A new Ukrainian parliamentary group, called For Regional Revival (FRR), was announced on February 19. It numbers twenty-seven deputies, most of whom are connected to big business–specifically, the gas trade, the most lucrative sector of the national economy. Among those who joined are Yukhym Zvyahilsky (a former acting premier, who in 1994 was accused of large-scale embezzlement and then spent several years in self-imposed exile in Israel), former Donetsk Mayor Volodymyr Rybak and Kateryna Vashchuk (leader of the pro-presidential Agrarian Party) (Ukrainian agencies, February 19).
FRR was organized by Kuchma’s close assistant, the affluent businessman Oleksandr Volkov. The core of the group consists of members of the gas lobby–which supports the president–who defected from the faction of the People’s Democratic Party (NDP) late last year when it became clear that the NDP was gradually falling out with Kuchma. FRR is not a faction: Factions in the Ukrainian parliament enjoy more formal rights than groups, but they have to be built on the basis of party allegiance. Most members of this new group have no formal party affiliation. Others represent parties which failed to win representation in parliament in the elections of March 1998. These deputies are united by business interests and their loyalty to the president as the guarantor of the political and economic stability.–OV
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