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Old 6th October 2014, 16:27
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Poroshenko expects new Rada to abolish parliamentary immunity
Oct. 6, 2014, 12:27 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for the cancellation of the parliamentary immunity, and expressed the hope that the newly elected Verkhovna Rada will do this.
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Gwendolyn Sasse: Parliamentary elections will deepen divisions in Ukraine
Oct. 4, 2014, 3:54 p.m. | Op-ed — by Gwendolyn Sasse CARNEGIE EUROPE

In the run-up to Ukraine’s parliamentary election on October 26, party politics in the country remains overshadowed by the daily uncertainty surrounding the ceasefire in the eastern Donbas area. As in the presidential election of May 2014, electoral participation will be low in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk due to displacements, security risks, and alienation from Kiev.

The parliamentary vote is vital for rebuilding the Ukrainian state, but it is unlikely to change the dynamics of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In fact, it is bound to cement the current political reality of Donetsk and Luhansk operating outside the Ukrainian state structures.

The election comes both too late and too early. On the one hand, it is a necessary belated corrective aimed at restoring democratic legitimacy at the center of Ukrainian politics. The political vacuum left by the Euromaidan antigovernment protests and the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovych had been filled by an interim government closely associated with the most vociferous political forces among the protesters.

Over the last few months, with Western support, this interim government increasingly looked like a government intent on staying, thereby fueling Russian-supported separatist mobilization in eastern Ukraine. Ideally, the parliamentary election would have been held alongside the presidential poll in May.

On the other hand, the parliamentary election now seems premature, as domestic and international attention is focused on the conflict and Ukraine’s party scene has been shaken up but not yet consolidated into something new. For the first time since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, there is no clear party representing the political and economic interests of the southeast.

The Party of Regions, closely associated with Yanukovych, has been severely weakened. Its supporters have either defected to other parties, such as the Petro Poroshenko Bloc or Strong Ukraine, quit politics, or begun to consider running as independents. It is therefore unclear which parties would channel opposition to the policies pursued by President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The current electoral system is a mixed one, with half of Ukraine’s 450 deputies elected via party lists and the other half in single-member districts. This means that individuals once associated with the Party of Regions still stand a chance of reentering parliament, but it increases the uncertainty about their affiliations after the elections. A high number of “floating” members of parliament would make governing effectively extremely difficult.

This will be the first postindependence election in Ukraine dominated by one party—the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. Previous elections had pitted two relatively evenly balanced parties representing different regional interests against each other.

According to the latest opinion poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, a nongovernmental organization, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc is expected to gain 26.9 percent of the vote. Then come the nationalist Radical Party and the Fatherland Party of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, with about 6.2 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.

At the moment, over a third of the electorate is still undecided. This gives other small parties the chance of crossing the 5 percent threshold needed to enter the parliament. Those parties include Yatsenyuk’s newly established People’s Front, former defense minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s Civil Position, and Strong Ukraine, led by former central bank chief Serhiy Tihipko.

The poll put expected electoral participation in the eastern regions at 23.5 percent. This prospect draws attention to the uncertain but legally enshrined “special status” for parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. The law establishing this status, which was passed behind closed doors in mid-September, forms part of the long road to peace in Poroshenko’s negotiations with Russia.

The law has widely been reported as creating a three-year autonomy arrangement for Donetsk and Luhansk. But a closer look at the text of the law reveals ambiguities. Only some as yet unspecified “raions” or administrative units of the two regions will enjoy “local self-government” within a three-year period. There are numerous references to the Ukrainian constitution as the basis of these arrangements and to the continued involvement of central-state institutions.

The law gives the raions in question the option to use the Russian language (and other languages) in education, the mass media, state institutions, and public life. The text also allows local and central authorities to adopt agreements on the economic, social, and cultural development of the raions and to engage in crossborder cooperation with territorial and administrative units in Russia.

The most concrete element of the law is the announcement of local elections in the raions on December 7, 2014. This date, rather than that of the national parliamentary election, could become a focal point in the separatist regions—not least because it would have to be clarified by then which raions are eligible for the “special status.”

The law itself is a defensive, ad hoc measure to facilitate negotiations with the separatists and Russia rather than a forward-looking strategy on the reform of the Ukrainian state. Singling out subsections of the two regions in the east as problem areas in need of special measures confirms the status quo—Ukraine’s de facto loss of control over parts of its territory.

