The Vitaliy Klitschko brand could be a cover for many potential party switchers associated with oligarchs, and these politicians are unlikely to be controlled in the future by the UDAR party leader
The list of UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms) parliamentary candidates shows that the world famous boxer Vitaliy Klitschko wants to bring many new people to the Verkhovna Rada. Klitschko is the only main political force leader to have really stuck to the promise of openness called for by the opposition — he has made public the preliminary list of his majority deputies.
As a result of this openness, critical articles about certain candidates have weeded out several odious figures, namely Yevhen Filindash, socialist and Ukrainophobe, and Ivan Plachkov, former Energy Ministry head linked to RinatAkhmetov (Plachkov currently heads the supervisory board of Kyivenerho, which Akhmetov controls). These would-be MPs planned to run as UDAR candidates in first-past-the-post districts in Odesa Oblast. The following first-past-the-post deputies were also eliminated: Mykhailo Hychka, Maksym Holosniy, Ihor Lykholet, Oleksiy Mayboroda, Yuriy Moravetkiy, as well as party list deputies Yuriy Lytvynenko and Ihor Teslenko. UDAR has replaced a total of 48 first-past-the-post candidates since the previous version of its list.
BAND OF EXES
But the remaining party list still contains a striking number of political “prostitutes”. The 71st district of Zakarpattia Oblast will have Vasyl Lazoryshynets as a candidate; he is a former Health Ministry Deputy Head in the Yuliya Tymoshenko government. Ukrainians should remember him as an active participant in talks on the swine flu epidemic in Ukraine in autumn 2009. Mykola Paliychuk, the former governor of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, will run in the 89th district of that region. Years ago he was a member of the Our Ukraine party and represented OU in the regional council. However, he changed allegiances in favour of Klitschko whose party he apparently feels has more of a future.
Kyrylo Polishuk, running as a candidate in the 98th district of Kyiv Oblast, is also a peculiar figure. He could easily be called a professional party switcher. In 2002 he entered parliament as a first-past-the-post MP and joined the Our Ukraine party, later he switched to the ruling For a United Ukraine! Later he joined the People’s Government organization and finally became a member of the Party of Regions faction. He also worked with Leonid Chernovetskiy, Klitschko's former rival in the Kyiv mayoral elections. In 2006, Polischuk headed the Christian Democratic Party, part of the Chernovetskiy bloc.
Current MP Kyrylo Kulykov will run as a candidate in the 212th district of Kyiv. He entered the Verkhovna Rada as candidate from the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc and after Viktor Yanukovych's victory in the 2010 presidential elections, he joined Viktor Baloha’s United Center, a political force loyal to the current authorities. He quit the party just before the election and started drifting towards the opposition. Sometimes he even visited his ex-party leader Yuriy Lutsenko when the latter was in court. In 2010 Kulykov actively supported Oleksandr Popov, the Party of Regions puppet running Kyiv who is currently Klitschko's principal rival for the Kyiv mayor's seat. “I do hope Popov will win the mayoral elections… As he aims to help the capital,” Kulykov said in an interview with Glavkom two years ago.
Thus the band of UDAR candidates for Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast first-past-the-post districts, traditionally Klitschko's base, looks surprisingly weak. The party has no figures familiar to citizens of the capital, except for Kulykov and television anchorwoman Rena Nazarova (222nd district). Kostiantyn Bryl, a police general when Leonid Kuchma was president, will run in the 93rd district of Kyiv Oblast. According to The Ukrainian Week sources, he was also a close friend of the late Interior Affairs Minister Yuriy Kravchenko (a notorious figure in the Georgiy Gongadze case). Bryl has also been accused of smuggling in ports of South Ukraine. Dmytro Kreinin, ex-son-in-law of speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and owner of Kyiv Lisovyi market, is a candidate in the 96th district. Media often accuses him of raider attacks and protection rackets against illegally-constructed kiosks.
Many UDAR candidates in first-past-the-post districts have made their way to the political elites within parties in power, namely Strong Ukraine, United Center, the Communist Party of Ukraine and even the Party of Regions. Andriy Kit, formerly a member of Serhiy Tihipko's Strong Ukraine party, is running for parliament in Lviv Oblast's 126th district. Ludmyla Stanislavenko, a deputy from the Communist Party of the previous convocation of the Vinnytsia city council, is still a candidate in the city’s 11th district. Odesa Oblast is represented by Oleksandr Timonin, former member of the Strong Ukraine party (138th district); Zaporizhzhia Oblast – by Valeriy Butsanov, former local deputy from the People’s Bloc of Volodymyr Lytvyn and Strong Ukraine (81st district); and Rivne Oblast – by Mykola Kushnir, a former member of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (155th district).
But the most odious figure in the upper part of the UDAR party list must be Serhiy Kunitsyn, Yanukovych's former representative in Crimea. He is a deputy of the Crimean parliament from the Union, pro-Russian party. He has become a victim of conflicts between local and Donetsk representatives of the Party of Regions and is now out of favour with the president. He will represent Afghanistan veterans in the list of Vitaliy Klitschko’s political force, being the deputy head of the Afghanistan veterans party. Kunitsyn has demonstrated his “opposition views” as lately as at the last session of UDAR party, when he declared that “Afghan veterans and gays have nothing to do with each other”.
