Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 37

Yevhen Marchuk–former KGB general, then Ukrainian prime minister–has apparently radically changed his professed ideology in return for support of his presidential bid. After breaking with the United Social Democratic Party, which to all appearances opted for the incumbent President Kuchma, Marchuk has joined the nationalist camp. On February 20, the Council of the Ukrainian Republican Party reportedly unanimously nominated Marchuk as their candidate for this year’s presidential elections. Jointly with other nationalists, the Republicans announced creation of a public union with the pretentious name “To the 21st century–with Yevhen Marchuk,” the proclaimed goal of which is to garner support for Marchuk from the regions. On February 19, several nationalist parties, including the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Union of Political Prisoners and the ultra-radical Social Nationalist Party approved a joint electoral platform and announced that they will choose either Marchuk or former Foreign Affairs Minister Hennady Udovenko as presidential candidate by May 1. Udovenko had been earlier nominated by the bloc of the Rukh and Reforms and Order Party (Ukrainian agencies, February 19; Ukrainian television, February 22; Den, February 23; see also the Monitor, January 14, 22).

With a dearth of presidential candidates among the nationalist forces and a split in the moderate nationalist Rukh (see the Monitor, February 22), it looks as if Marchuk will have no rivals in this political niche. The ideology of nationalism, however, has considerably lost its popularity among Ukrainian voters since the country’s independence in 1991. This was clearly demonstrated in last year’s parliamentary elections, when only one nationalist party–the Rukh–gained representation in the legislature. It may turn out that Marchuk has bet on the wrong horse again.–OV