Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 38

The poor showing by Ukraine’s left-wing parties in last year’s presidential election and their recent defeats in the parliamentary contests have apparently accelerated their fragmentation (see the Monitor, February 3, 16). Rumors about an imminent split within the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) were confirmed last week. The CPU accused Kuchma’s administration and the Security Service of conspiring against it by organizing a second Communist party. The administration has denied the charges. Three lawmakers, however, quit the CPU faction in parliament (Verkhovna Rada) last week–an unprecedented move in a faction noted for its monolithic unanimity and strong internal discipline.

This past weekend, Ukraine’s second strongest leftist force, the Socialist Party (SPU), expelled eight prominent members of the so-called “Socialist platform,” who had called on the party’s leader, Oleksandr Moroz, to resign. The group included Ivan Chyzh, former chairman of the Rada committee for freedom of speech and once Moroz’ right hand man. The eight turned against Moroz, as Chyzh explained, on the basis of Moroz’ authoritarianism and inappropriate tactics in the 1999 presidential campaign.

The expelled SPU members have announced a plan to join forces with the Progressive Socialist Party (PSPU) and secessionists from the CPU, and with them to set up both a separate faction in the Rada and a separate party on the basis of the “Socialist platform.” PSPU leader Natalya Vitrenko has also spoken about possibly uniting what remains of the PSPU faction with the former CPU members in a single faction in the Rada. The PSPU faction was recently disbanded because their numbers fell below the minimum requirement.

The emergence of one more Marxist party in parliament looks highly probable, though its prospects are none too good. Neither would an additional party strengthen the left flank. What the leftists need is more unity, not further fragmentation. Kuchma can only welcome this disarray. There is no emerging strong leftist leader in view and apparently no ideological niche in Ukraine’s crowded left wing free for a new party (UNIAN, February 18; Den, February 19; STB TV, February 18, 20; Inter TV, February 20; the Monitor, December 15).