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1 August, 2011  ▪  Alina Pastukhova


Conformist politicians, officials, academics, artists, and experts become enmeshed into the oligarch tycoon system and assist in its operation and development. The Ukrainian Week presents a list of the most pervasive groups of opportunists and their leaders.


156 and 72 deputies brought to parliament by the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) and Nasha Ukraina-Narodna Samooborona (Our Ukraine-National Self-Defense, NU-NS) respectively possess a cumulative majority. If they continued to uphold the slogans they had were elected on in 2007, Viktor Yanukovyc’s Presidential Administration would have failed to either accumulate total power in his hands or be in a position to abuse it. Moreover, the President would have been forced to share executive power with a Cabinet of Ministers formed by a parliamentary majority of BYuT and NU-NS. But, the defection of deputies who moved to the opposite political camp distorted the will of voters and changed the election results.

This resulted in a vicious circle as quite a few deputies switched political colours to protect their business interests or family. Yet, the real threat to these interests emerged as the Party of Regions gained control over law enforcement authorities that proved only to be possible after they had received a parliamentary majority.

David Zhvania

The godfather of Viktor Yushchenko’s children has always supported politicians whom he thought were more powerful at a given moment in time. As Zhvania said:

“Yushchenko is a global politician. He has a much higher goal which is to decide how the nation will develop.” (2005)

“I will definitely not support Mr. Yanukovych in the presidential elections. I can’t see anyone who could win the election, other than Ms. Tymoshenko. Therefore, I state that I support Ms. Tymoshenko as a candidate for president.” (2009)

“I needed to understand what ambitions the Head of State had, what objectives he (i.e. Yanukovych) set and what reforms he was planning… I’m ready to participate actively in the implementation of these plans.” (2010)

Oleksandr Feldman

In 2004, Mr. Feldman was one of the confidants for Mr. Yanukovych as candidate for president in Kharkiv oblast. In 2005, he defected to BYuT, which was then in power. To explain his motivation at the time, he said: “As a member of the parliamentary committee for Pensioners, Veterans and Invalids, I support the socially oriented policies of Ms. Tymoshenko’s government.”

In May 2011, Mr. Feldman joined the pro-government Party of the Regions claiming that the party of white hearts (i.e. BYuT) had betrayed him: “I’m not the traitor, they are! Ms. Tymoshenko invited me to her office and offered to hand the governship of Kharkiv oblast branch of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland, Yulia Tymoshenko’s political party) to Arsen Avakov of Nasha Ukraina (Our Ukraine).

Bohdan Hubsky

Mr. Hubsky was a member of the pro-Kuchma parliamentary majority since the 2002 elections. At some point, he was one of the seven leaders of the SDPU(o) (Social Democratic united Party) party. In February 2006, Mr. Hubsky joined BYuT, then in power, in order to maintain his position as Deputy Chairman of the parliamentary committee on Finance and Banking . In September 2010, a month before the local elections, Mr. Hubsky chaired the Kyiv oblast branch of BYuT. In this position he facilitated the split in the political force that resulted in the removal of BYuT from the elections in Kyiv oblast after which he was evicted from the Batkivschina party.


A shift of political power means that leading government officials who never shared the values and slogans of the victorious party and publicly stated this have to leave their offices and uphold their views in the opposition. Yet, many one-time officials return as civil servants to their former opponents in exchange for the privileges granted by being close to those in power.  

Volodymyr Lytvyn 

VR Chairman

Ex-Chief of Staff for President Kuchma and leader of For a United Ukraine, a pro-Kuchma bloc in the 2002 elections, Lytvyn will do anything to stay in the big game. Supposedly, one of his quotes is “Ambitions mostly override ammunition.” During the 2004 presidential elections Mr. Lytvyn played the role of peacekeeper between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. When Mr. Yushchenko was in power, he agreed in December 2008 to join the orange coalition of BYuT and NU-NS. When Mr. Yanukovych became President, the speaker’s Peoples Party joined the pro-Yanukovych parliamentary majority. He participated in the lobbying of amendments to parliamentary regulations that was formalised by the Constitution Court and legalised the ability of individual deputies to join a parliamentary coalition. In 2008 the Constitutional Court had ruled that only factions, not individual deputies, could join coalitions.

