Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 13

On January 12, Ukraine’s ruling elite–For United Ukraine–finalized its list of candidates for the March 31 parliamentary elections. They will compete for the 225 seats in the nationwide constituency of Ukraine’s 450-member body [Verkhovna Rada]. Also at stake that day will be 225 single-seat constituencies.

The For United Ukraine bloc (FUU) represents five pro-presidential parties: Labor Ukraine (LR), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Party of Regions (UPR), the Agrarian Party (APU), and the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (see the Monitor, November 29, December 18, 2001). Its top five candidates reveal the Soviet heritage in the Ukrainian elite’s thinking. It seems copied from Communist posters: representatives of heavy industry (“the worker”), agriculture (a female “peasant”) and the intelligentsia (guided by the commissar and the administrator). Bloc leader Volodymyr Lytvyn, who serves as chief of the presidential office, and Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh top the FUU list. Number 3 is assigned to the Rada veteran agricultural lobbyist Kateryna Vashchuk of the APU, who is also the only woman among the top ten. Vologymyr Bokyo–the director of Ukraine’s second largest steel mill, in the eastern city of Mariupol–got Number 4. Kyiv State University rector Viktor Skopenko came in as Number 5. The bloc’s founders appear, modestly, further down the list: PDP leader and Transport Minister Valery Pustovoytenko, LU leader Serhy Tyhypko, UPR leader and Deputy Premier Volodymyr Semynozhenko, and APU leader and Lviv Region Governor Mykhaylo Hlady were assigned Numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 respectively. Ukrainian railways director Georgy Kirpa was assigned Number 10.

The FUU top thirty include eight members of Kinakh’s cabinet. The rest are former ministers, influential MPs, pro-government trade union bosses, directors of state enterprises, a media tycoon (Andry Derkach), an Olympic champion (pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka) and a soccer functionary (Professional Soccer League president Ravil Safiullin). They stand a real chance of getting elected, but the rest of the list’s 100 names do not. Opinion polls suggest that no more than 5-10 percent of voters will cast their ballots for the bloc now in power. This means that no more than thirty to forty candidates from the FUU list are likely to get through to the next parliament, if the election is honest.

But this does not mean that the ruling elite will necessarily have such a relatively small faction in the Rada. Many of its representatives are likely to be elected from single-seat constituencies. More than 150 FUU candidates will run in those races. Among them are Rada Speaker Ivan Plyushch, his deputy Stepan Havrysh, Crimean Premier Valery Horbatov, the oligarch and Kuchma’s son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, former Security Service (SBU) chief Leonid Derkach, Donetsk Mayor Volodymyr Rybak, state atomic energy company director Volodymyr Bronnikov, and former Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk (Ukrainska Pravda, January 12; Segodnya, January 14).