Election list has no surprises, but one: Journalist Andriy Shevchenko is on board
State Condoleezza Rice, who made a one-day official state visit to Kyiv on Dec. 7, the former prime minister’s parliamentary bloc revealed the top ten candidates on its party list for next spring’s parliamentary elections.
Tymoshenko, of course, topped the list, followed by close confidant and former State Security Chief Oleksandr Turchynov and former deputy prime minister Mykola Tomenko in the number three position. Both Turchynov and Tomenko resigned from Tymoshenko’s government hours before President Viktor Yushchenko sacked her government this September.
Fourth on the list was deputy Vasyl Onopenko, a close Tymoshenko associate. The only major surprise addition was number five – Andriy Shevchenko, a renowned television journalist who co-founded Channel 5, the television channel that, like Tymoshenko, played a big role in rallying voters ahead of last year’s Orange Revolution.
Opaque list raises questions
While the remaining five candidates in the top ten bracket of the list failed to raise eyebrows, the bloc’s inability to go public with the rest of its candidates has fueled speculation. Notably absent from the top ten are influential businessmen whose addition might harm the bloc’s reputation with voters.
News reports in recent weeks have named a handful of Ukrainian tycoons who are eager to get into parliament by joining the Tymoshenko bloc, rated by polls as one of the top three blocs in terms of voter support. The tycoons, according to the reports, are eager to retain or gain seats in parliament in order to secure influence and immunity from prosecution. Names mentioned include Privatbank co-owner Igor Kolomojsky, businessman Vasyl Khmelnytsky and Oleksandr Volkov, a political heavyweight and businessman who served as President Leonid Kuchma’s administration chief in the late 1990s.
Earlier that day, Tymoshenko confidant and businessman Mykhailo Brodsky announced that he would not be on the list, and urged other businessman to stay out too. Bloc leaders Turchynov and Tomenko told journalists in recent days that they oppose the inclusion of such tycoons into the bloc and would try to prevent it. Tomenko said on Dec. 7 that fresh faces – those with little or no political experience – will appear farther down the bloc’s list.
Political analyst Andriy Yermolaev said that the inclusion of influential businessmen into the Tymoshnko bloc list could damage the bloc’s chances with voters, particularly as Tymoshenko has painted herself as a politician tough enough to counterbalance Ukraine’s entrenched business interests.
In recent weeks two other leading political parties revealed their candidates for the March elections. Influential tycoons, and figures connected with recent scandals, are present in both.
President Viktor Yushchenko days ago pledged not to accept his nominationfor the number one spot on the list of his loyal People’s Union Our Ukraine bloc, which includes names connected with corruption scandals this year, such as Petro Poroshenko and Oleksandr Tretyakov.On Dec. 3, Viktor Yanukovych’s Regions of Ukraine revealed its list, with Yanukovych as number one. Surprise additions included Donetsk-based tycoon Rinat Akhmetov (7), reputably Ukraine’s richest man, and former Central Election Commission chairman Serhiy Kivalov, who was accused of taking part in the falsification of last year’s presidential elections.
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