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END NOTE: ELECTION REVEALS UKRAINE'S GEOGRAPHIC POLITICAL DIVISIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
OUR UKRAINE LEADER ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF PRESSING HIS ALLIES... Our Ukraine bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko slammed the authorities on 17 April for applying pressure on some 40 lawmakers elected in single-mandate constituencies in order to prevent them from joining the Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus, UNIAN reported. He declared that Our Ukraine will "fight hard to keep them." He noted that 118 newly elected deputies have agreed to join the Our Ukraine caucus, adding that Our Ukraine is holding talks with some 30 other deputies with an aim of recruiting them into the bloc. The same day, Yushchenko was elected the head of the Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus. JM
..SAYS IMPEACHMENT IS NOT A KEY ISSUE... Answering a question from journalists about whether Our Ukraine will support an impeachment procedure against President Leonid Kuchma in the new Verkhovna Rada, Yushchenko said the impeachment is not a key issue for him. He stressed that Ukraine's main problem at present is the formation of a parliamentary majority, and noted that the issue of impeachment is being used by some forces as a populist slogan. Yushchenko added that he is ready to meet with President Kuchma any time, but added that it would be logical to hold such a meeting after Our Ukraine concludes political talks with all parties that overcome the 4 percent voting barrier in the 31 March election. JM
..AND REPORTEDLY DISCUSSES ALLIANCE WITH FOR A UNITED UKRAINE. Serhiy Tyhypko, the leader of the Party of Regions (a constituent of the pro-presidential For a United Ukraine), told journalists on 17 April that Yushchenko has already begun talks with For a United Ukraine leader Volodymyr Lytvyn about a possible governing coalition, UNIAN reported. Asked whether Our Ukraine's statements about the dismissal of Anatoliy Kinakh's cabinet and the replacement of 17 regional governors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2002) will not obstruct the Yushchenko-Lytvyn talks, Tyhypko said, "All of us are in permanent conflict with each other." JM
MORE REVELATIONS TO COME ABOUT UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S INVOLVEMENT IN ILLEGAL ARMS TRADE? Oleksandr Zhyr, the head of the parliamentary commission dealing with the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, told journalists on 18 April that the recently publicized allegation of President Kuchma's approval for an illegal arms deal with Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 April) is not "the only and last episode" in Kuchma's involvement in illegal arms trade, UNIAN reported. Zhyr said he and several other lawmakers are currently verifying information about other deals, and added that this information will be publicized it if proves to be authentic. Zhyr stressed that the new information comes not only from former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko's secret recordings. JM
KYIV-BASED TV LOSES BROADCASTING LICENSE. The National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting has refused to prolong the Kyiv-based UTAR television's license for broadcasting on the 37th channel, UNIAN reported on 17 April, quoting UTAR's News Editor Leonid Voyevodyn. Answering a question on whether the refusal to prolong the license was in any way connected to the station's opposition stand, Voyevodyn said the station was not in opposition but was impartial and sought objective and unbiased news coverage. Meanwhile, opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko commented the same day that UTAR's loss of its license is connected with the authorities' campaign for "clearing out" the independent media that refused to "service" only pro-presidential forces during the parliamentary election campaign. JM
POLISH PRESIDENT CONDEMNS 1947 EXPULSION OF UKRAINIANS. President Aleksander Kwasniewski has expressed regret over the Vistula operation carried out by the Polish communist authorities in 1947, PAP reported on 18 April. During this drastic and violent operation, some 140,000 Ukrainians were forced to leave their native areas in the southeastern part of Poland and resettle in the country's northern and western regions, the so-called "Recovered Lands." "Speaking on behalf of the Polish Republic, I want to express regret to all those wronged by the operation," Kwasniewski wrote in a letter to the National Remembrance Institute and participants in an ongoing conference on the Vistula operation. "It was believed for years that the Vistula operation was the revenge for slaughter of Poles by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the east in the years 1943-44. Such an attitude is wrong and cannot be accepted," the president wrote, adding that the Vistula operation should be condemned. JM
ELECTION REVEALS UKRAINE'S GEOGRAPHIC POLITICAL DIVISIONS
Independent Ukraine's third parliamentary elections on 31 March marked an important milestone in the confirmation of Ukrainian statehood. The two main competitors -- For a United Ukraine (ZYU) and Our Ukraine (NU) -- both campaigned strongly on statist platforms. The ZYU pushed -- in ZYU head Volodymyr Lytvyn's words -- a "healthy patriotic" line. Nevertheless, the elections showed that west-central Ukraine voted for "Estonian-style" radical reform and a pro-Western orientation, while southern and eastern Ukraine voted along "Belarusian" lines for either a return to the communist past or for oligarchs who favor an authoritarian-corporatist state.
