Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 157

Ukraine’s communists were quick to react to news of Gennady Zyuganov’s electoral success in Russia, describing the development as confirmation of the "destructive" effects of reform. Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Simonenko expressed hope that Russian election results would "accelerate understanding of the situation on the part of Ukraine’s citizens." (19) National-democratic spokesmen, however, indicated that communist gains in Russia’s Duma were ultimately of limited significance to Russian-Ukrainian relations. Both the outgoing and the previous Russian parliament contributed to tension between the two countries by questioning Ukraine’s sovereignty in Sevastopol and Crimea.

Simonenko has cause for envy: election bids of Ukraine’s communists in December 10 by-elections were a near-total flop, despite widespread expectations they would perform due to country’s severe economic problems. The by-elections were seen, if anything, as a victory for the government of Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and a setback for the Simonenko camp.

In Belarus, parliament chairman Myacheslau Hryb said he envied the high turnout in Russia and the cooperation among the branches of government in carrying the election through to completion. "This could serve as an example for the leadership of Belarus," Hryb noted, referring to President Lukashenko’s sabotage of Belarus’ own parliamentary elections this year. (20) The relatively high voter turnout in Russia contrasts with the apathy of both Belarusians and Ukrainians in elections this year. Only 7 out of 45 empty seats in Ukraine’s Supreme Council were filled in the December 10 by-elections due to the low turnout.

June 1996 Presidential Election Remains Crucial.