Ukrainians go to the polls in March to elect a new parliament. All seats in the one-chamber body are up for grabs.
Russian Ethnic Minorities in the former Soviet UnionCountryArmenia AzerbaijanBelarusEstoniaGeorgiaKazakhstanKyrgyzstanLatviaLithuaniaMoldovaTajikistanTurkmenistanUkraineUzbekistanPopulation(millions)381015175245645024Russian(%)231329638223491347225Source: Rand McNally
In pre-election maneuvering, supporters of President Leonid Kuchma have placed Ihor Yushko, a key financial figure from the Donetsk region, in the cabinet as finance minister. Yushko, 40, is a rising star in the Party of Regions, the strongest member of the five-party alliance called For United Ukraine (FUU). Yushko’s Donetsk ties should help lock in support from the region’s energy-industry oligarchs for the pro-presidential FUU.
Enlivening the campaign on the left are the Communists, back with red flags flying. At the end of December Ukraine’s Constitutional Court overturned the decision of the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) that outlawed the party in August 1991. The court took care to rule that today’s Communist Party of Ukraine is not the legal successor to the Soviet-era party and cannot claim title to party property seized by the state in 1991. That ruling, which CPU leader Petro Symonenko did not contest, may also serve to place a moral distance between today’s CPU and the Soviet era. The March elections will be the first test of the revived party’s popular appeal.