Ukrainian voters appeared determined to clean house on July 21, rejecting many controversial individuals who had seemed entrenched in Ukrainian politics.
One group of candidates stand out from those who did not make it into the Verkhovna Rada in the snap parliamentary election. Many lost to candidates standing for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People, signaling voters’ growing frustration with the corrupt political system and a desire for change.
Poroshenko’s right-hand man
Ihor Kononenko, an ex-member of former President Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc and his right-hand man, is out. He received 14 percent in Kyiv Oblast’s District 94, and Oleksandr Dubinsky from Zelensky’s Servant of the People party won with 38 percent, according to preliminary results.
Kononenko is under investigation in numerous corruption cases, although he has denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
He has also been accused of buying votes on behalf of Poroshenko in the run-up to the April 21 presidential election and on his own behalf in the July 21 parliamentary election. The police has opened an investigation into the latest vote buying claims and Poroshenko denies any connection.
Moreover, Dubinsky (a TV journalist with the 1+1 TV channel, owned by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky) has accused Kononenko of preparing voting fraud in the parliamentary election and “buying” commission members. Kononenko has denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
Gray cardinal out
Oleksandr Hranovsky, a controversial ex-member of the former Poroshenko Bloc, lost in District 169 in Kharkiv, according to preliminary vote count results. Oleksandr Kunitsky from the Servant of the People party won with 48 percent, and Hranovsky received 16 percent.
Hranovsky, who was endorsed by Kharkiv Mayor Gennady Kernes, was known as a “gray cardinal” under Poroshenko and was accused of influencing judges, prosecutors and security officials. Hranovsky has always denied influencing law enforcement.
All other candidates backed by Kernes in Kharkiv also lost to candidates running on a Servant of the People ticket.
Kernes himself was No. 3 on the list of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc but the party did not get past the 5 percent threshold, receiving 3.23 percent. Kernes said previously, however, that he would stay mayor and did not intend to become a lawmaker.
Kernes has been charged with kidnapping two EuroMaidan Revolution activists, torturing them and threatening to kill them in January 2014. He denies these accusations. In August, a Poltava court closed the kidnapping case. Kernes’ critics attribute the case’s closure to a deal with Poroshenko to support his re-election.
Kernes has also been investigated for allegedly embezzling up to Hr 15 billion ($557 million) by allocating land to fake cooperatives, but has not been officially charged in this case. Kernes has denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
Masters of Odesa
Serhiy Kivalov, an influential ex-ally of former President Viktor Yanukovych, lost in Odesa’s District 135, according to preliminary data. He received 32 percent of the vote, while his competitor from the Servant of the People party, Oleksiy Leonov, won with 40 percent.
Kivalov is one of Odesa’s most powerful political heavyweights. He has been a lawmaker from the same district since 1998.
Kivalov is also accused of being a gray cardinal behind the courts in Odesa and other regions, which he denies. He was the chairman of the High Council of Justice in 2001 to 2004.
He was also the head of the Central Election Commission in 2004, when the Supreme Court ruled that there had been voting fraud in the presidential election and canceled Viktor Yanukovych’s victory. Viktor Yushchenko was then elected president as a result of the Orange Revolution.
Dmytro Holubov, a Poroshenko Bloc lawmaker, is also out of the Rada. He received 40 percent in Odesa’s District 136, while Oleksandr Horenyuk from the Servant of the People won with 46.32 percent.
Holubov has been investigated by the United States over alleged cybercrimes, including credit-card fraud, and was previously wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. He denies these accusations.
Meanwhile, all candidates backed by Odesa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov in the city lost, with Zelensky’s party winning in all of Odesa’s single-member districts. Trukhanov was No. 4 of the Opposition Bloc, which did not get into parliament.
Kherson Oblast’s former Deputy Governor Yevhen Ryshchuk, an ex-member of the Poroshenko Bloc, was defeated in Kherson Oblast’s District 186, getting 19 percent. Oleksiy Kovalyov from the Servant of the People won with 36 percent, according to preliminary data.
Whistleblower and local official Kateryna Gandziuk’s father Viktor and the “Who Killed Katya Gandziuk?” group on Facebook have accused Ryshchuk of being implicated in her murder. He has denied the accusations.
Gandziuk died in a hospital on Nov. 4 from injuries suffered in an acid attack.
Boryslav Rozenblat, an ex-member of the Poroshenko Bloc, suffered a humiliating defeat in Zhytomyr Oblast’s District 62, getting just 7 percent, according to preliminary voting results. Igor Gerasimenko from the Servant of the People won a landslide with 48 percent.
Rozenblat has been charged by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine with taking bribes worth about $300,000 to initiate laws on amber production, organize an illegal amber mining scheme and bribe other officials, judges and prosecutors for that purpose. He has denied the accusations.
Serhiy Pashynsky, a lawmaker from ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party, lost with 17.62 percent in Zhytomyr Oblast’s District 64, and the Servant of the People’s Vyacheslav Sigachyov won with 28.74 percent.
Pashynsky and his associate Serhiy Tyshchenko have been investigated over the alleged theft of oil products. They deny the accusations of wrongdoing.
Olena Bondarenko from the Opposition Bloc, who has consistently been a mouthpiece for Kremlin propaganda, received just 8 percent in Mykolayiv Oblast’s District 131, while Artem Chornomorov from the Servant of the People scored a victory with 43 percent.
Dmytro Dobkin from the Opposition Bloc, the brother of ex-Kharkiv Oblast Governor Mykhailo Dobkin, lost in Kharkiv Oblast’s District 178. He got 16 percent, and 32 percent voted for Oleksandr Litvinov from the Servant of the People.
Party list candidates
Controversial candidates who did not manage to get into the Rada through party lists include several politicians from the pro-Kremlin Opposition Bloc: Yevhen Murayev, Oleksandr Vilkul and Vitaly Khomutynnyk.
These also include the unsuccessful Radical Party and its leader Oleh Lyashko, who faces the criminal charges of lying in his asset declaration and denies them.
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