size 3 ugg boots Ukrainian member of parliament brings presidential campaign to New York City
An economist by profession with a history in banking, Mr. Rybachuk has an excellent grasp of statistics. He speaks in a “rapid fire” manner and is fluent in what he jokingly calls his “native” English, perfected while studying at Georgetown University in 1977. Mr. Rybachuk is quick to criticize the current regime in Ukraine and its policies, and takes pride in his non communist background. He is an ardent supporter of Victor Yushchenko, the opposition frontrunner said to be the candidate most likely to win the October election.
Although the start of the campaign has not been officially declared, Yushchenko and his coalition of parties called “Nasha Ukrayina” (Our Ukraine) have already begun working to broaden the candidate’s popularity. Special attention is being given to regions in eastern Ukraine where the coalition has lower popularity ratings. Mr. Rybachuk is convinced that Yushchenko’s success is inevitable.
With much of local television and major print media beyond reach (recent crackdowns on independent media have limited the opposition’s options), “Nasha Ukrayina” depends largely on cable television, FM radio, and small local newspapers to deliver its message. The Internet plays a small part in the process (only about 3 4% of the population has Internet access), but web content is often used in print publications. Campaigners have also been traveling as much as possible to meet one on one with the people in order to gain their votes. Mr. Rybachuk accused the pro Kuchma factions of not engaging in televised western style debates, which he says “Nasha Ukrayina” would win hands down. platform or vision for Ukraine, Mr. Rybachuk first pointed to the pension debate, a popular issue for a large segment of the population. He maintains that pension levels are at about 1/5th the minimum standard of living, and have been kept artificially low in the face of a rise in Gross Domestic Product. Among other things, Mr. Rybachuk criticized the high level of corruption in Ukraine’s government (suggesting that this is one of the best measures of the Kuchma presidency), and the lack of debate over the annual budget, which was simply voted in by the majority in the Verkhovna Rada. In addition, he expressed his disapproval of the state of the national banking system in Ukraine, the excessive national debt, and major corruption on border crossings (illicit gains from contraband trade bypass the tax system and allegedly become undeclared profit in the hands of dishonest government officials).
Presumably a Yushchenko government would correct such inequities and illegal activities, but it was difficult to find a forward looking message or a well defined set of platform points in Mr. Rybachuk’s replies. On the positive side, he did say was that the “Nasha Ukrayina” block is firmly committed to bringing Ukraine into the European Union within a 2 term presidency for Victor Yushchenko. This message is not lost upon those who are familiar with the Kuchma administration’s seeming ambivalence about Ukraine’s stated “European choice”. Mr. Rybachuk also contrasted the “strong ideological values” held by those who support “Nasha Ukrayina” and Victor Yushchenko with the absence of similar conviction on the part of their political foes.
Mr. Rybachuk distributed a variety of Yushchenko campaign paraphernalia including pens, stickers, buttons, calendars, notepads, and more. The campaign called “Tak! Yushchenko” (Yes! Yushchenko) sports an illustration of a horseshoe, a symbol of luck in Ukraine. In Ukraine, the shoe is placed in the opposite direction to show that horse runs forward, in this case, perhaps a hint about the frontrunner in the race towards the presidency. Pictured on the wallet calendar above is presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko with his daughter.
Mr. Rybachuk’s humorous (often stinging) quips in response to questions or comments roll off his tongue often too quickly to grasp what he said, even catching himself off guard at times. When asked for his opinion about the recent increase in metro fares in Kyiv, he responded somewhat carelessly that “the very mayor who was honored in this establishment as ‘Man of the Year’ raised them. ” (The Ukrainian Institute of America, which hosted the Rybachuk meeting, named the Mayor of Kyiv, Oleksandr Omelchenko, ‘Man of theYear 2002’.)
In his closing remarks, Mr. Rybachuk called on the Ukrainian American community to support the Yushchenko candidacy and to participate actively as observers in the election process. government join the Council of Europe in its unambiguous criticism of the recent constitutional amendments, which are seen as efforts by the current administration to retain power in light of the predicted loss to the opposition in the October presidential elections.
Oleh Rybachuk was Chief of Staff for former Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko. He is a member of parliament in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (2002 2006), and Viktor Yushchenko’s “Nasha Ukrayina” Bloc, the largest caucus in parliament. He is also a member of the “Razom” parliamentary group.