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Ukraine Elections Expose Lack Of A Workers' Alternative
ELECTIONS TO the Verkhovnaya Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) have left workers with little to celebrate.
Grigory Poznyakov and Rob Jones.
"Our Ukraine" came first in the party list with 23.5% of the vote. This party, led by former Premier Yushenko, has a pro-Western, pro-NATO, neo-liberal programme. It gained ten times more votes in the western regions than in the Russian speaking east.
Although Yushenko has been depicted as the main figure in opposition to corruption in the government, he only moved into opposition when the Western business interests he has allied himself with started to lose out to Russian capital during Ukraine's privatisation process.
The Communist Party (CP) came second with 20% of the vote. Most spectacularly it lost control in many of the big industrial cities. It gained an average of 35% in the Russian speaking east and only 4% in the west, reflecting its image as a party defending Russian interests. The dramatic collapse in its vote is due to workers' discontent over its lack of opposition to the government, in particular to privatisation.
Unfortunately there was no real alternative to the left of the CP, which could have picked up on this discontent. The Progressive Socialist Party, which gained a respectable 11% in the last Presidential elections has lost all of its seats in the Parliament, gaining only 3.2% of the popular vote this time. In the last two years, it has ditched most of the radical aspects of its previous programme, made links with Kiev businessmen and rejected its earlier internationalist position.
The Socialist Party, which developed out of the old Communist Party after the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought these elections on an openly capitalist programme. It won 6.8% of the vote.
But all the above parties are to some degree in opposition to President Kuchma and between them gained 70% of the vote. Kuchma's "For a United Ukraine" bloc gained just 11.8% of the popular vote but over 25% of the seats in the Parliament, becoming the biggest fraction.
It remains to be seen whether Kuchma can twist the arms of enough deputies elected as independents or from the other blocs to gain a majority in the Parliament.
The election campaign that preceded the voting was far from democratic. The mass media was dominated by pro-Kuchma propaganda and opposition candidates found many barriers to registration in their way. More sinister is the habit opponents of the regime have for dying in car accidents or simply getting shot.
The Ukrainian section of the CWI played an active role in these elections. It has explained that none of the present parties represent the Ukrainian working class, and that a genuine workers' party is required.
Several comrades stood for different positions with very respectable results. Andrei Kazakhov was elected to the city council in Dneproderzhinsk. In Kiev Sergei Denisyuk came second with 690 votes for a place on his regional council. We are convinced the vote was rigged in favour of the eventual winner, a businessman who stood to gain immunity from prosecution.
Oleg Vernik was nominated for the Verkhovnaya Rada, and despite only speaking once on TV he came 12th out of 25 candidates with 1,700 votes. These results show the clear possibilities that exist for genuine socialist ideas in the Ukraine today.
Solidarity Appeal From Kazakhstan
At the Metallist factory in Uralsk a special "trade union conference" is to be called at the initiative of the factory's management, the sole aim of which is to deselect the current trade union president Ionur Kurmanov.
Ionur, a CWI member, is known nationally as a determined and young trade union militant. His picture is used as the background on national TV whenever the trade unions strike. He was one of the first political prisoners and unfortunately not the last in the new capitalist Kazakhstan. His 'crime' - insulting the President. Then hundreds of trade unionists and socialists from all over the world protested at his imprisonment.
On his release from prison he was elected by the workers at his factory as President of the trade union. He has used this position to defend fiercely the rights of workers at the factory. He organised the biggest protest so far against the Nazarbayev regime when over 5,000 workers struck for five months.
Now the factory management have decided to try and get rid of this "undesirable" and are trying to organise a rigged conference to deselect him."
Please send faxes of protest to the Director of the Metallist Factory Akhmedzhanov A Kh. (For suggested wording email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tel: 00731-122-42330 with a copy to 007-095-2928906.
In The Socialist 19 April 2002: