Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 232

Ukraine’s second largest left-wing force, the Socialist Party (SPU), is purging its ranks of radical Marxists. On November 22, Oleksandr Pokrovsky and Vasyl Arestov–respectively the pro-Communist chairman of SPU’s Lviv branch and the leader of the party’s Kyiv organization–were expelled from SPU’s political council, its ruling body. Additionally, Ivan Chyzh–leader of the SPU’s parliamentary faction in 1994-1998, who had been regarded as SPU leader Oleksandr Moroz’ right-hand man–refused to be re-elected to the council. Chyzh announced that the SPU is on the verge of a split between its traditional Red-leaning wing and “pro-bourgeois” forces.

Speaking on December 10, Arestov announced the creation of an internal party opposition to prevent the SPU from drifting to the political center and evolving into a party of “petty bourgeoisie.” Arestov downplayed rumors about SPU’s imminent split. At the same time, he blasted Moroz for attending the Socialist International congress in Paris in early November. Moroz’ mere sitting at the table with such pro-market European socialists as British Premier Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was heresy to SPU advocates of a pro-Communist course in the party. In response, SPU political council First Secretary Yosyp Vinsky said that the council merely rid itself of old-fashioned politicians. Earlier, Moroz had said that he would set up a “third force,” which would oppose both the communists and the government.

The Red-leaning Socialists and Vinsky, who was Moroz’ campaign manager in the presidential elections this year, hold each other responsible for Moroz’ defeat in the first round of the elections on October 31, when he came third with 11.3 percent of the vote. It looks as if the SPU reformers, who have Moroz and the party’s sources of financing on their side, are taking the upper hand over the party’s Reds. The disarray in the SPU is further weakening the leftist opposition in parliament, which is no longer as unanimous as it once was. Some SPU faction members even expressed cautious support of Valery Pustovoytenko’s reappointment to the post of premier. The SPU faction has so far staunchly opposed Pustovoytenko and initiated, on several occasions, votes of no-confidence in Pustovoytenko’s government (STB TV, Inter TV, November 22; Khreshchatyk, December 2; UNIAN, STB TV, December 10; Inter TV, December 12).