Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 217

Delegates of the fifth congress of the Liberal Party of Ukraine (LPU), representing twenty regional organizations, have accused Volodymyr Shcherban of authoritarianism and dismissed him from the post of the party head. The congress elected the leader of the LPU Crimean organization, Pavlo Vyalov, as the chairman of the party’s political council, and announced that a new party leader would be elected later (Ukrainian agencies, November 21; Kyivskie vedomosti, November 23). The wording of the congress resolution suggests that Shcherban may be expelled from the party altogether.

Shcherban, who chaired the Donetsk Regional council from 1994-1996, has been leader of the LPU since January 1996. The LPU, established in early 1990s as the organization of the powerful Donetsk business elite, used to be one of the strongest nascent Ukrainian parties. Its faction in the previous parliament, called Social Market Choice, was headed by the current presidential candidate, former Premier Yevhen Marchuk. Shcherban has been known for a very personal style of ruling the party, several times purging it of internal opposition. The LPU did not have a clear-cut ideology and during recent years has been steadily losing influence in its “capital”, Donetsk. On the eve of the parliamentary elections in March the LPU united forces with the center-left Labor Party, also based in Donetsk. The bloc, despite a rich advertisement campaign, collected less than 2 percent of the popular vote, and did not get through to the parliament. Last month Shcherban announced that the LPU “intends to find a niche in the right-of-center spectrum,” and denied media reports about a growing dissent within the party (Ukrainian agencies and television, October 26).–OV