A more productive move would have been a serious commitment to decentralization throughout Ukraine, demonstrating that Kiev is in charge of the state design. This process would also help regenerate Ukraine’s party-political landscape.

While the October 26 parliamentary election is necessary to rebuild democratic legitimacy from within, the vote’s immediate effect will be the opposite: to deepen existing divisions and anchor them in Ukraine’s political system. Kiev’s hesitation on the issue of decentralization has made matters worse.
Parliamentary Elections Will Deepen Divisions in Ukraine - Carnegie Europe
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Old 7th October 2014, 21:12
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Parliament votes for creation of anti-corruption bureau ap

KYIV, October 7 /Ukrinform/. Ukrainian lawmakers have adopted at first reading a draft law on the system of specially authorized entities in combating corruption.

A total of 278 MPs voted for this decision on Tuesday, Ukrinform's correspondent reported.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Turchynov said that presidential bill No. 5085 would be the first issue considered on October 14. The speaker expressed hope that it would be finally adopted on October 14.

Alternative bills (No. 5125) from Svoboda and (No. 5125/1) from Batkivschyna were not considered, because they were filed late last night and this morning and were not discussed at a meeting of the concerned parliamentary committee.

The speaker noted that the presidential bill would get proposals from these two factions, a consensus would be reached and that an important bill establishing a national anti-corruption bureau would be adopted next week.

Parliament votes for creation of anti-corruption bureau| Ukrinform
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Old 9th October 2014, 00:45
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Mirror Weekly is Ukraine's international newspaper.
More than 6 thousand candidates registered to the parliamentary election
8 october | 15:08

302 candidates are current deputies.

elections
6 thousand candidates will take part in the election, 302 are existing deputies
yes-i-do.com.ua
6 627 candidates have registered for early elections to Verkhovna Rada, 302 of which are current deputies. This was stated by the coordinator of the parliamentary and electoral programs of the Civil network OPORA Olha Aivazovska.

According to her, the most active deputies in the current elections are coming from Petro Poroshenko Bloc (42 candidates). Batkivshchyna is the second - 26 candidates, and Svoboda is the third - 23 candidates.

149 existing deputies are in majority constituencies, 100 of which are independent.

Aivazovska noted that 60% of candidates that are nominated by proportional part of the electoral system with closed lists do not belong to any political force.

The largest number of people without party tickets is in Opposition Bloc party
More than 6 thousand candidates registered to the parliamentary election - Election in Ukraine 2014 - mw.ua
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Old 9th October 2014, 13:03
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Hot race in District 140 with former Party of Regions lawmaker Davyd Zhvania running again in Odesa Oblast
Oct. 9, 2014, 1:44 p.m. | Politics — by Anastasia Forina

Where: Biliaivka, Odesa Oblast, District 140

Polling stations: 111

Number of voters:178,320

Number of candidates: 25

A hot race is expected in district 140 in Odesa Oblast, where former Party of Regions lawmaker Davyd Zhvania, elected here in 2012, is running for re-election. This time, however, his chances to win appear to be doubtful, even after front-runner and former Odesa Oblast governor Eduard Matviychuk moved to a different constituency.

Before he changed districts, Matviychuk led in a poll by Sociopolic research agency in September with 29.7 percent support. After him, Viktor Dobriansky, an Odesa Oblast council deputy got 11.3 percent support while Zhvania - 8.6 percent.

Zhvania, 47, was an ally of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, but is now nominated by President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc.

Poroshenko’s inclusion of Zhvania has been criticized. Chesno public movement, which has been analyzing candidates since 2011, put him on the list of so-called “dangerous” candidates for voting in favor of the so-called “dictator laws” on Jan.16 that restricted free speech and protests during the waning days of Yanukovych’s administration..

n 2012 Zhvania was accused of violating rules of election campaign. However, even after Odesa Administrative Court held that his charitable activity was direct bribery of voters, his candidacy wasn’t excluded from the election.

If elected, Zhvania plans to focus on achieving peace, order and prosperity, according to his agenda, published on the Central Election Commission website. He wants to develop and improve the national army so it can meet NATO standards and would draw on Israel’s experience to strengthen state borders. He also favors decentralization of power.

Dobriansky, 33, is a self-nominated candidate. Controversy around him is linked to the legal dispute he is involved over the ownership of Seventh Kilometer, Ukraine’s largest commodity market. The market, which now occupies 700,000 square meters near Odesa, was founded in 1989 by his grandfather, who died last year.