The poor result for the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU), which promotes a union with Belarus and Russia, coupled with the good election result by the pro-statehood Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU), confirms that Ukraine's independent statehood is no longer the central issue. The combined leftist vote declined from 40 to 30 percent. Even in separate elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Crimean Autonomous Republic, the Leonid Grach's communist bloc only gained 28 of 100 seats, losing control of the regional parliament to the pro-presidential Serhiy Kunitsyn bloc.
The KPU only made the top three in one western Ukrainian oblast, Chernivtsi, and was eclipsed by the SPU in many central Ukrainian oblasts. The KPU finished first only in eastern and southern oblasts, with the exception of Donetsk, and showed its highest support in Luhansk Oblast (39.69 percent) and the Crimean Autonomous Republic (33.95 percent). These results confirm a pattern of the left being unpopular in the west, the SPU dominating the leftist vote in the Ukrainophone center, and the KPU in the Russophone east and south.
Voters turned their backs on the two Russian nationalist blocs (the Russian Bloc and the Union of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia bloc) that advocated Ukraine's membership into the Russia-Belarus Union, Russian as a second state language, and Russians constitutionally defined as a second titular nation -- as those blocs obtained a combined 1.16 percent. Even in the Crimea, Our Ukraine finished third, as compared to the Russian Bloc's fifth-place finish on proportional party lists to the national elections. Only in the city of Sevastopol did the Russian Bloc manage a third-place showing, behind the KPU and ZYU, while achieving its highest support in Ukraine with 8.86 percent of the vote.
Voter turnout was lowest in the Crimea, Sevastopol, and Odesa Oblast, which hurt ZYU and the KPU, and in the city of Kyiv, which hurt Our Ukraine. The highest turnouts were in areas sympathetic to reformers and the antipresidential opposition. Voter turnout was highest in Ternopil Oblast, where 82.1 percent voted, compared to only 65-67 percent in the Donbas. This is a reflection of lower civic activism in eastern Ukraine.
The division of the country is less a threat to Ukrainian statehood than a product of less-developed civic culture in eastern Ukraine and competition over different visions of what will be built in Ukraine -- a Western-style democracy and market economy (Our Ukraine's preference); a corporatist-authoritarian state with clientalistic relations between the state and economic and political actors (ZYU's preference); or perhaps a compromise between that proposed by ZYU and NU.
The ZYU only fared well in eastern and southern Ukraine with an 11.81 percent national average. Yet it failed to enter into the top three places in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts and the Crimea. Its worst result was in the three Galician oblasts, where it only managed a paltry 1.8-3.4 percent compared to its best performance in Donetsk Oblast, where it obtained 36.80 percent. Other regions where ZYU obtained better-than-average results were in the Kirovohrad, Odesa, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, and Kharkiv oblasts. ZYU's landslide victory in the Donbas was only achieved because of the worst-recorded election violations in Ukraine in the three parliamentary elections since 1994.
Our Ukraine came in first in 14 western, central, and northern Ukrainian oblasts and in the city of Kyiv, and had a countrywide average of 23.56 percent. NU also did surprisingly well in the Poltava, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts as well as the Crimea. But was this a victory for Our Ukraine? In the December 1991 presidential elections, the three national democratic candidates won a combined 30 percent. In the 1998 parliamentary elections, the national democratic Rukh, Reforms and Order, Forward Ukraine!, and the Republican Christians won a combined 14.8 percent. Our Ukraine's 2002 result lies between the high 1991 and low 1998 election results for national democrats.
