Politician and comedian Serhiy Prytula, who ran for Kyiv mayor as the Voice party candidate in 2020, announced he’s creating a political party on Sept. 28.
“So far, it’s in the process of being formed,” Prytula said in an interview aired on Channel 24. “If you want an exclusive — naming, branding and so on, then give me some time, and I will tell you everything.”
“This will definitely not be just some virtual story,” he added.
Prytula hopes to get into Verkhovna Rada with his new party — something he hadn’t managed to do in the latest 2019 parliamentary elections. He was 30th on the Voice party ballot, which got just 20 seats out of 423.
Prytula said he is already putting together his team in several regions. As for financing, Prytula said he’s negotiating with “businessmen of different calibers,” but “none among them can be called oligarchs.”
Who is Prytula
Prytula, 40, became famous in 2008 when he started hosting the morning show Pidyom — the same one that employed Oleksandr Skichko, the governor of Cherkasy Oblast. Since then, Prytula has hosted various TV shows.
He is known for his sarcastic humor. When Russia started its war in eastern Ukraine, he raised money for Ukrainian soldiers, spent part of the income from his concerts on military aid, and financed the rehabilitation center for war victims in his native city Ternopil.
Prytula entered Ukrainian politics in 2019 by running for parialment on the Voice party ballot. In the mayoral election in Kyiv in 2020, Prytula took third place, with 7.87% of the votes. Voice also gained nine out of 120 seats in the Kyiv city council.
In June, Prytula, who was planning to revive the stagnating Voice party, said he’s giving up on the project.
“I’m not leaving politics. I’m leaving a party which, thanks to its new leadership, has moved so far away from our initial principles that it is possible to say that the point of no return has been passed,” Prytula said in his statement published on Facebook.
Voice issued a statement saying that the ex-comedian placed personal ambitions above the party’s interests.
“We are not surprised that Prytula’s personal ambitions and desire to get governing positions at any cost prevailed over a common goal,” the party stated. “We wish him good luck in building his own political project, which he will obviously undertake.”
Some experts believe that Prytula’s departure was crucial for Voice. The party’s electoral support has evaporated amid infighting after its former leader, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, left politics.
“Vakarchuk’s departure was a knockdown, Prytula’s departure is a knockout,” Anatoly Oktysiuk, a political expert at local think tank Democracy House, told the Kyiv Post in June. “The party is done.”
In spring 2021, serious disagreement began between Voice members, which led to the party unofficially splitting into two camps.
Ten lawmakers, including Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the former head of Transparency International Ukraine, and Oleksandra Ustinova, an anti-corruption activist, returned to public activism, taking part in street protests and appearing in televised court hearings in support of activist defendants. Prytula supported this group.
The other ten, including party leader Kira Rudik, economist Yaroslav Zheleznyak, and Serhiy Rakhmanin, the former deputy chief editor of the Dzerkalo Tyzhnya news outlet, moved the party deeper into mainstream politics.
In February, when half of the party took part in street protests against the conviction of activist Serhiy Sternenko, Rudik gave an interview to Interfax in which she said her party was holding coalition talks with Zelensky. However, Servant of the People denied ever having talks with Rudik. Voice members, who were taking to the streets in protest against Zelensky’s policies, urged Rudik to resign.
Instead, Prytula and several prominent lawmakers were excluded from the party’s leadership. Yurchyshyn and Ustinova publicly accused Rudik of hijacking control of Voice and missing 60% of parliamentary sessions and called on her to leave the party.
On June 16, half of the party’s 20 lawmakers broke away, creating an unofficial parliamentary group called Justice (Spravedlyvist), which later grew to 11 deputies.
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