After his loss in the Odesa mayoral elections in 2010, Eduard Hurvits decided to return to mainstream politics with the help of Vitaliy Klitschko. Hurvits is number 17 on the UDAR list, though he was supported for a long time by Arseniy Yatseniuk and is currently a deputy in the Odesa city council, representing Yatseniuk’s Front for Change. He did not manage to secure a place in the united opposition.
But most of the candidates on the list are former “Orange” politicians. First of all, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, number three on the list did not receive a majority constituency from the united opposition (or obtain a place in the upper part of the list). He is followed by Oksana Prodan, ex-head of the Council of Entrepreneurs in the Cabinet of Ministers under Yuliya Tymoshenko. Oksana Prodan was one of the most active participants in 2010 protests against tax reforms in Kyiv and yet she could not find common ground with the united opposition.
Number six on the UDAR list is Iryna Herashenko, one of the party's principal speakers and Viktor Yushchenko's former press-secretary. She has been practically responsible for informational policy for a long time. The 16th number is filled by Maria Ionova, said to be responsible for the party budget. She is a former member of Viktor Yushchenko’s Presidential Administration and a friend of his wife Kateryna.
It was quite surprising to see Viktor Pynzenyk as number seven. He was Finance Minister for several times, including in the Yuliya Tymoshenko government. He has already worked with Vitaliy Klitschko within the Pora-PRP bloc at the parliamentary elections of 2006, though their political force had not received enough votes to get into parliament. Volodymyr Kurennoi, an MP of the fifth convocation of the Verkhovna Rada with the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, is in the 26th position on the list — a potentially passing place. In 2007, he did not get into parliament. That year he crossed swords with his party, refusing to voluntarily leave office for the sake of the snap elections. Vitaliy Chepynoha, Tymoshenko's former speech writer and current MP, has very little chance of getting into parliament as he is number 40 on the list.
SIGNS OF OLIGARCHS
The party list also includes old friends of Klitschko, in particular Artur Palatnyi (No.9) and Pavlo Riabikin (No.28), said to have been close to the once famous mafia boss “Rybka”, who promoted then unknown boxers. Riabikin has a turbulent political past, having changed factions five times in the Verkhovna Rada of the third and fourth convocations.
The presence of so many UDAR candidates linked to oligarchs has led many people to believe the political force is being financed by big business. For example Roman Cherneha, No.23 on the list, worked in Ukrnafta for several years when the enterprise was controlled by oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy. The latter is also linked to another UDAR candidate, Yuriy Savchuk, No.27 on the list. Savchuk is a Vice-President of the Volyn football club and is associated with Ihor Palytsiy, an MP close to Kolomoiskiy. According to The Ukrainian Week sources, the above-mentioned Chepynoha and Kunitsyn have cooperated with businesses belonging to DmytroFirtash and Serhiy Liovochkin. Rumor says Chepynoha is a friend of the family of Presidential Administration Head Serhiy Liovochkin. Meanwhile, Kunitsyn is the President of Tavria football club whose principal sponsor is Dmytro Firtash.
The issue here is that though Klitschko has repeatedly announced in public that his deputies will not “betray voters” once in parliament and that his faction will not cooperate with pro-presidential forces, it is a real mystery how he expects to keep all those promises with the above figures among his candidates. But perhaps now he is considering cooperation with the ruling elite — at the last meeting of UDAR, Klitschko said his party could vote with the Party of Regions, "if doing so will be good for the country".
A STEP AWAY FROM PARTY SWITCHERS
(running in the 93rd district – Kyiv Oblast, Myronivka)
A police general during Leonid Kuchma's presidency and a close friend of the late Interior Affairs Minister Yuriy Kravchenko and suspected by some of smuggling through ports of South Ukraine.
(running in the 96thdistrict – Kyiv Oblast, Vyshhorod)
Ex-son-in-law of Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. His name is often mentioned in scandals related to raider attacks and protection racket against illegally-constructed kiosks.
(running in the 98th district – Kyiv Oblast, Yahotyn)
He changed factions five times in the VerkhovnaRada of the fourth convocation, his political ways ranging from Our Ukraine to the Party of Regions. He used to support former Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy.
(running in the 163rd district – Ternopil)
Former head of Interior Affairs Ministry Management in Ternopil, Zakarpattia and Lviv Oblasts under presidents Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko. There has been talk in the media of his association with corruption.
(running in the 199th district – Cherkasy Oblast, Zhashkiv)
His nickname is “the black banker”. He is said to be linked to corruption in Prominvestbank, investigated by the Security Service of Ukraine. The investigation is still under way.
(running in the 212th district – Kyiv, Darnytsia District)
After Viktor Yanukovych came to power, he quit the People’s Self-Defense bloc in favour of United Center, a political force under the omnipresent Emergency Minister Viktor Baloha. He supported Oleksandr Popov, Kyiv city council head and Party of Regions henchman.
(running under No.15 on the party list)
Former representative of Viktor Yanukovych in Crimea; said to be close to oligarch Dmytro Firtash.
Roman Cherneha (No.23)
He worked in Ukrnafta for several years and is said to be close to the oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy.
Yuriy Savchuk (No.27)
Vice-President of the Volyn football club, linked to people’s deputy Ihor Palytsia, who in turn is close to Ihor Kolomoiskiy.
Pavlo Riabikin (No.28)
Some say he has been close to the mafia boss “Rybka”. He changed factions five times in two deputy tenures in the Verkhovna Rada of the third and fourth convocations.
Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security on the way American political establishment sees Ukraine today, the stance of the Obama Administration on Russia and expectations of the NATO Summit in Warsaw