Tymoshenko Calls On Opposition To Unite

KIEV, Ukraine -- Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the largest opposition party who is appealing her seven-year jail sentence, called on opposition groups to unite and run as a single party at parliamentary elections in October 2012.

Yulia Tymoshenko has finally realized that its best for her party to join forces with other opposition parties.

In a statement, released by her Batkivshchyna party, Tymoshenko said a prominent public or civic figure, not a politician, must lead the united party at the election.

The statement underscores a turnaround in Tymoshenko’s position as she has earlier de-facto opposed any unification effort with smaller groups.

She has also persistently ruled out leadership by anybody else except by her.

“I am appealing to the leaders of opposition parties with a major request,” Tymoshenko said in the statement.

“At last unite in reality, not in slogans, and fight the ruling mafia at the parliamentary elections in 2012.”

“I believe that the real unification can take place only in the form of creating a single party list based on a neutral party, and in a single list of candidates in individual constituencies,” Tymoshenko said.

The statement reflects earlier calls made by Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the second most popular opposition party, the Front for Changes, when he asked opposition parties to unite in order to defeat the ruling Regions Party.

Yatseniuk, who like most of Tymoshenko lawmaker, supported the legislation that increased to 5% from 3% the threshold needed for parties to enter Parliament.

The legislation may hurt smaller parties.

Vitaliy Klichko, the heavyweight boxing world champion and the leader of the opposition Udar party, whose popularity has been rapidly growing over the past six months, criticized the legislation as ‘collusion’ among the big parties.

Tymoshenko said this would be a major step towards preventing a mutual fighting between main opposition groups that would allow the united opposition party to overwhelmingly beat the ruling Regions Party.

“The single list of candidates must be announced well ahead of the elections for discussions within the society and to ask a well known, patriotic and highly moral person, such as poet Lina Kostenko,” Tymoshenko said.

“I ask the Committee for Opposing Dictatorship to consider my proposal, and together with other opposition parties, to accept it for the sake of Ukraine,” Tymoshenko said.

Meanwhile, the statement comes amid speculations of a growing rift between Tymoshenko and other senior figures within her Batkivshchyna party following a controversial vote in favor of election law last month.

Despite Tymoshenko’s apparent objections, most of Batkivshchyna lawmakers moved to vote in favor of the legislation that once again changes the election system ahead of the vote.

Batkivshchyna is now effectively run by Oleksandr Turchynov, the No. 2 in the party, jointly with Andriy Kozhemiakin, a Turchynov loyalist who leads Batkivshchyna’s group in Parliament.

Kozhemiakin earlier this month replaced Ivan Kyrylenko.

Responding to the speculations, Tymoshenko said these were “cynical provocations” initiated by people close to President Viktor Yanukovych.

“The Batkivshchyna party and I are a single body with all our mistakes, victories, disappointments and successes,” Tymoshenko said, adding that the vote for the election law was a mistake.

Tymoshenko said the election should be based on party lists with a threshold of 2%, allowing smaller parties to get into Parliament.

“So, my team, through the support of this legislation, has indeed suffered a certain loss of reputation,” Tymoshenko said, adding that the vote may be justified as a way of preventing fraud that would be possible otherwise.

Source: Ukrainian Journal