November 20, 2018

Elections-2019: Transformation of the Former “Party of Regions”

At the beginning of November 2018, part of the pro-Russian camp of the Ukrainian politicians showed a trend to uniting for joint actions in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

November 9, leader of the party “For Life” Vadym Rabinovych and co-head of the “Opposition Bloc”'s faction in the Parliament Yuriy Boyko signed an agreement on the creation of the “Opposition Platform — For Life”. Negotiations on the formation of a united political force had lasted from mid-September. Apart from Medvedchuk, Firtash and Lyovochkin, involved in the negotiations was Rinat Akhmetov, the de facto leader of half of the parliamentary faction of the “Opposition Bloc”.

The Party “For Life” is associated with the oligarch Victor Medvedchuk, who has been financing it for a long time, and at the end of July 2018 officially became a member of this political force.

Yuriy Boyko is an old partner of Serhiy Lyovochkin (in 2010–2014 he was the head of V. Yanukovych's Presidential Administration of Ukraine) and oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

November 15, the new political force agreed on a presidential candidate. At a press conference, V. Rabinovych stated that he was withdrawing his candidacy in favor of Yu. Boyko. On the same day, the “Party of Ukraine's Development” (another political force that emerged on the basis of the former Party of Regions), headed by Yuriy Miroshnychenko, announced its joining the “Opposition Platform — For Life”. It should be noted that Y. Miroshnychenko in 2010–2014 was the representative of the President of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada.

The union of Firtash, Lyovochkin and Medvedchuk allows them to combine their financial and media assets: the Inter Media Group, which includes the TV channel “Inter” and channels “112 Ukraine” and “NewsOne”, controlled by Medvedchuk.

However, the challenge for a new political force is the position R. Akhmetov, who controls half of the “Opposition Bloc”'s faction and most local branches of the party in industrial cities of the South and East of Ukraine.

Shortly after the creation of the “Opposition Platform — For Life” in the media controlled by R. Akhmetov, there were reports that he and his entourage had already made the final decision not to join the project of Medvedchuk, Firtash and Lyovochkin's groups and, in the near future, to exclude the latter two from the parliamentary faction, and give it a new name — “Strong Regions”.

These events indicate that major political players have begun preparations for parliamentary elections. They use the presidential campaign, hoping to form their factions in the upcoming parliament (which, in our opinion, will be highly fragmented), to strengthen their positions in negotiations with the future President of Ukraine.