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Ukraine: Our Ukraine Envisions New Tymoshenko Alliance

Just like old times? (RFE/RL) Rumors that President Viktor Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine bloc might form a coalition with the main opposition Party of Regions led by Viktor Yanukovych following Ukraine's parliamentary elections on March 26 refuse to go away. Such a scenario would mark a tremendous turn of events. Yushchenko won the presidency in late 2004 only after the Orange Revolution managed to overturn the initial, falsified results naming Yanukovych president. But the Orange coalition suffered a severe split when Yushchenko dismissed Yuliya Tymoshenko as prime minister. And today, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc is running neck-and-neck with Our Ukraine for second place in the parliamentary elections. But Our Ukraine's deputy campaign head says that despite the feud he is confident a new alliance can be forged with Tymoshenko.

KYIV, March 23, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Our Ukraine deputy campaign chief Roman Zvarych says that despite the rumors, there will be no coalition after Ukraine's upcoming parliamentary elections between Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions.

Zvarych, who was justice minister in the government led by Tymoshenko, says that behind-the-scenes talks have convinced him that Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc will be able to overcome their differences and form a fresh coalition. He believes that this coalition, with the cooperation of the small Socialist Party, will be able to form the next government.
The rift meant that Yushchenko's and Tymoshenko's parties would have to split the votes of those who supported the Orange Revolution. And that neither Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, nor the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, would be strong enough to beat out the Party of Regions headed by their archrival, Yanukovych.

"These elections should confirm the victory of the Orange forces -- that is, those that secured the election of Viktor Yushchenko as president of Ukraine and those which were the fundamental organizers of the phenomenon that will go into history as the Maydan [shorthand for the Orange Revolution]," he says.

Zvarych says it would be "political suicide" for Our Ukraine to forge an alliance with Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions because it would be seen as a betrayal of the promises made by the Orange Revolution leaders. "If we went down such a path, I estimate we would immediately lose around 40 percent of our supporters," he says.

Bitter Rift

The bitter rift between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko dismayed millions of Ukrainians who believed the two embodied the ideals of the Orange Revolution.

Supporters of the movement had hoped that the dramatic events in the fall of 2004 would put their country firmly on the path of democracy and a better economic future. Furthermore, they looked forward to the end of the corruption and authoritarianism associated with the decade-long rule of former President Leonid Kuchma.

But the rift in effect meant that Yushchenko's and Tymoshenko's parties would have to split the votes of those who supported the Orange Revolution. And that neither Yushchenko's Our Ukraine nor the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc would be strong enough to beat out the Party of Regions headed by their archrival, Yanukovych.

Supporters of the revolution feared that a Yanukovych victory could represent a return to a heavy-handed government similar -- or even worse -- than the one led by Kuchma. But despite those fears, efforts to reunite Yushchenko and Tymoshenko failed.

An election poster in Kyiv for Yuliya Tymoshenko (epa)

And while Tymoshenko has consistently vowed not to enter into a coalition with Yanukovych, Our Ukraine has yet to give similar assurances. This has fueled speculation that Our Ukraine and the Party of the Regions might form a "grand coalition" following the March 26 parliamentary elections.

But Zvarych dismisses such a scenario, saying that the differences between the two parties is too great.

"You can't unite fire and water because either the fire will overcome the water or the water will douse the fire," he says. "The ideological and political differences between our parties are so deep -- the differences in our conceptual approach to the economic development of the nation. And such are the clashes in our views of Ukraine's future place in the world that it's impossible to find a compromise with such opposing views."

Fragile Lead In The Polls

Zvarych notes that although Yanukovych's party will probably receive the largest single share of the vote, opinion polls have shown that support for the Party of Regions has fallen by up to 18 percentage points since 2004.

"Therefore, regardless of the fact that the Party of Regions may take first place in this electoral race, I can speak with confidence about the fact that they will never form a parliamentary coalition and their candidate will never be the prime minister of Ukraine -- whether that be Yanukovych, [Mykola] Azarov, or Rynat Akhmetov himself."

Some have speculated that Akhmetov, the main financial backer of the Party of Regions, could be poised to become the next prime minister, while others have tabbed Azarov, who heads the party's Political Council for the position.

Orange Coalition

Zvarych predicts that a coalition between Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc will be announced soon after the elections results are declared.

"A coalition will be formed on the basis of Orange forces," he says. "This coalition will work to deepen the implementation of the presidential program, to fulfill our common obligations given before the supporters of the Orange Revolution and the Ukrainian people, and to complete the processes that began a year and a half ago."

Zvarych predicts that the party in the new coalition that gains the most votes on March 26 will be allowed to nominate the prime minister -- which could see Tymoshenko return to her former position if her bloc becomes the dominant partner in a new Orange alliance.

He blames last fall's rupture in the coalition on the failure to construct a way of working together that would build mutual trust. He also says that what he describes as Tymoshenko's "ambitions" led to problems with Yushchenko.

Zvarych says that in the event of a new alliance, the same situation will not arise again. This, he says, is because President Yushchenko would dissolve the parliament if there was a return to discord.

Zvarych believes such a prospect -- which could plunge Ukraine into an unprecedented political situation -- would be a powerful tool in imposing harmony within the coalition.

Referendum On The Revolution

Referendum On The Revolution

Yushchenko supporters attend a rally in Kyiv on December 26-27, 2005

RETHINKING THE ORANGE: The March 26 elections are the first major national referendum on President Viktor Yushchenko and the ideals of the Orange Revolution that brought him to power in early 2005. Opinion polls in Ukraine indicate widespread dissatisfaction with developments in the country since Yushchenko took power. The results of the elections are expected to clarify whether Yushchenko will be able to step up the implementation of his reformist policies declared during the 2004 Orange Revolution or whether he will get mired even deeper in political wrangling with his opponents...(more)

See also:

Why Are Ukrainians Disappointed With The Orange Revolution?

Has Yushchenko Betrayed The Orange Revolution?

Pollster Maps Out Post-Revolutionary Moods

REVOLUTION IN THE AIR: Listen to an audio portrait of the Orange Revolution from RFE/RL's archives.
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Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.

Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of some of the key players in the Ukrainian elections.

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