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CHOICE BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE
FORM AN "ORANGE" COALITION IN PARLIAMENT
Viktor Yushchenko’s achievement must be understood in context.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Robert McConnell
National Review Online, New York, NY, Friday, March 24, 2006
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 24, 2006
By Yuliya Lymar, Glavred, Kiev, in Russian, 20 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; Mar 25, 2006
BECOME UKRAINE’S COMEBACK KID?
Andrew Osborn in Kiev, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, Mar 25, 2006
By Alex Nicholson, The Associated Press
10. BIG CHOICE FOR UKRAINE IN COLOURFUL, CONFUSING POLL
Oliver Bullough, Reuters, Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, March 25, 2006
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Lyudmilla Pavliuk & Adrian Erlinger
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #679, Article 11
Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 26, 2006
Viktor Yushchenko’s achievement must be understood in context.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Robert McConnell
National Review Online, New York, NY, Friday, March 24, 2006
As Ukraine’s parliamentary and local elections approach this weekend, there
have been a number of stories offering analysis of that country’s complex
Whether the stories talk about the tarnishing of the promises of the Orange
Revolution, or the sharp-elbowed scramble of many – from oligarchs to
petty criminals – to secure parliamentary seats with their guaranteed
immunity from the law, or whether they discuss the Viktor Yushchenko and
disappointment after the great promise of what had happened in Kiev’s
A lot of these reports make fair and valid and true points about internal
Orange turmoil. But many of these reports miss some critical elements of the
Ukrainian political scene.
The Orange Revolution was dramatic and captured the attention of the world.
The citizens of the Ukraine, demanding change and freedom, faced down the
entrenched and corrupt Kuchma government, Russian money and operatives,
and oligarch clans. The citizens on Kiev’s Independence Square kept alive
Yushchenko’s candidacy after his life had nearly been taken by poison in the
middle of the campaign, and then again after the original election was so
badly manipulated as to be a farce.
Yet, despite all of the joy and celebration over this profound democratic
expression in the Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was primarily a combination
of forces united against the Kuchma regime, Russian interference, and
oligarch domination. It was not a movement united behind a unitary and
focused vision and common positive goals. Yushchenko’s objectives and
approach were not shared by all of those who surrounded him on the stage
of the Maidan.
Those tenuous alliances were from the very beginning destined to unravel.
There were too many hyperactive egos and widely divergent objectives, along
with too little commitment to Yushchenko and the program he had presented
the country. The internal turmoil was easily visible even as the Yushchenko
government was being formed.
As a result, the single biggest political dynamic casting its dark shadow
over this weekend’s parliamentary elections is the disappointment of the
citizens who anticipated immediate results that far exceeded anything
possible in the short-term. Dashed expectations lead to harsh criticisms,
and harsh criticisms can lead to major shifts in political alliances.
Polling and analysis suggest that the party likely to win the largest
percentage of seats in the parliament under the new and troublesome election
rules is the Party of the Regions. This is the party led by Viktor
Yanukovych, the ex-con, former Kuchma prime minister who was defeated
But rather than an indication of the wizardry of American public-relations
agents, or the reformation of a hard-line throwback, the perceived
ascendancy of Yanukovych is really an indication that he and his supporters
have essentially held onto his 2004 base while the fragmentation of the
Orange alliances has divided the strength of the 2004 majority.
Most troubling is the common suggestion that Yushchenko has let down his
supporters, who are now following others away from the Maidan stage. What
the missteps of the government under Yushchenko have disappointed many
and are clearly a greater influence on the broad sweep of Ukrainian voters
than is a revitalized Yanukovych.
But with the election before us, it is critically important that voters and
observers face the reality that has been visited upon Yushchenko and the
Orange promises from the very beginning.
FIRST, Yushchenko has never fully recovered from the poisoning that
grabbed world’s attention, and this is a disgusting legacy to the cruel and
evil ways of Yushchenko’s 2004 opponents. The side-by-side pictures of
Yushchenko, the strikingly handsome candidate, and Yushchenko, the facially
disfigured and discolored survivor, have long since disappeared from
newspapers and televisions screens. But the poison has not completely left
the president’s body. It continues to sap his strength and the strength of
the Orange cause.
When the analysis of the poisoning became public in late 2004, experts were
amazed that Yushchenko lived. Even more astonishing was that he continued
to campaign, and demanded that his body allow him to lead the democratic
uprising of Independence Square.
This perseverance was a courageous act, but it has cost him, and this cost
has not been adequately taken into account in the calculations of the
government’s missteps and struggles. There can be no question that
Yushchenko, the promises of the Maidan, and the Ukraine continue to bear
SECOND, with very few exceptions Viktor Yushchenko has not been
committed supporters if a new leader’s programs and promises are to be
implemented successfully. Viktor Yushchenko never had such support.
Even before the polling stations opened on December 26, 2004, those
surrounding Yushchenko were competing for positions, undermining the
Yushchenko vision, and abandoning the leader selected by Ukraine’s voters.
It was Yushchenko and his vision, not a collection of widely divergent
visions, that was elected to office.
Nevertheless, even poisoned and surrounded by competing egos with narrow
self-interests and agendas, Viktor Yushchenko remains a symbol of a new
Ukraine, an independent Ukraine, with a desire to shed its corrupt and
Communist past. Whether it is fully appreciated in his country or around the
world, Viktor Yushchenko has literally put his life on the line and has not
Whatever happens in Sunday’s elections, the Ukraine will have a nationwide
campaign with an open and free media, and cities full of colored tents with
information on the various political parties and campaigns. Under
Yushchenko, everyone can express his own viewpoint. The contrast with
2004, or, for that matter, with last week’s elections in Belarus, is as
stark as it can be.
Flaws and setbacks and all, Yushchenko has ushered in a new era of Ukrainian
openness that is already so accepted that it is taken for granted. Analysts
of Sunday’s balloting will be well advised not to count him out. What came
together on the Maidan still lives in the hearts of the people of Ukraine
and in the soul of Viktor Yushchenko.
Robert A. McConnell is co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
2. UKRAINE SET TO TOSS THE DIE OF DEMOCRACY
OP-ED : By Myron Wasylyk, The Moscow Times
Friday, March 24, 2006. Issue 3378. Page 8.
Millions of Ukrainians will cast votes on Sunday for dozens of political
parties running for the 450-seat parliament. They also will choose the
deputies to regional and municipal councils. The thousands of newly elected
officials, while expected to continue moving Ukraine in a pro-European
direction, will change the face of government throughout the country.
Opinion polls show six political parties easily passing the 3 percent
threshold for seats in the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Voters appear to
be lining up behind the same political forces that battled for the
presidency in 2004. Then, pro-Russian supporters of Viktor Yanukovych,
Pro-democracy supporters of the election winner, Viktor Yushchenko, became
known as the orange bloc. While both blue and orange represent the dominant
political forces in the country, more than 40 parties are competing for
voter sympathy and support.
International attention will focus on how Kiev handles this election. Much
like the presidential election held in Belarus last weekend, past elections
in Ukraine have been less than democratic. In the 2004 presidential race,
the government censored journalists, denied the opposition access to the
mass media, and broke up peaceful gatherings.
Opposition leaders and activists complained about being followed and
harassed by police. Law enforcement agencies were mobilized to falsify the
vote results at local election committees. Evidence of the fraud was
compiled during a later investigation, and close to 5,000 people were
After the runoff vote, millions of people came out onto the streets of Kiev
to defend their rights and freedoms against a discredited regime that had
falsified the election results. For weeks, they stood in freezing
temperatures demanding justice, until a Supreme Court ruling annulled the
results and ordered a new vote, the results of which were widely recognized
by society and international observers as a fair expression of voter will.
Ukraine withstood an important and peaceful test of freedom and democracy
during the Orange Revolution. Since then, the new leaders have begun to show
that government in Ukraine can be made to serve its citizens, that its
police can be custodians of the law, not of power.
Steps have been taken to untangle the web of government favors and crony
business practices to help create a more level playing field for business.
While much remains to be done in the battle against corruption, there has
been some progress toward ending the pillaging of state assets.
A key step in the battle to rebuild public trust in government has been
ending government censorship of journalists and ensuring freedom of the
press. During this election campaign, the media have shown that they can be
objective and fair. Evening television news programs present various points
of view, giving airtime to opponents of the current government as well as to
its proponents. Commentators weigh in on all sides. It’s up to readers and
viewers to decide who they believe is right and who is wrong.
Major changes are occurring in the country. Recent decisions by the United
States and the European Union to recognize Ukraine as a market-based economy
reflect the impressive economic developments that have occurred since the
Ukraine’s record in securing individual freedoms and democracy led the U.S.
Congress to lift the decades-old Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions, and
joining the World Trade Organization this year appears within reach.
But the most telling sign of change is this: No one knows how Sunday’s
elections will go. No one can predict how political forces will align after
the elections to form a parliamentary majority and a new coalition
government. Everything depends on voter turnout.
For the first time in independent Ukraine’s 14-year history, free, fair and
transparent elections are being held. Campaigning and political rallies are
occurring without interference. Censorship and the suppression of press
freedoms are things of the past.
Law enforcement agencies have not created an environment of fear or
hysteria, and instead have offered rewards to citizens who blow the whistle
on officials who break the law. Borders are open, and the incumbent
government has welcomed election monitors.
During the Orange Revolution, Ukrainians firmly chose the course of
democracy, economic freedom and political compromise. Political competition
has been the tool used to stimulate discussion in society so voters can
chose the party that best represents their views. And while election
shenanigans occur everywhere, this round of elections appears to be void of
official interference or intervention.
While not all agree on the meaning of the Orange Revolution, one thing’s for
certain: Normalcy is in the air in Ukraine. And this bodes well for
democracy and regional stability. -30-
Myron Wasylyk is senior vice president of the Kiev office of The PBN
Company, an international communications consultancy. In the past, he
expressed are his own.
3. OUR UKRAINE PLEDGES TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO
FORM AN "ORANGE" COALITION IN PARLIAMENT
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 24, 2006
KIEV – Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said Friday that the
pro-presidential election bloc would do everything possible to form an
"orange" coalition after Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
"We gathered under orange banners at the most difficult time for Ukraine
during the  presidential elections," Yekhanurov told a news conference
at Our Ukraine headquarters. "And we believe that only an "orange" coalition
should be formed in the Parliament."
