Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 199

Independently from one another, the leaders of the Rukh, Vyacheslav Chornovil, and of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Anatoly Matvienko, cast doubt on their parties’ support of Leonid Kuchma’s presidential bid in the fall of 1999.

Chornovil announced that his party will support neither Kuchma nor any of the leftist or left-of-center candidates, including former Premiers Yevhen Marchuk and Pavlo Lazarenko. He accused the incumbent president of “the fear to lean on the patriotic, noncorrupt forces.” Matvienko was quoted by “Fakty i Kommentarii” as saying that a significant part of the PDP would prefer a “new” candidate (Segodnya, Den, Fakty i Kommentarii, October 27). The two center-right parties–which have the second and third largest factions in parliament–have been widely seen as propresidential, supporting the executive on major issues. The PDP was created in 1996 conspicuously as “Kuchma’s party.”

The Rukh has so far named as many as four presidential candidates, one of whom, National Bank head Viktor Yushchenko, denies having presidential ambitions (see the Monitor, October 22). The other three–former Ternopil Region Governor Bohdan Boyko, former Environment Minister Yuri Kostenko and former Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko–are only tentative candidates with no chances to pass into the second round of the elections. The Rukh is torn between a younger generation, which is skeptical about Kuchma, and Chornovil, who is prone to support Kuchma lest a leftist candidate win. The Rukh has thus not yet worked out a single electoral strategy.

As for the PDP, the portion of it led by the PDP Lviv organization head, Taras Stetskiv, refuses to support Kuchma’s presidential bid. It also has major policy differences with the cabinet of Valeriy Pustovoytenko, who headed the electoral list of the PDP during the parliamentary elections in March. However, as a single force the PDP has to eventually support Kuchma, as most of its members joined this party not out of ideological sympathies, but as “the party of power.” A change of the status quo would not be in their interests. –OV