The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc built on the National Front bloc's poor showing of 2.72 percent in the 1998 elections and achieved impressive results in western, and less so in central, Ukraine, where it placed second or third, usually following Our Ukraine. In Kyiv, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc attracted a large protest vote and finished second with 12.83 percent. Tymoshenko's own party, Fatherland, a member of her bloc, grew out of the now-defunct Hromada party created by former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who has been in custody in the United States since 1999. This legacy proved less useful as ZYU took back control of Hromada's former home base, Dnipropetrovsk.
The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine-united's (SDPU-o) 6.25 percent nationwide tally, a 2.24 percent improvement over 1998, can be considered a poor showing when one considers the party's access to financial resources and control of media outlets. The party's control of two of Ukraine's main television stations was often utilized to smear SDPU-o opponents, particularly Our Ukraine, and this negative reputation may have cost the SDPU votes. The SDPU-o was the worst-faring of the six parties and blocs that made it past the 4 percent hurdle for parliamentary representation, finishing lower than even the SPU and Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, neither of which controls a major media outlet.
In west-central Ukraine, the SDPU-o only reached the top three in Transcarpathia Oblast, a stronghold of the party. Its main successes could be found in usually finishing third after ZYU and the KPU in Ukraine's east and south. Squeezed out of western and central Ukraine, the SDPU-o has de facto become an eastern Ukrainian party. A second factor working in this favor is the SDPU-o's control of the Russian-language Inter television channel, which boasts its primary viewership in eastern Ukraine. This also explains the SDPU-o's advocacy of Russian as an official language alongside Ukrainian.
The only serious competition in the remaining half of the seats elected through majority voting in 225 districts was between Our Ukraine and ZYU. In this voting the KPU, SPU, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and the SDPU-o all did poorly. The victory of NU and ZYU in majoritarian voting in west-central and eastern and southern Ukraine, respectively, reflected the same regional distribution of voting in the seats elected on proportional party lists. NU took six out 12 Kyiv seats and ZYU swept the Donbas. In areas where the ZYU wished to camouflage itself and hide its true loyalties from voters its candidates were defined as "self promoted."
Ukraine's 2002 election results point to a country that combines an "Estonia" in the west-center, dominated by reformers (Our Ukraine), nationalists (Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc), and the pro-statehood left (SPU), and a "Belarus" in the east and south dominated by the hard-line, pro-Soviet left (KPU), and oligarchs and authoritarian corporatist statists (SDPU-o and ZYU). To be elected in 2004, Ukraine's next president will have to bridge Ukraine's "Estonian" and "Belarusian" regions.
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT VISITS INTERIOR MINISTRY UNIT. Belarusian President Lukashenka visited the Third Detached Operational Brigade of the Interior Ministry Troops on 18 April, Belarusian media reported. Lukashenka extolled the brigade and its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Dzmitry Paulyuchenka, for their contribution to maintaining social and political stability in the country, and singled out the brigade's rapid reaction force (SOBR) for special praise. In June 2001, two Belarusian investigators, who formerly fled to the U.S., alleged that SOBR commanded by Paulyuchenka performed a role of the regime's death squad and killed 30 people in total, including opposition activists Viktar Hanchar and Yury Zakharanka in 1999 and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski in 2000 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001). JM
UKRAINIAN SUPREME COURT ANNULS CRIMEAN SPEAKER'S ELECTION OUSTER... The Supreme Court on 19 April ruled that Crimean speaker Leonid Hrach's disqualification from the election to the Crimean Supreme Council (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 19 March 2002) was illegal, UNIAN reported. The ruling paves the way for Hrach's registration as a deputy of the Crimean legislature. Despite the previous disqualification by a lower court, Hrach's name remained on the ballot in his constituency in Simferopol, where on 31 March he obtained more votes than other candidates. Hrach was also elected to the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv on the Communist Party list. JM