He said Our Ukraine was willing to extend an invitation to join the
coalition to "all who stood with us on Maidan [the capital’s main square],"
including former Ukrainian PM Yulia Timoshenko.
Yekhanurov said formation of the coalition was inevitable, with a subsequent
election re-run, because "the Ukrainian mentality is such that we quickly
adopt decisions without thinking too long."
"I think the newly-elected deputies will discuss the issue for 58 days [the
deadline to form the coalition is 60 days from the election according to the
Constitution], adopt the decision on the night of the 58th day, and on the
59th day they will approach [the incumbent president] Yushchenko and plead
with him to accept the coalition that they managed to form," Yekhanurov
said, adding that this scenario would be possible only if the "orange"
coalition fails to garner a majority of mandates in the first place.
With one day left before the election, the pro-presidential Our Ukraine
election bloc seemed to dominate among political activists in the center of
the capital, Kiev, although the Party of the Regions, led by Viktor
Yanukovich, the incumbent president’s main rival during the last
presidential elections, is thought to be leading the plethora of parties,
blocs and movements involved in the election race. -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
4. OUR UKRAINE PARTY RULES OUT COALITION WITH
PARTY OF REGIONS
INTERVIEW: With Roman Bezsmertnyy, Campaign
By Yuliya Lymar, Glavred, Kiev, in Russian 0000 gmt 20 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; Mar 25, 2006
Roman Bezsmertnyy, the campaign manager of the propresidential Our Ukraine
bloc, has ruled out a coalition with the opposition Party of Regions in the
new parliament. Speaking in an interview, he said that such an alliance
would cause deep conflict in society. The new parliamentary majority will be
based on the partners in the Orange Revolution, he believes.
The following is an excerpt from the interview Bezsmertnyy gave to Yuliya
Lymar posted on the Ukrainian website Glavred on 20 March; subheadings have
been inserted editorially:
It will not be possible to tug Roman Bezsmertnyy, the leader of the
[propresidential] Our Ukraine election headquarters, by the beard in the
political sense. It seems that he has grown somewhat tired of questions
about the future parliamentary coalition, and so states without appeal:
"Either with us or not at all". [Passage omitted: Bezsmertnyy found the
election campaign interesting]
[Lymar] Let’s talk about specifics. What is your forecast for the campaign?
Will Our Ukraine emerge in second place, and will tiny Orange forces get
through, in particular the Kostenko-Plyushch Bloc and Pora-Reforms and Order
[Bezsmertnyy] I have no doubt that Our Ukraine will come second and that it
will get more than 20 per cent. I have huge doubts about whether the
so-called tiny Orange projects will get into parliament.
Although, honestly speaking, we have a great interest in them getting into
parliament, since by collecting 1.5-2 per cent of the vote, they will have
taken it from us, and those votes will be divided between us and the
[opposition Party of] Regions.
[Lymar] Will Our Ukraine’s theory that a coalition can be formed only around
the president [Viktor Yushchenko] and around his programme "10 steps towards
people" remain unchanged? After all, such an approach makes an alliance with
the Regions, who have their own programme and their own leader, absolutely
[Bezsmertnyy] This position is not my personal whim; it is dictated by the
situation of the current moment.
[Lymar] That’s not convincing. After all, you yourself are consciously
rejecting the possibility of an alliance with the Regions, an alliance that,
in many people’s opinion, will help heal the wounds on the country’s
lacerated body, figuratively speaking.
[Bezsmertnyy] Let’s approach it from the reverse. Let’s analyse the
possibility of unifying Ukraine by means of unification of the Party of
Regions with Our Ukraine in a coalition. This will not mean unification of
Ukraine, but conflict.
[Bezsmertnyy] Because in that case the supporters of both sides will call
their leaders traitors. And the discussion being conducted at the level of
the leaders, Yushchenko and [Viktor] Yanukovych will descend to the level of
the voter. And so conflict will not be extinguished, but will flare up with
new strength and will become a conflict of public groups.
Therefore, I don’t see an option, I simply can’t imagine one, whereby Our
Ukraine will form a bloc with the Party of Regions. It would be electoral
ruin. And I don’t look like a political suicide, do I?
And there’s another point. In choosing an ally today, we must remember that
sooner or later 2009 will come (presidential election – editor). Tell me,
what sort of result can be expected in 2009 if a treaty is concluded now
between Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions?
[Lymar] The birth of a new leader or the strengthening, for example, of
[Bezsmertnyy] The answers are obvious. So you don’t need to rack your brains
to understand that we now have two options for the development of the
situation: either restoration of the Orange coalition or, if it’s not
possible to form that coalition, the dissolution of parliament. I don’t
think there is a third way. [Passage omitted: new rules make vote-switching
in parliament difficult]
GOOD PROSPECTS FOR PROPRESIDENTIAL MAJORITY
[Lymar] Have you already written out a list of where you will get the 226
votes [needed to create a parliamentary majority], if there is no split?
[Bezsmertnyy] It’s very simple to gather them. The thing is that Our
Ukraine, the YTB [Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and the Socialists will have
230-232 vote between them. And the difference between the factions will not
be large, somewhere in the area of 10-15 votes.
Therefore, we simply need to renew the accords between those forces. But why
did I always say that it should be consecrated before the election? Because
it would raise the chances of forming a normal government and would very
much simplify the situation.
[Lymar] Since we have got right into the question of a coalition, let’s get
to the bottom of it. Have the socialists’ appetites increased?
[Bezsmertnyy] The socialists, apart from taking responsibility for education
reform, agrarian sector reform and reforming departments of security and law
and order, have started offering their services in sorting out industrial
policy and some other areas. In other words, we have evidence that their
appetites have grown.
[Lymar] Will they be satisfied?
[Bezsmertnyy] Unlike the previous election, the power of the socialists is
waning. Where did they go wrong? The socialists dismounted from their
"horse" – the countryside – and gave away that sector to be bought up by the
People’s Party of [speaker Volodymyr] Lytvyn, thereby losing that niche.
But they won’t join the system of industrial lobbying through [Republican
Party leader Yuriy] Boyko, through the Illich plant or through the slogan
"We’ll build Europe in Ukraine", since neither the Illich plant nor Boyko
himself are examples of building Europe.
TYMOSHENKO’S FUTURE JOB
[Lymar] The problem of Yuliya Tymoshenko. Does Our Ukraine have the name of
even one person for whom the YTB faction might vote as prime minister?
[Bezsmertnyy] If Our Ukraine gets more votes than the YTB, and it will, then
the YTB will vote for any prime minister proposed by Our Ukraine.
[Lymar] Are you sure of this?
[Bezsmertnyy] I am convinced of it.
[Lymar] Where does such confidence come from?
[Bezsmertnyy] Full stop. End of question.
[Lymar] What will Ms Tymoshenko want in exchange for such a service?
[Bezsmertnyy] More than anything, as we know, she wants the premiership. The
thing she will least of all lay claim to, I think, is the parliamentary
budget committee. We’ll meet somewhere in the middle (laughs)
[Lymar] In the middle – is that the Finance Ministry?
[Bezsmertnyy] That’s your suggestion.
[Lymar] There are two other jobs that we have not mentioned. One of them is
that of speaker and the second is leader of the parliamentary majority.
Which of those two jobs is more attractive in conditions of political
reform? And can Our Ukraine give one of those jobs to pay off Yuliya
[Bezsmertnyy] It’s clear that the leader of the majority is more important.
Since the position of the head of parliament henceforth is that of a
technical figure who has to arrange sittings, prepare for them and so on.
If we’re talking about people, everything will depend on what decisions are
taken by the presidium and council of the party.
I have already said several times at meetings at various levels: "Since I am
responsible for ensuring the operation of the party’s council, if anyone has
any ideas or proposals, they should go through the party’s leading bodies
and should then be discussed at the political council and only then will we
be able to open our mouth and say that Our Ukraine as a political bloc is
proposing a specific person."
I want to tell you that I will do all I can to see that this rule is adhered
to. I will do all I can to ensure that Ukraine does not return to the format
in operation before September of last year, when the attitudes and positions
of these or those figures determined the state’s policy, its strategy and
[Lymar] Can [speaker] Volodymyr Lytvyn lay claim to some major job after the
[Bezsmertnyy] It seems to me that he has grounds for such claims.
[Lymar] But his party will barely scrape through the threshold barrier.
[Bezsmertnyy] The basis is Lytvyn’s former status. By tradition the former
head of the Supreme Council [parliament] is a player on the field, and a
fairly serious one, despite the fact that he may well not have a big faction
in parliament. Apart from that, when analysing that small advantage of 15-20
votes today, it must be understood that Lytvyn may receive the golden share.
And the position of his political force will be very important.
[Lymar] Does that sort of set-up suit you personally?
[Bezsmertnyy] I stress once more: I will do all I can to ensure that the
procedure is carried out as it should be. But my personal game here will be
exactly to the extent that the party and president need.
HOW ELECTION LISTS WERE COMPILED
[Lymar] Let’s go back to the procedure, the need for whose observance you
stress so much. At one time you tried to stick to a procedure during the
formation of election lists.
And, so far as I recall, the regions gave their proposals, the party’s
political council gave its proposals and then somehow at night on Bankova
[Street, where presidential secretariat is located] the president of Ukraine
re-wrote the lists.
Are you not afraid that the party will decide on its government candidates,
but the president will scrap it all, to put it mildly, and do it his own
[Bezsmertnyy] First, nobody today can say that the Our Ukraine list was not
approved by the congress. And God knows about any brain-washing. And as for
the decisions taken, I can say that we are almost the only political force
where decisions are taken by the following bodies: the presidium, the
council and the party.
But there is a super-important factor: we have an honorary party leader –
the president. Why was it necessary to consider the position of presidium
members and why was it not necessary to consider the position of the
Naturally, we considered the position of everybody. I can say that everyone
gained from such an approach and nobody can be upset with anybody, since the
decisions were taken by the congress. And we did not hide the problems that
existed, we were not afraid of them.
[Lymar] Allow me to disagree that everyone gained from such an approach, as
you say. It is obvious that one person lost – [Prime Minister] Yuriy
Ivanovych Yekhanurov, who at that time wanted to deprive the party of
so-called "dear friends".
His lobby then was weaker and, as a result, the bloc that the prime minister
is leading is not 100 per cent with him. Was the prime minister being used?
