Billionaire Yanukovych Ally To Enter Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine -- Billionaire Vadym Novinskiy, an ally of President Viktor Yanukovych, has won a seat in Parliament at a special election in Sevastopol on Sunday, according to preliminary data from the Central Election Commission on Monday.

Vadym Novinskiy

Novinskiy scored 53.41% of the vote, ahead of Communist Party candidate Vasyl Parkhomenko, who received 32.19%, the committee reported after counting 100% of ballots.

The victory, which still needs to be officially announced by the committee, comes amid extremely low turnout at 23.91% of those eligible to vote, raising questions about growing voter apathy.

“I was personally looking at the turnout at this election,” Boris Kushniruk, a senior member of the People’s Rukh party, wrote in his blog.

“It appears to be super low.”

The election was conducted to fill a seat that has been vacated by Pavlo Lebedev, whom Yanukovych had appointed as the defense minister last year.

But it also comes a test ahead of the next presidential election as Yanukovych is widely expected to seek reelection in March 2015 to another five-year term in office. 

The low turnout shows voter’s increasing political apathy that may play a role at the next presidential election and may be a bad sign for Yanukovych.

The election is expected to be led by protest voters that tend to be more active compared with those voters that usually support the government.

“The election will most likely be dominated by openly protest and anti-government voters,” Kushniruk said.

Novinskiy, who co-owns with Rinat Akhmetov, the wealthiest Ukrainian, the largest steel and mining conglomerate Metinvest.

Novinskiy also owns other assets, including a number of shipbuilding companies and a soccer club in Sevastopol.

Novinskiy, formerly a Russian citizen, only received a Ukrainian citizenship a year ago by a decree signed by Yanukovych.

Virtually unknown in Sevastopol a year ago, Novinskiy is believed to have invested 15 million hryvnias in social and small infrastructure projects in Sevastopol over the past two months.

“They don’t even bother to follow the law,” Parkhomenko, a Communist candidate, said after the vote.

“This is the largest violation of Ukrainian legislation and this can be interpreted as bribery as they use financial resources to full extent.”

The Committee of Ukrainian Voters, an election watchdog, said in a statement that their activists visited 47 polling districts and recorded many violations.

However, the committee added that the violations, mostly unbalanced representation in local election commissions, were not massive enough to distort the vote on Sunday.

Source: Ukrainian Journal