Interviewed on the Sunday television program Pislyamova, President Leonid Kuchma told the country for the first time that he is going to run for reelection. Although he had insisted until very recently that he would run only if Ukraine’s economic situation improves — a doubtful prospect — Kuchma now expressed confidence that the situation will improve and that he will definitely seek another term. He declared his support for broadly-defined "centrist" forces in the upcoming parliamentary elections and his intention to appeal to those same forces in his presidential bid.
The next day, former prime minister Yevhen Marchuk announced that he will run against Kuchma for the presidency. Marchuk expressed pessimism about the Kuchma administration’s ability to overcome the country’s crisis. He also promised "brave and strong-willed leadership" and to "unite not just clans, but the people as a whole around [his] program." Describing himself as a "social-democrat," Marchuk announced that he would draw up a program inspired by Western European social-democracy, combining market economics with social protection. (UNIAN, DINAU, October 27)
Kuchma and Marchuk have been political and personal rivals since Marchuk had to resign as prime minister in May 1996 after less than a full year in office. Marchuk and Kuchma’s predecessor as president, Leonid Kravchuk, head an electoral slate standing in opposition to the presidential camp in the upcoming legislative elections.
Parliament chairman Oleksandr Moroz chastised both Kuchma and Marchuk for announcing their presidential bids two years in advance of the presidential election. Moroz charged that the premature presidential announcements will exacerbate political fragmentation and embitter the legislative election campaign underway. The Socialist Moroz is expected to run for president as a candidate of leftist forces while Kuchma and Marchuk are staking out, respectively, the "center" and "left-of-center" segments of the political spectrum.
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