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Author of Ukraine’s lustration law Yegor Sobolev is number 13 on the Samopomich party list and recently left the Volya Party taking other activists with him. © Olexander Lepetuha / DYVYS
The young political startup party Volya (or freedom) has become the first casualty of the new parliament, splitting before the first session of the new parliament even opened.
The demise of the party just months after it was founded, is an alarming indicator that much of Ukraine’s politics remains business as usual.
“The topic of Volya is closed,” former Volya party member Yegor Sobolev told the Kyiv Post after announcing that he and others were leaving the party on Nov. 9. “I need to work on forming a coalition and organizing monitoring of lustration and not disputes with swindlers. I wish the party Volya the strength it needs to cleanse itself.”
Sobolev is a EuroMaidan activist and the party’s highest-profile member. He and other activists joined forces with experienced politicians such as incumbent Ivano-Frankivsk parliament member and businessman Yuriy Derevyanko.
Although many wondered about the strength of such a union of the idealistic camp of the party led by Sobolev and the old guard led by Derevyanko, the split in Volya’s ranks only became public when Derevyanko stated earlier this month that the party had decided to create its own grouping to represent its interests in the Rada.
The announcement put many members of the party in a precarious situation. Volya did not put forward its own candidate list for the Oct. 26 parliamentary election. Instead many of its people piggy-backed other political forces because Volya did not believe it was capable of crossing the 5 percent threshold to enter the parliament. Those who ran on other party lists are committed to staying with party factions who made them lawmakers.
Most Volya candidates who chose to run on a party list ran under the Samopomich (self-reliance) banner, including Sobolev, though one also ran on the Narodny Front list. Samopomich, which was started by the popular Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy, ran on the image of brining fresh faces and activists to the parliament and was one of the breakout parties of the election, winning 11 percent of the votethrough the proportional system.
Following the election Derevyanko stated that it was imperative that Volya have its own grouping to defend its “principles, values and political promises.”
Although Derevyanko said there was no conflict with Samopomich, many interpreted his statement as the final stage of the split between the idealistic camp in the party that rose on the wave of EuroMaidan, and the old guard who use parties as tools for promoting their interests.
“It is a conflict within Volya. There were the civic activists like Sobolev who wanted to create a new structure and people like Derevyanko who wanted to use that structure for their own personal purposes,” said Oleksiy Haran, professor of political science at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
For years, Derevyanko has been subject to accusations by the Ukrainian media of connections to unsavory business practices and businesses, including EDAPS, a private company that for years monopolized procurement tenders for certain types of counterfeit-proof documents, such as passports and excise stamps.
Derevyanko denied the accusations at a press conference held on Nov. 7 stating that such stories were “pure manipulation of information.”
But in a recent public Facebook post Sobolev said he had been misguided about Derevyanko and his business activities, and even apologized for asking people to join the party.
He explained that Derevyanko had originally been introduced to him and others as someone who had supported the EuroMaidan protests and reform. Sobolev pledged to grow from the experience and “become a real man” in “this profession of wolves.”
The political party Democratic Alliance has denied membership to Bohdan Globa, an LGBT activist based in Kyiv, who could not be immediately reached for comment.
The political party Democratic Alliance has denied membership to Bohdan Globa, an LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) activist based in Kyiv.
Speaking to journalists at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center on June 4, Democratic Alliance leader Vasyl Gatsko underscored that Globa’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with the decision.
“Nobody in Democratic Alliance asks when, how, or with whom one sleeps, or about their sexual orientation. This decision was not related to his sexual preference, it is related to his views…His views differ from ours, for example, on the issue of family,” said Gatsko.
Still, when the Kyiv Post pressed Gatsko about the meaning of family values, he responded that “Democratic Alliance is a Christian Democratic party. Our position is that family is made up of a man and a woman.”
Tochka Opori, an advocacy group that works with people with HIV and members of the LGBT community, condemned Democratic Alliance’s decision, citing Ukraine’s anti-discrimination laws.
The group argued that Democratic Alliance had violated article 24 of Ukraine’s constitution, which states: “There shall be no privileges or restrictions based on race, color, political, religious or other beliefs, sex, ethnic or social origin, property status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics.“
“We maintain that the political party Democratic Alliance which gained its popularity in the wake of the revolution of dignity and pro-European ideas turned out to be totally unprepared for liberal values, norms and rules,” read a statement on Tochka Opori’s website.
Gatsko said that the Democratic Alliance “represents the views of our society,” and that Ukrainians with different views are free to join other political parties.
Globa could not be reached immediately for comment.
Democratic Alliance began as a youth movement, registering as a political party in 2011, when it began to running on an anti-corruption platform. The party is popular among young voters and played an active role in the EuroMaidan Protests that toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
Because the party largely caters to young, typically more liberal voters, the decision to deny membership to Globa is somewhat surprising. Democratic Alliance’s platform calls for democracy and social justice, and for a society “based on human values, upholding the priority of human rights and freedoms.”
