Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united)
The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) (Ukrainian: Соцiал-демократична партiя України (об`єднана); СДПУ(о)), is a Ukrainian political party that was originally established as the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine. At the 1998 and 2002 parliamentary elections it won parliamentary seats, since then not. When in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) the party was influential, but since the Orange revolution (of late 2004) it has been marginalized.
|Deputy Chairman||Ihor Shurma|
|Founded||May 27, 1990|
|Youth wing||Ukrainian Social Democratic Youth|
|Political position||Centre to centre-left|
|National affiliation||Opposition Block "Ne Tak"|
Bloc of Left and Center-left Forces
|International affiliation||Socialist International (consultative)|
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Social Democratic Party of UkraineEdit
The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Соціал-демократична партiя України) was founded in May 1990. Unlike the originally united SD, the Social Democratic refused to follow democratic socialism and was against federalisation of Ukraine. The party joined the People's Movement of Ukraine which already had some of its members in Verkhovna Rada. During the 1991 presidential elections it supported Viacheslav Chornovil. In May of 1992 Yuriy Zbitnyev was elected a head of the party replacing Oleksandr Suhonyako. Suhonyako who wanted the party to follow social liberalism policies left the party with his supporters. In spring of 1993 two parties were merged the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine and the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (Yuriy Buzduhan) and were registered as a single party SDPU. The head of the new party was Yuriy Buzduhan. Before the next parliamentary elections the new party was to be also merged with the Party of Democratic Revival of Ukraine, but later both parties ran independently. The party did win two seats in the 1994 parliamentary elections (Yuriy Buzduhan and Hryhoriy Ryhachov). After the 1994 elections the party split into two factions one led by Buzduhan was re-registered as the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, another led by Yuriy Zbitnyev also wanted to be registered as SDPU, but was denied in registration under such name.
Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united)Edit
In 1995 a new merger was registered by Ministry of Justice of Ukraine where the Zbitnyev's faction of former SDPU merged with Party of Human Rights (Ukrainian: Партії прав людини) of Vasyl Onopenko and Ukrainian Party of Justice (Ukrainian: Українською партією справедливост) of Mykhailo Hrechka to form Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united). The head of the new party was elected Minister of Justice of Ukraine Vasyl Onopenko, while his deputies were Viktor Medvedchuk (former member of the Party of Human Rights), Yuriy Zbitnyev and Mykhailo Hrechka. Note, in 1994 Medvedchuk yet ran for parliament unsuccessfully as non-partisan, according to documents of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine. The documents of the new party were stating that it is a successor of SDPU, Party of Human Rights and Ukrainian Party of Justice, which all of them were dissolved. However, according to Ukrainian historian Vasyl Yablonskyi, bigger portion of SDPU members and majority of Ukrainian Party of Justice never agreed with such decision. The mentioned parties did not only became inactive, but even actively counteracted the newly formed SDPU. The social democrats of Buzduhan accused the leaders of new party in political fraud and representatives of Ukrainian Party of Justice declared that Mykhailo Hrechka exceeded his authority.
The Wonderful Seven of KievEdit
One of the party's creators Viktor Medvedchuk has very controversial biography by being a son of member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists who managed to attain jurist diploma from a major university in the Soviet Union. He is better known as a state lawyer of several Soviet dissidents from Ukraine who eventually died in prison. In 1989 Medvedchuk was heading the biggest law firm in Kiev with over 40 lawyers, yet not being a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Since 1989 Medvedchuk closely cooperated with football functionary Hryhoriy Surkis who in 1993 was able to become a president of FC Dynamo Kyiv.
