All Ukrainian opinion polls should include a ‘health warning,' but one which the normally staid 'Korespondent' has also published has Yanukovych's Party of Regions [PR] at 24%, Our Ukraine [NSNU] 22%, Tymoshenko's eponymous BYuT 15%, Communists 9%, Socialists 8% and Lytvyn's block at 5%. The poll claims there is has been a drift of support from BYuT to Our Ukraine; [maybe a sign of disapproval of BYuT organizing the 'ouster' of PM Yekhanurov and his cabinet, by the VR?]. They also suggest Our Ukraine supporters are more likely to cast a vote on polling day than supporters of other parties. So, it seems, plenty to play for before the March VR elections.
NSNU have not started delivering any telling political blows against PR who, as Scott has said, are a seriously target-rich environment. However, unlike BYuT, they cannot attack them on the gas front, even though the seriously shady RosUkrEnergo was established by former President Kuchma, PR leader Yanukovych, and Yuriy Boyko [a former head of Naftogaz] on 29th July 2004, shortly after a meeting between Putin and Kuchma. [Some observers have suggested that it was set up to provide 'off-the-books' funds for Yanukovych's 2004 Presidential campaign.]
The creation of the controversional JV UkrGazEnergo was approved 31st January this year with indecent haste, by the Ukrainian State Anti-monopoly Committee, before its launch 2 days later. The Anti-monopoly Committee happens to be chaired by #29 on the PR list, Aleksei Kostusyev. He had undoubtedly checked everything out with, and had been given the 'green light' by his party leader Yanukovych, to delare the creation of the new JV 'kosher'.
UkrGazEnergo has been criticized in the strongest terms by a former vice-chair of the Anti-monopoly Committee, and former Ministers of Fuel and Energy, and will form a back-drop to the VR election campaign. There is certainly disquiet - In a non scientific straw poll , when respondents were asked to register their opinions on the new JV, 52% considered it to be a 'forced compromise', and 41% thought the JV was a trap. Only 4% said that it had a good perspective.
The gas business may well cost NSNU votes - the sooner Yekhanurov can find a 'technical problem' and stall on this, the better. Especially, as in the words of an excellent article on the Russian/Ukrainian gas war [quoted by several bloggers] in today's 'Moscow Times': "Many [commentators] say that no matter who ends up in power after the March elections, the current agreement will be redrawn."
There are reports that some kind of Orange coalition will coalesce, maybe even by the end of this week. If it does, then perhaps there will be a 'return of the prodigal son' effect too.
So hope yet..