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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Realignment of Forces

25 November, 2003 - 00:00

Last Tuesday, Verkhovna Rada did not see a new velvet revolution — not because it was impossible, but because it was unnecessary for the time being. Meanwhile, a conflict in the parliament still remains a strong probability and is worth analyzing.

We are old enough to understand that the stalemate in Verkhovna Rada has been broken not because the majority deputies were the first to surround the rostrum on Tuesday, as if schoolchildren that rush to the canteen to buy doughnuts. It became known on Monday night that the Communists reached an agreement with majority factions on the candidacies of the prosecutor general and first deputy head of Verkhovna Rada (the post of vice speaker does not exist de jure in Ukraine, just like the post of the governor). With nearly 280 deputies plus two dozen more deputies that could be mustered to secure an overwhelming constitutional majority, the proponents of Mr. Vasyliev and Comrade Martyniuk could disregard the noisy crowd that bustled around the rostrum during the previous sessions.

The three factions that blocked work in the parliament had two options: either to continue the standoff and provoke an away session of the majority and thus lose their quotas for parliamentary committees, or back down with minimum losses in order to realign the forces and discuss the future strategy. The fact that Our Ukraine, Tymoshenko Bloc, and SPU members abstained from voting in the November 18 session did not affect the performance of the parliament. Everything followed a scenario from a few years ago. At the time, the present irreconcilable opposition forces were allies of the pro-presidential factions.

The change of the ingredients in the pro-governmental parliamentary cocktail was quite predictable and logical. It will be recalled that last time it was the Communists who were dizzy with success. With their faction of 120 deputies, the Ukrainian Marxists wanted something more than merely a decorative role of a red threat, but ended up empty-handed.

This time around, the same destiny almost befell Our Ukraine along with its free-moving satellites in the form of the factions of Oleksandr Moroz and Yuliya Tymoshenko. Now curses are being heaped on Petro Symonenko, who is accused of betraying the cause of the opposition and threatened with losing public support. But how can so-called bourgeois nationalists of Our Ukraine accuse the Communists of political treason? It is more like Petro accusing Ivan of marital infidelity. All the Ukrainian Leninists did was put an end to the openly perverted attempts to unite with their ideological opponents on the grounds of a semi-mythical opposition to the regime. As for the Socialists and Tymoshenko Bloc members, the term ideology is not applicable to them. Granted, they may be professional politicians guided by talented leaders, but these talents have developed on the soil of a total lack of ideological principles, which is quite fertile and will bring forth many more political stars in the future.

Thus we have witnessed another realignment of political forces, with the Communists moving closer to the center. Those hit hardest by this political maneuver can be divided into two camps. A leader with an immense charisma and over a hundred followers that have found themselves in a situation similar to that faced by the Communists in 2000, on the one hand, and the Socialists and Tymoshenko Bloc, on the other. The blue chip share of their factions has suddenly turned into a meaningless privatization certificate, which some used to buy factories and steamships, while for the others it remained a useless piece of paper.

The Communists have found themselves in the best situation. Apparently, they have turned a deaf ear to the accusations and threats. For now they will be carrying out a political reform together with the majority. In order to picture how this will happen and where this will lead, we have to return to 2000. Then members of half-forgotten UNR, Batkivshchyna, and Reforms Congress factions, having received their share of the pie of parliamentary power, started breaking their promises and rallied around then Premier Yushchenko. Under such conditions the majority was rendered powerless, and months later Verkhovna Rada was in fact paralyzed. This situation can be repeated again today. Not to let their voters forget about them, the Communists will again resort to their rhetoric berating the “criminal regime,” will boycott votes on key bills, and, in a word, will do precisely what Yushchenko followers did in 2000.

But all this will happen after the constitutional reform is either approved or voted down. For a wonder, it would serve the interests of all parliamentary forces, except those of Our Ukraine. The apologists of the so-called people’s president have antagonized almost all in the parliament even before coming to power. Meanwhile, the present majority has an arithmetic possibility to get 300 ayes together with the Communists. Thus, it would be more expedient to join the reform process than watch others shape a new system of power as they wish.

Perhaps this is what the political technologists from the Yushchenko camp are pondering. Thus far their attempt to start an early election campaign for their leader has backfired. The specter of a powerless people’s president is getting more and more visible, while the appeals to the people — mostly engrossed in the Brigade gangster series running on television — find a response only on the Internet — a truly national place for the communication of the destitute people. Meanwhile, last Monday night Viktor Pynzenyk attempted to disclose Our Ukraine’s intentions to start a dialog with the majority. Now that they have been left powerless, the opposition forces in their present makeup will analyze where they had gone wrong this November and will choose a new, more realistic than holding the so-called forums of democratic forces, strategy of the election race. The more so that it is yet unknown what exactly they will be fighting for.


Our Ukraine parliamentary faction is ready to uphold a draft resolution to create an ad hoc committee that would ensure constant monitoring of the fulfillment of the citizens’ right to engage in peaceful activities, assemblies, and rallies, as well as the fulfillment of the law, On the Status of the People’s Deputy, Viktor PYNZENYK, representative of the Reforms and Order Party told journalists on the eve of the resumption of plenary sessions. He also said that the mentioned draft resolution was approved that same day at the meeting of faction and group leaders with the Verkhovna Rada speaker. According to Pynzenyk, “the faction is interested in resuming work in the parliament.” He also stressed that the faction does not want the events in Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Sumy, which disrupted Our Ukraine forums, “ever repeated” and wants the law enforcement agencies to stay out of the political process.