Viktor Baloha

Minister of Emergency Situations

The former member of the SDPU(o) joined Mr. Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine team in the 2002 elections when he was elected to parliament in the Nasha Ukraina list. Mr. Baloha was appointed Minister of Emergency Situations in September 2005 and headed the Presidential Secretariat from 2006-2009. In summer 2009 he resigned from this position, quit Nasha Ukraina, developed his own political project Yedynyi Tsentr(United Centre) which he had founded in 2008 and began to promote a grand coalition of orange forces and the Party of Regions. Gaining control over Trans-Carpathia after Yedynyi Tsentr won the 2010 local elections in that oblast enabled him to return him to big politics. “If Viktor Yushchenko had made a courageous move after winning the presidential elections and chosen someone from the Party of Regions as Prime Minister, we would not be facing the current political, economic and humanitarian challenges; moreover, we would have been in the EU by now,” Mr. Baloha now claims in justification of his defection.

Andriy Portnov 

Advisor to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Presidential Administration and Chairman of the Department on Judicial Reform

The former ally of Ms. Tymoshenko who used to rely on him for sensitive legal issues, a former BYuT deputy and BYuT’s  key weapon in courts went to work for the team of Ms. Tymoshenko’s biggest rival after receiving a senior  position in the Presidential Administration.   

Maryna Stavniychuk

Advisor to the President, Chair of the Department for Constitutional and Legal Modernisation in the Presidential Administration

Ms. Stavniychuk is known from her work in the Central Election Committee. In the 2004 elections, she was one of those who voted to approve the fraudulent outcome of the second round of the presidential elections. In 2007, out of the blue, Ms. Stavniychuk became Deputy Chair of the Presidential Secretariat and a presidential representative in the Constitutional Court and Central Election Committee. Until recently, she had harshly criticised the bill on local elections drafted by the Mykola Azarov government, the law on the judiciary and the cancellation of constitutional reforms that returned Ukraine to a presidential system. Also, she described the 2010 local elections as “the dirtiest election throughout all the years of Ukrainian independence.” In April, however, Ms. Stavniychuk unexpectedly found herself in Mr. Yanukovych’s Presidential Administration. She is now member of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission responsible for maintaining a positive image of the government in the West.

Andriy Honcharuk

Advisor to the President

Under President Kuchma, Mr. Honcharuk had the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Minister of the Economy. President Yushchenko appointed him First Deputy Chief-of-Staff in the Presidential Secretariat. Mr. Honcharuk managed to stay in the Presidential Administration (formerly known as the Presidential Secretariat) after Yanukovych came to power.  


Ruining the expectations of participants in the Orange Revolution Yushchenko and his team in fact supported the oligarch tycoon system, rather than destroying it, permitting oligarchs to expand their networks and take control of entire sectors of the economy.

Viktor Yushchenko


The third President of Ukraine continues to come up with excuses for policies of the fourth President. Recently, he claimed there were no alternatives to the April 2010 Kharkiv accords (which extended the lease of Sevastopol to the Black Sea Fleet until 2047)  when they were signed, while rebuking those who implemented the 2009 gas contract signed by Prime Ministers Tymoshenko and Vladimir Putin.

Vira Ulianchenko

Chief of Staff under President Yushchenko

Ms. Ulianchenko wouldn’t mind including Yushchenko somewhere within the Party of Regions and receive a position that would place her as close as possible to the centre of power. “Nasha Ukraina is ready to join a capable partner in a coalition that would establisha Cabinet of Ministers led by Viktor Yushchenko in the position of Prime Minister,” she said.


Some “democrats”, zealous members of the opposition and independent journalists, switched to the Party of Regions after receiving positions, revenues or a chance to fulfill their ambitions in exchange for loyal servitude. The aim of these defectors is to make the government look more elegant as they represent sectors that are vital to the development of democracy, including  freedom of speech, legal reform and so on.  

Vladyslav Kaskiv

Parliamentary Deputy, Chair of the State Agency for Investment and Management of National Projects

Mr. Kaskiv was a leading Orange Revolution activist, leader of the yellow wing (named after the colour of its symbols) of the Pora (Its Time) youth NGO and a member of the working group that organised policies to support free and fair elections in the 2004 presidential elections. Until recently, Mr. Kaskiv fiercely denied he had any interest in working for Mr. Yanukovych. “In any case, there is no compromise for us and we don’t sell our principles… If this becomes the issue, we are ready to work a few months in the opposition.” Now he says, “I believe in Mr. Yanukovych’s motivations!”  

Hanna Herman

Advisor to the President, head of the Department for Humanitarian and Socio-Political Issues in the Presidential Administration

Ahead of the 2004 elections, Ms. Herman was head of the Kyiv-based office of Radio Liberty, hosted the Rush Hour TV show on the anti-Yanukovych Channel 5 television channel and harshly criticised the Party of Regions and Yanukovych election campaign. Suddenly, she switched sides. “I work with someone as long as I’m interested in them… I’ve always been expensive and you know it. Radio Liberty paid me a lot of money. I will always work for those who pay me good money,” Ms. Herman said trying to explain her motivations after defecting to become the head of Yanukovych’s press office  in the 2004 elections.  

