At a congress in Kyiv on September 27, the political movement Hromada elected former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko as its leader and set up a committee to manage the movement’s electoral campaign. Addressing the 450 delegates to the congress, Lazarenko vowed to fight President Leonid Kuchma and the government in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. He attacked the "regime" for pressuring and allegedly attempting to "annihilate those who support Hromada." Yuliya Timoshenko, president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UES) and a parliamentary deputy, addressed the congress in the same spirit and also called for pre-term presidential elections. Lazarenko and Timoshenko offered to conclude electoral alliances with the Socialist chairman of parliament, Oleksandr Moroz, and with former prime minister Yevhen Marchuk, who are Kuchma’s main political rivals. (Ukrainian agencies, September 27-29)
During Lazarenko’s year-long premiership, Timoshenko was considered the main political and financial mover behind Hromada. Kuchma dismissed Lazarenko in July amid charges of corruption, which focused on windfall profits reaped by UES thanks to the prime minister’s protection. Last month, the new prime minister, along with Kuchma loyalist Valery Pustovoytenko, moved to deprive UES of its privileged position on the energy market.
Lazarenko recently assumed official leadership of the Yednist group of deputies in parliament. Hromada’s and Lazarenko’s electoral campaigns are likely to be well financed by UES and other enterprises linked to Lazarenko. Kuchma’s and prime minister Valery Pustovoytenko’s break with Lazarenko and his clan may turn out to be politically costly to the president.
Russian Power Agencies Weigh In on Rahmonov’s Side.