Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 80

On April 23, the political council of Ukraine’s People’s Democratic Party (NDP) voted–as expected–to recommend that the party congress in May back President Leonid Kuchma in the presidential elections in October. This decision was supported by seventy-five out of the 100 members of the council, NDP’s governing body between the congresses. The party chairman, Anatoly Matvienko, and his first deputy, Volodymyr Filenko–who have long argued that the NDP should support a different, more democratic and free market-oriented leader–were among those fourteen members of the council who voted against supporting Kuchma. Matvienko said that he will definitely quit as the leader of the NDP–and may leave the party altogether if the congress scheduled to take place next month supports the council’s decision and nominates Kuchma (Ukrainian television and agencies, April 23; see also the Monitor, March 16).

It is now clear that Matvienko’s opposition to Kuchma’s nomination will hardly be shared by the majority of the party, which was created three years ago to support Kuchma and consists largely of the officials who owe their state posts to him. The NDP will most probably elect a new leader in May or split into two unequal parts. The larger of these would have much to lose if Kuchma loses the elections. The other would opt for a different nonleftist candidate. It is not yet clear whose nomination Matvienko’s followers are going to support.–OV

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