Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 36

Differences between the old, “romantic” wing of Ukraine’s largest anticommunist political force–the Rukh–and its younger reformist generation reached a climax at the meeting of the Rukh’s leadership on February 20. The majority of the party’s central committee, led by former Environment Minister Yury Kostenko, approved a no-confidence motion against the party’s leader, Vyacheslav Chornovil. The meeting participants accused Chornovil of authoritarianism and recommended that the Rukh congress scheduled for March 6-7 dismiss him as the party’s leader. On February 19, the Rukh faction in parliament replaced Chornovil with Kostenko as the faction head by a vote of 30-18 (Ukrainian television and agencies, February 19, 20). Chornovil, who spent over ten years in Soviet prisons for political convictions, headed the Rukh from its beginning in the Gorbachev era, when it was a loose nationalist public movement.

Kostenko and Chornovil accuse one another of attempting to split the party (Ukrainian 1st TV Channel, Studio 1+1, February 20; STV, February 21). In his comments to television, Chornovil–who did not attend the February 20 meeting–accused the organizers of the “revolt” of attempting to “privatize the party.” For their part, the organizers had said that they want both to make the party more pragmatic and to attract money for it from private businesses. Chornovil called for a Rukh congress to be held on February 27. He did not exclude the possibility that he would organize another faction in parliament made up of those Rukh members loyal to him. Chornovil supports the nomination of former Foreign Affairs Minister Hennady Udovenko as a presidential candidate; the Rukh’s reformist wing opposes it (see the Monitor, December 15, January 22). The reformists claim that by nominating the barely electable Udovenko, Chornovil plays into the hands of the incumbent President Kuchma, who thus becomes virtually the only feasible alternative to “red” candidates.–OV