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2019 Ukraine's presidential election: Bets of city mayors

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine has 30 cities with a population of 200 thousand people or higher; personal support of their mayors would play a lot during the upcoming elections
11:20, 25 February 2019

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How important is the support from the cities mayors of the candidates in presidential elections? Firstly, the situation in each city is different. The city mayor might control the local police. He is able to exert pressure on members of the election commissions, and somewhere this “function” is performed by the governor. After all, it is not necessary that the mayor and the governor control the power together and harmoniously.

Some mayors would be later supported or not supported by the winner. But who would be the winner? It is an open question. “The mayors would make a bet when there is too little time left before the elections so that Presidents Administration would not have time to make an act of revenge,” Ruslan Bortnyk, political analyst, assures.

According to the polls, now the leader of the race is Volodymyr Zelensky. But no one has yet demonstrated personal loyalty to him. Perhaps the mayors simply did not have time to “change their shoes in the jump” (because Zelensky has become the leader only recently).

Actually, social scientist Iryna Bekeshkina notes she does not see Zelensky in the second round.

Related: Key Yanukovych’s ex-sponsor Akhmetov bets on Poroshenko during 2019 elections

Simple solutions

We took all the cities with a population of 200 thousand people or higher. There were exactly 30 such cities in Ukraine. But six of them — Donetsk, Lugansk, Makiyivka, Sevastopol, Simferopol, and Horlivka — are occupied part of Donbas. Consequently, there are 24 such cities, controlled by Ukraine’s government. Speaking about the political sympathies of their leaders, one should immediately single out a small group of cities where the support of mayors is beyond doubt. Although there could be a double game, it is still unlikely.

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So, the first city is Lviv. Its mayor Andriy Sadovy is a presidential candidate. The second city is Kryvyi Rih, headed by Yuriy Vilkul, father of another candidate Oleksandr Vilkul.

Three more Ukrainian cities are headed by far-right Svoboda Party members. It is about Khmelnytsky and its mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ruslan Martsynkiv, and Ternopil and Serhiy Nadal. Far-right Svoboda party, as well as far-right extremist organizations Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Right Sector and C14 ( included in the American terrorist base) endorsed Ruslan Koshulynsky candidacy in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election. Symchyshyn, Martsynkiv, and Nadal recorded a video message under the slogan "Ruslan Koshulynsky is the only choice of the Ukrainians!"

On the hook

Those mayors, who almost certainly deployed a vowel or unofficial campaign for Petro Poroshenko, belong to the second category. They, in fact, have no other choice. Power holds them tightly on the hook of the criminal cases. Of course, they may take a chance and bet on another candidate, but in the event of the defeat of such a candidate, they will be not OK. Therefore, the mayors would not risk. So who are we talking about?

Related: Why oligarch Akhmetov snatched control of Ukraine's critical infrastructure

First of all, about Hennadiy Kernes, mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. The court hearings on the Kernes case, who have been accused of beating Maidan protesters, have been going on for more than one year. They are constantly being postponed due to the absence of Kernes’s lawyers, or because of his severe physical condition. The court refuses to bring him to the court by force. As a token of gratitude Kernes supports the current president.

The situation is similar with the mayor of Ukraine’s third largest city. We are talking about Odesa and Hennadiy Trukhanov, involved in the case of the appropriation of 6,6 million USD of budgetary funds. Trukhanov case is totally unraveling, and more recently, the car of activist Oleksandr Babych was burned in the city. He actively fought against illegal construction in Odesa, which, according to his own version, belonged to Trukhanov and businessman Halanternyk. It is unlikely that this can be considered just a coincidence.

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An interesting situation has developed in Kherson, where the city has been led by Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party member Volodymyr Mykolayenko. It would seem that he would apparently support Yulia Tymoshenko. But a bunch of the criminal cases concerning the abuse of power during amending the budget of Kherson have been opened against the official. And this makes Mykolayenko actions unpredictable.

Related: Leader of Odesa Antimaidan sentenced to 5 years behind bars

Almost the same situation is in Cherkasy. The local mayor, Anatoliy Bondarenko, is tied to the Batkivshchyna party, but at the same time, he is involved in a number of corruption scandals. However, there is no information on any criminal cases against Bondarenko. Therefore, his status “on the hook” is nothing more than a hypothesis.

Oleksandr Lysenko, Sumy mayor, is in the same situation. He is a member of Batkivshchyna and the person involved in the criminal case. Local court found Lysenko guilty of illegally raising his own bonus to 300%. Supposedly, Lysenko, Bondarenko, and Mykolaenko could support Yulia Tymoshenko’s candidacy. However, we cannot be sure that this would exactly happen. Perhaps the corrupt component will drag the scales in the other direction.

The agony of choosing

And if we are already talking about Yulia Tymoshenko, are there mayors in her cage, on which she could rely 100%? This question is difficult to answer. Perhaps one of these mayors is Vitaliy Maletsky from Kremenchug. Now he heads his own party "Poruch", but once was in the ranks of her "Batkivshchyna". The history of his relationship with this political force is long and dates back to 2006-2007. Then Maletsky established the first contacts with “Batkivshchyna” through Kostiantyn Zhevago, the then sponsor of Tymoshenko.