Oleksandr Lavrynovych

Justice Minister

Former member of the People’s Movement of Ukraine (known as Rukh) and parliamentary deputy in the 1990s, Mr. Lavrynovych was again elected to parliament in 2002 within Nasha Ukraina but refused to sit in  parliament opting instead for the office of  Justice Minister in Prime MinisterAnatoliy Kinakh’s government. After this, he changed his political flags. In November 2006, Mr. Lavrynovych became Justice Minister in Prime Minister Yanukovych’s government. Later, in 2007, he was elected to parliament within the Party of Regions.

Serhiy Holovatyi 

Party of Regions Deputy

Mr. Holovatyi has been elected to every Ukrainian parliament since 1990. He is a co-author of the August 1991 Declaration of Ukrainian Independence and was twice Justice Minister. Mr. Holovatyi changed his political flags three times. In 2002, he was elected to parliament within BYuT but switched to President Yushchenko’s Nasha Ukraina bloc in the 2006 elections. His most alarming defection occurred in 2007 when Mr. Holovatyi moved to Yanukovych’s “Anti-Crisis” coalition. He was elected to parliament in 2007 within the Party of Regions.

Oleksandr Moroz

Mr. Moroz supported Yushchenko’s presidential candidacy in the second round of the 2004 elections. After being elected to parliament in 2006, Mr. Moroz defected to the Party of Regions which together with the Communist Party established the Anti-Crisis coalition with Yanukovych as Prime Minister. In exchange Moroz was appointed parliamentary speaker. “I would join a bloc with the devil if that’s what benefits the country,” was said at the time by Mr. Moroz as his pathetic motivation. The Socialist Party that Moroz led failed to cross the 3 percent threshold in the 2007 pre-term parliamentary elections.


Nestor Shufrych

Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council

Mr. Shufrych is former member of the SDPU(o) who has been loyal to Mr. Yanukovych ever since the 2004 presidential elections but he did not launch his political career in the Party of Regions. In 2006, Mr. Shufrych sought to secure his political future within the Ne Tak! (Not Like This!) bloc but it failed to enter parliament. In the 2007 pre-term elections, Mr. Shufrych was elected to parliament within the Party of Regions. Mr. Azarov’s Cabinet included Mr. Shufrych as the Minister of Emergency Situations but he was fired in July 2010. As compensation for this, he ended up in the office of the Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council that has little influence, if any. Mr. Shufrych often claims he is still loyal both to the President and the SDPU(o): “I didn’t quit Yanukovych for Yushchenko and didn’t leave my fellow party members for Yanukovych…”

Serhiy Tihipko

Vice Prime Minister, Social Policy Minister

In the 2004 elections, Mr. Tihipko headed Mr. Yanukovych’s election campaign team but deserted him when he realised that Mr. Yanukovych stood no chance of winning the elections after his second round “victory” was annulled. In 2008, Mr. Tihipko became an advisor to Prime Minister Tymoshenko and co-chaired the Council of Investors set up under the Cabinet of Ministers. Tihipko came third in the 2010 presidential elections. “I’m not expecting any political dividends and I’m not going to play with anyone to receive them,” Mr. Tihipko used to say. Nevertheless, he accepted the position of Deputy Prime Minister in Mr. Azarov’s Cabinet.

Petro Symonenko

Leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine

Mr. Symonenko spends all his time searching for excuses to explain why he supports the “class enemy” (i.e. oligarchs and big business ensconced in the Party of Regions) before his voters. Sometimes he criticises what the Party of Regions does and even becomes a pseudo opposition when he criticises the mixed (half of seats elected in majoritarian and half of seats elected in proportional seats) voting system planned for the 2012 elections or not voting for pension reform. Regardless of all this, Mr. Symonenko remains a loyal ally of his “class enemies,” i.e. the oligarchs.

Inna Bohoslovska

Party of Regions Deputy

It is best to say “no comment”


Both the traditional Soviet intelligentsia and contemporary intellectuals find cushy positions close to the government or foundations that provide financial assistance and then articulate messages that fit the needs of their masters.

Ivan Drach

Poet, public activist

His poems stirred a lot of debate in 1960s dissident literature when he was a leading member of the shestydesiatnyky, the 1960s generation of intelligentsia. He wrote screenplays for a series of iconic films, such as Propala hramota (The Lost Letter), Krynytsia dlia sprahlykh (A Well for the Thirsty) and Kaminnyi Khrest (The Stone Cross).  Meanwhile, the writer seems to get along with any government. Back in the Soviet Union he was decorated with two state awards, including the Taras Shevchenko Award of the Ukrainian SSR and a Soviet State Award. President Kuchma decorated Mr. Drach with the Yaroslav Mudryi Order and Mr. Yushchenko awarded him the title of Hero of Ukraine. Now Mr. Drach is a member of the president’s Humanitarian Council. “I was member of the soviet Communist Party for 30 years. You would never think of me as a non-conformist. But a conformist is a not a bad word to me. A conformist is someone who knows what’s taking place and takes steps he or she considers necessary,” the poet said.

