Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 27

Three Ukrainian nationalist parties, each of them holding a few seats in the current parliament, are contesting these elections as a bloc with a single program and slate of candidates. Formed at a unification congress last October, the National Front campaigns against what it describes as the permanent opponents of Ukrainian independence: Russian imperialism and Communist forces. The NF regards the current holders of power in Ukraine as basically unreconstructed representatives of the former nomenklatura, who are less interested in defending the independent state than in using it to "plunder the Ukrainian nation." In NF’s view, the authorities obstruct reforms and manipulate the economy in their own interest, thereby discrediting the very idea of reform and even national independence itself in the eyes of an impoverished populace. By this reasoning, the NF considers that the president and the party (or parties) of power pursue an "antistate" and "antinational" policy, and it campaigns to defeat them in these elections.

The bloc’s platform calls for eliminating corruption and "clans" from power, a "fair" privatization (both are widespread slogans in this campaign), guarantees for private property ownership, and lower taxes yet also supports free secondary education and medical assistance. Before the official start of the electoral campaign, leaders of the NF’s parties attempted to impeach President Leonid Kuchma in parliament.

The NF comprises:

The Republican Party, created in 1990 on the basis of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union. (The RP originally included Vyacheslav Chornovyl and others who went on to lead the Ukrainian Popular Movement — Rukh). The RP’s current chairman is Bohdan Yaroshinsky and its honorary chairman is Levko Lukianenko, founding father of the Ukrainian national-democratic movement, who served more than twenty years in Soviet prison camps and later became the ambassador of independent Ukraine to Canada. Lukianenko heads the NF’s joint slate of candidates.

The Conservative Republican Party, formed in 1992 by a group from the RP, has stayed close to the fold. The CPU bears the personal imprint of its leader Stepan Khmara, a veteran of the Soviet-era underground movement and of prison camps, and a firebrand politician afterward.

The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, originating mainly in inter-war Poland, resisted the Soviet conquest of western Ukraine during and after the war and was politically active in the Ukrainian diaspora during the following decades. CUN’s present leader, Yaroslava Stetsko, and some of her associates returned from the West to independent Ukraine. Another CUN leader, Major-General Ivan Bilas, is a deputy chairman of the Union of Officers of Ukraine and the author of a massive monograph on the Soviet repressive system in Ukraine.

All three parties are based mainly in western Ukraine. Their core supporters tend to identify preponderantly with the Eastern-rite Catholic (Uniate) Church. The NF seeks to demarcate itself from the ultranationalist Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly (UNA) on one flank and from the national-democratic Rukh on the other flank. The Rukh urges the pro-independence and anti-Communist political forces to cooperate with one another for common objectives, rather than compete for overlapping constituencies on the crowded right-of-center part of the political spectrum. (UNIAN, October 26-27; ABN Press, November 21; Institute of Statehood and Democracy: The Rukh Insider, December 18, 1997)

Armenia Political Update.