In Volyn District #23, Ukrop’s Iryna Konstankevych won a decisive 57-13% victory over Motherland’s Lyudmyla Kydra to fill the vacancy created by the death of Ihor Yeremeyev. The victory by Konstankevych notable since she lost a parliamentary race in a neighboring district in 2014 by just 28 votes out of 100,000 cast. The Ukrop candidate is likely to join oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance faction in Parliament once sworn in. Her closet opponent, Motherland’s Lyudmyla Kydra lost to incumbent Ihor Yeremeyev in 2014 by a 41-22% margin. The biggest surprise in the race though was that the People’s Will faction failed to field a candidate to replace their founder, Ihor Yeremeyev. This fact, combined with the arrest of fellow faction member Oleksandr Onishchenko, may well signal the collapse of the faction in the near future
In Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) District #27, political newcomer Tetyana Rychkova defeated Zahid Krasnov by a 45-37% margin to fill the vacancy created by the election of Kolomoyskyi ally Borys Filatov as Dnipropetrovsk Mayor last fall. Both Rychkova and Krasnov ran as independents, but Rychkova – as a senior military office in the Ministry of Defense, had the quiet backing of President Poroshenko and the endorsement of Mayor Filatov. Krasnov, a Dagestani businessman, finished a competitive third place in last year’s mayoral election to Filatov. Both candidates saw “clone candidates” with similar names siphon almost seven percent of the vote from their tallies. The shared backing of Rychkova by both Poroshenko and Kolomoyskyi signal that the two oligarch’s public feud has come to an end
In Ivano Frankivsk District #85, Ukrop’s Viktor Shevchenko holds a 978 vote lead out of 47,000 cast over Poroshenko bloc candidate Serhiy Nasalyk. Billed as the ‘battle of brothers’, Nasalyk was trying to fill the vacancy of his brother Ihor, who resigned to become the Minister of Energy and Coal of Ukraine. Viktor Shevchenko is the brother of Ivano Frankivsk MP Oleksandr Shevchenko who is the local chairman of the Ukrop party. Shevchenko was originally elected with the Bloc of Poroshenko but quit the faction last fall and comparing the Poroshenko faction to the ‘Titanic’. If Shevchenko maintains his lead with approximately 1500 votes remaining to be counted, it will be a big victory for Kolomoyskyi in Ivano Frankivsk.
In Stantsya Luhansk district #114 a record 107 candidates filed to fill the vacancy created by the appointment of MP Yuri Harbuz as Luhansk Governor. At the moment the vote count is going very slow with just 16% counted. The count has been delayed by the replacement of the chairperson and deputy chairperson (from Opposition Bloc and Poroshenko Bloc respectively) within the last 96 hours. In fact, a larger controversy arose over the last minute change of more than 200 local election commissioners just an hour before the start of voting. Mostly initiated by Nash Krai party who imported loyalists from Odesa and Zaporizhya, the change resulted in confusion within commissions over the actual membership composition. Nonetheless, Nash Krai’s candidate, businessman Serhiy Shakhov, is leading by a 42-18% margin over independent and former MP Valeriy Moshenskiy. Moshenskiy was the only non Party of Regions candidate to win election to parliament in 2012 from Luhansk. The Opposition Bloc’s Borys Lebedyev, the Chairman of the Novopskovska Rayon Council is expected to see his vote tally rise in the final tally. Lebedyev is believed to be a cousin of former Yanukovych Defense Minister Pavel Lebedyev. A victory by Shakhov from Nash Krai, or independent Valeriy Moshenskiy, would be a moral win for the President, as it would prevent an Opposition Bloc victory in the district.
In Poltava District #151, Motherland’s Ruslan Bohdan has won the contest to replace MP Taras Kutoviy who was named as the Minister of Agriculture and Food Policy in spring. Bohdan defeated the Mayor of Pyratyn City, Oleksiy Ryabokon, by a 23-15% margin. Ryabokon ran as an independent but is a member of the Socialist Party. Bohdan the Chairman of the oblast Motherland organization and will replace Poroshenko Bloc member Taras Kutoviy. Despite the popularity of the Minister of Agriculture and Food in the district, the Poroshenko Bloc failed to field a candidate in the race.
In Kherson District #183 (Korabelnoy Rayon in Kherson City), Tymoshenko’s Motherland Party pulled another upset victory to fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Andriy Hordeyev as Governor in late April. Former Kherson Governor Yuri Odarchenko defeated another former Khreson Governor, Andriy Putilov with the Poroshenko Bloc, by a 25-16% margin. Former MP Mykhailo Opanashenko ran with Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance Party and finished third with 14%. Opanashenko finished second to (now) Governor Andiry Hordeyev in 2014. Ironically, Hordeyev replaced Putilov as Poroshenko’s appointed Governor, and Putilov replaced Odarchenko as Turhcynov-Tymoshenko’s appointed Governor in 2014.
In Chernihiv District #206, independent Maksym Mykytas who was backed by Poroshenko ally Serhiy Berezenko, defeated Morherland’s Dmytro Vlasenko by a 31-27% margin. A total of 75 candidates competed to replace Vladyslav Atroshchenko who now serves as Chernihiv Mayor. Berezenko, a deputy head of the Poroshenko faction, won election in a neighboring district last summer over Ukrop’s Gennadiy Korban, and wields growing influence within the party. Berezenko recruited the head of UkrBud (a state building company) Maksym Mykytas to run as an independent. However Mykytas will clearly join the Poroshenko faction in parliament.
The victories by Kolomosykyi and Tymoshenko candidates will increase the ranks of both factions in Parliament. Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance faction will increase to 25 members and Tymoshenko’s Motherland will grow to 21 members. The Poroshenko bloc lost at least two seats, but can be relieved that these were merely special elections in seven districts and not early parliamentary elections in all districts. While the politicians will debate the winners and losers, the one clear signal is that competitive elections in Ukraine are alive and healthy.
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