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Why does oligarch Kolomoisky create party of mayors?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Kolomoisky, although returned to Ukraine not so long ago, is completely socialized in the current political moment. Soon, a new party will appear under his auspices
23:37, 27 May 2019

Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoysky
pravda.com.ua

Early parliamentary elections have accelerated the process of creating political parties. Or rather, they reminded the oligarchy that it was time for them to acquire their own political forces. Or take the old one, and upgrade or rebrand it. It seems that way will go to Igor Kolomoisky, who, although returned to Ukraine not so long ago, is completely socialized in the current political moment. Soon, a new party will appear under his auspices. The media called it the "party of mayors." The composition of the new political force is being clarified, and as for the role of Kolomoisky, according to him, it comes down to consulting the participants in the process. So he said in an interview with Ukrayinska Pravda.

Roll call of mayors

In a conversation Kolomoisky said that upon arrival in Ukraine, he met with the co-chairman of Vidrodzhennia MPs group Vitaly Homutynnyk and businessman Pavlo Fooks. "We have common issues. There are commercial issues, there are political ones. We heard, they announced that they are creating a new political project Trust the deeds. This will be an all-Ukrainian project. A party in which a large number of mayors will figure ... do you understand that after the presidential election there should be a reload of those projects that were unsuccessful? Vidrodzhennia took part in the presidential election, gained up to 1%. Therefore, it requires a reboot. This project has exhausted itself as it is. It demands unification, more expanded understanding of ideology. Not just a club of interests, but some kind of saturation. I have always said that I am sympathetic to Vidrodzhennia, Kolomoisky said.

So, at least two project participants are known. This is the Vidrodzhennia party, which is headed by the MP Viktor Bondar (he is also the head of the deputies ’group of the same name in the Verkhovna Rada), as well as the party of the Odesa mayor Gennady Trukhanov Trust the Deeds.  The latter, apparently, plays the role of a point from which the new political force starts. The third component will be the pro-government until recently Nash Kray - a party that has five co-chairs at once: Olexandr Mazurchak, Olexandr Feldman, Yuri Granaturov, Anton Kisse and Serhiy Kaltsev. All of them are former members of Party of Regions. It is expected that they will be joined the group Volya Narodu, as well as 15-20 mayors of major cities in Eastern and Central Ukraine, among which, besides Trukhanov, will be the mayor of Kharkiv Gennady Kernes.

It is already known that Kernes and Trukhanov will be included in the top five of the electoral list of the new party, but the decision on who will be its first number has not yet been made. This was announced by the co-chairman of Vidrodzhennya Vitaly Homutynnyk, who also added that the “mayoral party” congress will be held before the end of this month. As for ideological content, political force will focus on regional problems, Gennady Kernes says.

By the way, the party of the regions (despite the fact that these words have been compromised) is a rather advantageous idea, Andriy Zolotariov, head of the “Tretiy Sector” center, comments for 112.ua. And it is “to create a political force that would claim to protect the interests of regional elites. In the 2012 elections, personal assistants to politicians originated from parliament — from secretaries to drivers or security guards, and in 2014 they were replaced by activists, journalists and the like, but the regional elites didn’t actually join the Rada’s renewal. It was a matter of time when such a project should have appeared, ”the expert says.

New "Party of Regions"

The political union of Vidrodzhennya, Nash Kray and Volia Narodu looks logical, because these associations have a similar ideology and are aimed at regional development, says Olexiy Garan, a political science professor at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. However, this is not the only motivation that could have prompted Igor Kolomoisky to take over the process of their unification.

"This is his tactic, which provides for the support of several political forces at the same time. It was peculiar to other oligarchs. Akhmetov supports Vilkul and Lyashko, for example. He (Kolomoisky) supported both Zelensky and UKROP, and now there will be one more force - Kolomoisky spoke positively about Yulia Tymoshenko. That is, he creates additional opportunities for himself to hold additional candidates for parliament,” Garan said.

Related: Zelensky visits frontline positions of Armed Forces of Ukraine in Luhansk region


A political analyst Yevgen Magda resorts to poetic comparisons, saying that the “mayoral party” will be one of Kolomoisky’s wings “for a political flight over Ukraine.”