[Bezsmertnyy] This is a question for Yuriy Ivanovych, although I don’t think
that he’d go along with your logic. These days I am constantly asking
myself: "If Bezsmertnyy, [former first aide to Yushchenko, Oleksandr]
Tretyakov, [former Emergencies Minister Davyd] Zhvaniya, [head of Our
Ukraine parliamentary faction Mykola] Martynenko and [former Justice
Minister Roman] Zvarych had not been on the list in October, who would then
have been in charge of the election?" Nobody.
It is already obvious now that what was said in September regarding all
those people has absolutely no significance. And in actual fact the main
result of that row is that the party has become stronger. We discussed,
quarrelled and pulled each other’s hair, but now we are working. This is
There has to be discussion in the party, but the discussion should not be a
reason for ruining the party, it should strengthen the party. Therefore,
even if there had been a discussion between Yuriy Ivanovych (Yekhanurov –
editor) and Oleksandr Yuriyovych (Tretyakov – editor) or someone else, today
both of them have only gained from that discussion.
I am extremely pleased that I managed to find instruments with whose
help the shortcomings and accusations were turned into something positive.
And I also feel satisfaction that it was I who did it. That’s the only thing
that I can say about my part in that discussion.
PARTY RIVALS NOW COOPERATING
[Lymar] Today how should we describe relations between Yuriy Ivanovych and
Petro Oleksiyovych [Poroshenko – former National Security and Defence
Council secretary] or Oleksandr Yuryovych – a "discussion" or "cold war"?
[Bezsmertnyy] Today it is cooperation. Stability on the one hand of the
prime minister’s position and support for the prime minister on the part of
the party’s leading bodies is very important.
[Lymar] But Petro Poroshenko in an interview with Glavred said that he
believed that party discipline should be strengthened, since Yuriy Ivanovych
did not always turn up to party meetings and did not always take heed of
personnel proposals that the party made to him, for example. Is there maybe
something that you don’t know?
[Bezsmertnyy] It is possible that there is something that I don’t know, but
my position is this: I consider party proposals only those that come from
the party presidium, rather than, say, wishes expressed to the prime
The prime minister has the right to take decisions collegially, at cabinet
meetings. But Yuriy Ivanovych hears the official position of the party
[Lymar] What names has the party leadership already heard regarding
candidates for the new prime minister?
[Bezsmertnyy] The party has heard the name of Yuriy Ivanovych Yekhanurov
from the president twice. Apart from that, in the party presidium, in the
strategy council, there is a whole list of people that are being proposed by
this or that section of work in the Supreme Council, the government and
I don’t have the right to give out that information, but we are carrying out
personnel work in the party in the direction of helping the president to
implement his programme in this or that direction.
[Lymar] Governors’ jobs: are there proposals in the party to replace
[Bezsmertnyy] We have already stated that we are not happy with the activity
of the administration heads of Donetsk and Rivne regions. We are ready to
propose our candidates for those jobs, and I will present these party
decisions for the consideration of the president and prime minister.
[Passage omitted: Bezsmertnyy’s aim is to work for the party and to carry
out local government reform]
DISSOLUTION OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT LIKELY
[Lymar] Returning to the future parliament, you said that there would
be a prime minister from Our Ukraine or dissolution. At the same time,
politicians from other camps are convinced that there will be neither a
prime minister from Our Ukraine nor dissolution.
[Bezsmertnyy] Everyone has the right to their own opinion. But the point is
that the constitution now in force sets the condition that there will either
be a majority formed or parliament will be dissolved. Therefore, the way out
here is obvious. In connection with the "castrated nature" of the
constitutional reform, the key role in the further development of events
will be played by the president.
The president is Our Ukraine, and Our Ukraine is the president. And any
diktat of positions or ultimatum to Our Ukraine will mean an ultimatum to
the president. In other words, an emergency brake will operate.
If anyone now thinks of launching ultimatums like "there should be no ‘dear
friends’ anywhere", it means that whoever proclaimed the ultimatum to the
president or Our Ukraine immediately switches on the question of dissolution
[Lymar] Will the president be strong enough and, excuse me, will his
secretariat hold its nerve not to make proposals for the jobs of security
officials on the first day of the new parliament, thereby leaving juridical
possibilities for dissolution?
[Bezsmertnyy] It’s not a matter of the nature of the participants in the
game; it’s a matter of the provisions of the constitution, where it is
written in black and white what will be done and how, and there will be no
[Lymar] So, what do you think – new elections or not?
[Bezsmertnyy] New elections. A minority government will operate for half a
year and after that, elections will have to be called. Although there are
still possibilities for such a scenario not to be launched.
[Lymar] Six months ago Our Ukraine started writing a new constitution. Are
you planning that a new parliament is necessary, because the coming one is
unlikely to pass it?
[Bezsmertnyy] That’s one reason, but not the main one. Now it is a matter of
forming a majority. If there is a majority and a government, there will be a
parliament. If not, everyone will sink together.
[Lymar] At what stage is work on the new fundamental law? When will we see
[Bezsmertnyy] A few days ago at a seminar devoted to the question of the
future of local government, we presented the results of work on the first
hundred articles of the new constitution. We have already developed the text
of constitutional reform and presented it to the court of the public.
[Lymar] Will the administrative territorial reform that you were dealing
with in the government serve as the basis for the new constitution?
[Bezsmertnyy] Yes. Material on administrative territorial reform, budget
reform, fiscal reform, municipal reform, reforms of bodies of the executive
and administrative reform has all been envisaged in the skeleton of the new
PROPOSED NEW CONSTITUTION
[Lymar] Can you name the key theories that are now being bandied about in
the election campaign? How will Crimean issues be decided in this
constitution? The question of Ukraine’s bloc status? The question of the
[Bezsmertnyy] The issue of Crimea is under discussion. As for the language
question, we favour the status of Ukrainian as the state language.
We have always had a firm position regarding the status of the state
language, and we have never dealt in double standards for political
purposes. We have expressed our opposition to holding a referendum in Crimea
to give Russian the status of a state language.
As far as bloc status is concerned, there is no mention in the constitution
of the country’s bloc status, which allows Ukraine to join various blocs,
associations and so on.
[Lymar] How are you planning to adopt the constitution? Is the idea of a
[Bezsmertnyy] We had very long discussions about this, and I’d like to dwell
on two aspects. The first is that it should not be a new edition of the
constitution, but amendments to the existing one.
The second is that in accordance with the existing constitution, the Supreme
Council of Ukraine has to introduce amendments.
[Lymar] When Tymoshenko left the Cabinet of Ministers, there were very
varied evaluations of her work. And Yuliya Tymoshenko herself said that it
was the best government of all times and peoples, while the word
"catastrophe" was heard from your lips. How do you rate Yekhanurov’s Cabinet
of Ministers? Is it a Robin Hood government?
[Bezsmertnyy] First, it is very difficult to assess the activity of a
government after five or six months; too little time has passed to give an
answer and not be mistaken. Second, this government has not prevented the
economy from developing and the market from forming – and that’s a very good
RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA
[Lymar] In an interview with Glavred Yuriy Yekhanurov said that he was not
calling relations between Ukraine and Russia "a war" only so as not to
frighten the people. What word would you use to describe the relations
between Ukraine and Russia?
[Bezsmertnyy] Stability. Relations between Ukraine and Russia over the past
12 years have not changed seriously. That’s the first thing.
Second, no change took place in Ukraine’s attitude to Russia before 2004 and
after 2004. There was a change in ways of cooperation, and whereas before
2004 individual personal contacts predominated, a new system of relations
has now been launched. I would describe it like this: institutional.
Both sides still need to learn how to work in such a system. If there was a
[former President Leonid] Kuchma-[Russian President Vladimir] Putin
commission set up, then Kuchma and Putin worked, but the commission did not.
If a Yushchenko-Putin commission was set up, then the commission should
work, while Yushchenko and Putin should approve the achievements of the
So the task is very simple: to make it work as an institution. Moreover,
this applies not only to commissions and working groups, but also to
cooperation at the level of public organizations, political parties, state
institutions and so on. It means that we must systematize our relations. We
must stop playing dinner table diplomacy and move to institutional steps of
PROMISES BEING FULFILLED
[Lymar] Coming back to the results, your party and the president have not
fulfilled the key promises that they gave the Maydan [Kiev’s Independence
Square, heart of the Orange Revolution]. One of them was "Gangsters will go
to jail". The president says that they will go to jail. You have never been
opposed to radicalism. How do you plan to get out of this conflict with
[Bezsmertnyy] A year of the presidency is too little to say whether
Yushchenko has fulfilled his promises or not. He is fulfilling them. The
fact that he has not done everything is because he is not magician, but a
human being, and Ukraine is a country with a population of 50 million.
As for gangsters going to jail, I once saw a video clip where in Kabul in
our time on the central square they hanged four criminals. And I also saw
how in the Ukrainian House [exhibition centre in central Kiev] during the
Orange Revolution a man was brought in with a sign around his neck saying
that he had stolen money and mobile phones.
So what I want to say is that gangsters should go to jail, but not through
kangaroo courts. I am vehemently opposed to running around with placards
reading "Crush the vermin!", "Execute the enemies of the people!" and so
Everything has to be done within the framework of the law. And society is
waiting precisely for such decisions. Let Rome fall, but the law must rule.
[Lymar] From the viewpoint of the leader of the election campaign who
started his interview with information policy, tell me if you will, is the
president’s team capable of living in conditions of the new information
policy and freedom of speech?
[Bezsmertnyy] The president’s team is continuing the stage of establishment.
I think that the changes that took place with the change of leadership of
the secretariat made a major improvement to the work. But that does not mean
that there is no room for improvement.
I am convinced that power resides in flows of information. And so to master
those information flows with the use of new technologies and new approaches
to the president’s activity in conditions of the amended constitution as
well is not an easy question. But there is no catastrophe here.
[Lymar] How often to you see the president these days? Is [presidential
secretariat head] Oleh Rybachuk a go-between at your meetings?
[Bezsmertnyy] I haven’t seen the president for a very long time, but we have
constant dialogue, true, by telephone. I speak directly with the president.
I have no problems here.
[Lymar] Doers that fact that it’s only by telephone mean the president has
lost interest in the party, the bloc?
