Party life

Petro Poroshenko Bloc split into groups of influence

Petro Poroshenko Bloc split into groups of influence
Photo: Ivan Chernichkin

Differences exist not only within the coalition, but also in the largest parliamentary faction — the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. When the bill on expansion of authorities of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine drafted by MP Viktoria Syumar (People’s Front) was submitted for the approval of the parliament on Tuesday, the PPB supported it only with a bit more than half of their votes. Syumar’s bill was supported mostly by the lawmakers looking up to the president.

So far these and other similar voting results bear no evidence of serious differences within the faction, but make public existence of several groups of influence.

Presidential majority

An MP from the PPB, who wished to remain anonymous, says that despite the fact that it has been more than two months since creation of the pro-presidential faction in the current parliament, its structure still remains shaky.

«From the outside it seems that it is a structured organization, but inside it one can see that this is not true. The faction is managed by its leaders, but MPs still retain certain discretion. This is evident from voting,» said the source.

Lawmaker Oleksandr Dombrovskiy (PPB), commenting on the results of the voting on Syumar’s bill, told Capital that the faction had no «solid position» on the document. «The principle of democratic centralism still does not work in the faction. Our MPs still lack unanimity in voting, even when there are faction decisions,» said Dombrovskiy, who is considered to be close to the president.

Capital’s source in the PPB faction claims that uncoordinated voting remains a problem because of the «motley composition of the faction». He says there are informal groups of influence in the PPB’s representative body in the parliament. And such division has an impact on various processes from time to time.

For example, the largest group — close to 80 people — consists of president-oriented lawmakers. They were the ones to vote in support of Syumar’s bill this Tuesday. The leaders of the group are the first deputy chairman of the faction Ihor Kononenko and Anatoliy Matviyenko. The latter took the place of one of the faction’s deputy chairpersons after Vitaliy Kovalchuk left for the office at the Presidential Administration. «In case of absence of chairman of the faction Yuriy Lutsenko he is substituted by Kononenko, and Matviyenko is a deputy to the latter,» said the source, recalling that Matviyenko is believed to be one of Petro Poroshenko’s oldest allies.

Ihor Kononeko
Photo: Ivan Chernichkin

Another MP from the PPB on condition of anonymity said that at present Kononenko has strong impact on president’s personnel appointments. «No personnel issue in the presidential vertical of power is solved without opinion of Kononenko and Serhiy Berezenko (Matviyenko’s nephew and head of the State Management of Affairs — Capital),» insists the source.

Dombrovskiy calls Matviyenko an «experienced politician and efficient political manager». «The fraction is large and difficult to manage. Matviyenko’s experience proves to be very helpful,» said the MP. He does not agree that Matviyenko’s appointment to the office of the deputy chairman of the faction means more presidential influence.

«Matviyenko is a parliamentary elder. Being an MP of several convocations, he knows all the details and tricks of the work in the parliament. Many deputies in the faction take into consideration his opinion, myself included,» said Yegor Firsov (Petro Poroshenko Bloc).

Group reading

The backbone of another group consists of the former members of the UDAR faction in the parliament of the previous convocation. Capital’s sources say that deputy chairman of the faction Taras Kutoviy is considered to be its leader, when in fact the actual «manager» is Artur Palatniy, one of the closest allies of Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko. In a conversation with Capital Palatniy noted that the extent of his influence on the UDAR group is «exaggerated».

After an unsuccessful vote for Syumar’s bill her colleague in the People’s Front faction Mykhailo Khmil said that the UDAR group was «controlled by Lyovochkin and Firtash».

Capital’s source in Klitschko’s party confirmed that «the vote was motivated by the will of influential people», but did not specify their names.

Artur Palatniy
Photo: press service of the UDAR

The group of former journalists and public activists distinctively stands out against other MPs. «Those „Euro-optimists“ often have points of view contradicting positions of the leadership of the faction, but they affect nothing because of their small number,» said the source of the publication. «Among young MPs there are representatives of various businesses. They represent interests of Hryhoryshyn, Bakhmatyuk and some minor business owners,» said the source.

He says many MPs in the fraction can be referred to as a «swamp», since their actions are guided by short-term situations.

Capital’s source also argues that it is possible to speak of association of some MPs with the Chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration Ihor Kolomoiskiy. «Some stand apart, as, for example, Oleksandr Shevchenko, while the others are members of larger groups,» he says.

Previously, former Deputy Chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration Borys Filatov also mentioned presence of deputies close to Kolomoiskiy’s team in the PPB. It happened after his unsuccessful attempt to join the PPB faction. At that time he said that some MPs could leave the faction in protest. However, the threat remained unfulfilled.

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