Ukrainian Premier Anatoly Kinakh has announced that the Ukrainian Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (UPIE), which he heads, will join the propresidential bloc For United Ukraine (FUU). This will be the fifth and, most probably, the last party to join the bloc set up by the presidential administration for the March 2002 Verkhovna Rada (parliamentary) elections. The FUU now consists of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labor Ukraine (LU), the Party of Regions (UPR), the Agrarian Party (APU) and the UPIE. With Kinakh joining, the FUU looks completely as a bloc of top members of the governing elite. Among its ranks are Agriculture Minister Ivan Kyrylenko (APU’s informal leader), Transport Minister Valery Pustovoytenko (PDP’s chairman), Speaker Ivan Plyushch, Tax Administration head Mykola Azarov (UPR’s leader), the founder of Ukraine’s biggest privately owned bank–Privatbank–Serhy Tyhypko (LU’s leader) and chief of the presidential office Volodymyr Lytvyn.
UPIE is the political wing of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (UUIE)–a nationwide industrial lobby organization uniting directors of big enterprises, which catapulted President Leonid Kuchma into the big politics in the early 1990s. The Union is fairly significant on the Ukrainian economic landscape, but the UPIE–essentially a party of one man, Kinakh, who founded it last year after leaving the PDP–has kept a low political profile.
Kinakh has hesitated whether to join the FUU since August, when he was reportedly invited. This hesitation cost him the formal leadership in the bloc, which was recently assigned to Lytvyn (see the Monitor, August 31, November 19). The uncertainty was due to the fact that the bloc’s real mastermind–Kuchma–didn’t favor the idea of Kinakh’s taking part in the election. Kuchma argued that a campaigning prime minister would focus more on his campaign and less on his primary responsibility–economic issues. Kuchma changed his stance, however, apparently on the condition that Kinakh would not lead the FUU.
As in the case of Lytvyn, who has not yet ventured a single public statement on his participation in the FUU, the news of Kinakh joining the bloc was announced by someone else. This gave grounds to the speculations that the two men were “appointed” to the FUU rather than asked to serve. The news of Kinakh’s appointment was announced on November 28 by, first, Kyrylenko and Pustovoytenko, and, later, Tyhypko, who revealed that Kinakh would be among the top five on the FUU list. Outspoken Azarov announced that Kinakh had agreed to be Number 2, and that Lytvyn would be Number 1. After these statements, all that was left to Kinakh was to confirm them, which he did the same evening.
Kuchma has never concealed that Kinakh, who is believed to be politically the weakest Ukrainian prime minister yet, would serve only until the Rada elections. Kinakh, who replaced Viktor Yushchenko in May, has failed to grow into a true national leader. He did not even bother to push the cabinet action plan through the Rada, which would have secured him from dismissal by the lawmakers for at least a year, according to the law. On the one hand, a low-key premier would seemingly suit Kuchma, who has always treated ambitious ones with suspicion. On the other hand, Kuchma understands that a weak one, like Kinakh, wouldn’t be likely to survive an election. Joining the FUU–a bloc that will certainly get through to the Rada, thanks to the significant administrative resources working for it–Kinakh secures a quiet retreat to parliament for himself. Through Kinakh, the FUU will not only secure the full support of the cabinet of ministers for its campaign, but will also influence the UUIE industry captains (STB TV, New Channel TV, Forum, Obkom [www.obkom.net], November 28; Ukraina Moloda, Den, November 29).
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