[Bezsmertnyy] No. The president is constantly interested. He phones up and
sometimes gives advice, so his interest is fairly high both in the party and
in the bloc.
All the more so because Anatoliy Kyrylovych [Kinakh], as secretary of the
National Security and Defence Council and leader of the Party of
Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, also makes his contribution in support of
that interest, as do Anatoliy Serhiyovych Martynenko as leader of the
Republican Party Sobor and Borys Ivanovych Tarasyuk as leader of the
People’s Movement of Ukraine. So the president’s interest cannot go to
sleep, because there are people to rouse it. -30-
5. YUSHCHENKO: UKRAINE’S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION A
CHOICE BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE
KIEV – President Viktor Yushchenko declared Friday that Sunday’s
Speaking in a nationally televised address two days ahead of the key
election, Yushchenko also pledged to hold Ukraine’s most democratic election
ever and he vowed it would differ significantly from the fraud-marred 2004
presidential election which triggered the Orange Revolution protests that
ushered in Yushchenko’s victory.
"Today, society faces a very simple choice: it is a choice between the past
and the future," Yushchenko said. "It is a pity that those who yesterday
were rigging the election and humiliating citizens, today are calling for
revenge. But I believe in the wisdom of Ukrainian people.
"For the first time in the history of Ukraine, the absolute majority of the
citizens believe the results will be defined by their vote," he said.
Sunday’s vote could determine how aggressively this ex-Soviet republic
maintains the pro-Western course set by Yushchenko.
In the polls, Yushchenko’s party is trailing that of his Orange Revolution
rival, Viktor Yanukovych, who promised to restore ties with the Kremlin that
were frayed under Yushchenko.
Yanukovych on Friday criticized the Orange Revolution as a seizure of
Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party is unlikely to win enough to capture a
majority in the 450-seat parliament. This will require Ukraine to form its
first ever coalition government, and many analysts predict that Yushchenko
will seek an uneasy union with his one-time foe.
"We, the citizens of Ukraine, support different political forces, but it
must not divide us," Yushchenko said in the 10-minute taped address.
Yushchenko called on Ukrainians to be united and to overcome the split
between the country’s Russian-speaking east and its more nationalistic west.
While Yushchenko tried to portray himself as above the country’s political
battles, he also cautioned citizens of this ex-Soviet nation of 47 million
to think carefully before casting their ballots.
"Before giving your vote to one or another party or bloc, think what kind of
Ukraine you would like to see in five years _ if we will move forward or
stay put, losing time and our possibilities," he said.
6. UKRAINE: A TALE OF TWO ELECTIONS
COMMENTARY: Douglas Alexander, Britain’s Minister for Europe
LONDON – Ukraine votes again.
Ukraine’s voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new Parliament. With
Viktor Yushchenko’s erstwhile rival for the presidency, Viktor Yanukovich,
leading in the campaign, and his party looking to become the largest in the
new Parliament, some Western commentators are already predicting a defeat
for the "Orange Revolution."
But this misses the point. The Orange Revolution of 2004 was not a movement
to get a particular party or individual into power in Ukraine. It was a
popular movement that brought together people of different political
persuasions united by one powerful idea – to end lies and falsification and
to defend the freedom to choose their leaders.
The Ukrainian people chose a new direction that winter, one that took them
toward a genuine European democracy. In that objective they have been and
will be successful, whoever wins these elections.
We often forget that making such radical changes and reforms takes time. A
new democratic system does not appear overnight.
Prime Minister Tony Blair summed up the view of the wider international
community at the EU- Ukraine Summit in Kiev on Dec. 1 when he said, "I
made to the way that the Ukraine is viewed in the world."
A lot has already changed in Ukraine since the winter of 2004. The
international observers will give their verdict on Monday, but their initial
reports show that the campaign has been free and lively. There has been
debate and discussion among all the protagonists in Ukraine’s news media,
and rallies have been held by parties across the country. Ukraine’s cities
are festooned with the bright colors – blue, orange, green, white, yellow,
red – of Ukraine’s competing parties.
What a contrast with Ukraine before the Orange Revolution! The campaign for
the 2004 presidential elections was a very different story. The opposition
could not campaign in many areas of the country. It was excluded from most
Its leader was poisoned in the middle of the campaign. But ultimately the
old regime in Kiev proved no match for the determination of ordinary people
to express their choice freely and democratically. The rest, as they say, is
But it is also history in the making. Whatever the result in Sunday’s
election, Ukraine will have taken another step forward in its democratic
development and therefore in its integration into the modern Europe.
Pluralism in politics, freedom in the media and the conduct of free and fair
elections are key indicators in Ukraine’s action plans with NATO and the EU.
A free election in Ukraine will have a profound effect on the region too. We
have just seen the most appalling travesty of democracy in Ukraine’s
neighbor, Belarus. The conduct of the election there was characterized by
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitors as showing
"a disregard for the basic rights of freedom of assembly, association and
Yet depressing as it is to see Aleksandr Lukashenko securing another term as
president with an implausible 83 percent of the vote, there is still reason
to be optimistic for Belarus. These elections showed that there are people
in Belarus who are ready to unite in the fight for democratic values.
Lukashenko blames that on external interference. But in doing so, he
misreads his people. Belarussians are not so different from people the world
over. They expect honesty and accountability from their government. They
expect to have the choice of who governs them. No government that ignores
that can be sustainable. There’s no place for dictatorship in Europe.
Ukraine’s elections will be followed by a normal democratic tussle as
parties seek to form a new coalition government. We look forward to working
with whatever government emerges. We hope it will remain committed to
President Yushchenko’s reformist course, that it will vigorously pursue the
fight against corruption and that it will continue Ukraine’s remarkable
As for Belarus, we won’t forget the Belarussian people and their attempt to
make their voice heard. We need to stand by them, as we did the people of
Douglas Alexander is Britain’s minister for Europe.
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
7. UKRAINE: AFTER THE WATERSHED
BOOK ESSAY: By Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, March 25 2006
Standing in the crowds in central Kiev during the Orange Revolution it was
hard to avoid the sense that this was history in the making. With up to
500,000 people jamming into Independence Square and the surrounding streets,
the demonstrators were united in the conviction that something extraordinary
was happening. Strangers greeted each other like old friends. Old friends
embraced as if they had not met for years. The police reported that people
suddenly felt so upbeat that crime levels went down.
Fifteen months later, the mood in Kiev is quite different. Among the Orange
Revolution’s supporters there is widespread disappointment with president
Viktor Yushchenko who raised so many hopes when he took power. The new
administration, which overthrew the corrupt rule of Leonid Kuchma,
Yushchenko’s predecessor, has been racked by divisions. Yushchenko has
minister, and alienated other close supporters.
He has tried to shore up his position by doing deals with political
enemies – even Viktor Yanukovich, the rival candidate in the disputed
presidential election that led to the revolution. There is little progress
with the promised investigation of the serious crimes of the Kuchma era,
including the murder of campaigning journalist Georgy Gongadzde, fraud in
the 2004 presidential election and corruption. Even the inquiry into
Yushchenko’s own poisoning seems to have run into a snowdrift.
The president will get the measure of the disillusionment in tomorrow’s
(Sunday’s) parliamentary elections – the first national polls to be held
since the revolution. Whatever the result, the new government will struggle
to restore confidence in the nation’s politics.
Amid the gloom, it is easy to forget how much has been achieved. Whatever
the disappointments of the past 15 months, Ukraine today is a different
country – a democracy with genuine competition among parties, a free press
and a growing respect for the courts. Ukrainians no longer feel beholden to
Moscow. Above all, they have learnt they are not condemned to permanent
As Askold Krushelnycky writes in "An Orange Revolution," "The greatest and
most lasting legacy of the Orange Revolution is that it was a psychological
watershed for the Ukrainian people where they learned that their voices
counted and they could have a say in their country’s destiny."
Krushelnycky’s is one of three recently published instant histories of the
Orange Revolution. The others are Andrew Wilson’s "Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution" and "Revolution in Orange," edited by Anders Aslund and Michael
McFaul. All focus on the heady days of the revolution itself and are largely
free of the doubts that multiplied in its aftermath, although Krushelnycky
manages to squeeze in a short epilogue.
Krushelnycky’s account is the most personal. The son of Ukrainian refugees
who arrived in Britain after the second world war, Krushelnycky was brought
up in London in an expatriate household in which thoughts of the lost
homeland were never far away. A journalist specialising in eastern Europe,
he covered the Orange Revolution for London’s Independent with a passion
which he has now poured into this book.
The strength of his work lies in eyewitness accounts of the revolution and
face-to-face interviews with participants. He describes how the
demonstrations that brought down the Kuchma regime developed a life of their
own as thousands spent day after day in Independence Square in November
The mornings began with breakfast cooked in field kitchens, the smoke
curling above the demonstrators’ tents. The ranks of those who slept on site
were augmented by many more who trudged into the square during the day,
including thousands from abroad. Americans, Canadians, Italians, Poles and
Georgians rubbed shoulders with native Ukrainians.
The crowds were deadly serious in their intent, but rarely short of humour,
as Krushelnycky recalls. "One prominent gangster from the western city of
Ivano-Frankivsk… drove hundreds of miles to the capital in his swish
four-wheel drive with a convoy of his gang members in other vehicles to
deliver warm clothing to the protesters. He told a friend of mine who
travelled with him, ‘Yes, I might be a criminal but that doesn’t mean I want
my country to be run by criminals. And certainly not Russian criminals.’"
Journalists, especially those in state-run television, are deservedly given
credit for disobeying the official line and broadcasting balanced news
reports. Krushelnycky singles out Natalia Dmytruk, a sign-language
interpreter, who was among the first to break the taboo and report the true
result of the disputed November 25 election round, in which Yanukovich was
fraudulently declared the official winner.
She signalled to her deaf viewers: "I am addressing everybody who is deaf in
Ukraine. Our president is Viktor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the
Central Election Commission. They are all lies… And I am very ashamed to
translate such lies to you."
