Veteran politician Roman Bezsmertnyi prepares comeback, launches new party
After several years out of the limelight, Roman Bezsmertnyi, a veteran of Ukrainian politics, prepares a comeback.
Bezsmertnyi, 53, is about to run for president in March 31 election and launches a new party to participate in the parliamentary election in October. In this way, Bezsmertnyi says he will respond the society’s demand for new faces in politics.
Bezsmertnyi himself isn’t new to Ukrainian politics. In 2019, he will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his political career.
He was elected to parliament four times, was President Leonid Kuchma’s representative in the Verkhovna Rada, served as the deputy head of the office of President Viktor Yushchenko and ran his election campaign, was a deputy prime minister, and an ambassador to Belarus. His latest job was Ukraine’s representative in the contact group in Minsk, which he left in 2016.
During his long political career, Bezsmertnyi was a member of at least three political parties, including Ukrainian Republican Party, Ukrainian People’s Party and Nasha Ukrayina (Our Ukraine) party, where he was the second key member after its leader Yushchenko.
But now Bezsmertnyi wants to start with a clean slate.
At a meeting to launch his new party on Jan. 26, Bezsmertnyi claimed that all the political parties that existed in Ukraine so far were just the imitation of real politics and served the interests of “showmen, thieves, and liars.”
He says that his new party, called Movement +380, will be different. The party is named after the international phone code of Ukraine.
“The tradition that we have always recreates the KPRS (Communist Party of Soviet Union). This is a basis of the system we have. It has two features — lies and stealing,” he said speaking to several hundred people at the launching congress of the new party that took place on Jan. 26 at a small conference venue in the center of Kyiv.
Bezsmertnyi, who has about 1 percent of support in presidential polls, looked confident on the stage. A slogan “Freedom. People. Work” hung above him as he spoke to the potential party members.
He said he had received four offers to buy the already registered political parties but refused to go that way. As of February 2018, Ukraine had more than 350 political parties, according to Ministry of Justice. Many of them exist only on paper and become a product for sale in the election period for those who want to skip the registration process which includes collecting 10,000 signatures.
Because the party registration will take time, Bezsmertnyi will run in the presidential election as a self-nominated candidate. He is yet to register as one: the deadline for candidates’ registration is Feb. 3.
Bezsmertnyi said his new party will be not hierarchical and asked his supporters at the meeting to see him not as the head of the party but “only as its initiator.”
But some details of the party launching congress contradicted his words. There were little calendars for 2019 with the portraits of Bezsmertnyi and pens with his last name printed on them.
The potential members of the new party also apparently haven’t understood this message well.
“What kind of person do you want to bring in power? Probably a man like Roman Bezsmertnyi,” said Angelina Lysenko, a civic activist from Kharkiv, speaking from the stage. The audience applauded to her words.
The other delegates, who came to Kyiv from various parts of Ukraine and included students, lawyers, representatives of the local authorities and war veterans, spoke about lack of influence of the common people on politics, lack of Christian values and complained of corrupt politicians.
“Ukraine has been waiting and now it has received a new political force headed by the leader from common people Roman Bezsmertnyi,” said another delegate lawyer Volodymyr Lopokha.
Bezsmernyi wants the new party to have a neo-conservative ideology. Its political program stands for the Christian values, the creation of a “great Ukraine” that would unite Ukrainians worldwide, and economic liberalism.
The party program also proposes to re-write Ukraine’s constitution, open farmland market, launch the free use of cryptocurrency and oblige all children to receive labor education after finishing high school.
The delegates voted for the party program by hand, lifting the little blue cards, and quickly left the congress. Now the new party has to collect 10,000 signatures to receive an official registration.
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