Dmytro Stus 

A poet’s sun

Dmytro Stus is the son of Vasyl Stus who was a dissident poet and literary critic who died in the Soviet Gulag in 1985.  Dmytro Stus is a member of the President’s Humanitarian Council and claims that he is “happy to be friends with the dragon.” As he puts it: “Ukraine has been struggling for independence over many years. Is it now shameful to cooperate with the government when it finally achieved independence? I believe that, if I can help develop the cultural environment in Ukraine in any way, I should do so.”

Petro Tolochko


Mr. Tolochko obtained an image of an opportunist back in Soviet times as he always attempted to be loyal to concepts that did not run counter to that of the Communist Party. In 2002, he was elected to parliament in BYuT but quickly switched to the pro-Kuchma parliamentary majority. Now Mr. Tolochko is assisting the current government to locate historical arguments to support its pro-Russian positions and oppose “nationalist interpretations of history.” Among his other activities, Mr. Tolochko denies that the 1933 Ukrainian artificial famine was a genocide perpetrated against the Ukrainian people. “We need to remember one thing: Ukraine was never a colony,” he underscores, while simultaneously claiming that “Ukrainians always played an important and meaningful role in Russian political elites.”



Vassals of the Emperor

Feofan Prokopovych 

Feofan Prokopovych (1681 - 1736) was a Ukrainian theologian, philosopher, President of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy in 1710-1716 and Bishop of Novgorod. In 1711, Feofan Prokopovych preached on the second anniversary of the Battle of Poltava (where Swedes and their Ukrainian allies were defeated by Russia) in front of Tsar Peter the Great who liked what he had to say and invited him to visit St. Petersburg in 1716. Feofan Prokopovych wrote a number of books ordered by the Tsar, including the Apostle Geography, A Short Book for Teaching Boys, and Spiritual Rules. Feofan Prokopovych was appointed Deputy Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod in 1721 and its First Member in 1725, becoming virtually leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. He is one of the founders of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Hnat Halahan

Hnat Halahan  (? – 1748) was a Kompaniysky Colonel in 1701-1708. In autumn 1708, Hnat Halahan betrayed pro-independence Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa in his alliance with Sweden against Russia  and defected to Tsar Peter the Great. In return for his defection, he was first awarded the titles of Chyhyryn Colonel and later Pryluky Colonel (both Ukrainian towns). Halahan’s regiment participated in the devastation of the Ukrainian Cossack Sich (headquarters) in Zaporizhzhia in spring 1709 in punishment for the alliance with Sweden. Legends say he was cursed by Ukrainian Cossacks for this. As predicted by kharakternyky, Cossacks who allegedly possessed supernatural powers, the Halahan family lost their young and only son Pavlo more than 100 years later. His father Hryhoriy Halahan, a well-known philanthropist, founded a private lyceum in Kyiv to commemorate his son.

Yakiv Holovatsky

Yakiv Holovatsky (1814-1888) was a linguist, ethnographer, folklore researcher, poet, priest and teacher. He co-founded the Ruska Trinity, an Lviv-based literary association, and published Rusalka Dnistrovaya, the first Western Ukrainian almanac.  Following repressions by the Austrian government against Ruska Trinity members, Yakiv Holovatsky lost faith in the ability of Ukrainians to be an independent nation and became pro-Russian claiming that Ukrainians were an inalienable part of the “Russian nation.” In 1867, Yakiv Holovatsky moved to the Russian empire where he worked as a researcher and publisher in Vilnius as  President of the local Archeology Committee.

Mykhailo Rodzianko

Mykhailo Rodzianko (1859-1924) came from an old Ukrainian Cossack family. He was a great land owner and public activist in the Katerynoslav region (currently Dnipropetrovsk oblast), a member of the Russian State Duma in 1906-1907 and Russian parliamentary deputy in 1907 and 1910. Mr. Rodzianko was one of the spin doctors behind the Octobrists, a party that supported the unity of the Russian Empire and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. He was one of the fiercest opponents of the Ukrainian national liberation movement. After the Tsarist monarchy was overthrown in 1917, Mr. Rodzianko led the Provisional Government, opposed Ukraine’s autonomy and participated in the Russian anti-Bolshevik White Movement.

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