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KIEV, October 26 /TASS/. Ukrainians will elect a new parliament (Verkhovnaya Rada) on Sunday. The old legislature worked for only two years: the past few months have passed amidst deep political and economic crisis. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko terminated the powers of the existing parliament on August 25, 2014 three months after he himself had risen to power and a month after a pro-government parliamentary coalition had fallen apart following the withdrawal of the UDAR (Punch) and Svoboda parties.
Opinion polls carried out by sociological services on the eve of the vote revealed that 6 or 7 Ukrainian parties have a chance to get into the new parliament. The Petro Poroshenko Bloc tops the election ratings with one third of the voters ready to cast ballots for the incumbent president’s party.
Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party and Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front will fight for the second and third places. From 8% to 14% of the voters can support Lyashko’s Radical Party while the People’s Front is expected to gain between 7%-15% of the votes.
The Batkivshchina Party may get from 7% to 8%.
The Opposition Bloc may gain about 8% of the votes mainly in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Other parties that may get into parliament include the Civil Position of ex-defense minister Anatoly Gritsenko (6.4%); the Samopomoshch (self-help) party led by Lvov Mayor Andrei Sadovyi (5.5%) and the Svoboda party led by Oleg Tyagnibok (5.2%).
The Communist Party of Ukraine may overcome the 5% barrier (about 4.9%).
The Poroshenko Bloc will offer the Strategy-2020 programme to the voters. It provides for about 60 reforms, including anti-corruption and judicial reforms, a reform of law enforcement agencies and national security bodies; power decentralization and development of entrepreneurship.
Voters have been promised that Ukraine will enter the list of world’s top 20 countries with easiest rules and regulations for doing business and will be able to apply to full EU membership in the foreseeable future.
Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party has chosen a set of populist slogans as its election programme. The party main tasks include “victory in the war”, the restoration of Ukraine’s nuclear status, “neutralization of internal enemies”, broad lustration, power decentralization and the introduction of a “crisis tax” on oligarchs. The Radicals also suggest “annulling all debts to Russia” and demand that foreign creditors write off 75% of external international loans.
The People’s Front led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Parliament Speaker Alexander Turchinov is set to pursue a pro-European course and create “a strong and independent Ukraine.” The party’s main task is to restore the country’s territorial integrity.
The People’s Front calls for preserving the Ukrainian language as the only state language in Ukraine and protecting the “national information space” from Russia’s influence.
The Civil Position of ex-defense minister Anatoly Gritsenko has forged an election union with the Democratic Alliance. Their election programmme is also based on patriotic slogans.
The key task is to introduce standards and criteria necessary for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and NATO; establish allied relations with the United States and Britain and achieve Ukraine’s energy independence by 2020.
Batkivshchina: peace talks from the position of force
“Ukraine will win!” is the election slogan of the Batkivshchina party. Its programme contains a call for conducting peace talks only from position of force. The party suggests denouncing laws on the special status of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and amnesty to participants in the events in southeast Ukraine; it also wants to imposing “its own sanctions on Russia”, “launch a programme of returning Crimea” and sue Russia in international courts.
The ultimate goal is Ukraine’s accession to NATO and full-fledged membership of the European Union.
The Strong Ukraine party of Sergei Tigipko has proclaimed the idea of uniting “all healthy forces in society” for the sake of the country’s unity, civil accord and free entrepreneurship. The party comes out for implementing a peace plan for southeast Ukraine on the basis of multilateral talks and holding elections to local self-government bodies in Donbas under control by international organizations.
In domestic politics, the party suggests broad “regionalization of management” and granting the right of independently defining the principles of language and cultural policy to regions.
The Samopomoshch association headed by Andrei Sadovyi, the ambitious mayor of Lvov from Western Ukraine, calls for adopting Ukraine’s new military doctrine; denouncing the country’s non-bloc status; building up arms production and pursuing an offensive, namely anti-Russian, information policy.
In the field of economy, Samopomoshch promises to develop ecological farming and animal husbandry; liberate small and mid-sized businesses from serfdom of financial and industrial groups and expand food exports.
Oleg Tyagnibok’s Svoboda party wants to break diplomatic relations with Russia for the period of military hostilities in eastern Ukraine and establish a visa regime with Russia.
The party calls for adopting measures to join NATO; increasing funding for the armed forces to 5% of the GDP; reorganizing the military-industrial complex and banning any military-technological cooperation with Russia.
Svoboda believes that Ukrainian should be the only state language in all parts of Ukraine. It also wants to ban the Communist ideology and recognize the veterans of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - the Ukrainian Insurgent Army /OUN-UPA/ as participants in the struggle for Ukraine’s state independence.
The Internet Party of Ukraine /IPU/ has chosen the names of Star Wars characters for its candidates. It has promised to appoint Darth Vader as prime minister if it wins.
Naturally, according to sociological surveys, the party has very little chance to get into parliament. However, it can still gain some votes from the protest electorate. Since, there will be no “against all candidates” column at these elections, casting a ballot for Darth Vader could be a form of protest voting.
At the same time, the party’s goals are not so exotic. It wants to create an effective mechanism of state administration, including the introduction of an “electronic government”, the websites of government services and electronic diaries. It also favours the installation of video cameras in bureaucrats’ offices with an aim to fight corruption. The party’s founder, Dmitry Golubov, says that the word “Internet” in the party’s name should be regarded as a symbol of progress, new technologies and new ideas.
These elections will determine the composition of Ukraine’s new parliament and government. After the February 2014 unrest, Verkhovnaya Rada returned to the 2004 Constitution which proclaims Ukraine to be a parliamentary - presidential republic.
It means that unlike under Viktor Yanukovich, it is not the president but parliamentary factions or a coalition of factions holding the majority in parliament will nominate a candidate for the prime minister.
The president will only have to formally submit the candidacy to parliament. The prime minister will then form a cabinet, which he will be later submitted to parliamentary for approval /the only exception are the defense and foreign ministers who are submitted to parliament directly by the president/.
Elections in Ukraine’s Donbas region remain one of the biggest problems. According to Ukraine’s Central Electoral Commission, 15 constituencies in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are not going to take part in the vote. Olga Aivazovskaya, coordinator of the Opora parliamentary elections programme, said that 2.8 million people in southeast Ukraine will remain uncovered by the elections.
The number of deputies in parliament will also change due to the situation in Donbas and Crimea’s separation from Ukraine. An equal number of 225 deputies were elected on party tickets and in one-seat constituencies at the previous parliamentary elections in 2012. This time, elections will not take place in 10 constituencies in Crimea, 2 constituencies in Sevastopol and 15 constituencies in the Donbas region. So, the next Rada will have a total of 423 deputies.
Kremlin Administration Chief Sergei Ivanov said on the brims of the Valdai international discussion club that had Russia held its elections in such a way, the West would have announced long in advance that it would not recognize their results because of numerous violations.
“But the Sunday elections will certainly be recognized. It’s a question of standards,” Ivanov said.
According to him, Russia is also going to recognize Ukraine’s parliamentary elections.
“We want the situation in Ukraine to go back to normal; we do not want Ukraine to be a state, which is hostile to Russia; but we want it to be a state which could maintain itself. We are certainly going to recognize them /election results/!” the Kremlin administration chief said.