Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 119

Those Ukrainian center-right politicians (routinely called “national democrats”) who refused to back President Leonid Kuchma’s second presidential bid have so far failed to overcome their policy differences and personal ambitions to come up with a strong alternative candidate for the upcoming October elections. They have not, however, altogether abandoned unification efforts. On June 18, five pro-market parties announced that they were forming a single party which, as they said in a joint statement, will accept neither “the current oligarchic power of clans” (referring to President Kuchma) nor “the idea of totalitarian revenge” (referring to the red forces). These five parties included the Rukh wing of presidential candidate and former Environment Minister Yury Kostenko, the Forward Ukraine party of former deputy parliament speaker Viktor Musiaka, the Democratic party, the Liberal Democratic party and the Open Politics association of Anatoly Matvienko. Matvienko is the former leader of People’s Democratic party (NDP) who quit the “party of power” in protest against Kuchma’s presidential nomination (STB, Ukrainian agencies, June 18; see the Monitor, May 14, 17).

This group, to all appearances, has evidently not yet overcome its internal differences, because it is not clear who exactly it would back in the elections. The idea of a strong single center-right party would be more viable if these five parties were to join forces with another group: the bloc of the Reforms and Order party (RIP) of liberal economist Viktor Pynzenyk and the Rukh wing led by another presidential hopeful, former Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko. This alliance looks quite possible. Several prominent members of the Open Politics and Democratic Party, along with Udovenko, participated at the RIP congress of May 30, which declared the creation of a wide “national-democratic” coalition as its primary objective. Further, eight members of Matvienko’s group, including Matvienko himself, joined the RIP faction in Ukraine’s parliament after quitting the NDP (Segodnya, June 2; UNIAN, May 25).–OV