-in section of the SPU election list: “After all, he’s a good MP and acts professionally\ [ellipsis as published]”

It is indicative that all this happened on the day of the fifth anniversary of the start of the “Ukraine without Kuchma” movement. And its participants, in case anyone has forgotten, were demanding the scalp of the current young socialist’s father.

Leonid Derkach [former head of the Security Service] was one of the four main figures in the cassette scandal. Or, in the classification of another not so successful candidate to be a SPU deputy, Mykola Melnychenko, Derkach Sr was a member of “an organized criminal group under the leadership of Kuchma” and “an accomplice in the physical execution of Heorhiy Gongadze”.

In December 2005 Andriy Derkach was welcomed with open arms by the SPU. Vinskyy explained this to Ukrayinska Pravda with mockery in his voice: “It’s all very simple – Andriy has matured enough to accept socialist ideas!” “There have long been political contacts between him and me.

Andriy Derkach joined the party via a primary cell in Kiev’s Darnytsya district. And after he became a party member, it was logical for him to join the faction,” Vinskyy added. In reply to a question about the role of Derkach Jr in the Melnychenko tapes, the socialist boss said: “We don’t have any facts about that. There are questions regarding his father, but we’re not taking him into the party!”

For his part, the socialist [Interior Minister] Yuriy Lutsenko, added that Andriy Derkach “had made a big contribution to the Orange Revolution”. “What the Era channel did, owned by Derkach, is comparable with the contribution of TV 5 Kanal,” Lutsenko told Ukrayinska Pravda.

Regarding the actual Melnychenko tapes, which Lutsenko personally played on a tape recorder during the news conference held by [SPU leader Oleksandr] Moroz on 28 November 2000, the current interior minister said, “We are living in a free country, where a son is not responsible for his father!”

The theory is just, but in normal life rather than in political life. The country’s development and its image depend on the personal joys or problems of state figures. What is more, very often politicians solve delicate questions (corruption, business) through close relatives.

If anyone does not agree with this, then he must recognize that [tycoon MP Viktor] Pinchuk is not responsible for his father-in-law, Kuchma, [President Viktor] Yushchenko for his son Andriy [whose playboy lifestyle has been chronicled by Ukrayinska Pravda] or [opposition leader Viktor] Yanukovych for the mistakes of his stormy youth [prison sentences].

In effect, taking Derkach into the ranks of the SPU means a rejection by the socialists of Melnychenko, not as a man with megalomania, but as a phenomenon that has acted as sewage disposal of the truth about Ukrainian politics.

However, we are not going to analyse what Andriy Derkach was involved in during the Kuchma period, what united him with [media mogul] Vadym Rabynovych and Leonid Derkach with [businessman] Seva [Semen] Mogilevich [businessman thought to be involved in criminal activities].

Neither will we analyse his actions during the revolution when, thanks to Derkach, relays of the Maydan [Kiev’s Independence Square, heart of the Orange Revolution] were carried not only on TV 5 Kanal, but also on the country’s main first channel, where Era broadcast from 2300 [local time] till morning.

What is more, neither does it seem at all shocking that today’s socialist Derkach at the previous elections was elected to parliament as No 11 on the pro-Kuchma bloc For a United Ukraine. After all, the SPU had joyfully taken into its ranks the man who was No 4 on that association’s list – the effective head of the Mariupol Illich plant, Volodymyr Boyko. VOLKOV LEFT HIGH AND DRY These parliamentary elections are unique – there is a rebirth now under way of many details that a year ago were considered eternally compromised. Their political speedometer is being “wound back to zero”. They are getting a chance once again to launch the chronograph of their own history. But the interesting thing is that far from everyone who yesterday was described as “an odious figure” has received a pass into the future.

For example, [MP] Oleksandr Volkov has a very high chance of finding himself outside parliament. His banking on [former Prime Minister] Yuliya Tymoshenko did not work out. On Wednesday [14 December] they had a lengthy conversation, during which the once most influential MP was told that he was not on the YTB [Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc] list.

And on Thursday there was a sitting of the political council of the Tymoshenko bloc that approved the draft YTB list. It will be tabled for consideration by the congress on Saturday [17 December], and Volkov’s name does not figure there.

