That’s how
the top three of electoral list of Nataliya Korolevska’s Ukraine-Forward Party
looks like, which she dramatically presented at sunrise on Aug. 1 in the middle
of a cornfield in Kyiv Oblast.

known thanks to her ubiquitous TV ads as the “woman who has a dream,” surprised
many with her unexpected recruitment of Ostap Stupka, an actor and son of the
late acting legend Bohdan Stupka, and Andriy Shevchenko, the former Dynamo Kyiv
football great.

Experts are
divided on whether the star recruits will be enough to push Korolevska above
the 5 percent threshold needed for election to parliament, but all agreed that her
campaign will be one of the most noticeable in the run-up to the Oct. 28
parliamentary election.

has been obviously the most noticeable by her presence in media space until
now,” Maksym Lazebnyk, head of the All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition, said.


Another advertising
expert Artem Bidenko estimated that Korolevska was spending up to Hr 10 million
(or 1 million euros) per month only for direct advertisement including TV and
billboards. She also gets a lot of space in newspapers and air time on TV, much
of it paid-for “advertorials” – advertising disguises as real news, according
to critics. Korolevska flatly denies the charge. But News One TV aired an audio
recording of a PR woman who allegedly asked about the possibility of paid-for
news coverage of the politician.

Who stands
behind Korolevska?

37, from Luhansk Oblast, started her political career in the team of Yulia
Tymoshenko. She adopted many features of the ex-prime minister’s political
style. Both women were united by personal friendship and have lots in common:
they came to politics from big family businesses of southeastern Ukraine, and
while Tymoshenko earned millions on the natural gas trade, Korolevska became
rich thanks to metal, coal and ice cream.

But the
alliance came to the end after Tymoshenko was sent to prison for seven years in
October, following her conviction that she abused her role as prime minister by
signing a 2009 gas deal with Russia.


Soon after,
Kololevska was excluded from Tymoshenko’s BYuT parliament faction after being accused
of voting with pro-government Party of Regions on issues. On one key vote –
amending the criminal code in a way that could have allowed for Tymoshenko’s
release – she violated BYuT party discipline by not voting in support of a
resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Her vague
positions fuel speculation she is pro-government. Her story is that BYuT
officials Oleksandr Turchynov and Andriy Kozhemiakin wanted to get rid of her
to sell places in party list for the parliament elections.     

Since then,
Kololevska is focused on her own political party. But her former allies believe
she has a secret alliance with the authorities in order to siphon votes from
the opposition.

 “It is clear that even with big money it would
be impossible to hold such a campaign without the support of the government,”
said Sergiy Pashynsky, lawmaker from BYuT, adding that Korolevska “cynically
betrayed Tymoshenko.”     


The media
have published various hypotheses about Korolevska’s sponsors, starting with
the most-known tycoons of eastern Donbas, who had business relations with her,
and finishing with the Russia thanks to the fact that Korolevska’s elder
brother Kostiantyn lives in Moscow and even used to work for the government of the
Russian Federation.  

“The funds
[of Korolevska] are so huge that we can talk only about the richest people in
the country,” Lazebnyk admitted. “She would hardly be able to pay even for one
month of her campaign and also for Shevchenko,” he added.

declared an income of Hr 167,640 per year and Hr 23,171 more on personal bank
accounts in 2011.   

She denied
in TV interviews any alliance with oligarchs, promising to open all of her
financial sources just after the end of parliamentary campaign, saying that it
is only then when her sponsors would be safe from pressure of the state bodies.

Korolevska couldn’t
be reached by phone for the Kyiv Post and failed to answer the written question
by the time of running the story.

expert Bidenko believes that the appearance of Andriy Shevchenko in the party
list will not help her, since the football star may overshadow the political
brand of Korolevska. “Shevchenko will lose respect and Korolevska – the remains
of her image of supporter of businessmen and will turn into party for
everybody,” Bidenko said. “And without values it will be a collapse,” he added.


promoting herself in parliament as an advocate of small and middle business,
Korolevska later turned to borrowing he PR strategies used by other politicians
in the past, the experts say.

“It’s time
for a new generation of politicians,” she said addressing to delegates of her
party congress. This slogan was used by another supposedly new and genuine political
force of in the 2002 parliament race, called the “Winter Crop” generation. The
leaders, Inna Bogoslovska and Valery Khoroshkovsky, turned out to be as
pro-government as they come and their sudden arrival gave rise to claims they
were a project of ex-President Leonid Kuchma.

is also criticized for attempts to resemble Tymoshenko in speech, clothing and
electoral strategy, as Tymoshenko also used a prominent football forward Oleg
Blohin in the parliamentary campaign of 1998.  

Still, her
popularity has grown from 1.3 percent of support in February to 4.7 percent in
June, the polls show. The experts say that Korolevska is gaining potential
voters not among the opposition camp but from former supporters of Sergiy
Tigipko, the deputy prime minister who finished third in the 2010 presidential
election before throwing in his lot with the pro-presidential Party of Regions.


people, who were in search of an alternative to Yanukovych in Tigipko as more
liberal, intelligent and modern politician, now have found it in Korolevska,” Kostiantyn
Dykan, political expert of Razumkov center said. He added, however, that
Korolevska unlikely manages to overcome 5 percent barrier for coming into

Oleksandr Chernenko, head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, said in the
last three months Korolevska has managed to become a “real player” in these
elections, especially with the additions of Shevchenko and Stupka – helping
lift her party to the magic 5 percent of voters.

But for all
the talk about new politics, she practices the same old Soviet-style secrecy in
running her party. She only released the top 10 names of her candidates only on
Aug. 2. The rest of the names were closed, even for top party members.

would also like to see it,” Ostap Stupka, No. 3 on the party list, told

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be
reached at
[email protected]

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