Maletsky is believed to be straddling two worlds (working for both Poroshenko and Tymoshenko). Like, as an official, it is better for him to rely on Poroshenko. But as a party member, he should choose Tymoshenko. Maletsky is not the only mayor with such doubts. The same situation is with Vitali Klitschko.

Related: ECHR obliges Ukraine to pay $12,500 to victims of attacks on Roma settlement in Odesa region

As you might know, when it came time to stand on one side or the other, the capital's mayor was in an Austrian hospital (just in time). In the end, Klitschko recorded a video in support of Petro Poroshenko right from the hospital. His appeal was broadcast on January 29 during the forum, at which Poroshenko announced his intention to run for a second term.

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And if the Kyiv head makes a choice between two feeders, then Volodymyr Buryak, Zaporizhia mayor, is between three candidates. Two criminal cases were also opened against Buryak, which automatically makes him loyal to the authorities. At the same time, “Batkivshchyna” won the local elections there, and this already changes the configuration of the use of administrative resources. In addition, we do not forget about Rinat Akhmetov (key Yanukovych’s ex-sponsor, who now bets on Poroshenko during 2019 elections), because when being the director of one of the Zaporizhstal metallurgical combine branches, Buryak, in fact, has been working for an oligarch for a long time.

Vladyslav Atroshenko, the mayor of Chernihiv, is in a trapped situation as well. Atroshenko is the one who gave Yanukovych the famous "golden loaf". When the political situation demanded loaves, Atroshenko did not hesitate to pitch them. When the Rada voted for the "dictatorship laws of January 16" (anti-protest laws are a group of ten laws restricting freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, - ed.) he took part in it. But when the Revolution of Dignity won, Atroshenko enlisted was included to Poroshenko’s Solidarity, and so he went to the mayoral elections.

Related: Klitschko met with Kurt Volker and Johannes Khan at Munich Conference

Swear allegiances

A number of mayors swore allegiance to Petro Poroshenko during his trips to the regions or during the January 29 forum. Let's start with the last one. Borys Filatov, Dnipro mayor, "accidentally" held a speech at the forum. Answering the question of journalists about what he was doing here, Filatov told how representatives of the president came to him three days before the event and offered to speak from the rostrum.

“Guest” Filatov spoke about the success of decentralization, stressing Poroshenko’s personal achievement in promoting this reform. By the way, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, who is called "a person of Rinat Akhmetov", turned out to be at the forum along with Filatov. Some six months ago, experts called Boychenko among the likely presidential candidates from Opposition bloc, but, as we see, it did not happen.

Serhiy Morgunov,  mayor of Vinnytsia, has also attended Poroshenko’s forum. Actually, the Vinnytsia region delegated an entire group to support the president: ministers Andriy Reva, Maksym Martyniuk, and Volodymyr Kistion. Serhiy Morgunov, Vinnitsa Regional head Valeriy Koroviy, his deputies and officials of lower rank were among those present.

Related: Poroshenko brings Tomos of autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine to Vinnytsia

Those mayors who were not invited to the metropolitan event, had the pleasure of meeting the head of the Ukrainian state in the regions or to pray with him and with the honorable patriarch Filaret about Tomos. In particular, Mayors of Zhytomyr Serhiy Sukhomlyn and Rivne head Volodymyr Homko did.

Difficult cases

A rather difficult situation has developed in Kropyvnytsky, where mayor Andriy Raykovych, a representative of Poroshenko’s Bloc, has contradictions with the head of the local governor from Batkivschyna Olexandr Chornoivanenko. Sociologists call Yulia Tymoshenko the nominal leader in this region, which means that Raykovych might be on her side.

The situation of political favoritism is questionable in Kamianske. The local mayor Andriy Bilousov, representative of Poroshenko’s Bloc, at the same time he has a fellow feeling for Opposition bloc. After Vilkul became deputy prime minister in the Azarov’s government in 2013, he appointed Hennadiy Temnyk under his control of the housing and utilities minister. His deputy was Andriy Bilousov, who nevertheless ran for the election from Poroshenko's Solidarity.

Related: Ukrainian politicians funneled 3,5 billion USD into offshores in 2018

As for Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Senkevych, the local mayor has left the Samopomich party at the end of December 2018, which nominated him as a city mayor. Senkevych explained that he did not want his party affiliation to "politicize" his work as a mayor.

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Mykolaiv has enough principled mayor, what could not be said about Chernivtsi and Poltava. Oleksiy Kaspruk, Chernivtsi mayor, (he is also a representative of the Front for Changes party,the former political party in Ukraine, led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The party merged into Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna in June 2013, - ed.), at this very moment, is fighting for reinstatement.

Related: Corruption schemes of Lviv mayor Sadovyi

Oleksandr Shamota Poltava, acting Poltava mayor, supposedly strongly hinders Poroshenko’s Solidarity faction. The former mayor and former member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions Oleksand Mamai, who, according to the local, is controlled by Yulia Tymoshenko, is trying to squeeze him back from his post.

As we see, everything is too confusing in the Ukrainian politics. There's going to be an emotional upheaval in President’s Administration, as well as in the regions. So, it is simply impossible to predict any clear election results.

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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