The sixth congress of the Democratic Party of Ukraine (DPU) has ended in a virtual split, with 182 out of some 400 delegates refusing to reelect Volodymyr Yavorivsky as the party’s leader, and no official documents approved. The “rebels,” representing regional organizations, supported Anna Antoneva–the DPU’s apparent leader designate, the party’s only representative in the parliament and leader of the DPU’s Kirovograd Regional organization. The DPU’s long-time charismatic leader, Yavorivsky, was accused by many deputies of the party’s failure at the recent parliamentary elections. It appears that Yavorivsky went back on a prior informal agreement with Antoneva’s supporters to step down as the party’s leader and take the symbolic post of “honorary chairman.” Yavorivsky scheduled the next DPU’s congress for May, which should determine the party’s priorities for the October 1999 presidential elections. The “secessionists” scheduled their congress for February. At the same time, both Yavorivsky nor Antoneva denied that the party actually split (Fakty i kommentarii, Segodnya, Kievskie vedomosti, December 1).
Yavorivsky apparently intends to support Kuchma in the upcoming elections, at the same time advocating the idea of the party’s merger with other center-right parties, including the Rukh and the People’s Democrats. Despite the unofficial support from President Kuchma and an intensive advertisement campaign on television, the DPU in a bloc with the Party of Economic Revival failed to pass the 4 percent barrier at the elections of March 29, scraping together under 1.3 percent of the popular vote.
The current rift within the DPU actually reflects an attempt of big business to take control over this weakened party. On her election to parliament from a single-constituency district, Antoneva formally quit as the president of Artemida, a Kirovohrad-based concern, a lucrative and expanding business which produces up to one-quarter of Ukrainian alcohol.–OV
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