Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mudslinging Likely To Mar Ukrainian Election Campaign

KIEV, Ukraine -- The coming parliamentary election campaign in Ukraine is set to become one of the "dirtiest" on record with almost all parties likely to be the target of "mudslinging" from their opponents, a Ukrainian daily paper has said.


The orange parties and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc will be accused of being nationalists, and the issue of her ties with a former Ukrainian prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko, will also be used. Opposition figure Viktor Yanukovych will be reminded of his prison record and attempts will be made to tie speaker Lytvyn's name to the murder of a journalist, the paper said.

So, the parliamentary election is just around the corner. The political parties and blocs, without any doubt, have already stocked up on the compromising material which they will be pouring out on their rivals and competitors during the course of the campaign. The masters of "mudslinging" have already been going with "X-ray eyes" through the childhood, adolescence and the time when the future MPs "built up their original capital". And we shall probably soon know a great many interesting details about the lives of our politicians. For its part, Segodnya has tried to focus on what "shady" sides of the various political parties their opponents might dwell, putting the question to leading experts and political commentators.

Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc

1. The same as in 2004, with accusations of nationalism and of being "banderites" [term used by supporters of Stepan Bandera, a wartime nationalist leader], which will be used to discredit the bloc in the east of the country.

2. The unprofessionalism of Yushchenko's team, whose actions have led to a fall in the rate of growth of the Ukrainian economy and brought it to the brink of a crisis, and made the lives of ordinary people worse. In particular, the breakdown of the talks with Russia on gas, responsibility for which many place on one of the bloc's
leaders Oleksiy Ivchenko (head of the state-owned Naftohaz Ukrayiny company), will be produced "as evidence".

3. Unfulfilled promises ("the year of the Maydan was a year of deceit").

4. [Tycoon] "Boris Berezovskiy's money" in Viktor Yushchenko's 2004 election campaign. It will be recalled that Mr Berezovskiy is planning in the near future to bring an action for libel and fraud at a London court against [former Emergencies Minister] Davyd Zhvaniya and [former presidential first aide] Oleksandr Tretyakov, and to invite Yushchenko and the official head of PUOU [People's Union Our Ukraine] party Roman Bessmertnyy as witnesses. Information about all the proceedings from the trial will come out by the time of the election campaign. (All political forces, apart from the SPU [Socialist Party of Ukraine] and the [Ukrainian speaker Volodymyr] Lytvyn bloc will be using this matter).

5. "Yushchenko's poisoning by dioxin". It has still not been established in legal terms whether this occurred or not. Yushchenko's opponents are focusing on the fact that despite the president's statements that the administration must be moral, Mr Yushchenko lied to the public about his poisoning, which did not in fact happen. This is borne out by the strange situation with the analysis of the president's blood (it was established in western laboratories that the blood contained dioxin, but it is still not known which officials were present when it was taken, which suggests that the dioxin was simply added into the blood later and then sent to the laboratory).

6. The "dominating influence" of the president's relatives and favourites, for example, the fact that Viktor Yushchenko's elder brother Petro and his nephew, the deputy governor of Kharkiv Region, Yaroslav Yushchenko, are included in the electoral list.

7. The "corrupters" - the presence in the list of [former Secretary of National Security and Defence Council] Petro Poroshenko, Oleksandr Tretyakov, [head of Our Ukraine faction in parliament] Mykola Martynenko, Davyd Zhvaniya and [former Transport Minister] Yevhen Chervonenko. This subject will be used first and foremost by [former Prime Minister] Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc, because it was precisely Tymoshenko's comrades who started this in September 2005. Naturally, the Regions of Ukraine will be added to it, since, in all probability, its no 95 [former Prosecutor-General] Svyatoslav Piskun has something to say on this subject.

8. The "sale of seats" in the election lists of the bloc by oligarchs and businessmen.

9.The "amalgamation in the future parliament with [opposition leader and former Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych's party". For example, Tymoshenko might intimidate the "orange" voter by the fact that the "ideals of the Maydan" are under threat, starting with the signing of a memorandum with Yanukovych in autumn 2005, everything will certainly end with the creation of a parliamentary coalition between the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine in the new parliament.

10. The use of administrative resources of power at the election (Yushchenko's bloc will be accused by everyone of this).

The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc

1. See Point 1 under Yushchenko.

2. See Point 2 under Yushchenko. Here the stress will be laid on Tymoshenko's populist measures at the time she ran the cabinet (Yushchenko's bloc will also "have a go" at her about this.

3. The worn-out subject of Tymoshenko the "thief" and her relations with Pavlo Lazarenko in the 1990s.

4. "Oleksandr Tymoshenko's business". It is possible that some members of the public would really like to know more details about what kind of business Lady Yu's husband dealt in, how he got it, on what money is it being developed, is everything in order tax-wise, and so on.

5. The "writing off of debts owed to the United Energy Systems" company to the budget at the begining of 2005. Opponents will continue to ask themselves the question why they were written off as soon as Yuliya Tymoshenko, a former head of this corporation, became prime minister.

6. The"dominant influence in the party list of Kuchmists [supporters of previous president, Leonid Kuchma], oligarchs and bankers". Any radical "anti-Kuchmists" might ask themselves how come businessmen like Vasyl Khmelnytskyy, Oleksandr Abdullin, Bohdan Hubskyy, and Mykola Bahrayev, who in the past actively supported Leonid Kuchma, have now found themselves in the Tymoshenko bloc list? Our Ukraine
will also be asking this question.

