Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 82

The number of Ukraine’s political parties continues to rise–typically by splits within established parties. Latest among these are the environmentalists–the Greens—following in the footsteps of the Rukh, the Social Democrats, the Liberal and Democratic parties. Next on the list is undoubtedly the so-called “party of power,” the People’s Democratic Party (see the Monitor, April 26). The pattern runs to form: An “orthodox” faction splits from a typically stronger majority, accusing it of “selling” ideology to the nouveaux riche; these–entering politics to protect their business interests–need political connections to promote their goals in the corridors of power and turn to established parties to get it.

On April 24, dissenters from the Green Party of Ukraine (PZU), led by Orest Melnikov, founded the Ukrainian Green Party in Lviv. Last week, one of Melnikov’s followers told Ukrainian media that “the Green Party has split into two groups, the defenders of the environment and the defenders of monetary interests.” Melnikov’s “defenders of the environment” claimed that they are supported by fourteen regional organizations of the PZU. The party’s central leadership, headed by the PZU parliament caucus chairman, Vitaly Kononov, is backed by thirteen. Kononov, however, said that the dissenters are supported by only two regional branches of the party. The Melnikov’s group, accusing the PZU leadership of “selling out the party,” was expelled from it on April 17 (Inter, April 26; STV, UNIAN, April 22).

The PZU kept a low political profile until the parliamentary elections in March 1998, when the environmentalists caused a sensation by reaping over 5 percent of the vote and getting the fourth-largest representation in parliament among the parties. The Greens owed their success not only to the protest vote of those disillusioned with traditional politicos who were attracted by PZU’s environmentalist slogans and populist promises of less words and more action. The party had one of the richest campaigns, with financial backing by a group of bankers and entrepreneurs who subsequently were elected in parliament on the PZU ticket. PZU’s parliamentary faction is generally believed to be strongly influenced by one of Ukraine’s “oligarchs” and media tycoons, Vadim Rabinovych. –OV