Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 15

Two major Ukrainian right-of-center parties, the Rukh and the Reforms and Order Party (PRP), have formed a coalition with a third, the Republican Christian Party, to back former Foreign Affairs Minister Hennady Udovenko as their presidential candidate in this year’s elections. Announcing this intention at a press conference on January 21, the leaders of the Rukh and the PRP–Vyacheslav Chornovil and Viktor Pynzenyk–said that the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, a radical nationalist party, would very likely join forces with them to support Udovenko. Speaking at the same press conference, Udovenko said that he is confident of a victory. His campaign will be built on opposition to both leftists and the current government. “What’s happening now in this country,” he said “is simply not good” (Ukrainian television and agencies, January 21).

The Rukh and the PRP, both moderate nationalist parties, have joined forces before. In December they formed an electoral bloc, called the Movement for Reforms and Order (the word Rukh in Ukrainian means movement). The Rukh assigned several of its members, as delegates, to the Reforms-Center faction which the PRP had organized. In December, the Rukh nominated both Chornovil and Udovenko as candidates (see the Monitor, December 15). Chornovil stepped down on January 19 in favor of Udovenko (Segodnya, Fakty i kommentarii, January 20).

Udovenko, 67, was Ukrainian foreign affairs minister in several governments in 1994-1998, and was then elected to parliament on the Rukh’s electoral list last March. Chair of UN General Assembly in 1997-1998, Udovenko is a seasoned diplomat, but hardly an electable public politician. The choice of Udovenko reflects the dearth of stronger presidential candidates among Ukraine’s nationalist forces. Pynzenyk had earlier wanted to nominate Viktor Yushchenko, the renowned liberal reformer, the head of the National Bank of Ukraine. Yushchenko, however, who the Rukh also regarded as a possible presidential candidate, firmly refused to run (see the Monitor, December 3, 15). –OV