Monday, December 04, 2006

Lucky Lutsenko and the new nat-dem project

A recent article in 'Dyelovaya Stolitsa' provides an explanation for last week's sacking of the popular Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko.

Both Yanukovych's PoR, and Yushchenko's NSNU perceive BYuT as the biggest threat to their power. NSNU in particular are in 'free-fall' and fear Tymoshenko will become undisputed leader of the 'orange' forces. Even though Lutsenko was an 'orange' minister, he was somewhat surprisingly kept on by Yanukovych when he became P.M.

PoR are acutely aware that they were able to form a coalition government after the March 2006 elections only as a result of splits and squabbling amongst the orange parties. The article suggests, therefore, it may be in both the President's and Prime Minister's interest that a new pro-presidential 'orange' party comes into being. So they have colluded in the ousting of Lutsenko, each for his own purpose.

At the end of October this year, according to results of sociological research company Research & Branding Group, Yuriy Lutsenko's activity as Interior Minister was rated positively by 29 % of those questioned, exactly as many as rated positive the activity of Yuliya Tymoshenko. Only one politician had a higher rating - Victor Yanukovych. Trailing well behind them where Oleksandr Moroz, Petro Symonenko and Viktor Yushchenko.

Similar results were obtained by analysts of the monitoring service of the President's secretariat, who reported to the President that amongst the new generation politicians, Yuriy Lutsenko is the best candidate to become the leader of some kind of new, effective 'orange' political force. The trust in him has even increased to 34 % over the last three months. So Yuriy Lutsenko is seen as the only political figure who can give Yuliya Tymoshenko serious competition amongst orange voters.

Yushchenko, on day of the anniversary of Maidan declared that he, "will welcome the creation of new association of national-democratic forces". The only thing missing for the new project was a leader. It seems now that at last the President has decided on Lutsenko. As a test of NSNU's reaction, Lutsenko was sent as the envoy of the President to the recent 'Our Ukraine' congress. He was warmly received by the party's rank and file.

The financial and administrative base for the new political project is to be provided by four components: the business groups of Russians Michael Voyevodina and Alexander Babakov (today the head of Russian opposition party "Rodina" which was once close to the Socialist Party of Ukraine); Igor Kolomoysky's 'Privat' group; Vitaliy Hayduk's 'Industrial Union of Donbas'; and the project is to be supervised by the head of presidential office, Viktor Baloha, who has access to state administration structures.

BYuTivtsi have quickly reacted to the possible threat from such a new political force. Yuliya T's #2, Oleksandr Turchynov recently declared that he does not see Lutsenko as the head of a united opposition, Tymoshenko has called Lutsenko an ineffective Interior Minister, and Lutsenko has had 'digs' at Tymoshenko in the media.


Anonymous said...

The only collusion that I could see the President adding to the ousting of Lutsenko is that he let it happen by not accepting Lutsenko's resignation. By forcing PoR to oust the Minister via vote gives greater standing as the "clean" minister who was ousted for doing his job.

LEvko said...

I agree - now that he is out of the KabMin, Lutsenko remains 'clean'. He is young, ambitious, tough,and popular. There is every reason to expect that he will play a significant role in Ukrainian politics - perhaps in a new project to provide a fresh political base for the president. He could hardly do this while remaining in the cabinet.