by Oksana Grytsenko.
Ukrainian Colonel Yuly Mamchur salutes soldiers of the Belbek military base. After Russian troops stormed the base on March 22, they kidnapped Mamchur. © Anastasia Vlasova
Crimean colonel Yuly Mamchur, who impressed many with his bravery when he marched unarmed with his men Ukrainian flag in hand through Russian ranks in March, is likely to be included in President Petro Poroshenko’s party list, party head Yury Lutsenko announced on Sept. 12.
“We want to emphasize the importance of the regular Ukrainian army for Ukraine’s future,” Lutsenko wrote on his web-page.
With parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 28 coming closer political parties are rushing to pack their lists with popular Ukrainian heroes who rose to prominence during the Euromaidan Revolution and the ongoing war with Russia. The trend, however, is likely to lead to radicalization of the Verkhovna Rada according to experts.
The Petro Poroshenko Bloc is planning to reinforce its ranks with prominent journalists Sergiy Leshchenko, and Mustafa Nayem, as well as Svitlana Zalishchuk, head of the Chesno civic movement, a Kyiv Post sources said.
Leshchenko neither confirmed nor denied this information, but Zalishchuk told the Kyiv Post she had discussed this issue, but that there was no final decision so far.
By law political parties must submit their full party lists by Sept. 15.Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.
The People’s Front Party headed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov is expected to include the names of several military commanders and prominent EuroMaidan activist Tetiana Chornovol.
At the party congress held on Sept. 10 Chornovol was chosen as a member of the party’s Coordination Council along with prominent military blogger Dmytro Tymchuk.
Since soldiers are banned from being members of political parties the People’s Front formed a special party Military Council to get around the restriction that includes commanders of six volunteer battalions, including Andriy Biletsky from Azov and Yury Bereza from Dnipro 1 and also Sergiy Sydorin, commander of special brigade of National Guard. Many of these people are also likely to appear on the party list.
Party Union Samopomich led by Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy will reinforce its list with Semen Semenchenko, head of Donbas battalion, in the second spot on the list after a decision made at the party’s conference on Sept. 12.
“There were many aims and tasks realized and announced recently. To implement them I took a decision to run for parliament with Union Samopomich,” Semenchenko wrote on his Facebook page.
Other member of Donbas battalion responsible for the “information war” will also appear on the list. Pavlo Kishkar was announced as seventh on the party list, and the tenth place will be given to Natalia Veselova, head of charity foundation supporting the battalion.
Oleksandr Chernenko, head of Committee of Voters of Ukraine, an influential election watchdog, said that is was not a bad sign for a country fighting a war on its soil to have people with military experience in the new parliament.
“They will be better than actors, singers, drivers and massage therapists,” he said, alluding to the notorious tradition of putting people from those fields on party lists to grab votes.
Political consultant Taras Berzovets said the trend will help parties to lure in the so called “patriotic electorate” while “leading to a radicalization of the new parliament.”
It will be hard for people with war experience to sit patiently and work at the main legislative body. Many of them will probably decide to leave Verkhovna Rada and go back to the war zone, he said.
Berezovets is also cautious concerning how effectively civil activists will be able to work in the new parliament, even if they are in opposition and not the ruling coalition.
“In 90 percent of cases when journalists showed up in parliament it was a failure,” he said. “But maybe this generation of young journalists will be better able to resist the temptations of power,” he added.
(Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at email@example.com).