Krushelnycky rightly argues that Kuchma contributed hugely to his own demise
and the electoral failure of Yanukovich, his hand-picked successor. His
account concentrates on a story which he reported as a journalist – and
which had great resonance for journalists everywhere – the death of Georgy
Gongadze. Gongadze, a prominent Kuchma critic, went missing on September
The authorities tried to suppress information about the case but on November
28 they were shocked by the extraordinary news that Major Mykola
Melnychenko, a presidential bodyguard, had fled the country, taking with him
secret tape recordings he had made in Kuchma’s office. These showed the
president had fumed for months about Gongadze and had urged his officials to
As Krushelnycky shows, Kuchma, who denies wrong-doing, never recovered
now hung over his administration. Krushelnycky recounts his own role in this
affair: he obtained a copy of the prosecutor-general’s secret file on the
scandal and summarised the contents in a story in the Independent in
mid-2004 – just weeks before the crucial presidential elections.
Krushelnycky’s account never lacks energy but is at times sweeping in its
judgments. This is particularly true in the historical introduction, where
Ukrainians are the heroes, Poles and Russians get short shrift and there is
little mention of the country’s Jewish inhabitants.
In the account of the Orange Revolution, Krushelnycky does not provide
sources, notably for the controversial reports of the authorities’ plans for
a possible armed assault on the demonstrators. There is also no index and
the bibliography lists only three books and two websites.
Wilson, a senior lecturer at London University’s School of Slavonic and East
European Studies, provides a more scholarly, though no less lively, account.
He is particularly strong on the interplay between politics and business
before and during the Orange Revolution. He shows how the Ukrainian
parliament was taken over by wealthy business people for whom a key
attraction was a deputy’s legal immunity.
Kuchma was surrounded by oligarchs who grew rich from untransparent
privatisations and who, in return, contributed generously to campaign
financing. Yushchenko also relied on the backing of wealthy businessmen –
without money he could never have started a campaign, let alone led a
revolution. But, as Wilson argues, Yushchenko’s financial backers were
genuine entrepreneurs not the recipients of crooked government favours.
Wilson, a specialist in the fake democracies of the former Soviet Union,
writes with relish about the Kuchma regime’s multiple efforts to fix the
presidential election. The key evidence was secret tape recordings made by
security services officers eavesdropping on an illegal computerised
Results sent by computer from regional election commissions to the central
election commission in Kiev were secretly diverted to this cell with the
knowledge of senior election commission officials. The cell’s experts
massaged the data before transmitting it to the central election commission
to ensure the numbers came out right for Yanukovich.
A nagging question about the crisis is whether Yushchenko could have
extracted bigger concessions from the Kuchma regime. We know Kuchma
considered using interior ministry troops against the demonstrators but gave
up the idea when confronted by the scale of the protests, western pressure
and splits in his security forces. He was then forced to negotiate a deal
with Yushchenko under which power would be transferred from the presidency
to parliament in a process that will be completed after tomorrow’s
It is now obvious that Yushchenko has failed in the last year to push
through as many reforms as he had hoped. Wilson suggests Yushchenko should
have secured a better deal with Kuchma. "It was far from clear, however,
that the package was the best that could have been negotiated or even
whether improvements could not have been made under the existing system."
Writing in the Aslund/McFaul book, Adrian Karatnycky disagrees. "This
bargain made sense," he says, because it was the best chance to create the
basis for a secure democracy.
The three books agree that Russia involved itself deeply in the Yanukovich
campaign – with disastrous results. In Aslund/McFaul, Nikolai Petrov and
Andrei Ryabov make the point succinctly: "The problem is not that the
Kremlin gambled on a candidate who lost but that the Kremlin’s involvement
was so conspicuous and crude." After Yushchenko’s success, wise heads in
Moscow suggested a more subtle approach in relations with former Soviet
states – for example, developing ties with opposition groups.
But the Kremlin has ignored this advice and generated an even cruder policy
of dividing former Soviet republics into allies (such as Uzbekistan) and
enemies (such as Georgia and Ukraine). The strategy is to support
authoritarian incumbents and prevent revolutions at almost any cost.
The three books present a far more positive view of western engagement in
the Orange Revolution. The writers comprehensively demolish the
Kremlin/Kuchma lie that the revolution was an American plot carried out with
Polish assistance. Wilson shows US democracy- related aid for Ukraine was
actually declining in 2002-2004 because of disappointment with Kuchma and
that a large slice correctly went to the government to support institutions
such as the Central Election Commission.
Perhaps the decisive western input was in providing observers who helped to
ensure that the fraud could not be hidden: 2,455 people in the disputed
second round and 13,644 in the rerun, the largest number of foreign
observers ever deployed anywhere.
As Wilson says: "On the whole the west was doing exactly what it should have
been doing in Ukraine, though arguably not doing enough. The west was
promoting its own values. It may not always live up to them itself, but that
does not mean it is wrong to try to help other countries live up to these
values." Of course, it favoured Yushchenko, but at least the west saw a
distinction between the man and the message. Russia had no time for such
The utter cynicism of the Kremlin’s approach is revealed in remarks by Gleb
Pavlovsky, a Russian spin-doctor assisting Yanukovich. Quoted in
Aslund/McFaul, he says: "If we had had the power to consult our Ukrainian
partners on preventing counter-revolution and not on the elections, then
this misfortune would never have happened." -30-
Stefan Wagstyl is the FT’s East European editor.
AN ORANGE REVOLUTION: A Personal Journey Through Ukrainian
Harvill Secker £8.99, 360 pages
UKRAINE’S ORANGE REVOLUTION
by Andrew Wilson
Yale University Press £18.95, 256 pages
REVOLUTION IN ORANGE: The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace $16.95, 180 pages
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
8 . WILL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION SEE RUSSIA’S ‘STOOGE’
BECOME UKRAINE’S COMEBACK KID?
Andrew Osborn in Kiev, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, Mar 25, 2006
The "Russian stooge" who spectacularly lost Ukraine’s orange revolution and
saw his dream of becoming president shattered by hundreds of thousands of
street protesters has staged a remarkable comeback that could bring his
party a win in crunch elections tomorrow.
In an improbable turn of events, the party of Viktor Yanukovych, the Party
of the Regions, is forecast to win more votes than any other.
In December 2004, Mr Yanukovych looked like a broken man who had been
overtaken by the march of democracy and the political fashion of the moment:
velvet revolutions. His campaigners were exposed as electoral cheats who had
tried to rig the vote in his favour and he was denounced as President
Vladimir Putin’s puppet.
The hero of the revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, was hailed as a progressive
pro-Western champion of justice and went on to become President.
It seemed inconceivable that Mr Yanukovych would again be a contender to
rule Ukraine. Effigies of him were burnt in the street, his youthful
criminal record was dug up, and there were calls for him to be jailed.
But if a week is a long time in politics, a year and three months appear to
be an age. Yesterday Mr Yanukovych’s supporters massed on a central Kiev
square to chant his name as he promised them victory after a poll predicted
his party would win just over 30 per cent of the vote. The same poll gave Mr
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party some 17 per cent.
No matter how well he does, 55-year-old Mr Yanukovych will not become
Ukrainian president, because the elections are parliamentary not
But his comeback could give him a big say in the formation of a new
government and in the appointment of a new prime minister, because it is the
new parliament and not the president that will choose who gets which job.
Perhaps more tellingly, Mr Yanukovych’s unlikely political resurrection
shows how sorely Mr Yushchenko and his orange team have disappointed, and
how damaging a split at the heart of the revolutionary team has proved. Last
September, Mr Yushchenko sacked his entire government including his prime
minister and heroine of the orange revolution, the charismatic Yulia
Tymoshenko. Mr Yushchenko cited infighting in the cabinet, personality
clashes, and corruption.
Ms Tymoshenko, known to her fans as "the orange princess" and "Ukraine’s
Joan of Arc", was devastated. The glamorous 45-year-old is looking for a
comeback in Sunday’s election which she is contesting under the banner of
her own political movement, Yulia’s Bloc.
Her party is forecast to win about the same number of votes as Mr
Yushchenko’s and her hope is that he will make her his prime minister again,
and that the orange revolution will be back on track.
If Ms Tymoshenko and Mr Yushchenko reunite, she believes they might be able
to keep the resurgent Mr Yanukovych from wielding too much influence. She
insists she has not got a bad word to say about the man who effectively
ditched her, President Yushchenko.
"Our support for the President is guaranteed because we did a lot to make
him President," she says. "I would like to return to power to strengthen his
position." Though she concedes that the orange revolution has disappointed
many, Ms Tymoshenko is passionate that it has changed Ukraine irrevocably
and for the better.
If she wins back power, she promises to root out the unscrupulous oligarchs
and officials she failed to sack first time round. -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
9. UKRAINE BUSINESSES HOPE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
By Alex Nicholson, The Associated Press
KIEV, Ukraine – Banking deals worth billions. The privatization of a massive
steel plant. A boom in construction. Ukraine’s Orange Revolution did plenty
to invigorate business in this former Soviet republic, so much so that
business leaders say there’s no turning back, and certainly no reason to
fear uncertainty in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
"There has been a flood of investment into the market," said Darko Skulsky,
an advertising entrepreneur originally from Philadelphia. "We hope that it
can’t go back. We can’t see that it would go back."
That optimism comes despite the resurgence of a pro-Kremlin candidate who
was the nemesis of the Orange uprising – Victor Yanunkovych. He is widely
expected to ride into a coalition government on the back of public
dissatisfaction at the slow pace of change under President Viktor
Skulsky, who has produced music videos for Australian pop star Natalie
Imbruglia and commercials for Vodafone, calls the precarious days of the
Orange Revolution the "scariest period" in his company’s short history.
"We didn’t know if we’d still exist … we were worried the Donetsk guys
would physically take our business," Skulsky recalls, referring to Ukraine’s
industrial heartland and the eastern support base for Yanukovych.
But Skulsky and other entrepreneurs say the Orange revolt has re-branded
Ukraine in the eyes of Western investors, cleared a path to membership in
the World Trade Organization, fostered a free media, and sowed the seeds
"What happened was the middle class started growing, which never existed
since he arrived in Kiev to open a local office for ad agency Leo Burnett in
Forging out on his own after the financial crash that rolled in from Russia
that year, Skulsky set up a production company – Radioaktive Film – that
today is the largest in Ukraine.
