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Political technology, who pays (and who pays who pays)? Ukraine

October 7, 2015

At some point over the next week or so, despite better judgement, a final pre-election forecast (guesstimate) will be published for the city of Odessa and also the Oblast.  This in turn, as far as the Odessa City Mayor campaign is concerned, will outline who will enter the almost certain second round of voting now that Sergei Kivalov seems likely to split the Gennady Trukhanov vote sufficiently to force one.

As Svetlana Fabrikant (fronting for Ihor Kolomoisky) seems set to fail convincingly in the first round, the second round will be between Sasha Borovik or Eduard Gurvitz (currently fighting over an overlapping voter base), verses Gennady Trukhanov and Sergei Kivalov (currently fighting over another common voter base).  Hence political technologies employed have insured that the Opposition Block have not entered a candidate for Mayor to avoid further splitting the Trukhanov vote and enabling a slim chance that Trukhanov (which Opposition Block would see as the least worst option), Kivalov (whilst he almost certainly won’t reach the second round is running not only to give his party a bump, but also to give his old friend Eduard Gurvitz a better chance in the second round), and their candidate if one had been entered, all failing to reach the second round leaving a Borovik verses Gurvitz to fight it out – A possible outcome to be avoided from an Opposition Block viewpoint even at the cost of not entering a candidate themselves.

A glance across at Dnepropetvosk on the other hand, sees Solidarity/Block Poroshenko deliberately entering a relatively unknown against a strong Opposition Block candidate in an attempt to insure Boris Filatov, for whom no love is lost in either camp, is not elected Mayor.  It would appear a deal has been cut between Solidarity and the Opposition Block to defeat Filatov with the acceptance that Opp Block emerge victorious.  A case of Kyiv settling for anybody but Ihor Kolomoisky’s friend in an oblast where Kolomoisky was governor and still holds considerable “shadow” influence – even if it means deliberately losing.

Thus far all fairly clear as to who is behind, and paying for, the named runners and riders campaigns.  The political technologies and strategies behind the examples above being fairly clear – if unofficial.  Far more examples exist of deals being cut, of candidates running to deliberately split the votes of others, or to deliberately win or to deliberately lose, etc across the nation.

The same old political games amongst the big players over the big and influential seats in Ukraine.

However, there are a lot of small parties running in the local elections and hundreds of self-nominated candidates for Mayor across the nation too.  By way of example, there are close to 40 registered candidates for Mayor of Odessa City, despite the fact there are only really 4 candidates (5 if still counting Svetlana Fabrikant).

Looking at the other Odessa regions that also have elections for Mayor it is perhaps worthy of listing some of them and pondering where the candidates financing comes from and why some are running – for no election campaign is cheap, and whilst some financial backers are obvious due to major party affiliation, others are simply mystifying.

Belgorod-Dniester currently has no incumbent as Igor Nanovskogo was removed from office in connection with criminal proceedings some time ago.  The Solidarity candidate is Alla Ginak.  The Renaissance Party candidate is a former called Mayor Mykola Datsenko.  The Socialist candidate is a current deputy, Nikolay Dimov.  The People Power candidate is civil activist Sergey Kvitkovsky.  The Strong Ukraine candidate is the current City Council Secretary Vladimir Menzelintseva.  Lastly, the only self-nominated candidate for this district is the former Minister of Ecology Igor Shevchenko.

Ismail is far simpler.  The acting head of the city Andrei Abramchenko is the Solidarity candidate.  Against him run only to self-nominated candidates Ivan Papushenko and Dmitry Schieder – both local businessmen.

Illichovsk seems a little crowded and may well see a second round of voting no differently to Odessa City.  The current Mayor and Solidarity candidate is Valery Hmelnyuk.  The Batkivshchyna candidate is Anatoly Alexandrov.  The Revival candidate is local councilor Vasily Gulyaev.  There are also four self-nominations – Vadim Bely the director of high school in Illichovsk, social activist Gennady Dashko, a pensioner Nikolai Moysyuk and Vladimir Trofimenko who is really hard to label as being anything.

In Kotovsk the acting Mayor is a self-nominee called Anatoly Ivanov.  Another self-nominee also within the current administrative set up there is Nikolai Ivanov.  Opposition Block nominee is Natalia Vlasyuk.   Vitaly Dragomaretsky is the Our Land (Anton Cisse’s party) candidate.   There is then Nikolay Vorsulyak for the Samovydvizhenets Party, Valery Ponepalyuk of BTS, and self-nominees Natalia Ryazanov and Alexander Yaroshenko.

The Teplodarskyu race sees the current mayor Leonid Pechersky running as an independent.  The Opposition Block candidate is the former first deputy mayor Alexander Aleksiychuk.  Current regional councilor Michael Zhovnir runs for the Specific Cases party, whilst the Patriot Party fields Mikhail Pokrovsky.  Sergei Skvortsov runs for Samovydvizhenets.

In the south of the oblast, the acting Mayor Vladimir Nowacki is a self-nominee.  For Strong Ukraine runs Andrey Zelenova,  Our Land has Andrei Onosova, for Svoboda runs Jacob Tchaikovsky, The Party of Ordinary People fields Sergei Kaplina, with other self-nominees being Viktor Shvets, current administration employee Elena Volovenko, adviser to the Mayor of Odessa and the Odessa City Council Deputy Alexander Georgiev, Deputy Head of the Administration of the Seaports of Ukraine Alexander Grigorashenko, and finally pensioner Oleg Sidorenko.

