Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 94

The chairman of the Ukrainian People’s Democratic Party (NDP), Anatoly Matvienko, has invited President Leonid Kuchma to participate in the NDP congress on May 14, at which the party is expected to voice support of Kuchma’s second bid. At the same time–in an open letter written on May 11–Matvienko called on the president not to run in the elections, recalling that Kuchma once promised he would not run if the economy did not improve. This is a gesture of pure despair. Matvienko has on several occasions accused Kuchma of ignoring the party which was created essentially to back his policies and election campaigns. Several months ago Matvienko and the NDP reformist wing under his leadership harshly criticized the president for economic and political failures. This left Matvienko and Kuchma on bad terms and the party on the verge of a split. The NDP majority, which includes Premier Valery Pustovoytenko, continues to back Kuchma (Ukrainian television, May 11; see the Monitor, April 26, January 8).

In his letter Matvienko reiterated that he will quit the NDP if it nominates the incumbent president. He argued that Kuchma, in personifying the economic misfortunes of the past several years, may prompt the voters to elect a “red” candidate. Matvienko accused Kuchma of leaning for support on the “oligarchs,” who “grow richer thanks to the privileges obtained due to their proximity to power.” At an earlier news conference, Matvienko said that he does not see any difference between the teams of Hryhory Surkis, Oleksandr Volkov, Viktor Pinchuk (reportedly the “oligarchs” close to Kuchma), and the structures which backed former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko. Lazarenko–the renown boss of the Dnipropetrovsk financial-industrial “clan” who is wanted in Ukraine and Switzerland for embezzlement and money-laundering–fled to the United States in February. Matvienko said that the NDP has been replaced by the United Social Democrats (USDP) as the party of the president. One of the named “oligarchs,” Surkis, plays a key role in the USDP (Den, May 12, 7; Ukrainian agencies, May 11; see the Monitor, February 23).–OV

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