Tymoshenko took the side of her comrades-in-arms [former Security Service head Oleksandr] Turchynov, [former Deputy Prime Minister Mykola] Tomenko and [Tymoshenko’s adviser Mykhaylo] Brodskyy, who presented an ultimatum – either Volkov enters the bloc, or they leave.

The YTB leader found this decision far from easy – according to information from Ukrayinska Pravda sources, she is aware that Volkov is the carrier of information about attracting funds into her part of the HQ at the 2004 election of Yushchenko.

On the one hand, the absence of Volkov is a signal that the YTB is still worried about its image, since the label of a refuge for ex-Kuchmists has recently been very often pinned on it. But another question arises: if the socialists consider it possible to take on at the last monument of Kuchma’s former consultant, Andriy Derkach, why are Tymoshenko’s people rejecting Kuchma’s former assistant, Volkov, who had been with them for over a year? Or you could ask the question differently: why are they taking [Vasyl] Khmelnytskyy, who in recent years was far closer to Kuchma’s family?

Maybe the reason is simply that the entry ticket for this co-owner of [steel mill] Zaporizhstal costs at least 5m dollars, while Volkov wanted to get off light – “to settle up” with structures of the dying Democratic Union, consultations of Levenets and his own friendship? Apart from that, Turchynov, Tomenko and Brodskyy understood that they had a rival in the shape of Volkov for influence on Tymoshenko.

By getting rid of him, they got an enemy all the more nasty from the realization that he had now lost his chance of finding another niche in the 2006 elections. It is already too late to offer himself to [parliamentary speaker Volodymyr] Lytvyn, and Volkov has never been liked in [propresidential bloc] Our Ukraine, which, however, does not prevent Yushchenko from calling him for advice. SNUB FOR PINCHUK Viktor Pinchuk found himself in a similar situation to that of Volkov. His only hope was to get into Lytvyn’s bloc, but some weeks ago he received a refusal. For Pinchuk this was especially insulting, because at one time he had done a lot to get Lytvyn to be what he is – it is precisely the president’s son-in-law who is credited with the 2002 combination, whereby [Viktor] Medvedchuk became the head of the presidential administration and his predecessor [Lytvyn] headed parliament.

Pinchuk has now thrown his last forces into breaking the situation that is surely leading him to lose his seat. He has one more night before the congress of the speaker’s association. The huge interview that Pinchuk gave to his newspaper Fakty was an attempt to correct his own image.

The commission of inquiry into the cassette scandal, headed by Pinchuk’s trusted agent, Viktor Drachevskyy, was intended as an attempt to prove his worth to Lytvyn. However, the efficacy of such activity looks laughable.

Lytvyn, who is supplied at the election with everything necessary, does not need money. The only thing that might allow Pinchuk to get in is to convince him that the speaker’s current election campaign looks wretched and that his rating has gone into hibernation. And to offer his spin doctors. Another odious hero of the Kuchma epoch, the former prosecutor-general, Mykhaylo Potebenko, is deliberately not standing at the election.

He said that he had decided to wrap up politics and would write his memoirs in retirement. Since nothing is known about [fugitive ex-head of Directorate for State Affairs] Ihor Bakay, it remains a mystery whether he wants to stand for parliament. But obviously he will not now be able to get on to any shoe-in list. AKHMETOV HEADING FOR PARLIAMENT But there are no problems regarding the future for [tycoon] Rinat Akhmetov and [former First Deputy Prime Minister] Mykola Azarov. The former, having received seventh place on the list, is gradually re-taking control of the [main opposition party] Party of Regions.

Azarov, who is in twelfth place, has a fair chance of getting back into the executive, since he never spoilt his relations with the orange people.

But fate has dealt harshly with those who most of all made efforts to compromise these people – Mykola Melnychenko will not be on the SPU list. On Thursday the former major met with Oleksandr Moroz, but did not get a place.

Just as [former MP who was given political asylum in the USA] Oleksandr Yelyashkevych is not on the draft list being submitted for approval by the Tymoshenko bloc congress. This is despite the fact that Mykola Tomenko forecast the appearance of this figure.

In fact, they should have started preparing for the election far earlier. And, by creating a Mykola Melnychenko bloc, they could dream of entering parliament independently or at least selling the brand to someone. Now, however, it is clear that nobody needs him any more. -30-

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