The ultranationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA), which currently holds three parliamentary seats, launched its electoral campaign at a congress in Kyiv on November 3-4. In a fiery keynote speech, the movement’s founding father, Dmytro Korchinsky, proposed offering the electorate a program "aimed at achieving Ukrainian predominance in Central-Eastern Europe." Toward that end, Korchinsky urged the renuclearization of Ukraine’s armed forces, expansion of the country’s defense industry, strong state support for national industry in general, and development of direct links with certain western regions of Russia "in order to draw them away from Moscow and toward Ukraine." Korchinsky and other speakers also proposed a set of seemingly contradictory economic measures: on the one hand, drastic tax reductions, elimination of export duties, and abolition of all price controls; and on the other hand, massive state financing of research and development, medical care, and income-support programs.
Only a portion of those proposals were adopted at the congress, and UNA leaders have since sought to project a less irresponsible image. As defined by the UNA’s current chairman, Oleh Vytovich, the movement’s campaign motto is "national solidarism." Vytovich also announced a strategy of competing for the left-wing electorate in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions, which are strongholds of the Socialist and Communist parties. Last week, Korchinsky announced his decision to leave the movement, although he promised to urge his supporters to vote for the UNA. Korchinsky’s departure may perhaps marginally improve the UNA’s electoral prospects by removing a particularly rough edge from its rhetoric.
UNA’s supporters are based mainly in western Ukraine. The movement’s top candidates include its three incumbent parliamentary deputies and also the Motherland Association leader, Vilen Martirosian, who rose to prominence several years ago as head of a patriotic Ukrainian officers’ union. The authorities take a highly critical view of the UNA and earlier banned its paramilitary arm, UNSO (Ukrainian National Self-Defense). The parties collectively designated as national-democratic (the Rukh and some to Rukh’s right) also regard UNA as extremist and clearly distance themselves from it.
A splinter organization, partly composed of former supporters of UNA, is contesting the election separately as the State Independence Party of Ukraine. SIPU timed its congress to coincide with UNA’s and issued a similarly radical program. SIPU leaders and top candidates include the well-known nationalist figure, Roman Koval, and Oleksandr Prytula, the director of the Zaporizha Cossack martial arts school. SIPU will draw votes away from UNA, and might thereby prevent the latter from reaching the 4 percent threshold that qualifies party slates for parliamentary representation. (UNIAN, November 3, 5, 12)
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