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END NOTE: POROSHENKO SEEKS UKRAINE'S NEXT POSTELECTION PRIZE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL LOSER DEFERS COURT APPEAL AGAINST ELECTION RESULT. Presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who was expected to appeal to the Supreme Court on 12 January against the officially announced victory of Viktor Yushchenko in the 26 December presidential vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 2005), has postponed the move, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported on 12 January. Yanukovych's campaign manager, Taras Chornovil, told journalists that the appeal may be filed on 13 January or at some later date. The final deadline to submit the appeal is seven days after 10 January, when the Central Election Commission announced Yushchenko's victory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2005). "The violations registered by us in the so-called third round [on 26 December] are much more significant [than those of which Yushchenko complained following the 21 November presidential ballot]," Chornovil said. "They know the judicial hopelessness of the case," Reuters quoted Yushchenko's campaign manager Oleksandr Zinchenko as saying. "The Supreme Court has already examined and dismissed their claims. Their goal is not to challenge the outcome of the poll but to put off Yushchenko coming to power as long as possible." JM
ANOTHER CANDIDATE ASPIRES TO UKRAINE'S PREMIERSHIP. Socialist Party head Oleksandr Moroz said on the NTN television channel on 12 January that he is ready to assume the post of prime minister if he is offered it by Viktor Yushchenko followed the latter's presidential inauguration. "I can name dozens of states that are being run not by economists or business managers," Moroz said in a reference to his lack of experience as a cabinet member or business executive. "Possibly, this is why they have more successes than we do," he added. Moroz, who served as speaker of the Verkhovna Rada in 1994-98, has been in opposition to the government and President Leonid Kuchma since then. Moroz is the fourth politician, after Yuliya Tymoshenko, Anatoliy Kinakh, and Petro Poroshenko, who has publicly announced his desire to head a new cabinet (see End Note below and "RFE/RL Newsline," 5, 6, and 7 January 2005). Yushchenko separately met with Moroz and Kinakh in Kyiv earlier on 12 January to discuss what Moroz described as "principles" for the formation of a new government. JM
POROSHENKO SEEKS UKRAINE'S NEXT POSTELECTION PRIZE
Ukrainian lawmaker and businessman Petro Poroshenko announced last week on Channel 5 that he is prepared to accept the post of prime minister from Viktor Yushchenko, whom the Central Election Commission on 10 January declared the official winner of the 26 December presidential vote.
Poroshenko's public declaration of readiness to head Ukraine's new cabinet followed similar signals from two other political allies of Yushchenko: Yuliya Tymoshenko and Anatoliy Kinakh. Ukrainian political observers mention two more potential candidates for the post of prime minister: Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz and Our Ukraine Party head Viktor Pynzenyk. Yushchenko might thus develop a headache over the number of hopefuls for the premiership now that he is back from his vacation in the Carpathian Mountains.
Just who is Petro Poroshenko? And why does he think he might be taken seriously by Yushchenko in the company of such political heavyweights as Tymoshenko and Moroz? Indeed, even Kinakh and Pynzenyk are better known in the Ukrainian political arena than Poroshenko. All of Poroshenko's would-be rivals for the post of prime minister have previous experience in senior government jobs: Moroz was parliamentary speaker in 1994-98; Tymoshenko was deputy prime minister in Yushchenko's cabinet in 2000; Kinakh was prime minister in 2001-02; and Pynzenyk served in the government as a minister and deputy prime minister in 1992-93 and 1994-97. As for Poroshenko, his most prestigious public post to date has been his leadership of the parliamentary Budget Committee, which he has headed since 2002.
To begin with, Poroshenko is the owner of the Channel 5 television station, which contributed mightily to the success of the Yushchenko-driven "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. Channel 5 was the country's only television channel sympathetic to Yushchenko's presidential bid throughout the 2004 election campaign and in the first week of the "Orange Revolution" that followed the discredited presidential runoff of 21 November that went to then-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. It was only in the second week of protests by orange-clad Ukrainians on Independence Square in Kyiv that journalists on other television channels, both private and state-controlled, rebelled against official censorship and started to cover events in Ukraine in a more unbiased manner. Channel 5 spearheaded a major breakthrough in Ukraine's electronic media sector toward more pluralistic and balanced news coverage, which clearly benefited opposition presidential candidate Yushchenko.