From a cramped two-room apartment, Radioaktive has expanded to fill 6,400
square feet of airy office space in western Kiev. The company has access to
one of the biggest sound stages in Europe – the colossal 27,000 square feet
Soviet-era Dovzhenko Studio – as well as separate casting and equipment
Last year, Kiev served as a moody backdrop for Imbruglia’s video for the
single "Shiver." San Francisco rock trio BRMC, Vodafone and Germany’s
The company made its first foray into film production that year – with a
horror flick in Los Angeles featuring "A Nightmare on Elm Street" star
Robert Englund, and, back in Kiev, a romance set against the backdrop of the
Competition has hotted up. Skulsky notes, and not without some pride, that
all 19 production companies now working in Kiev were set up by alumni of his
firm. Skulsky is not the only entrepreneur upbeat about Ukraine.
Arthur McCallum of MG Capital Ukraine, adviser to an equity fund with over
$70 million dedicated to investments in Ukraine – insists a strong showing
by Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, and a subsequent alliance with
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine would not be a major blow to the Ukrainian
"Investors seek stability and predictability, and if that coalition could
remain stable, even with a moderate tempo of reforms, investors would see
that as generally positive," he said.
McCallum concedes there is plenty that needs reforming – numerous taxes and
a bureaucracy that remain the chief bugbears to doing business in Ukraine.
However, "it is highly unlikely that Ukraine will return to the centralized
rules of control under the system of (former President Leonid) Kuchma and
Co.," the private equity financier said, adding "the lock on the box has
been broken." -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
10. BIG CHOICE FOR UKRAINE IN COLOURFUL, CONFUSING POLL
Oliver Bullough, Reuters, Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, March 25, 2006
colourful and unpredictable polls the former Soviet Union has seen.
Some 45 parties are standing at all levels from the national parliament
down, with interest piqued by new rules giving the legislature the power to
name the prime minister.
Bright colours and slogans pioneered by President Viktor Yushchenko’s
supporters, brought to power in the Orange Revolution more than a year ago,
have spread across the political spectrum.
Donetsk, eastern Ukraine’s main industrial centre, forms the bedrock of
support for Viktor Yanukovich and his Regions Party, tipped by opinion
surveys to win the most seats on Sunday — ahead of the Yushchenko’s Our
Tents erected to shelter activists in the city centre came in red, orange,
yellow, green, blue, two shades of pink, white, cream and multiple colour
Voting is by national party list — meaning it will take at least two days
to establish how many seats each party has won. Ballot papers are 80 cm (2
1/2 feet) long — the size of three A4 sheets of paper stuck end to end.
They, too, come in different colours for the different elections. And each
party in each contest has a randomly assigned number.
One party published a helpful aide-memoir telling voters it could be found
next to numbers 2, 27, 20, 14, 28, 21, 28 again, 3, 13, 22 and 9 —
depending on the ballot paper.
"Democracy is young, and there are personal differences between many party
leaders," Yuri Pavlenko, sports minister and a candidate from Yushchenko’s
party, told Reuters when asked why there were so many parties.
FEWER PARTIES IN FUTURE
He thought only five or six parties would remain in future elections as
groups sharing similar ideologies — the three ecological parties, for
example — merge.
Parties hurled accusations of dirty tricks at each other. But most agreed
the Orange Revolution, in which protests forced a re-run of a rigged
election and catapulted Yushchenko to victory over Yanukovich, had
"Despite the socio-economic difficulties, there is freedom," said Oleksandr
Ivashchenko, a spokesman for the Socialist Party. "If there is freedom, that
is the basis for everything, The rest can come later."
Sergei Solovin, a mechanic in Donetsk, took the government’s promises at
face value and decided to run for mayor of the major industrial centre.
He conceded that his platform — which includes raising prices, banning
smoking and insisting people regularly honour the Welshman who opened
him any votes. But no one, at least, had tried to stop him.
"I’m an example of the country being more liberal. An ordinary person could
become a candidate," he told Reuters. "The most difficult thing was to talk
to the electoral commission because they could not understand what I was
doing. But they couldn’t refuse me." -30-
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
ADVERTISING LANDSCAPES OF THE PARLIAMENTARY
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY:Lyudmilla Pavliuk & Adrian Erlinger
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #679, Article 11
Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 26, 2006
During the 2004 presidential elections, Ukrainian electoral campaigns
demonstrated an enormous amount of neo-Soviet features, so much that the
"democracy in transition" seemed to be a straightforward transition to
autocracy. With control of the mass media, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich
used his position of power and the full support of incumbent president
Leonid Kuchma as an advantage to control electoral outcomes.
University rectors pressured students to vote for Yanukovich, while factory
bosses threatened to fire workers if they did not vote for the "correct"
candidate. Television, the primary source of information for voters,
presented ample positive coverage for the prime minister. Meanwhile,
opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was physically prevented
from campaigning in Odessa and Donetsk, strongholds of Yanukovich and his
Party of Regions.
Given the amount of governmental pressure on voters experienced during the
presidential campaign, this year’s parliamentary campaign is being closely
monitored for its democratic legitimacy in Ukraine and outside of the
country. Although the current opposition Party of Regions and its allies
claim that Nasha Ukraina has used administrative pressure to manipulate the
elections for its benefit, there is little evidence that Yushchenko’s party
has applied the same heavy-handed methods to manipulate public perception as
seen in the 2004 campaign.
The state of the mass media is not ideal, yet quite normalized. And perhaps
the main change can be observed in the realm of individual psychological
perception of the political reality: there is no strict division of good and
evil; there is less romanticism, and more pragmatism.
The spectrum of parliamentary colors has broadened from the extreme bipolar
representation of political forces of 2004, when appeals of "protecting" the
Russian language or "put the bandits in jail" compelled voters on an
emotional level. Rather than a choice between "blue" or "orange," new colors
have appeared in the parliamentary campaign offering different flavors of
ideology, symbols and techniques.
Politicians are utilizing the forces of marketing and branding to attract
votes in the 2006 parliamentary campaign. Instead of two choices, voters
will choose from 47 political parties and blocs, which will be represented
on the ballot lists for the Verkhovna Rada. This fragmentation indicates the
pragmatic and complex nature of the current political situation in Ukraine.
On the other hand, the quantitative diversity is a mere decoration. It
disguises the "qualitative" basic polarization between pro-presidential and
anti-presidential camps. As in every campaign in Ukraine since 1991, the
multi-ideological set of partisan propositions can be reduced to some basic
value alternatives. The differences between parties are often related only
to situational details, personalities and style of campaigning.
With regard to the inner polarity of the 2004 contest, the 2006 campaign
remains focused on affirming or rejecting the values of the Orange
Revolution. The main political forces in the current parliamentary
campaign-Nasha Ukraina, Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) and Party of
Regions-all reiterate and reinvent established slogans of the previous
election, a move intended to uphold or dismiss the "orange" leadership.
President Yushchenko has expressed the rather modest hope of creating a
parliamentary coalition that would be supported by 60% of the population, a
consolidation of pro-presidential forces rather than the creation of a new
This article attempts to point out trends in a brief overview of
advertisements that each block and party has employed during the
parliamentary campaign. We will center on the parties that have the best
chances of passing the parliamentary threshold of 3% of total votes.
With this low percentage of votes required to enter parliament, several
structurally insignificant yet ideologically symptomatic groups with
eccentric, extreme, aggressive and perhaps scandalous strategies, have
entered the mainstream political discourse. They will not play a significant
role on 26 March 2006, but they play "technical" roles, as well as enhancing
the atmosphere of electoral festivities. Let us look what they, the
politicians, do to make us choose them.
THE SPECTRUM OF ORANGE
One shade of the spectrum-orange-clarified much of the future vector of
Ukrainian politics, although it serves only a limited set of values for
Ukrainian society as a whole. Thus, in terms of currently circulating
political appeals, the Verkhovna Rada election looks to a large extent as a
mandate on the Orange Revolution. The Ukraine People’s Union (Nasha
Images of the euphoric crowds of 2004 were the best appeal that Nasha
Ukraina could have utilized in the parliamentary campaign. Nasha Ukraina ads
on local radio stations express an established pathos: "Yushchenko,"
"revolution," "remember, you said ‘TAK’ and you won." For many Ukrainians
the Orange Revolution is a diminished flame, but it has not turned to ashes.
Thus, it is natural to maintain the desire for freedom, to recapture the
beauty, glory and victory of Maidan.
Billboards with orange crowds and the Nasha Ukraina symbol of the horseshoe
read: "Do not betray Maidan!" The image of the traitor is one of the most
negative alternatives to positive national heroic mythology. The Nasha
Ukraina ads act as the superego, voicing a seemingly unattractive
perspective onto voters whose ids may rationalize an alternative scenario.
Opinion polls over the past few months point to the reality that Nasha
Ukraina will not secure a sure-fire majority in parliament. For the
unengaged outsider, it seems confusing-or a failure of the Orange
Revolution-that the hero of Maidan in the course of one year will not be
able to secure the mandate of millions who supported him on the frozen
streets of autumn 2004. Given the polarized nature between "orange" versus
"blue" on the ballot sheet, voters in fact expressed a variety of choices
through political protest.
According to a poll taken by Democratic Initiatives in August 2005, the
majority of Yushchenko voters (59%) took to the streets to demonstrate
against election fraud. While 36% of "orange" voters protested to protect
democratic values, only 30% protested to express explicit support for
It is quite possible (although not necessary) to separate Maidan from the
authorities who rode to power on the orange wave, but later ended up making
so many mistakes. According to the opinion polls taken in March 2006, Nasha
Ukraina is expected to receive 17.1% of the votes, an unimpressive result
that reflects 1) the significant role of Yushchenko’s allies during and
after the Orange Revolution 2) the public’s dissatisfaction with discrepancy
between desired and real outcomes in the activities of the new authorities.
An opinion poll conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology from
27 October to 7 November 2005 indicated that 68.5% of Ukrainians were
"disappointed with the new leadership." One year after Maidan, to support
Yushchenko’s Nasha Ukraina party in the parliamentary elections means that
the loyal "orange" voter is a hard optimist.
The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) has chosen a red heart as the logo for the
outdoor advertisements of her block. Appealing to the emotional and the
feminine, the red heart forms the shape of a check mark, to choose Valentine’s
Day forever on election day. Despite Tymoshenko’s female sex appeal, her
politics are tough enough to make the powerful band of oligarchs feel
Yulia’s eponyms have taken on duel masculine/feminine attributes of power:
"Gas Princess," "Iron Lady," "Goddess of the Revolution," "Kung-Fu
Although the "Goddess of the Revolution" is still loved by many Ukrainians
in the western regions, their rational sides tell them that there is
something dangerous and sinful in loving the beauty of BYuT. In conservative
Galicia, many will think of Yulia, but vote for Yushchenko – because of the
fear of "adultery" and the unwillingness to be a "traitor."