Dobriansky’s election goals include fighting corruption and bureaucracy, reducing unemployment level, improving national currency and supporting small business, according to his agenda. He plans to introduce new support program for small and medium businesses, new labor code and affordable mortgage lending, among other.

Dobriansky was running in 140 constituency in 2012 but got just 12 percent of votes while Zhvania received 32 percent. Hot race in District 140 with former Party of Regions lawmaker Davyd Zhvania running again in Odesa Oblast
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Old 9th October 2014, 13:22
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Khoroshkovsky's luxurious residence spotted in Kyiv suburb (VIDEO)
Oct. 8, 2014, 6:33 p.m. | Ukraine — by Olena Goncharova

Former Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, who recently returned to Ukraine, is kept busy by more than his election campaign ahead of the Oct. 26 snap vote. He's also finishing construction of a luxurious mansion in Koncha Zaspa, a rich suburb of Kyiv.

At the center of the residence is a four-story palace. There are several lakes on its territory, and even a church, according to Groshi investigative TV program on 1+1 channel. Khoroshkovsky is the former co-owner of Inter TV channel, which he sold to his business partners Serhiy Lyovochkin and Dmytro Firtash in 2012.

According to the official statement at the time, Inter was valued at $2.5 billion. Khoroshkovsky owned 61 percent of it. Currently, his wealth is estimated by Forbes at $426 million.

Khoroshkovsky's property is believed to be sprawled on a stretch of land bigger than 138-hectare Mezhyhirya of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mykhailo Tkach, the journalist of Groshi who conducted the investigation, says it’s one of the biggest mansion he has ever seen. “We went there first in 2012 to check his buildings and then came back now to find out what’s going on there,” Tkach explained.

The journalist said the residence, which is located in the forest and is surrounded by a number of recreation facilities, is hidden from people’s eyes. The residents who live nearby, however, know about their famous neighbor who spent the last few years abroad hiding out from the Yanukovych regime after a loud resignation from the government in 2012.

The land on which Khoroshkovsky residence sits is protected from all directions. The only way to peek at the politician's mansion is by quadcopter. Tkach says he was amazed with what he had seen.

"I saw many buildings while doing my investigations, but this time I was shocked with what I've seen," Tkach adds.

The style of the buildings resembles that of Yanukovych’s Mezhyhirya. And likewise, the place is dotted with CCTV cameras and motion sensors.

“There are construction workers there now, so apparently he’s planning to finish building his residence soon,” Tkach says.

Khoroshkovsky, number two in Sergiy Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine party, was living in Monaco for almost two years. He claims he was there doing public works and “was meeting different people and negotiating on restoring Ukraine’s international image,” Khoroshkovsky said during a TV show on Oct. 5.

Ukraine's election legislation specifically says that the prospective candidate has to reside in Ukraine for the last five years to qualify for registration by the Central Election Commission. Despite that, Khoroshkovsky's candidacy was registered, and the registration was then challenged by a number of former journalists who are also running for parliament on Petro Poroshenko Bloc's list.

Khoroshkovsky's luxurious residence spotted in Kyiv suburb (VIDEO)
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Old 10th October 2014, 13:46
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Poroshenko's Bloc: Old & New Faces
Oct. 10, 2014, 12:04 a.m. | Politics — by Olena Goncharova

Don't even try to find a website for Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, the presidential party that is set to win the most votes in the Oct. 26 parliamentary election. Unless the party's old name is known - Solidarnist - Google won't help.

The bloc is still using the old Solidarnist website as the online base for its campaign platform. Moreover, if one wants to learn what the party stands for, all you have to do is find the program that Poroshenko used in the May 25 presidential election. The text of his bloc’s official platform is recycled. The only difference was replacing the single pronoun “I” with “we” throughout the text.

These things may be symbolic, but they provide a glimpse into what kind of a party Poroshenko’s Bloc is, and what it stands for. It has the highest number of sitting lawmakers of all the political forces competing in the race – a total of 42. By comparison, the closest rival in that sense is Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, with 26 lawmakers currently sitting in the Rada, according to OPORA, the biggest election watchdog.

Poroshenko’s slogan is Living the New Way. Considering the number of old faces in both the proportional ballot and the majority race, the slogan has frequently been target of public criticism.

Some 26.9 percent of Ukrainians who are planning to vote will choose Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, according to the latest survey conducted by Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with Kyiv-based International Institute of Sociology.

