Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 105

Ukrainian parliament chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko is the latest among the strong left-wing candidates to confirm his intention to run in the country’s October presidential elections. An apologist for Soviet-era collective farms and an advocate of re-unification with Russia, Tkachenko was nominated on May 29 by the congress of his Peasant Party–perhaps the last nail in the coffin to the idea about a strong single candidate for the Ukrainian “reds.” The Peasants made it clear at their congress that the role of such a candidate may be reserved exclusively for Tkachenko. Tkachenko’s two main leftist rivals, communist leader Petro Symonenko and socialist Oleksandr Moroz, will hardly agree to this and so indicated by not attending the congress, despite their being, reportedly, invited (Ukrainian television, May 29; see the Monitor, May 26).

The leftist and protest vote now looks set to be torn between the four “red” candidates–Moroz, Symonenko, Tkachenko and the outspoken Progressive Socialist leader Natalya Vitrenko. This lack of unity should ease the incumbent President Leonid Kuchma’s way to the second round in the elections. Tkachenko’s stronghold is Ukraine’s rural central regions but he is generally resented in Western Ukraine for his pro-Moscow rhetoric, and virtually unknown in the industrial East.

Tkachenko’s nomination will without doubt exacerbate tension between the executive and the legislature, in part because Tkachenko does not conceal plans to use the parliament rostrum to promote his electoral program to stall the work on important government economic legislation. This program, called Ukrainian Revival, is a rather loud declaration reminiscent of the Soviet five-year plans than the serious economic draft it is meant to be. It unrealistically envisions a threefold improvement of living standards in five years by prioritizing agriculture and power engineering. Tkachenko is firmly opposed to land sale and market reforms in agriculture and to foreign loans. In the international sphere, Tkachenko sees not the West, but the unpredictables–Russia, China and India–as Ukraine’s preferred partners (Zerkalo nedeli, May 29; Holos Ukrainy, May 21).–OV

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