Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 231

Ukraine’s largest and oldest right-wing party, the People’s Movement (Rukh), at its ninth congress on December 12-13 nominated two candidates for the presidential elections of 1999: the party’s leader, Vyacheslav Chornovil, 61, and former Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko, 67. The vote was far from unanimous: A number of the congress’ 742 delegates wanted to nominate a relatively young reformer, Yury Kostenko, 47, once environment and Chornobyl minister. In the congress, Chornovil’s allies insisted on the open vote, in which the tandem of Chornovil-Udovenko was backed by 415 delegates (Ukrainian 1st TV Channel, ICTV, December 13). This nomination is only the congress’ first stage. The Rukh’s decision concerning the elections is not final. The party will eventually decide on its presidential nominee at the second stage of the congress, which is to be held early next year.

The Rukh’s hesitation arises from several factors. First, the new election law has not been yet adopted (see the Monitor, December 7, about the draft law preliminarily approved in parliament). Second, the Rukh has not achieved unity concerning the presidential nomination with its right-of-center allies. The Reforms and Order Party (PRP), with which the Rukh formed an electoral bloc, has been insisting on nomination of the National Bank head, Viktor Yushchenko, who has so far been refusing to run (the Monitor, December 3). Another potential ally for the Rukh–the “party of power,” that is, the People’s Democrats (NDP)–is hesitating to throw its support behind the incumbent President Kuchma, whom they unequivocally supported at least until their congress last month. A portion of the NDP would like to join the Rukh-PRP bloc, whose leaders Chornovil and Viktor Pynzenyk have announced they would not back Kuchma’s nomination. The PRP even publicly called on Kuchma not to run for the second term (Kievskie vedomosti, December 7; Den, December 8). The absence of a single candidate from the center-right forces so far, with the elections drawing near, has been an advantage to Kuchma, thus far the strongest nonleftist candidate.–OV