Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 227

The United Social Democrats may be far more significant as an electoral force than as a party in its own right. Topping its electoral slate are former president Leonid Kravchuk and former prime minister Yevhen Marchuk, who are not party members. These two allies of convenience are political, and to some extent also personal, rivals of current president Leonid Kuchma. They possess serious organizational assets, particularly Marchuk, who has already announced his intention to challenge Kuchma in the presidential election.

The USDP and the Marchuk-Kravchuk tandem are, at least rhetorically, staking out the left-of-center electorate, which they regard as the most rewarding in the country’s political spectrum. Marchuk has even spoken of a specifically Ukrainian "left-of-center mentality" that might decide the outcome of elections in the country. The USDP pursues a dual strategy: first, forcing the "centrist" parties that support Kuchma toward the right-of-center segment; and second, pushing Oleksandr Moroz and his moderate wing of the Socialist party toward the harder left. The USDP’s platform as well as the party’s two top candidates emphasize: stimulation of "creative capitalism" as opposed to clan interests (a swipe at the party of power); using market economics to generate resources for more effective social protection; law and order and suppression of official corruption; and the overarching label of "European Social-Democracy."

Significantly, USDP leader Vasyl Onopenko — a former minister of justice — is only third on the slate of candidates. That slate includes such powerful and/or appealing figures as the highly successful lawyer and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk and Dinamo Kyiv football club manager Hrihory Surkis (also presumably an asset with the country’s still sizable Jewish community). Marchuk, or circles close to him, are also said to control the newspapers Den and Zerkalo Nedeli and the Inter television station. (Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, Research Update, November 3, 1997; U.S.-Ukraine Foundation: Update on Ukraine, November 26, 1997)

Russian Military — a Source of Tension in Georgia.