RUKH’S SCHISM DEEPENS.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 130

The split within the Rukh–Ukraine’s main national-democratic political force–deepened last week. Ukraine’s Supreme Court confirmed an earlier decision by the Justice Ministry pronouncing the Rukh wing led by former Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko the only legitimate heir to the original Rukh, which was founded by the historic leader Vyacheslav Chornovil. Former Environment Minister Yury Kostenko’s wing, initially stronger than Udovenko’s financially and numerically, may no longer use the Rukh name or symbols. This decision is bound to damage Kostenko’s presidential campaign. Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision, Kostenko accused President Leonid Kuchma’s government of deliberately undermining, even destroying, the Rukh as a party (Ukrainian media, July 1; see the Monitor, April 1).

Kuchma’s campaign is in fact interested in strengthening Udovenko’s wing at the expense of Kostenko’s, on the assumption that the former foreign minister might ultimately withdraw from the race and call on national-democrats to vote for Kuchma against the left. Kuchma’s team is basing its campaign on the notion that Kuchma is the only viable alternative to forces of Red revenge. Constant squabbles among and within right-of-center and rightist parties have splintered that part of the electorate, leaving it up for grabs, particularly in western Ukraine. The process was in evidence during last year’s parliamentary elections and has deepened since.

Udovenko’s Rukh is allied with the Reforms and Order (RIP) party of the liberal economist and former deputy premier, Viktor Pynzenyk. RIP is backing Udovenko’s presidential bid. Meanwhile, Kostenko and several small parties allied with his faction of the Rukh continue preparing for a congress of democratic forces to be held on August 24. That congress seems intended to launch a united national democratic party or bloc, presumably hoping to reunify the Rukh under a new roof. The RIP, citing its loyalty to Udovenko, refuses to participate in the preparations for the Kostenko congress. The former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (NDP), Anatoly Matvienko, now leader of the Open Politics association, sits for the time being on the fence between the camps of Udovenko and Kostenko. (Den, July 1; see the Monitor, June 21).

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