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Friction within the Oppo Block faction – To what end?

May 14, 2016

With the Opposition Block slowly gathering voter support in the absence of the current authorities seizing the political momentum and delivering far too little for far too many in the perception of the Ukrainian constituency, and albeit long predicted by this blog that the Opposition Block would split along the lines of the major oligarchy behind it, the split that is about to manifest is fronted by a somewhat unexpected source.

Within the Opposition Block there is a small group of MPs under the name of “Centre” led by Vadim Rabinovich, a man best known in Odessa, but not without a national profile too.  Mr Rabinovich (and “Centre”) is leaving the Opposition Block, though not the wider Oppo Block faction.

This move has caused an angry reaction from another Opposition Block MP, Mykola Skoryk.  (Mr Skoryk is a “Firtash/Lyovochkin loyalist and their lead man in Odessa.)  Historically Messrs Skoryk and Rabinovich have been close – although perhaps not quite as thick as thieves (to use a chosen idiom carefully).

Mr Skoryk has accused his long time friend of being a weak link and to caving in to the current powers.

Mr Rabinovich responded by claiming that the Opposition Block and Mr Skoryk in particular, do not engage in the nation’s politics, thus failing in their duties to their voters.  He cited votes over Arseniy Yatseniuk’s resignation, the sacking of Vikor Shokin etc., in which Mr Rabinovich voted and Mr Skoryk didn’t.  Mr Rabinovich went on to state that is was “with great sadness” that he crossed Mykola Skoryk from the list of good people in Odessa.  Only time will tell if this be a bridge permanently burned.

Their personal snide remarks aside, interesting and entertaining as they will be to the local constituency of Odessa in particular, there are questions to be asked.

Vladim Rabinovich

Vladim Rabinovich

Why has Mr Rabinovch and “Centre” left the Opposition Block now?

Has it any connection to a new Prosecutor General being appointed?  Is he distancing himself from the Opposition Block preemptively – or perhaps doing so after receiving “advice” from behind the curtain?  Are the ex-Regionaires about to face serious investigation for numerous scams and schemes during the Yanukovych era (as unlikely as they may be)?

If he is about to lead another party within the Oppo Block faction financed by others rather than Messrs Firtash/Lyovochkin – who is the money man?

Mr Rabinovich is a sly, prickly, entertaining, but certainly not stupid long-standing politician who has a reasonably high profile.  His leaving the Opposition Block, though not the Oppo Block faction, is not something that just happens.  He is wealthy, but not wealthy enough to fund, finance and promote a new political party.

Undoubtedly there will soon be others within the Opposition Block that will tie their flag to the Rabinovich flag pole in the coming months, and they will require their “reward”.

It is perhaps lazy thinking to simply assume that Rinat Akhmetov will be behind whatever appears, despite the long-standing prediction of this blog that the split of the Opposition Block would be along Firtash/Lyovochkin verses Akhmetov fault lines  – though it should also not be discounted Mr Akhmetov may be behind the move.  It seems a little unlikely that Mr Rabinovich would be Mr Akhmetov’s choice of front man.

Mr Rabinovich has historical business ties to Ihor Kolomoisky – most notably a now defunct national Jewish TV channel that folded when Mr Kolomoisky withdrew financial support.  Mr Kolomoisky sponsors several parties and numerous parliamentarians (of ex-Regionaires) that are in opposition (when it serves his purposes) to the current authorities.  There are obvious gains for Mr Kolomoisky to further split the Opposition Block now it has some traction within the electorate, increasing his parliamentary clout whilst reducing that of the other oligarchs associated with the Opposition Block.

However, it may also ultimately manifest as another “technical party” quietly supported by President Poroshenko, similar to that of Nash Krai.  Nash Krai is also a collection of ex-Regionaires, but has recently become (as anticipated) somewhat more “difficult” in its demands to follow the presidential line.  No differently to the motivation outlined above for Ihor Kolomoisky, splitting the Opposition Block vote (again as with Nash Krai) suits the current authorities and would provide an alternative and/or addition to Nash Krai.

Looking at Mr Rabinovich’s voting record it is somewhat mixed so trends are difficult to interpret – but on issues that really mattered to President Poroshenko, the removal of Arseniy Yatseniuk as Prime Minister and the removal of Viktor Shokin as Prosecutor General etc., Mr Rabinovich voted along the presidential line – coincidentally, or not.

Thus it remains unclear as to who is behind the friction in the faction of the Opposition Block and who has chosen Vladim Rabinovich as “their man” for a future party having now identified several options with both the money and the motive to create a new party that splits the Opposition Block voter base at the expense of Messrs Firtash, Lyovochkin and their man in Odessa – Mykola Skoryk.

Perhaps the future voting of Mr Rabinovich and his “Centre” group will shed some light in the immediate term before all behind the curtain becomes clearer.

* * * * * * * *

A note to regular readers – Your author will be in Asia for about a month with effect from tomorrow (again).  Entries will continue to appear fairly frequently – some by guest authors (which will probably make a refreshing change for many of you).  Daily entries as is usually the case however, are somewhat unlikely, despite the best of intentions.

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