Support for Yulia in Lviv dropped in March compared to February, whereas it
is on the rise in Ukraine as a whole. Tymoshenko’s main electoral basis lies
in the center regions, especially Kyiv, where voters admire her for her past
victories as "Goddess of the Revolution."
Sociological polls promise that BYuT will receive up 17% of the total vote
and this is tremendous considering that BYuT began running paid television
advertisements late in the campaign. Pro-Yulia optimists are sure that a
dozen well-placed advisers is enough to transform her into a liberal leader.
The block is framing the 2006 parliamentary campaign as a vote for the new
At first such idea was disseminated through modest campaigning newspapers
and leaflets, but since the beginning of March, BYuT billboards with the
portrait of the former "orange" prime minister state: "The 2006 elections
are elections for the prime minister."
Voters know that this election will determine the new course of the
government, but many are still unclear on Tymoshenko’s ideological stance
with her former allies. Yulia and Yushchenko worked together to form the
opposition against Kuchma in 2002, and ascended to power after mutual
victory on Maidan. In the current ultra-competitive atmosphere of the
electoral campaign, one-time allies appear as contenders, and perhaps almost
In February 2006, Prime Minister Yurii Yekhanurov and a leader of Nasha
Ukraina bloc sustained a vote of no confidence by BYuT and other opposition
forces over the handling of the gas crisis with Russia. The dispute has
emerged as a political issue during the campaign, and Yekhanurov remarked
ironically, "It is not possible to cancel our decision concerning gas prices
and to warm the country by the heat of the heart on [Tymoshenko’s]
Yushchenko’s current colleagues have no choice but to criticize her, because
the game of the parliamentary elections is serious and Yulia has already
successfully diminished a portion of Yushchenko’s electorate.
As part of her campaign, Tymoshenko encourages Ukrainians who are
disappointed with social matters to vote for BYuT: "Fairness exists, it is
worth to struggle for it." Such terms as "conscientiousness" or "fairness"
have gained an exceptionally mystical and enigmatic aura during long period
of cultivating populism and idealism in totalitarian times. Yet if one tries
to convert the word into practical activities such as reducing inflation,
raising steel production or offsetting high global energy prices, the
results often lead to disappointment.
"Fairness" is politically charged and relevant, as demonstrated by the
former Prime Minister’s controversial re-privatization campaign, when
fairness directed at some social and political groups turned into unfairness
in regard to the other groups. Many people consider Tymoshenko an innocent
victim of the politics of social obligations of the new authorities – she
did what she was expected to do and was fired when the socially accentuated
politics had brought unexpected poor results instead of expected positive
Public perception toward the figure of Tymoshenko is as controversial as the
"gas princess" herself. Her supporters would like to believe in their
beloved leader, but the hero does not provide enough reasons for that. In
fact, this remains true about all of the "orange" team. One personal
anecdote reflects this. In L’viv, the deputy director of a small publishing
house said: "In this parliamentary campaign, I believe nobody, just nobody.
But Yulia is at least attractive…"
His office walls are decorated with portraits and posters of Yulia
Tymoshenko. During the 2004 presidential campaign, the former authorities
openly warned the man that if he did not print materials for Yanukovich, he
would have problems with the tax administration.
If one wants to see any progress in the 2006 campaign compared to 2004
campaign, it should be noted that the director has not experienced
administrative pressure. His problem is rather existential – the absence of
enough reasons to believe. Beliefs often stand close to illusions and are
mixed with them and in the process, society becomes more sober and
Pora-Reforms and Order was launched with a powerful brand – the activism of
the young generation, the true vanguard of the Orange Revolution. Their
appeal is that activism is based on concrete steps rather than verbal
arguments. Ironically, they have institutionalized themselves along with the
rest of the political parties they opposed.
World-famous boxer Vitaly Klychko is on the list of candidates. The athlete’s
image in the campaign overshadows the Pora brand in campaigning and on
billboards, let alone the Reforms and Order party. Advertisements featuring
the boxer read "The honesty of everyone is the power of the state."
Recently Borys Olijnyk, a poet and politician who is campaigning with his
own national-democratic bloc, was asked at his promotional meeting what he
thinks about the Ukrainian political elite. He responded that now he feels
optimistic about it: when Klychko comes to parliament, Ukrainian politicians
will fight more professionally. They already do this with much enthusiasm,
yet in a very amateur way.
Although Pora’s project is politically correct and inspirational, it will
not produce the expected results of formulating a new Ukrainian vanguard
free from the corruption of previous governments. Opinion polls indicate
support of only 2.3%, quite unexpected for a high-profile party. This can be
attributed to the fact that the party’s leaders remain anonymous by a large
extent to the public, whereas the charismatic Klychko does not yet fully
belong to the realm of mainstream politics.
The average voter feels rather uncertain about his role in the political
arena instead of the usual boxing ring: what is he going to do there, in
dirty Ukrainian politics? Despite these problems, Klychko inspires society
and responds to its demands – recently he began to publicly speak Ukrainian,
a requirement for presidential and parliamentary candidates.
The Kostenko-Plyushch bloc represents a traditional "national-democratic"
political line that is vanishing like many positive things that have already
finished playing their role. Yet it is good that the KP bloc maintains this
niche and still is focused on "national-democratic" colors of the political
spectrum. Their billboards are blue and yellow – beautiful noble colors of
the flag Ukraine shares with Nordic Sweden.
Orange turned out to be the successor to blue and yellow in the short
history of Ukrainian independence. The slogans of the KP bloc once again
remind Ukrainians about geopolitics, strategic values, and other visionary
concepts: "We are moving towards Europe."
As a national-democratic party, the KP accentuates national economic
priorities: ".France.China. Russia.Mexico.82% of the goods that are sold in
Ukraine are not made in Ukraine. Let’s protect our national producers!"
Despite these positive, forward-thinking slogans, the block’s chance for
success in impacting the political scene is minimal – they may not pass the
PINK, GREEN AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
As former head of Kuchma’s For a United Ukraine bloc in 2002 and the current
Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Lytvyn is not a stranger to
Ukrainian politics. His Lytvyn Bloc is directly connected with the ancien
régime, yet serves as a "third column" to Orange Revolution agnostics.
Despite showing a low percentage of support in the opinion polls ( 3.4%), the
Lytvyn Bloc began campaigning early with plenty of financial and mass media
resources in its grasp.
The block’s brand color, green, appears as a mild alternative to orange and
blue-and-white, a brand addressing voters who were viewed as not satisfied
with the "revolutionary" polarity of the 2004 campaign. Since nobody can
tell for sure how numerous the block of "neutral citizens" is, Lytvyn’s
party started active construction of the target audience – in a rather
cultural than political way – by appealing to nostalgic feelings of the
Photos from the Soviet era – kindergarten celebrations, university student
groups, working collectives, and family gatherings – were used extensively
on billboards. The purpose of the branding campaign is to show the seemingly
inclusive nature of the party in face of the divided nature of Ukrainian
politics. Another part of the Lytvyn brand is the simple slogan "We."
Yet this name "We" has a double meaning – it invites one to become a member
of the group yet makes one question the identity of the neutral "we." This
paradigm evokes a joke from the communist era: a lecturer-ideologue while
talking to an audience of ordinary people says, "Very soon we will live
under communism." An old man in the back row stands up and asks: "You will
live under communism. Well, but what about us?"
The Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) expects to garner around 5.4% of the
vote. With the changing of the political landscape in the past decade,
Oleksandr Moroz has remained at the forefront of the SPU. Moroz’s party
served as a key ally for Yushchenko during the critical days of the Orange
Socialist ministers monopolized spheres of education, health, and militia.
FM station ads accentuate the political significance of the Socialists by
describing their personal contribution into Ukraine’s social developments:
due to Lutsenko, crime decreased by 25%; due to Nikolayenko, teachers’
A mutual tolerance marks any cooperation in the tenuous coalition between
"orange" and "pink" (i.e. socialist) forces. Yet it does not mean true love
and real support in all parts of the society. Mailboxes across Ukraine are
regularly packed with the SPU newspaper "Tovarysh" ("Comrade"). A cynical,
but typical, response to this type of campaigning would be to say, "Tambovs’kyj
vovk tobi tovarysh" – slang for "Don’t call me your comrade!"
In fact, the socialist idea in post-Soviet space is greatly compromised by
collisions of the Soviet past, especially in the eyes of western Ukrainian
citizens. On the other hand, the mission of SPU is justified and legitimized
by the socialist experiences of the Western European democracies. In this
sense, the party of Moroz has obviously joined the mainstream ideology.
Naturally, the party now feels anxious to explain that its socialism has
nothing to do with the former Soviet rule. Instead, they are next of kin to
European socialism: "Citizens of many European countries are looking with
confidence into the future because they voted for the socialists. Let us
build Europe in Ukraine."
Leader of the party Viche is Inna Bogoslovs’ka, a successful lawyer and part
of the business elite. Many Ukrainians remember that she was one of the
judicial consultants who early on saw the legal prospects of the Orange
Revolution. Later, she positioned herself against many in government by
opposing the re-privatization of the Nikopol’ metallurgical plant.
Having employed a team of intellectuals, her television spots and FM ads
reached out to sophisticated, intellectual and egocentric voters: "We will
have a great country – as the greatness of each individual," "The country is
indivisible in such a way as each ego is valuable and complete."
Her campaign used a creative trick of a magic nature to grab the attention
of the electorate. Advertisers played with the words viche (a gathering of
people) and vich-na-vich (eye-to-eye). Only the eyes of Inna Bogoslovs’ka
were shown on billboard and in TV ads, hypnotizing people for many weeks
precluding the verbal, conceptual part of the team’s campaign. It is not
likely that "Viche" will pass the 3% barrier to parliament and if they fail,
it will probably show that technologically ideal and financially secure
campaigning has little to do with results.
Green parties play an important role in European countries like Germany, and
they carry a large responsibility in post-Chernobyl Ukraine. Voters in this
campaign should be careful not to confuse three green parties: Green Party
of Ukraine, Eco+ 25%, and Green Planet. They all are vital and welcome, but
unfortunately, more examples of "virtual" parties.
