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Who is fighting whom in Ukraine – and why


The Ukrainian parliament or Verkhovna Rada has 450 deputies. Half of them are elected from party lists (where voters elect candidates from names on a list and the party decides the order of preference i.e. who is most likely to be elected) and the other half in single seat constituencies. A draft law has to have 226 votes to pass. There are five parliamentary parties: the Party of Regions (202 MPs as at the time of writing), Batkyvschyna (90 MPs), Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform or UDAR (42 MPs), Svoboda (36 MPs), Communist Party (32 MPs) and small non-affiliated parties have 43 MPs between them.

The government


The current ruling party is the Party of Regions (PoR). Its honorary leader is President Viktor Yanukovych and its Chairman, Mykola Azarov, was until very recently Prime Minister. One of Azarov’s deputies, Volodymyr Rybak, is the Acting Speaker of the Parliament. Many card-carrying members have government posts: Foreign Affairs Minister Leonid Kozhara is another Deputy Chairman of the party.


The power vertical is thus made up of Yanukovych supporters. The government has always maintained, and still does, that this vertical gives it a clear advantage in the work it has to do. Many people still remember the internal conflicts within the ‘Orange’ team, when President Viktor Yushchenko was unable to find common ground with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. We should not forget that it was Yushchenko, not Yanukovych, who instructed the National Security and Defence Council to investigate the circumstances in which Ukraine signed gas deals with Russia in 2009. And it was during his presidency that Ukraine’s Security Services started collecting evidence against Tymoshenko, though it was Yanukovych who subsequently used this evidence to send Tymoshenko to prison for seven years.

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