Friday, January 27, 2006

Orange coalitions and the resurgent Party of Regions

The Russia-Ukraine gas crisis is diverting attention from what should be uppermost in Ukrainian politicians' minds - the looming 26th March Parliamentary elections. A lot of bad blood exists between former orange partners NSNU and BYuT, but expendiency will override personal animosities [if only temporarily] and a coalition will be cobbled together quite soon. I'm not sure whether this will repair damage done to orange partners' overall ratings since Tymoshenko's sacking last September.

It is becoming more apparent that Yanukovych's Partiya Regioniv [PR] will be the largest single party by a significant margin in the newly-elected VR. In the event of a PR-NSNU or PR-BYuT coalition, then PR would dominate any new cabinet and the direction of its policies - the orange portion of the coalition would be a mere make-weight. There is a strong likelyhood that some deputies of NSNU or BYuT in any such coalition in the newly-elected VR would soon defect to the remaining orange opposition party and the ruling coalition would soon disintegrate. The orange partners may well loose even more support in any repeat elections caused by the inability of a sustainable majority to be formed in the VR.

So for Yush and Yulia, an abbreviation used by Margaret Thatcher may be applied: "TINA" - 'There Is No Alternative' - but to come together again.

As Scott mentioned in an earlier posting, Party of the Regions is certainly a target-rich environment. Many of its members are drawn from the power elites of the Donetsk region who won the battles for domination and influence of companies and assets in the early years of post-Soviet Ukraine. These battles included grave crimes including extortions and murders. When Yanukovych became governor of the Donetsk oblast in1997, the struggles between various factions became more ordered and 'civilized,' and violent crime declined somewhat.

PR is primarily funded by Ukraine's richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, whose business empire employs hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. Its March 2006 Parliamentary election party list reads like a rogue's gallery of Ukrainian politics, and warrants closer scrutiny. Of its top hundred names, two-thirds represent just two east Ukrainian oblasts or regions - Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, [out of a total of 24 oblasts in Ukraine]. One commentator calls them: "the political fist of just one region." A significant portion of the remainder are from Kharkiv oblast.

Fifteen of the hundred are close business associates of Akhmetov, who himself is #7 on the list. Six persons are closely associated with top soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk, which he owns. Some have joked that had the club's players had Ukrainian citizenship, then they would have been on the list too. [Many are foreign imports]. Akhmetov's personal 'head of security' is on the list, as is his personal lawyer, and a 'driver'. Another on the list declares his profession as 'accordionist'.

Yanukovych, #1 on the list, spent 3 1/2 years in prison as a youth. Although the sentences against him were annulled at a later date, these annulments it seems were fraudulent too, and are currently being investigated. On the list are the organizers of the attempted 2004 Presidential election steal, Andriy Kluyev and disgraced former Central Electoral Commission head Sergiy Kivalov. There are sons or spouses of persons that are being sought by law enforcement agencies, or are in hiding abroad. These include Voldymyr Scherban - under house arrest in the USA, and Anatoliy Zasukha - believed to be living in Moscow, Suspected kidnappers, and fraudsters etc. are there too.

Leaders who publicly demanded that Eastern Ukraine split from the rest of the country during the 2004 Presidential elections, and the disgraced bungling former Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun who not long ago was 'trying' to prosecute those same leaders and fellow list members, are there also.

Voters want and hope their elected leaders be honest and be upright members of society, that's why the Orange Revolution took place. The orange leadership's political incompetence since the Orange Revolution has resulted, to a large extent, in the resurgence PR - now the major single political force in Ukrainian politics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do not make the mistake of assuming that Timoshenko or Yushchenko are out for anything other than themselves. They are not.

As has been shown in the recent past, both Yushchenko and Timoshenko are more than ready to ally with Yanukovich(for example) if that is the way the winds appear to be blowing. Timoshenko in particular would dance on state TV, wearing nothing but polka-dotted underpants if she thought that would connect her a with a share of power and associated benefits.

If anything, Timoshenko may be more willing to deal with Yanukovich than Yushchenko, as her animosity towards Yushchenko may have become personal.

Start from that point and shed illusions. Get over the idea that the "Orange Revolution" meant anything.