The Medvedchuk-Surkis group back in 1992 had its own bank, the Ukrainian Credit Bank and business holding "Omega-XXI vek". Political and business opponents of the new social democrats were claiming that the business holding was no other than a pyramid scheme which by 1995 owned to the public 28.2 trillion of Karbovanets. Another important business entity of the group was the Industrial and Financial Concern "Slavutich" which starting in 1991-92 was receiving credits from foreign banks for purchase of oil which was refining in Ukraine during next 4 to 5 years. In the mid 1990s the office of Slavutich was set on fire and all its accounting records were perished. Through Slavutich, in early 1990s the Medvedchuk-Surkis group managed to established close relationships with the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. According to Kravchuk, the president of Slavutich was offering anti-crisis economical program and he asked his adviser Valentyn Symonenko to learn more about it. The draft of the program received approval from the acting Prime Minister of Ukraine Yukhym Zvyahilskyi and soon was taken into development by the government of Ukraine. After the 1994 presidential elections there was created a special state commission to review activities of Slavutich, but yielded no results. The newly elected president Leonid Kuchma who was critical of the Medvedchuk-Surkis group, soon after elections was able to find a common ground with it awarding both of them the Order of Merit in 1996.
In January 1996 the Ministry of Justice annulled the registration of SDPU led by Onopenko and in March of 1996 re-registered as SDPU the Buzduhan's faction. In April of 1996 the Onopenko's organization conducted its extraordinary party congress where it adopts decision to change its name by adding word "united". In 1996 the party was joined by Hryhoriy Surkis and original owners of the Inter television channel Oleksandr Zinchenko with Ihor Pluzhnikov.
In 1998 the leadership of the party became Viktor Medvedchuk (later the head of Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration), former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk and Ukrainian tycoon Hryhoriy Surkis. During the presidential term of Leonid Kuchma the party portrayed itself as a centrist, social-democratic moderate political force that advocated integration with Europe and supported the president. The party was closely linked to presidential administration and big business (from Kiev). According to Ukrainian newspaper "Halytski kontrakty", in 1998 the Cabinet of Ukraine transferred under administration to the Ukrainian Kredit Bank a share stock package of the Zaporizhia Factory of Ferroalloys as well as number of regional power distributors such as Kirovohradoblenergo, Ternopiloblenergo, and Khersonoblenergo. The leaders of social democrats denied any relations to the energy distribution business, and Medvedchuk particularly called it "Child babble" (Russian: «Это же детский лепет!»). However, according to the Siberian newspaper "Negotsiant" the representative of energy interests for the social democrats was someone under the name of Konstantin Grigorishin who is a citizen of the Russian Federation and holds place on supervisory boards for several Ukrainian companies among which are Dniprospetsstal, Zaporizhia Factory of Ferroalloys, Sumyoblenergo and many others. According to Ukrainian informational agency "Prometall" Grigorishin (along with his partners Levon and Aleksandr Vardanyan) is one of the governors of the investment pool company "Court Holding" that owns number of controlling share packages for several oblenergo (power distribution companies). Grigorishin is also the owner of big company "Sozidanie" which owns number of strategically important Ukrainian companies among which is the Sumy Engineering Association. In 2016 in Moscow he was accused for not paying taxes from his business.
At the 1998 parliamentary elections it won 4,01% (its traditional stronghold was Zakarpattia Oblast); during this election the party ran on a moderate Ukrainian nationalist ideology. Just outside of the top 10 party list there was Petro Poroshenko. At the same time the original social democrats Andriy Nosenko and Yuriy Zbitnyev were placed outside of the top 20 party list. Out of total of 178 names on the party list only first 14 made it to the parliament.
Soon after elections in April 1998 the party's leader Onopenko stated that inclusion on the party list Kravchuk and Marchuk as well as reliance on the Dynamo's ranking was a mistake. Following the statement, the party's board denounced the statement of the party's leader and called for a congress to decide the fate of its leader. The October congress excluded its leader from the party. In October 1998 after Medvedchuk became a leader of the party, several prominent former members of the party led by Vasyl Onopenko established the (new party) Ukrainian Social Democratic Party. In February of 1999 the party also dismissed another of its member Yevhen Marchuk who wanted with help of the party to run for the President of Ukraine. Marchuk in his turn decided to organize own Social Democratic Union before the upcoming elections.
During the 1999 presidential elections the party supported Leonid Kuchma. The party became the first own to nominated the president to run for the second term and played a key role in his successful campaign.
Switching of ideologyEdit
During the 2002 parliamentary elections SDPU(o) won 6.27% of the national vote and 24 seats. Final poll results in 2002 had predicted the party to win 9-10% of the total votes. This election the party promoted left-wing Russophile agenda's. It did considerably better in the Donbass and Crimea than 4 years earlier.