Democratic Alliance secured two seats in the Kyiv Rada in the May 25 municipal elections, winning just over 3 percent of the vote, the threshold necessary for representation in the local parliament.
The party’s leaders noted at least 10 instances of falsification in the election, suggesting that other parties had tried to marginalize Democratic Alliance, thereby securing greater representation in the Kyiv Rada.
Editors Note: UnitedForUkraine should stand for everybody not just the select few, I stand behind the Ukrainian people in their fight for peace and for the right of all people to be treated as equals!!!
Former governor of Kharkiv Mykhailo Dobkin delivers a speech during a convention of former ruling Party of Regions in Kiev on March 29, 2014. Dobkin The pro-Russian camp’s main candidate for Ukrainian presidential elections emerged from a tumultuous Regions Party congress that first purged Yanukovych and several other ousted ministers from its ranks. It decided on Saturday to back the candidacy of former eastern Kharkiv region governor Mykhailo Dobkin — a colourful figure of limited mass appeal who is currently under investigation for urging Russian speakers to resist Kiev’s rule. The 44-year-old Dobkin will have to limit his campaigning to daylight hours because he has been placed under partial house arrest and is forbidden from being outdoors in the evenings. AFP PHOTO/YURIY KIRNICHNY
Three months ago, the only thing that most Ukrainians living outside Kharkiv Oblast knew about its governor Mykhailo Dobkin was that he had “a boring face.”
“Misha, you have a boring face, nobody will give you money,” Hennadiy Kernes, currently Kharkiv city mayor, shouted at Dobkin when the two were struggling to record Dobkin’s address to electorate in Kharkiv eight years ago and instead ended up in one of Ukraine’s most watched funny YouTube videos.
The unfortunate video, leaked to the Internet, became Dobkin’s unwanted trademark. The politician became the subject of many jokes and earned a slighting nickname “Dopa.”
That’s why it came as a surprise for many when Dobkin – as no joke – was nominated as the presidential candidate by Ukraine’s biggest party, Party of Regions, and his “boring face” appeared on thousands of billboards.
Dobkin has ruled Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, since 2006 until March, first as elected mayor, than as an appointed governor of the region. In 2013, he made Hr 21 million.
After the ruling Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych was toppled by the EuroMaidan Revolution, the remnants of the now-opposition party proved incapable of nominating a candidate who could return the party’s lost status.
Four polls, all conducted by non-governmental institutions, give Dobkin two to four percent support. In 2010 elections, Yanukovych gained 35 percent in the first round.
Dobkin didn’t have time to be interviewed by Kyiv Post and did not answer the questions sent to his press office. (more…)
Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who owns the Shakhtar football club, greets fans in Donetsk on April 28, 2013. Akhmetov — a longtime ally of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych — is coming out more forcefully against the Kremlin-backed separatists who have proclaimed a breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine’s most populous oblast, home to 10 percent of Ukraine’s 45 million people.
Billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, after treading cautiously between Kremlin-backed separatists and the government in Kyiv that came to power when the EuroMaidan Revolution overthrew his ally ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, came out on May 19 more forcefully against the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic.
Akhmetov called for workers at all businesses in the Donbas region, where he own coal mines, steel mills and other businesses, to stage a peace rally at noon on May 20. He called on all people in Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk, where a separatist republic has also been formed, to join the action.
Nearly 15 percent of Ukraine’s 45 million people live in the two oblasts. It remains to be seen if Akhmetov’s more forceful backing of a unified Ukraine, if followed by strong actions, can help defeat the Russian-backed separatists who are now officially considered to be terrorists by Ukraine’s central government. His call for condemnation of the separatists comes days ahead of Ukraine’s decisive May 25 presidential election, expected to be one by fellow billionaire Petro Poroshenko.
“Just tell me please, does anyone in Donbas know at least one representative of this Donetsk People’s Republic? What have they done for our region, what jobs have they created? Does walking around Donbas towns with guns in hands defend the rights of Donetsk residents in front of the central government? Is looting in cities and taking peaceful citizens hostages a fight for the happiness of our region? No, it is not! It is a fight against the citizens of our region. It is a fight against Donbas. It is genocide of Donbas!” Akhmetov said in “an emergency statement” released late on May 19 addressed to “dear fellow countrymen.”
Akhmetov said that he “will not let Donbas be destroyed. I was born and am living here. That is why I am calling on everyone to unite in our fight: for Donbas without weapons! for Donbas without masks! for Donbas with a peaceful sky above!”
Akhmetov’s call for action, according to the statement, was prompted by reports that Kremlin-backed separatists in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast’s second-largest city, planned to shoot participants of a peaceful rally of some 50,000 of the city’s residents. Akhmetov said he called on the demonstrators to suspend the march planned on May 19 to avoid bloodshed. (more…)