“Kolomoisky understands that he needs to get several columns in politics at once, because the Servant of the people party most likely will not get 50% of the votes at the early elections, and he will need coalition partners. In addition, the Servant of the people has too many shareholders, and the “party of mayors” will be mainly controlled by Kolomoisky himself. And this is a guarantee of his interests in case of the conflict between him and the new Ukrainian president, as it was between Kolomoisky and Poroshenko”, political scientist Ruslan Bortnyk notes in a conversation with 112.ua.

So, the first goal of the new party is to protect the interests of the regions and to ensure the representation of the local elite in the highest legislative body. The second is more mundane: to be on guard of the interests of the oligarch Kolomoisky. The third is to “bite off” the electorate from two more participants in parliamentary races, namely: the Opposition bloc and the Opposition platform - For Life. The implementation of this goal will strengthen the position of President Zelensky, according to experts interviewed by us.

Electoral wars of the future

Partially this political force is created to compete with the Opposition bloc and the Opposition Platform - For Life. Why partially? Because it is unlikely this party can be promoted before the early elections. But it can vote. It can also nominate majoritarian MPs and prevent others to seize single-member constituencies in the south and east of Ukraine. And this point is realized in both the Opposition bloc and the Opposition Platform - For Life: these parties oppose the preservation of majority districts. This is the first thing. And the second is preparation for local elections, because the new government will need regional representations. Factions in local and city councils play the role of instruments of influence and control, "says the director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadym Karasiov.

The mayors’ party will compete with the Opposition bloc and the Opposition Platform - For Life. However, it is very important to entice the voter both from the first party and from the second one, - that voter who in the second round of the presidential election voted for Zelensky’s candidature. If (in the opinion of such a voter) the president of Ukraine does not justify the expectations and does not keep to the line of rapprochement with Russia, a part of society can turn away from the newly elected head of state. And then it is important to intercept the disappointed electorate in time, until it will be influenced by the others. And in this regard, Kolomoisky and the party he creates will play on the side of Zelensky.

The “interception” plan acquired particular relevance after Viktor Medvedchuk, the chairman of the political board of the Opposition Platform - For Life, declared that his party has been in opposition to President Zelensky since his election. It is clear, says Vadym Karasiov, that now Kolomoisky will try to take away a monopoly on the electorate of the south and east of Ukraine from the "Opposition platform - For Life". For Zelensky it would be extremely useful to create some kind of airbag, the role of which is played by the “mayors’ party” of Kolomoisky. It will stop everyone who begins to drift away from the "Servant of the People" towards "Opposition bloc" or "Opposition Platform - For Life".

Kolomoisky will only inflict harm

Another additional bonus for the oligarch will be that it is possible to fight with those who cause his aversion. “Kolomoisky has long considered his opponents the leaders of the Opposition block and the Opposition Platform - For Life. His new party is also a fight against them, not only political, but financial and economic,” believes Ruslan Bortnyk.

His political force will be Euro-pessimistic, focused primarily on a politically unstable electorate, for which the key messages are socio-economic in nature, the expert adds. "The mayors’ party is unlikely to cover Western Ukraine. There Servant of the People and Yulia Tymoshenko will win. Rather, it will be oriented to the southeast, "says Bortnyk.

And regarding the chances of the party to overcome the 5 percent barrier, here, he says, everything "will depend on the re-branding, on the investments and on what kind of mayors will join it."

Early elections have their advantages, notes Andriy Zolotariov. "This is a blitz campaign, and Kernes and Trukhanov have their own information machines in the field. They do not need a long campaign, they are already prepared. The party under the leadership of only Kernes and Trukhanov overcomes the 3% barrier, and if other mayors join, they will have chances of overcoming 5 percent. Plus good positions among majoritarian local players."

But there is one "issue", warns Zolotariov. “Rebranding was started by Kernes with Trukhanov. The party really demanded a reboot. As for participation in the Kolomoisky project, he is a person who is always looking for his own profit. He has his influence, but he has no controlling stake in this project. And what he is doing now is a disservice to Kernes and Trukhanov. Because Kharkiv and Odesa citizens have a diverse attitude towards Mr. Kolomoisky. And his support will not add much to the party. "

According to Zolotariov, Igor Kolomoisky is now offering cooperation to a new star in the political sky - Svyatoslav Vakarchuk and his Voice party. Obviously, a pragmatic oligarch seeks to obtain as many wings as possible for his “political flight”.

Related: Oligarch Kolomoysky: I'll support anyone but Poroshenko in parliamentary election

Related: PrivatBank sues its ex-owner Kolomoysky

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