Ukraine: Treatment of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU); relationship with the National Salvation Forum (FNB); treatment of FNB members
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||14 August 2003|
|Citation / Document Symbol||UKR41890.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ukraine: Treatment of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU); relationship with the National Salvation Forum (FNB); treatment of FNB members, 14 August 2003, UKR41890.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/485ba88023.html [accessed 28 May 2016]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Social Democratic Party of Ukraine
The Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (Sotsial-Demokratychna Partiya Ukrainy, SDPU) was formed in May 1990 (Political Parties of Eastern Europe 2002, 943) and its current chairman, Yuriy Buzduhan (Yuri Buzdugan), has held that position since 17 November 1994 (UCIPR 2 Sept. 1996). Current estimates of the party's membership were not found; however, a 2002 report referred to the party as "minor" (UNIAN 3 Dec. 2002) and older estimates of the membership size vary from 3,500 in 1996 (UCIPR 16 Sept. 1996) to 2,900 in 1997 (EFDS June 1997). In the 1998 Parliamentary elections, the SDPU won 0.3 per cent of the votes (Political Parties of the World 2002, 479; Political Parties of Eastern Europe 2002, 944). The SPDU submitted a party list for the 2002 parliamentary elections (RFE/RL 22 Jan. 2002b) but failed to win any seats (OSCE 27 May 2002, 24).
Political Parties of the World calls the SDPU "one of several small social democratic groupings seeking, without much success, to challenge the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine-United" (Sotsial Demokratychna Partiya-Obyednana, SDPU-O/SPDU-U) (2002, 479). A second description of the party referred to it as being among the "radical opposition ... cooperat[ing] closely with Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party" (Kyiv Post 23 Jan. 2002), while a third noted that the SPDU "failed to become an active party with specific objectives" (Romyr and Associates Winter 2000).
In 2001, the SDPU joined the National Salvation Front (FNP) opposition bloc (Political Parties of the World 2002, 476; Ukrayina Moloda 18 July 2001). In November 2001, however, a report referred to the SDPU as allied in a "leftist bloc under the direction of the Leader of the Ukrainian socialists, Oleksandr Moroz" (Holos Ukrayiny 21 Nov. 2001). The SPDU was not listed among those parties allied under the FNP successor Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc (Holos Ukrayiny 21 Nov. 2001; RFE/RL 22 Jan. 2002a; ibid. 22 Jan. 2002b; Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002). A December 2002 report noted that the SDPU was a member of the democratic bloc called the Ukrainian National Council (UNC) (UNIAN 3 Dec. 2002), although it was not listed in a press release on 30 November 2002, the day of the bloc's founding (UNCP 30 Nov. 2002).
The Research Directorate was unable to find reports of ill treatment, harassment or violence perpetrated against SDPU party leaders or members among the sources consulted.
National Salvation Forum
The National Salvation Forum (FNP) was a political coalition founded on 9 February 2001 (Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002) by Batkivshchyna (Fatherland or Motherland) party Chairperson Yuliya (Julia) Tymoshenko as an alliance of centre-right parties interested in contesting the 2002 Parliamentary elections (Political Parties of the World 2002, 476; Ukrayina Moloda 18 July 2001). According to one report, the Forum is a "loose union of dozens of politicians and public figures ... set up in a wave of anti-Kuchma protests that began in December" 2000 (AP 15 Feb. 2001). Among those referred to as part of this coalition are the leaders of the Fatherland/Motherland party the SDPU, the Christian Democratic Party of Ukraine (KhDPU), the Ukrainian Republican Party (URP), the Ukrainian Conservative Republican Party (UKPR) and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (Political Parties of the World 2002, 476). For background information on Yuliya Tymoshenko, please consult the detailed biography published in the 23 February – 1 March 2002 edition of Zerkalo Nedeli located online at
On 10 July 2001, Tymoshenko announced the formation of an electoral bloc that was initially called FNP, which included the leaders of Fatherland/Motherland, the URP, the UKPR, the Ukrainian People's Party – Sobor, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (USDP) and the Patriotic Party (Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002; see also Ukrainian Television First Programme 26 Jan. 2002). (The USDP is a party under the direction of Vasyl Onopenko and different from the SDPU discussed above (Holos Ukrayiny 21 Nov. 2001)).
On 22 December 2001, the FNP officially renamed itself the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, which is sometimes abbreviated as BYuTy (RFE/RL 22 Jan. 2002a), and included only the Fatherland/Motherland, Sobor, UPR and USDP parties (Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002). The coalition won 7.26 per cent of the votes and 22 parliamentary seats in the 31 March 2002 election (OSCE 27 May 2002, 24).
On 5 January 2001, the Prosecutor General's Office brought action against Tymoshenko (Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002), and on 13 February 2001, Ukrainian authorities arrested the National Salvation Front leader (ibid.; CER 19 Feb. 2001; AP 15 Feb. 2001). Reports variously list her charges as including gas smuggling, falsification of documents, forgery, bribery, corruption and embezzlement (ibid.; Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002; CER 19 Feb. 2001; Intelnews 5 Mar. 2001; RFE/RL 14 Aug. 2001). While in detention, a Fatherland/Motherland party representative claimed that she was subjected to "refined torture," including actions such as withholding regular meals that aggravated an existing stomach ulcer (Interfax 2 Apr. 2002b). According to Zerkalo Nedeli, a district court annulled the charges two weeks later after judging the arrest warrant unlawful (23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002). Thereafter, Tymoshenko was released for a short period before another court over turned her release, whereafter she was put back under guard, this time in hospital where she was recovering from an ulcer (Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002; Interfax 2 Apr. 2001a). On 2 April 2002, Tymoshenko's charges were suspended and she was released from custody (ibid.; Zerkalo Nedeli 23 Feb. – 1 Mar. 2002).
According to one report, the charges were the outcome of an investigation into her affairs that had been launched in 2000 (AFP 2 Apr. 2001), before the creation of the FNP. On the other hand, Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders claimed that her arrest was punishment for her political activities (ibid.; AP 15 Feb. 2001). The Deputy Prosecutor General denied links between Tymoshenko's arrest and the establishment of the National Salvation Forum (CER 19 Feb. 2001). On the same day as her arrest, a statement reportedly issued by the Ukrainian President, the Prime Minister and the Supreme Council Chairman described the FNP as a "'motley conglomerate, aggrieved by their own political setbacks and failures ... [and seeking] salvation for themselves from political bankruptcy and oblivion and – for some – even from criminal liability'" (Interfax 13 Feb. 2001).
During the 2002 pre-election campaign, Kiev publishing houses refused to continue issuing copies of the FNB supported newspapers Vechirni Visti and Slovo Batkishchyny-an act that Tymoshenko claimed was the result of pressure on the printing houses by the authorities to prevent the movement from expressing its views (AP 21 Jan. 2002). The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also noted that there were physical assaults and harassment of candidates and campaign workers associated with Tymoshenko's bloc as well as other opposition political parties prior to the March election (27 May 2002, 14). The FNB also complained of campaign related violations including "an informal 'media blackout,' [and] negatively slanted coverage" (OSCE 26 Feb. – 11 Mar. 2002). Later in 2002, Tymoshenko was reportedly one of several political leaders in Ukraine whose telephone conversations were allegedly tapped by the Ukrainian security services on the orders of President Leonid Kuchma (Ukrayina Moloda 3 Sept. 2002).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
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