Ananiev sees Solidarity candidate and current head, Paul Makovetskii campaigning against the son of the chairman of the regional council, Alexander Balan of the Opposition Block, Peter Zeykan for Batkivshchyna, Aleksey Medvedev for Anton Cisse’s Our Land, former employee of the regional state administration Irina Ostash runs the Agrarian Party and pensioner Vyacheslav Kiss is a self-nominee.

Artsyz, currently mayor-less after a corruption scandal, puts the Opposition Block Deputy Mayor Olga Dobryakova against Igor Lado of BTS, Vladimir Mihov for the Our Edge Party, and several self-nominees – Leonid Muratkov, Vasily Raichev, Dmitriy Marchenko and Ruslan Cambuur.

Short and sweet in Berezovka where  the current Batkivshchyna Mayor Valery Grigorash competes with his predecessor Yuri Zhelikhovsky and a self-nominated lawyer called Nikolay Morohovich.

Bolgrad which is also currently without a Mayor after Sergei Korolyov was caught in nefarious activities, sees Opposition Block candidate Sergei Dimitriev run against a former Mayor and self-nominee Vladimir Kachanov, with a former district employee called Artur Christ completing a very short list.

Another short list in Vylkove where the current acting Mayor Nikolai Dzyazin, is challenged by the current Chairman of the District Council Matvey Ivanov.

With current Mayor Maksim Pereverzev accused of corruption and deciding not to stand, in Kilie for Solidarity runs former Deputy Head of the Regional Administration Tatiana Boychenko.  Against her runs Oleg Vaydich of the Specific Cases Party, a pensioner Margarita Garate for the Opposition Block,  Vladislav Morozan for Our Land, another pensioner Inna Prokhorov runs for the Patriotic Party, with self-nominees Dmitry Karaj and historian Victor Cenusa.

Kodyma has had a vacancy for mayor for 2 years when Vladimir Sklyaruk resigned.  He has decided to run again as an independent.  The Opposition Block Acting Mayor and city council secretary Tatiana Cooper runs against him as does self-nominee Nikolai Kondratiev, and for Batkivshchyna Vasily Shevchuk.

Over in Reni where Governor Saakashvili wants to put his new road from Odessa en route to Romania, the current incumbent is Sergei Koljevic who runs as an independent, as does former Vice Mayor Victor Kudrev, and Sergei Lukiyanchenko.  Anatoly Makhov runs for BTS, with Igor Plekhov of Batkivshchyna and Basil Saevsky of the Agrarian Party completing the candidates.

Razdelnaya witnesses Mayor Valery Shovkalyuk attempt reelection as a self-nominee running against a former acting mayor (after the arrest of Kindyuka) Palaz Yuri who also goes to the polls as an independent.  Other self-nominees are Igor Dovganenko  and ex- State Migratory Service officer Vitaly Pisarevsky.  For the Opposition Block Sergey Dolgii, for BTS the head of District Council Sergei Krylov and for Trust Deeds Mikhail Luzhny.

Tatarbunary sees Mayor Viktor Shvets decline to participate being on remand for bribery.  Thus for Specific Cases runs Irina Vykhristyuk.  Against her, self-nominee and current Secretary of the City Council Andriy Glushchenko , Power of the People candidate Diana Sergienko, Vladimir Usatenko of STD, with Basil Chumachenko running for Svoboda and Yuriy Chumachenko for the Patriot Party.

Almost all readers will have absolutely no clue who most of the candidates are, why many are even running and who encouraged them to run and to what end, and even less of a clue about any of the smaller parties, let alone who finances them or who finances those that finance them.  As the current law stands, who finances both personalities known and unknown, and parties large and small, insures a more than convenient political opaqueness for the political technologists, grey cardinals and shadowy figures shuffling around behind the political curtain.

who-to-vote-for

If the above local political chaos is mind boggling, it relates to but 1 oblast of 24 that make up Ukraine, all that have countless small parties and innumerable candidates paid for by somebody to participate in a political process that is not exactly cheap, even if only to push a technical candidate simply to split the vote of another to benefit a third party (directly or indirectly), or to insure a minor political party deprives a bigger one of a local council majority for nefarious ends.

However, draft law №2123a “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning prevention and counteraction to political corruption” is due to hit the Verkhovna Rada legislative timetable on 8th October.

This draft legislation proposes administrative and criminal liability for violations for the provision or receipt of donations to a candidate submitting knowingly false information with regard to property, income, expenses and financial obligations, and misuse of campaign funds.

It proposes strengthening the instruments available to the Accounting Chamber and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption over the financing of political parties.  It aims to limit the amount of contributions to parties by individuals and legal entities, disclose major donors to parties, establish annual internal and independent financial audits of a political party as well as its local organisations that hold legal status.

Further it will oblige all parties to publish a report on the property, income, expenses and financial obligations in full on the official website of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption.  It also seeks to introduce State funding of political parties, subject to party discipline and financial statements.

Should this law be adopted it will not be retrospective and therefore will not throw any light upon this election, leaving many to wonder just who sponsors whom, at what cost and to what end – keeping many cynical voters cynical and the media rumour mill working overtime.

As there still remains a reasonable chance of early Verkhovna Rada elections in Spring 2016, there is a big question over whether this law will be adopted on 8th October 2015 (or ever), for it presents the feckless and nefarious political personalities and oligarchy behind the throne(s) with hitherto absent problems of transparency – notwithstanding keeping those entering politics with goodwill and pure heart being unsure as to what exactly any party they join actually represents.

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