Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 142

Three of Ukraine’s presidential hopefuls have cautiously disclosed their intentions to join forces in the run-up to the presidential elections scheduled for October 31. These are the Socialist Party leader and former parliamentary chairman, Oleksandr Moroz; the former prime minister and current chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Yevhen Marchuk; and the incumbent chairman of parliament, Oleksandr Tkachenko, who is backed by the Peasant Party, an organization of collective farm bosses. These three may unite to oppose their common rival, President Leonid Kuchma, who is stronger than any of his individual rivals. On July 15 Marchuk indicated that Moroz and his team might be offered “attractive posts” in a hypothetical Marchuk administration in return for their cooperation in the campaign. The offer echoed one made earlier by Moroz’ campaign manager, Yosyp Vinsky. This public exchange suggests that Marchuk and Moroz are still far from a definitive agreement. The initiative apparently comes from the camp of Moroz, who had first spoken of a coalition with Marchuk in May. Tkachenko–long a subordinate ally of Moroz, but meanwhile emancipated from his tutelage–suggested on July 17 that if he, Moroz, Marchuk and the communist leader Petro Symonenko were to join forces, their coalition could well win the elections.

Symonenko seems unlikely to join. The communists, now looking stronger than ever before, have indicated more than once that they do not need a coalition ahead of the first round of the presidential balloting; they may well, though, reconsider their strategy should a run-off in November come to pass. A tactical alliance between Marchuk, Moroz and Tkachenko, however, looks quite possible. Moroz and Tkachenko may get backing from the many supporters that Marchuk retains in the security apparatus. Marchuk is also believed–or finds it advantageous to feed the belief–that he has access to compromising documents against some state officials, which Moroz and Tkachenko could make use of in their own war of compromising materials against Kuchma. Moroz and Tkachenko have robust party organizations, influence over the village electorate and numerous allies in local councils–good prerequisites for a strong campaign, all of which Marchuk lacks. If this triumvirate materializes, Kuchma will face a hard struggle in this election (Ukrainian television and agencies, July 15-17).