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Ukrainian Opposition Parties Mull Possible Coordination, Alliances

Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of Ukraine's Front for Change party
KYIV -- Ukrainian opposition parties are discussing possible joint actions ahead of the new political season this fall, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Front for Change party leader Arseniy Yatseniuk told RFE/RL he thinks the opposition should declare its intention of forming a joint antipresidential bloc in the Verkhovna Rada before the parliamentary election scheduled for October 2012.

But Yatseniuk said his party will run for parliament independently.

Yatseniuk placed fourth in the January 2010 Ukrainian presidential election.

The third-placed candidate, current Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tihipko, recently declared that his party, Strong Ukraine, might merge with the ruling Party of Regions.

Yatseniuk compared that possible merger with the Russian political model, where the ruling United Russia party absorbs smaller parties.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who placed second in the 2010 presidential ballot, is currently on trial on charges of abuse of office resulting from the gas deal she signed with Russia in 2009.

Following Tymoshenko's detention in early August, major Ukrainian opposition parties formed a Committee to Resist Dictatorship.

Yatseniuk said parties aligned in the committee should jointly field election observers, propose candidates for membership of election commissions, and, if the election law is changed to permit it, approve joint candidates in majority districts.

The rules for the October 2012 parliamentary elections are not yet clear. The Justice Ministry has suggested introducing a mixed system that has both proportional representation and single-member constituencies and raising the voting threshold for entering parliament raising from 3 percent to 5 percent. This would exclude smaller parties from the Verkhovna Rada.

Those proposed changes will likely be discussed at the next session of the parliament, which convenes next week.

Meanwhile, opposition European Ukraine party leader Mykola Katerynchuk told RFE/RL on August 27 that his party will unite with the Civic Platform, led by former Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko. Both politicians belong to the Our Ukraine–People's Self Defense parliament bloc.

The process of unification will end after congresses of the parties involved, for which no date has yet been set.

Katerynchuk said he hopes the merger will encompass more than two parties.