...REINSTATES WINNER IN CONTROVERSIAL CONSTITUENCY. The previous day, the Supreme Court ruled that Roman Zvarych from Our Ukraine is the winner of the parliamentary vote in constituency No. 90 (Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast), as it was reported by the constituency Election Commission following the vote count. With this ruling, the court overrules the subsequent decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) invalidating the vote in this constituency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2002). Ivano-Frankivsk Governor Mykola Shkriblyak, who ran in the same constituency, was assassinated shortly before election day, after which several other candidates withdrew from the election. The CEC invalidated the vote following a complaint that the withdrawal of the candidates was not reflected on the ballots. JM
UKRAINE CHARGES BANK ROBBERS. Ukrainian investigators have accused three robbers of a German bank -- who seized hostages and sped through Germany, Poland, and Ukraine in a 1,600-kilometer car chase (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2002) -- with hostage taking, smuggling, illegal border crossing, and illegal arms possession, Reuters reported on 19 April. The charges may entail a term of up to 15 years in a Ukrainian prison for each of the robbers. Oleksander Skrypnyk, the spokesman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said the robbers can also be extradited to Germany to face further charges. "We want to finish the investigation as soon as possible in order to be able to give our German colleagues full results of the probe," Skrypnyk noted. JM
OPPOSITION JOURNALIST ARRESTED. Ukrainian police on 15 April detained Oleh Lyashko, the editor in chief of the opposition newspaper "Svoboda," in Cherkasy (central Ukraine), AP reported. Lyashko's deputy Oleh Meklyayev told the agency that, following Lyashko's failure to appear last week at a court hearing to counter charges that his paper defamed a senior prosecutor, police attempted to apprehend him at Svoboda's printing house. Lyashko prevented police from entering the premises, saying he was busy preparing the paper for publication. On 15 April, when Lyashko appeared in court to defend his paper, police jailed him. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
JOURNALISTS' ORGANIZATIONS LOBBY COUNCIL OF EUROPE ON GONGADZE CASE... On 12 April ,the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) of the UK and Ireland, Reporters without Borders (RSF) and the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) of Ukraine appealed to the chairman of the committee of ministers of the Council of Europe to push forward an international inquiry into the Heorhiy Gongadze case. A joint letter from the four organizations calls on Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis, the current chairman of the committee of ministers, "without further delay and in accordance with the Parliamentary Assembly's recommendation 1538 (2001), formally to ask member countries to send investigators to participate in the inquiry." The appeal also seeks an assurance from Valionis "that the independent inquiry will be established" before the Council of Europe gives Ukraine a clean bill of health on press freedom and other issues. In September 2001, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for the formation of an international commission after Ukrainian law enforcement bodies failed to investigate the killing. (National Union of Journalists, 18 April)
...AS FBI EXPERTS LEAVE WITHOUT NEW CLUES IN GONGADZE CASE. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv has said the FBI experts invited by the Ukrainian government to help solve the murder of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze were denied access to evidence, Reuters reported on 16 April. "Ukrainian law enforcement officials asserted that Ukrainian law prohibits sharing any information that is not in the public domain, and said they were unable to discuss any aspects of the case, share evidence, or conduct a joint site inspection," the embassy said in a statement. During their visit from 8-15 April, the FBI agents met officials from the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Interior Ministry, and the Security Service. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)
KYIV-BASED TV LOSES BROADCASTING LICENSE. The National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting has refused to prolong the Kyiv-based UTAR television's license for broadcasting on the 37th channel, UNIAN reported on 17 April, quoting UTAR's News Editor Leonid Voyevodyn. Answering a question on whether the refusal to prolong the license was in any way connected to the station's opposition stand, Voyevodyn said the station was not in opposition but was impartial and sought objective and unbiased news coverage. Meanwhile, opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko commented the same day that UTAR's loss of its license is connected with the authorities' campaign for "clearing out" the independent media that refused to "service" only pro-presidential forces during the parliamentary election campaign. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)