7. Tymoshenko's nationality. It is well known that her father's name is Volodymyr Abramovych Grigyan. Lady Yu herself says that her father is Latvian (she says he changed his surname to an Armenian one as he feared repressions from the Soviet authorities, but his real name is Grigas). At the same time Yevhen Chervonenko, who comes from the same area as Tymoshenko, has claimed that Lady Yu's mother is a Jew and her father an Armenian.

Yanukovych's Party of Regions

1. The party of "regionals" will not reinvent the wheel and will certainly again remind the public about Yanukovych's two previous convictions (they will also gain by hyping up the case of alleged falsifications of court decisions on quashing the convictions).

2. The "revenge" of the Kuchmists will be actively used by all "orange" forces to mobilize their own voters with the aim of inducing them to go to the polls.

3. [Tycoon] Rinat Akhmatov. In the opinion of political commentators, it will be the main "novelty" in discrediting the "regionals". Opponents will talk about the alleged criminal past of the Donetsk businssman, and about the fact that he brought his own people into the list of "regionals" ("he turned the party into a branch of his own corporation, pursuing his own business interests") and it is precisely Akhmetov and not Yanukovych who is the real leader of the party and who is also laying claim to the post of prime minister after the elections.

4, The "selling of places in the lists" to various dubious elements like Svyatoslav Piskun.

5. "Yanukovych's relatives in the party list", in this case the son of the party leader, Viktor Yanukovych junior. First of all, they will say that "Viktor Feyodorovych follows Viktor Andriyovych in bringing relatives to the list". Second, they will dig into his personal life and Viktor Yanukovych junior's habits with the purpose of making something like another Andriy Yushchenko-II out of him.

6. The "deal" between the "regionals" and Yushchenko and the "orange team" (this will be used by [Natalya] Vitrenko, the communists and [USDPU faction leader Leonid] Kravchuk's bloc).

7. "Yanukovych is a Russian spy". Accusations against the Party of Regions of betraying Ukraine's national interests to Moscow's advantage (criticism of points in the party's programme about duplicity, federalism, EES [European Economic Space]and so on), as well as of separatism ("remember Severodonetsk!") and working to split the country.

Moroz's Socialist Party

1. The "cassette scandal". Lytvyn's supporters will insist that [Socialist leader] Oleksandr Moroz and his supporters could have had something to do with assembling the "Melnychenko tapes" (for example, Mykola Rudkovskyy), that Moroz was lying when he claimed that he did not know Melnychenko before [journalist] Heorhiy Gongadze's death and knew that the major had been making his recordings in February 2000. They will say that the cassette scandal led to the discreditation of Ukraine (the "Kolchuha scandal"). And they will also hint at a link between the organizers of the cassette scandal (read Moroz) and Gongadze's murderers.

2. The "dominant influence in the party list of Kuchmists and oligarchs"; for example, the presence in the list of Volodymyr Boyko (a friend of Kuchma's), the head of the Mariupol Ilyych Steel Plant and Mykola Rudkovskyy, who drives around in flashy foreign cars, which is not in keeping with the image of a communist.

3. The "mercenariness of Oleksandr Moroz", and the fact that he took money from the USDP(U), and that he is friends with "Ukraine's enemies" - in particular the SPU is cooperating with Dmytro Rogozin's Russian Rodina party.

4. Moroz's "orangeness" and his deal with the Ukrainian nationalists. It will be actively used to discredit this politician in the south-east of the country.

Lytvyn's People's Bloc

1. "Volodymyr Lytvyn instigated the murder of Heorhyy Gongadze". Even now this idea is being actively developed with the help of Major Melnychenko and his recordings, on which there is a voice similar to that of Lytvyn, and "sets" Kuchma against Gongadze.

2. "Lytvyn is the last hope of Kuchmism", with emphasis on the fact that Lytvyn is a close colleague of Kuchma's and will now work on restoring his influence in the country. This is being actively developed with the same socialists. Lytvyn's list, which is expected to include a number of big businessmen and members of the former regime, will probably be used to back up this thesis.

Others

We have named the parties and blocs which will be the main target of "mudslinging" by their opponents. However, of course, they will be throwing mud at others as well. For example, from all accounts, the newly-created "[Vitaliy] Klitschko - Pora - Reforms and Order Party bloc can expect some brutal "mud-slinging" from its former allies in the "orange" camp. Everyone will remember the "Klitschkists", and [Finance Minister Viktor] Pynzenyk's experiments with the Ukrainian economy at the beginning of the 90s, and the "suitcases of money from western funds" together with the "stolen millions of the Maydan" for "Pora" and the lack of political experience of Vitaliy Klitschko, whom, they say, certain adventurists dragged into a dangerous game in order to finally "split the Maydan" and behind his back used his name to cover up their dirty deeds and all sorts of other things.

Natalya Vitrenko and the Communist Party will not escape the attention of the "mudslingers", either, reminding them about their "treachery" and their "work for the Kremlin". Yes, and "Kravchuk's bloc" will also be reminded at every step of the deeds of Viktor Medvedchuk in his post as head of the president's administration [under Kuchma].

In short, the current election really risks being one of the dirtiest in Ukrainian history. Not just because the stakes are so high, but also because the rule "where there are two Ukrainians there are three hetmans [leaders]" has never been so prevalent. Former allies will beat hell out of each other and become evil enemies. And the intraspecific struggle, of course, will be the ugliest. There is one reassuring thing - when the parties come to parliament, whether they like it or not, they will have to get together and create a majority, otherwise the president will simply dissolve parliament. And that means that soon after the election everyone will quickly forget about one another's "dirty deeds" , and relative peace and quiet will reign for a time.

Source: Segodnya

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