Notably, Poroshenko is also a wealthy businessman whose financial contribution to the Yushchenko presidential campaign -- in addition to that from Tymoshenko -- was surely hefty, although we will most likely never learn exactly who paid what in sponsoring Yushchenko's campaign. Poroshenko runs the Ukrprominvest concern, which includes five confectionery plants and a business that sells foreign-made automobiles and motorcycles, and also manufactures domestic motor vehicles and ships. Poroshenko is the largest confectionery manufacturer in Ukraine and has been dubbed the country's "Chocolate King." He once said that "more than $100 million" has been invested in Ukrprominvest.
Asked by Channel 5 to comment on Yushchenko's requirement that the next prime minister not have business connections, Poroshenko said he has no business interests "from a formal point of view." Some Ukrainian media have reported that a significant portion of Ukrprominvest assets legally belong to Petro Poroshenko's father, Oleksiy Poroshenko, who is now general director of Ukrprominvest.
Petro Poroshenko was born on 26 September 1965 in the city of Bolhrad, Odesa Oblast, near the Ukrainian-Moldovan border and near the Danube Delta. He debuted in national politics in March 1998, when he was elected to the Verkhovna Rada from a first-past-the-post constituency in Vinnytsya Oblast. At the time, Poroshenko was a member of the Social Democratic Party-united (SDPU-o) led by Viktor Medvedchuk and was a member of its political bureau. In 2000, Poroshenko quit the SDPU-o to form his own parliamentary caucus, called Solidarity, and a political party called the Party of Solidarity of Ukraine. By the end of 2000, his party had joined the Party of Regions of Ukraine (now headed by Yanukovych), of which he became a co-chairman. In 2001, Poroshenko left the Party of Regions, recast his former party into the Solidarity Party and joined Yushchenko's Our Ukraine election bloc. Poroshenko become manager of the Our Ukraine parliamentary campaign staff in 2002 and, after his election to the Verkhovna Rada in March 2002, became head of the Budget Committee.
Poroshenko, who was deputy manager of Yushchenko's landmark presidential campaign in 2004, is generally described as a highly influential person in the Yushchenko entourage. He is also regarded as a moderate, particularly in comparison with radical populist Tymoshenko. Although Poroshenko has kept a low political profile so far, his maneuverings in party politics and the Verkhovna Rada have demonstrated that, if nothing else, he is capable of forging political alliances with oligarchic groups -- a talent that no doubt boosts his stock as a potential prime minister. Poroshenko's constructive political relations with parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn are another advantage, especially as Lytvyn's 30-strong Popular Agrarian Party caucus is tapped to join a pro-Yushchenko coalition in parliament; Lytvyn, whose political stature has risen markedly during the 2004 election standoff, is expected to guarantee the stability of the pro-Yushchenko parliamentary coalition in the first year of his presidency.
Poroshenko's strong business ties arguably represent his most serious shortcoming as a candidate for the top cabinet post, regardless of his freedom from the "formal point of view." Too many businessmen in Ukraine appear to perceive Yushchenko's victory as an opportunity for revenge against the oligarchs who supported the Kuchma-Yanukovych regime and for a "redivision" of the spheres of economic influence under the new regime. Would Poroshenko be similarly tempted to mete out "economic justice" and promote his "wronged" associates to the posts and benefits they were denied during the era of President Leonid Kuchma?
In other words, Yushchenko must think long and hard before any possible decision to nominate Poroshenko to the prime minister's post. Yushchenko needs not a war with Ukrainian oligarchs, but rather their cooperation, primarily in replenishing the state budget.
Poroshenko told an interviewer in mid-2004 that it is entirely possible for the Ukrainian budget to post annual revenues of 100 billion hryvnyas ($19 billion) by reclaiming some of the money circulating in the country's shadow economy. (Budget revenues for 2005 are expected to total 86.5 billion hryvnyas.) To make that happen, the government arguably needs to cajole the old oligarchs out of the shadow economy and into the light, rather than to replace them with new, formerly "wronged" substitutes.