Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 220

The People’s Democratic Party (NDP) should unite Ukrainian centrist forces into a new party with a new leader–Premier Valery Pustovoytenko–to support the incumbent President Leonid Kuchma in the upcoming elections. This opinion of a faction of the “party of power” was made public at a November 27 press conference by Anatoly Tolstoukhov, head of the NDP’s Kyiv organization and minister of the cabinet–responsible for coordination between ministries–in Pustovoytenko’s government. He said that this position of the NDP’s Kyiv organization is supported by several regional organizations, including the influential Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Crimean branches. Tolstoukhov did not conceal the fact that this idea is far from having the unanimous support of the NDP leadership.

Symptomatic of a serious dissent within the NDP, Tolstoukhov conducted his conference almost simultaneously with a briefing at another Kyiv location, where the NDP’s Deputy Chairman Yevhen Kushnaryov advocated the idea of forming an electoral coalition of center-right parties, including the Rukh, in which the NDP would play the role of just “an equal partner.” Such a coalition would support Kuchma as the only politician who can beat the strong red candidates, while “a left victory would mean a great tragedy for Ukraine”, according to Kushnaryov. This support, however, would be conditional on Kuchma’s pledge to continue market reforms (Ukrainian television, November 27; Zerkalo nedeli, November 28).

All last week Kushnaryov busily explained at numerous press conferences that he resigned as head of Kuchma’s administration (see the Monitor, November 24), not because of a discord with the president, but to help Kuchma win the elections of 1999 by consolidating right-of-center parties around his candidacy. However, a prominent member of the NDP leadership, Oleksandr Yemets, said in an interview with STV on Saturday (November 28), that by dismissing Kushnaryov, Kuchma “punished” the NDP for its reluctance to support his presidential bid.

Kushnaryov’s proclaimed aim will be difficult to achieve not only because of the discord over electoral strategy within the NDP (see also the Monitor, November 23). A month ago the Rukh leader, Vyacheslav Chornovil, unequivocally announced that his party would not support Kuchma’s nomination (see the Monitor, October 28). Without support from the Rukh a coalition about which Kushnaryov talks would hardly be meaningful. It seems, though, that now the NDP’s leaders should agree first of all between themselves on a common denominator concerning the elections.–OV