There are also young enthusiasts who are coming to the parliament on Poroshenko’s party ticket and want to change the quality of politics in Ukraine. There are about a dozen of young journalists and activists who are new to politics on this list, which constitutes about 6 percent of the official party list of 200 candidates.

“I think when the journalists and civic activists enter parliament it means that political mobilization has started,” says Svitlana Zalishchuk, 31, who heads Chesno civic movement, which is a pro-transparency campaign. She is running the 18th of the party list.

Zalishchuk admits, however, that she does not feel fully comfortable with many people in Poroshenko’s Bloc “whose reputation is battered.”

“I believe it may badly affect party rating as well,” she says, adding that for many young politicians it is a problem on how to get into the parliament. “In order to get something you need to lose first,” Zalishchuk says. “We (young politicians) sacrificed our image and joined so-called ‘old parties’ in order to have a chance to change the system from inside.”

Others like her include former Ukrainska Pravda investigative journalists Serhiy Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem, as well as Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, executive director of Yalta European Strategy, a non-governmental organization started by billionaire Viktor Pinchuk to promote European integration issues in Ukraine.

Oleksiy Haran, a political expert and professor at Kyiv Mohyla Academy, hopes the civic bloc will come of a great help for the Poroshenko’s party and the parliament itself.

“Those people represent the spirit of EuroMaidan Revolution and they will insist on bringing more radical changes to the parliament,” Haran explains. “However, I’m sure there would be debates between the activists on one hand and the business people on the other, as the last ones are mostly known for their conformist attitude.”

There are also plenty of military commanders on the list, including Crimean Colonel Yuliy Mamchur, Andriy Antonyshchak, coordinator of the first battalion of Ukraine’s National Guard and Azov Battalion member Oleh Petrenko, but election observers are typically skeptical about their potential performance.

“Militants got cart blanche, now that’s why we have many of them on the parties’ lists,” Oleksandr Leonov, the head of Penta center for political studies, said during the news conference in Kyiv on Sept. 19. “But we don’t have any examples when the military people were effective in the parliament.”

But people from the front lines are not the biggest internal threat for Poroshenko’s Bloc. It is dragging many old, unsavory practices to the new Rada from the past.

For example, OPORA recently pointed out that Poroshenko’s Bloc violated the election law by nominating Vitaliy Chudnovsky to run in the majority constituency 200 in Vinnytsia Oblast, without observing a proper procedure for his nomination through the party congress.

Despite Poroshenko’s recent statement that there are no people on his party who had voted for a number of anti-democratic laws on Jan. 16, there is at least one such person sheltered by the party, Vladyslav Atroshenko. He was nominated by the Poroshenko bloc in majority constituency number 206, in Chernihiv Oblast. Poroshenko’s party has not responded to the Kyiv Post request for a comment about this candidate.

Poroshenko himself said at a recent press conference that his party has a lot of people “who in the past had different views,” but are now “respectful people.”

But Vitaliy Bala, head of Situations Modeling Agency, a consultancy, sees it differently. “There are lots of people from the old system and even new politicians who will get there would probably work as a smokescreen,” he says.

Then, there is nepotism.

Oleksiy Poroshenko, the president’s older son, is running in a single-mandate constituency in Vinnytsia region. Poroshenko explained his son just came home from the war zone in Ukraine’s Donbas and decided to run in a constituency. “He didn’t ask my advice and he didn’t hide behind the lists. I’m proud of my son,” Poroshenko said during the news conference.

Moreover, Oksana Bilozir, a godmother of one of Poroshenko’s daughters, is running on his party list. Viktor Baloha, the former Emergency Minister, as well as his brother and his cousin, are nominated by the party in Zakarpattya Oblast.

Bala said that that the set of people supported by Poroshenko’s party will find it difficult to come up with a good road map for Ukraine.

“It may be one of the most incompetent parliaments we’ve ever had and rather heterogeneous one,” Bala explains. “The deputies don’t know why do they need a new parliament. Without clear defined mission, it will be very difficult to find something that will unite this political force.”

However, Iryna Herashchenko, the presidential envoy for eastern Ukraine, is certain the Poroshenko’s Bloc has a clear vision of what to do in a parliament. Herashchenko, who is number nine on the list, said the party will do “everything to make the presidential peace plan work.”

Poroshenko's Bloc: Old & New Faces
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Old 10th October 2014, 13:47
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