Batkivshchyna Merges With Smaller Parties

KIEV, Ukraine -- Seeking to expand its influence ahead of the March 2015 presidential election, Ukraine’s largest opposition party, Batkivshchyna, on Saturday merged with several smaller opposition groups.

Arseniy Yatseniuk

The merger with the Front for Changes and other smaller parties is seen as an attempt to boost positions of Arseniy Yatseniuk, who now will be the de-facto leader of the merged entity.

Yatseniuk’s Front for Changes will be liquidated.

He has recently come under pressure after several of his once loyal lawmakers have suddenly decided to join groups supporting President Viktor Yanukovych. 

Yatseniuk is now expected to strengthen his role at Batkivshchyna in hopes to challenge Yanukovych in the elections in March 2015.

“Today we become a party that in 2015 will assume responsibility for the life of our nation and will confidently take responsibility for the life of our nation and justify the confidence of the people,” jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the founder and the leader of Batkivshchyna, said in a letter to the party.

Tymoshenko, who was jailed in October 2011 to seven years in prison, warned the battle for the presidency will not be easy.

She said the party needs to consolidate to prepare for violent events.

“You do understand that in 2015 the ruling party will hold a battle without any rules or morals,” Tymoshenko said.

“More precisely, it won’t be a fight, but a violent political massacre. They are preparing for it for the past three years.”

Yatseniuk, in a speech at the party convention at a downtown square in Kiev, said the merger will be a “recipe for victory in the presidential election."

He said united Batkivshchyna party will be prepared to take to the streets to protect election results if the government resorts to fraud.

"Viktor Yanukovych will lose the presidential election, but he will try not go out of power," Yatseniuk said.

“That’s why only in unity with the people of Ukraine we need to protect people's choice - and a new Ukrainian president, the new Ukrainian way.

He also vowed to press the authorities for the release of Tymoshenko from prison. 

"Our faith is the best recipe and most powerful force that can change the country and to dismiss Yulia Tymoshenko,” Yatseniuk said.

The developments come ahead of a meeting between opposition leaders and Yanukovych to ease political crisis that had suspended the work of Parliament. 

Yatseniuk said earlier that the best time for the meeting will be Monday, June 17, and that the release of Tymoshenko must be among the issues to be discussed.

The crisis postponed indefinitely debate and approval of legislation that has been suggested by the government, and Yanukovych said continued delay would hurt Ukraine’s economic growth.

The delay postpones Parliament’s 2014 budget resolution that must outline main parameters for the next year’s budget.

The resolution is needed for the government to start drafting the 2014 budget before it is submitted to Parliament by September 15.

The delay also derailed the government’s plans for amending 2013 budget towards increasing spending, seen as a key step for the government ahead of next presidential election due in March 2015.

Yanukovych, who will most likely seek reelection, recently told the government to make sure the 2013 budget is amended and spending is increased.

Source: Ukrainian Journal