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Congresses of Ukrainian parties to name presidential candidates

For the Party of Regions, formerly the country's leading, the elections will be a test to regain voter confidence

KIEV, March 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Congresses of four largest Ukrainian parties Batkivshchyna, UDAR, Svoboda (Freedom) and the Party of Regions will be held in Kiev on Saturday to name their candidates for the early Ukrainian presidential elections planned for May 25.

For the Party of Regions (PR), formerly the country's leading, the elections will be a test to regain voter confidence. The Regionals are experiencing the hardest time in their history. Viktor Yanukovich on Friday asked his fellow party members to relieve him of the powers of the party's honorary chairman and quitted the ranks. The party's Chairman Nikolai Azarov is not in the country. Thus, the Regionals have to elect their new leadership before nominating candidates. However, according to experts, the party will not have one obvious leader in the near future, and the main governing bodies will be the political council and the board (presidium). The political council will consist of deputies and leaders of regional organizations, and in the board will be seven to ten people, four of whom will represent the key regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov.

The self-nomination of four presidential candidates Sergei Tigipko, Mikhail Dobkin, Yuri Boiko and Oleg Tsarev indicates discord in the PR, analysts say. Parliament member Vadim Kolesnichenko from the Party of Regions told Itar-Tass that the party's leader in the Supreme Rada Alexander Yefremov also intended to run for the presidency.

Nevertheless, each of the self-nominees hopes for congress support. According to sociologists, Tigipko enjoys the highest rating among the candidates, who, by the way, is not reluctant to take the seat of the party's head. In the presidential elections in 2010, Tigipko, who was the leader of the party Strong Ukraine, was the third after Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich. After that, he was vice-premier for two years, but after the parliamentary elections in 2012, he was not included in the government and had only a seat of a deputy.

It is not the best time either for Batkivshchyna. Leader Yulia Timoshenko, who has decided to run for the presidency, has become a stumbling block. After being released from prison, she decided to quickly take the reins in her hands and attempted to form a pool of reliable advisers around her. But as it has turned out, not all her comrades in arms agreed to work for the leader. When Timoshenko was absent, the Batkivshchyna forces were reformatted, and many did not hope she would be released before the presidential elections. Moreover, there was a backroom agreement between Arseny Yatsenyuk, Alexander Turchinov, Oleg Tyagnibok and Vitaly Klitschko that Batkivshchyna and Svoboda would form a government and bodies of the prosecutor's office and local government and Klitschko would be supported by the political parties in presidential elections.

According to Timoshenko's fellow party members, she has no full control over the party. Despite her status of the leader, Timoshenko is often kept aside from taking staff decisions. Regional organizations of Batkivshchyna are headed by people who are not obliged by anything to her and do not believe she may win. Her comrades who personally persuaded her not to run for the elections say she is "deaf to the language of arguments".

Predicting defeat of Timoshenko in the elections, her comrades who are in power parliament speaker Alexander Turchinov appointed by the Supreme Rada acting Ukrainian president and Rada-appointed prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, as observers say, count on parliament member and businessman Pyotr Poroshenko, candidate number one, according to ratings. The latest survey shows he may gain 25 percent of votes in the first round, while Timoshenko and Vitaly Klitschko may get less than ten percent. Political analysts explain Poroshenko's high ratings by the loss of confidence in the three former opposition leaders Yatsenyuk, Klitschko and Tyagnibok, who during the long period of protests on Independence Square failed to display leader qualities. In addition, sociologists say, Poroshenko wins formerly Yanukovich-supporting voters to his side in eastern Ukraine and is popular in the country's western part, where his rating is almost five times higher than that of Timoshenko. Experts forecast that Poroshenko has high chances to become the fifth president of Ukraine.

The congress of the UDAR party will take place in the art museum Mystestkyi Arsenal located opposite the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. No surprises are expected in the nomination the party's leader Vitaly Klitschko already long ago publicly announced his ambitions. The day before the congress opening, speaking in the parliament, he numbered priority steps UDAR planned for the next few weeks amendments to the government-prepared anti-crisis package and measures to "protect the poor and come to a more fair anti-crisis law". He demanded to abolish high special pensions for senior officials, simplify the taxation procedure, get rid of excessive bureaucracy in ministries and departments and eliminate corruption schemes in executive power structures.

The all-Ukrainian union Svoboda (Freedom) will hold its 28th congress in the Kievproject Hall in the central part of the capital. No surprises are expected at the congress either the recognized leader is 46-year-old Oleg Tyagnibok. He started his political activities in 1989 as the head of the Lviv Students' Brotherhood. Since 1991 he has been a member of the Social National Party renamed Svoboda in February 2004. Since the time, he has been the party’s leader.

Svoboda stably occupies the right side in the Ukrainian political layout, seeking support first of all from people with nationalist sentiments in western and central regions. In the political part of its programme, the party demands to declare European Ukrainian centrism as the country's strategic course, stop any participation in the CIS, the Common Economic Space and EurAsEC, support the "only really geopolitical project with Ukraine's leading role" GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova), develop close political and economic cooperation with "natural allies" countries of the Baltic and Black Sea geopolitical region Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Baltic countries, Poland and Bulgaria, conclude bilateral agreements with the United States and Great Britain and demand from NATO countries to give advantageous conditions and clear guarantees to Ukraine and exact time for admission of Ukraine to the alliance.

Earlier, ex-Ukrainian deputy prosecutor-general Renat Kuzmin joined the presidential election race, and the Ukrainian Communist Party's leader Pyotr Simonenko and President of the all-Ukrainian Jewish Congress Vadim Rabinovich filed documents for the registration. The Right Sector radical party's leader Dmitry Yarosh, doctor Olga Bogomolets and unaffiliated parliament member Oleg Lyashko have also announced they intend to run for the presidency. The Ukrainian People's Party may name its candidate this Saturday.

Meanwhile, there is little time left for candidates to be registered by the Central Election Commission they must submit the package of documents to the commission by noon, March 30, including an election deposit of 2.5 mln hryvnias (about $236,000). The registration process will end on April 4.