Early January 2003 the SDPU(o) faction did consist of 40 seats.
SDPU(o) opposed Viktor Yushchenko's coalition of liberal and nationalist movements and in March 2002 it blamed nationalist elements linked to the pro-Yushchenko "Our Ukraine" alliance for the murder of the vice-governor of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, who was an SDPU(o) member.
During the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 SDPU(o) also took a strongly pro-Russian and anti-Western stand and backed the candidacy of Viktor Yanukovych. In the aftermath of Viktor Yushchenko's "Orange Revolution", SDPU(o) declared itself to be in opposition to the new government. Analysts say that TV channels and other media controlled by the party (Inter, 1+1, TET) have started a sharp anti-U.S./anti-NATO campaign in response to Yuschenko's pro-Western policies. Around the Orange Revolution (late 2004) more ten 10 deputies left the SDPU(o) faction in the Ukrainian parliament; late-January 2005 the faction included 27 deputies in the 450-seat parliament.
Political scandals and Orange RevolutionEdit
In 2001 Ukrainian historian and politician Dmytro Chobit published a book "Nartsiss" (Narcissus) about Viktor Medvedchuk where he claimed that Medvedchuk is connected with Russian special services. That claim was later confirmed by another historian Yuri Felshtinsky.
Ivan Rizak, the head of the Trans-Carpathian SDPUo branch and governor of the Trans-Carpathian Oblast, was arrested in May 2005 and charged with abuse of public office and driving a pro-opposition university rector to suicide last year. That same month, the party was accused of involvement in the 2000 murder of Georgiy R. Gongadze, with the journal Ukrayina moloda (April 14, 2005) accusing party members of using the dead journalist's corpse in a plot to discredit President Leonid Kuchma and force early elections, which could have led to party leader Medvedchuk succeeding Kuchma.
SDPU(o) claims this to be a part of the political campaign of persecution from the new authorities. Supporters of the "Orange Revolution" on the other hand claim that the party enjoyed privileged status under the old regime and was closely associated with big business, organized crime, corruption, and media bias in favour of Leonid Kuchma, then President of Ukraine.
Despite being one of the most active political parties with a wide range of political activities and a significant number of student and youth members, SDPU tend to lose a significant number of votes due to the notoriety of its leaders for their business and political practices.
Post Orange revolution eventsEdit
Before the 2006 parliamentary elections, some commentators regarded SDPU(u) as one of three hard-line anti-Yuschenko forces (the others being the Party of Regions and the Communist Party). Those days the party made approachments towards the Socialist Party of Ukraine. At the legislative elections of 26 March 2006, the party was part of the Opposition Bloc "Ne Tak" and failed to clear the 3% minimum to get into parliament. It has thus disappeared from the national political stage. Currently the party is working on draft concepts who will determine its future. The current leader is Yury Zahorodny.
The party participated in the 2010 presidential election as part of the Election bloc of left and central left political forces. This decision made ex-President of Ukraine Kravchuk leave the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), Kravchuk declared he also was indignant due to the fact that the political council of the party decided to accomplish that behind the closed doors in non-democratic order. He called the block as the artificial union without any perspectives.
The party did not take part in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election nationwide proportional party-list system; instead one members of the party tried to win a seat in one of the 225 local single-member districts; in this district situated in Brovary the candidate got 340 votes (the winner 31.678 votes) and thus failed to win a seat in parliament. The party failed again to win a seat in the 7 July 2013 by-election in constituency 224 in Sevastopol.
|Election year||# of
party list votes
party list votes
overall seats won
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|2006||Opposition Bloc 'Not So'||1.0||
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|2007||did not participate||-||
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|2012||did not participate||-|
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|2014||did not participate||-||
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By-election to parliament in 224th majority constituency of Sevastopol scheduled for July 7, says CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (18 April 2013)
‹See Tfd›(in Ukrainian) Вибори у Севастополі почалися вчасно, порушень поки немає Elections in Sevastopol began on time, no violations Archived 2013-07-10 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrinform (7 July 2013)
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