Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 141

Twenty-six of the most determined pro-reform deputies have announced the formation of a new caucus in the Ukrainian parliament. The group, called Nezalezhni (Independents), consists for the most part of deputies who had not joined any party caucuses in the new parliament until now. These individual deputies, some of whom are luminaries of Ukrainian politics, represent parties whose slates of candidates did poorly in the March elections. (Eastern Economist Daily [Kyiv], July 22)

The Independents’ caucus includes, among other deputies: Serhiy Holovaty, Justice Minister until 1997, then chairman of the Ukrainian Legal Foundation, politically a Christian-Democrat; financier Valery Babich, a founding Christian Democrat leader (the presence of Holovaty and Babich in the Independents’ caucus implying the healing of a rift among two Christian-Democrat factions); Serhiy Teriokhin, one of the leaders of the Reform and Order Party; and Liberal Party chairman Volodymyr Shcherban, an exponent of pro-market groups based in the Donbass.

Holovaty is considering running for president of Ukraine next year. Teriokhin and his party colleague Serhiy Sobolev (chairman of the Reforms caucus in the 1994-98 parliament) seek to persuade the reformist chairman of the National Bank, Viktor Yushchenko, to run for president in 1999. These deputies tend to attack President Leonid Kuchma from his right flank. They consider that Kuchma is not doing as much as he can in order to advance economic reforms and to combat official corruption. They have also accused the incumbent president of going too far in seeking Russia’s political blessing to his reelection. (For profiles of these parties and personalities, see the Monitor, November 20, 1997, and February 4 and March 18, 1998)