Previously, Vitaliy Kononov’s Green Party earned the negative reputation of
being a non-independent part of oligarchs’ games, which was one reason that
this political force failed to enter parliament in 2002. Now it is
attempting to appeal to the protest vote for apathetic or disenfranchised
electorate: "Let us tie a green ribbon of protest against ecological
pollution." The Green Party managed to enlist pop star in drag Vierka
Serdiuchka to tour in major Ukrainian cities.
Sadly, this is the only selling point for the party. Kononov’s unwelcome
competitor, Eco+25, boosts its green slogans with the promise that
Ukrainians will receive a 25% of wages bonus in ecologically troubled zones.
As a result of joint efforts of some parties, Ukrainians enjoy intense
layers of thousands of green leaflets on poles and walls.
Someone pays for them, someone publishes them, young people receive some
money for spreading them, and so everyone seems to be satisfied. Yet one
more paradox appears: leaflets are good for politics, but bad for the
THE SPECTRUM OF BLUES AND REDS
One would have expected Party of Regions to launch a massive rebranding
campaign for the Verkhovna Rada elections. After losing the presidential
elections in part by relying too much on administrative resources, party
leader Viktor Yanukovich recycled the same themes of the 2004 campaign that
secured him 44% of the popular vote. For the March ballot, voters are
subjected to the déjà vu of traditional electoral weapons.
For western Ukrainians, a pastoral Yanukovich appears on TV screens as a
specter from a virtual reality; for eastern Ukrainians, the images connect
extremely well. Economic and social problems are given equal treatment with
issues of identity: "Life is getting worse and worse" runs alongside the
motto of "Russian language as a second state language." On 22 February, the
Crimean parliament proposed a resolution to hold a referendum to make the
Russian language the second state language in Crimea.
Party of Regions has monopolized the right for representation of the
potential and cultural needs of the eastern regions. Compared to the
national-democratic idea of Ukrainian statehood which was born in western
Ukraine in the 1990s, the "regional" idea now has become the exclusive
ideological property of the eastern and southern politicians. At the same
time, from the viewpoint of necessity of some moral progress in society,
Yanukovich is an accidental and inappropriate figure for the easterners’
The eastern electorate, disgraced by the failure of their identity project
during the Orange Revolution, continues to stubbornly maintain loyalty to a
weak and suspicious leader. According to Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian
philosopher and psychoanalyst, such behavior of the masses looks like
participation in the ritual of masking the falsehood of a leader.
Given the prospect that timely self-diagnosis means proper cure and change,
self-criticism in Yushchenko’s team and honest discontent among his
electorate is more promising than the inert political scene in the eastern
and southern regions.
At the last minute, Yanukovich tried to promote oligarch and head of the
Party of Regions Rinat Akhmetov as his protégé, successor, and even a future
presidential candidate. This is risky because mentality of many southern and
eastern voters is able to prevent them from rallying around an oligarch,
their nemesis on the social level. On the other hand, the eastern and
southern electorate can choose to ignore social matters for the sake of the
regional solidarity and consolidation.
The Social-Democratic Party (in coalition with Women for the Future, Center
and the Republican Party of Ukraine) constitutes the group of hardline
opposition party Ne TAK. The group has deployed a simplistic strategy of
saying "no" rather than presenting positive solutions. Their advertising
logo is "Ne TAK!" (Not Right!).
It’s understandable: they are enemies of Yushchenko whose political capital
is based upon pointing out the failures of the new authorities. This idea is
metaphorically visualized on their billboards. A worker in an orange T-shirt
and blue-and-white robe covers Yushchenko’s presidential slogan "We can, we
TAK! Yushchenko" with dense layers of paint. This slogan of Yushchenko’s
2004 campaign is modified and adapted to fit 2006 realities: "They couldn’t
do it. Enough. No to TAK!" Their television ads make the clear statement
that "The orange leaders have led the country toward political and economic
Unlike the "neutral" opposition of the Lytvyn Bloc, theirs is a
non-compromising opposition. It includes odious figures such as Leonid
Kravchuk, Viktor Medvedchuk, and Hryhoriy Surkis. Ironically, former
president Kravchuk – who failed himself to win reelection for his government’s
mistakes – has found company in people who unceasingly blame the current
president for Ukraine’s problems.
Ne TAK clearly indicates its geopolitical priorities in its ads: against
NATO, against the European Union; for the official status of the Russian
language, for the proposed Common Economic Space, and for a union with
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. At this point, Ukrainian membership into
Euro-Atlantic institutions seems less tenuous than entry into an amorphous,
ill-defined "common economic space."
While Ne TAK advocates a return to past economic structures, Ukraine under
Yushchenko received market economy status by the European Union and the
Allied with the Social-Democratic Party umbrella is the Republican Party of
Ukraine led by Yurii Boiko, former head of Naftohaz Ukrainy during Kuchma’s
presidency. A marginal force in Ukrainian politics, the party launched an
ambitious advertising campaign in the United States. Using neutral green
colors, RPU published a series of ads in the Washington Post in October
Branding themselves as "a party of democratic values for Ukraine," the RPU
does not promote an image of hard opposition. Its slogan "sometimes you can’t
see the tree for the forest" is an attempt to draw attention away from Nasha
Ukraina, BYuT and Party of Regions-a classic technique of the "technical" or
Block For the Union is one of those virtual formations that function mostly
for propaganda purposes. It can be considered as a populist shadow for the
Party of Regions’ ideology. Its most frequent television ad on the Inter
channel is stylistically one of the most sado-masochistic in the Rada
campaign, and the most explicit in terms of pro-Russian ideology.
The ads are presented for everyday mass consumption rather than serious
political discourse: president Yushchenko is represented as a pitiful orange
bunny rabbit near a gas pipe. The hare is freezing cold and he screams over
and over again, "Think in Ukrainian." The ad parodies Yushchenko’s patriotic
style, in particular his recent electoral slogan "Think in Ukrainian."
The tiny humiliated hare is contrasted to three giants – characters from
Russian heroic epics that in this context represent the union of Russia,
Belarus and Ukraine. At the end of the ad one giant spanks the orange hare
on his orange backside. The viewers either enjoy or are disgusted in the ad,
depending on their ideological orientations or sado-masochistic
The Communist Party (with a poll rating of 3.7% at the beginning of March)
recruited extremely creative spin-doctors to rebrand an obsolete and
outdated CPU into a modernized Communist Party. PR-programs on television
depict communists and the communist idea (which is essentially selective
memory and nostalgia) with a "human face." Moreover, they go much further
than that. One clip shows curvy, long-legged girls in swimming suits that
are going somewhere.
Where are they going? Toward communism. A young man with the clothes,
hairstyle, and accessories of a modern (and ironically, capitalist) guy
makes a V-sign with his hand and says that communism is fashionable.
However, the Communists’ serious statements do not leave any doubts
concerning their ideology. Party leader Petro Symonenko outlines clear
strategic visions in the Ukrainian Communist’s Party outlet "Kommunist."
Slogans read: "We will do everything so that our land does not turn into a
NATO firing range," and "The Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol is a
guarantee of our stability."
The same newspaper in its 4 January 2006 issue combined a Christmas
greeting, the slogan "Workers of the World, Unite!", a picture of Lenin, a
photo and message of Symonenko, as well as a picture and message from
Orthodox patriarch Volodymyr on its front page. Recently, Symonenko harshly
attacked Black American religious missionaries, saying "Black Americans
preachers come here and teach our Orthodox people how to live."
These all represent astounding metamorphosis and excellent examples of
campaign rebranding. In Soviet times, religion was the worst enemy of
communism, and now the party seeks to protect religion by "saving"
Ukrainians from foreigners who represent a different type of Christianity.
Progressive Socialist Bloc of Natalia Vitrenko was not inventive enough to
purchase a clip with a band of appealing guys. She has developed a different
image specialization, that of an unstoppable socialist populist. Expected to
barely meet the 3% barrier, Vitrenko labels herself as the "people’s
opposition" on TV ads, a term abused after millions of people demonstrated
She has always been a mouthpiece for the open hatred of the West and a
maintaining public interest. Young Progressive Socialists recently marched
in the streets of Kyiv, chanting in Russian that "NATO is worse than the
Vitrenko’s television spots show how threatened the Russian language is by
humiliating the representatives of pro-Ukrainian language policies. One clip
shows an angry gloomy schoolteacher (a typical vehicle of social
suppression) that does not let a schoolgirl go to the restroom until the
girl expresses her wish in Ukrainian. Issues of preserving a Soviet-Russian
identity take center stage.
Party of Putin’s Politics. Employing the same trick as in the case of Viche,
Putin’s eyes stare at pedestrians from the leaflets in the streets of
Ukrainian cities (the number of parties seem to be more than the creative
ideas for their ads). After Inna’s series of ads, Putin’s magic appeal does
not look equally as thrilling. Another advertisement features the party
leader in a judo uniform.
Yet the fact of promotion of Putin’s politics in Ukraine is fascinating for
the political reasons. Is there any example in the world of a politician
from the other country serving as a brand for a parliamentary political
force in another country? This concept proves be very Ukrainian, and very
Russian as well.
HYPNOSIS OR ELECTORAL FATIGUE?
Political campaigning is traditionally conceptualized through different
metaphors: campaigns as hypnosis, campaigns as serving meals, campaigns
propaganda, whatever this propaganda is called, is to take some
precautionary measures – in order not to swallow some poison mixed up with
some seemingly benign soup.
The voters now seem to be well equipped in order not to become victims of
verbal overfeeding. The main political forces have remained almost the same,
but on the part of society their perception has become less ideological,
more healthy, and mature.
On the other hand, parliamentary elections season produces a ripe harvest of
obscure and obsolete advertising campaigns that voters must digest. Thus,
the result of the parliamentary campaign of 2006 is that Ukrainians are
becoming a nation of philosophers and political vegetarians. -30-
N.B. Results of opinion polls are conducted by Democratic Initiatives
Lyudmilla Pavliuk is a professor of journalism at Ivan Franko University
extreme rhetoric in the media space during the Ukrainian presidential
elections. Adrian Erlinger is an analyst and journalist of European and
Eurasian Affairs in Washington, DC. He edits Leopolis, a blog of Ukraine
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