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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: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis 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.


Agence France Press (AFP). 2 April 2001. "Jailing Throws Spotlight on Ukraine Opposition Leader." (NEXIS)

Associated Press (AP). 21 January 2002. "Ukrainian Opposition Leader Says Her Newspapers Barred from Printing." (Dialog)
_____. 15 February 2001. Sergei Shargorodsky. "Ukrainian Group Upset Over Arrest." (AsylMagazin [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Central Europe Review [Prague]. 19 February 2001. Vol. 3, No. 7. Iryna Solonenko. "News from Ukraine: Former Deputy Prime Minister and Party Leader Arrested." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity (EFDS) [Amsterdam]. June 1997. "Social Democratic and Left Wing Parties in Ukraine." [Accessed 6 Aug. 2003]

Holos Ukrayiny [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 21 November 2001. Volodymyr Skachko. "Ukrainian Politicians' Media Affiliations, Search for Allies Detailed." (FBIS-SOV-2001-1207 17 Dec. 2001/Dialog)

Intelnews [Kiev]. 5 March 2001. "Ukraine: Opposition Says Authorities May Be Planning to Kill Jailed Leader." (BBC Monitoring/NEXIS)

Interfax [Moscow]. 2 April 2001a. "Presidential Bulletin for 02 Apr 01." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0403 5 Apr. 2001/Dialog)
_____. 2 April 2001b. "Ukraine: Authorities Afraid of Tymoshenko, Subjected to 'Refined Torture'." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0402 3 Apr. 2001/Dialog)
_____. 13 February 2001. "Ukrainian Leadership Appeals to Nation." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0213 14 Feb. 2001/Dialog)

Kyiv Post. 23 January 2003. Taras Kuzio. "SDPU(U) Hijacks Long Social-Democratic Tradition." (Brama News and Politics Forum) [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 27 May 2002. Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. "Ukraine, Parliamentary Elections 31 March 2002- Final Report." [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]
_____. 26 February – 11 March 2002. Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. "Election Observation Mission to Ukraine 2002." Interim Report No. 1. [Accessed 8 Aug. 2003]

Political Parties of Eastern Europe. 2002. Janusz Bugajski. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Political Parties of the World. 2002. 5th ed.. Edited by Alan J. Day. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 22 January 2002a. Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report. Vol. 4, No. 3. "Beauty Plans to Tour Ukraine." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]
_____. 22 January 2002b. Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report. Vol. 4, No. 3. "As Do other Social Democrats." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]
_____. 14 August 2001. Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report. Vol. 3, No. 30. "Yulia Tymoshenko Faces Criminal Charges from Russia." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Romyr and Associates [Toronto]. Winter 2000. Romyr Report. Vol. 9, No. 5. "The Socialist Party of Ukraine." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) [Kiev]. 16 September 1996. Research Update. Vol. 2, No. 37. "Ukrainian Social Democratic Forces: Problems and Prospects, Part III." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]
_____. 2 September 1996. Research Update. Vol. 2, No. 35. "Ukrainian Social Democratic Forces: Problems and Prospects, Part I." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN) [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 3 December 2002. "Minor Ukrainian Parties Unite into Political Association." (BBC Monitoring/Dialog)

Ukrainian National Conservative Party (UNCP). 30 November 2002. "Democratic Union 'Ukrainian National Council' Was Created in Ukraine." [Accessed 8 Aug. 2003]

Ukrainian Television First Programme [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 26 January 2002. "Ukrainian Electoral Body Explains Rejection of Tape-Scandal Initiator." (BBC Monitoring 26 Jan. 2002/Dialog)

Ukrayina Moloda [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 3 September 2002. "Ukrainian Opposition MP Brings Former Guard's Testimony Against Top Officials." (FBIS/Dialog)
_____. 18 July 2001. Andriy Sek. "Ukraine: Paper Says National Salvation Front Part of Broad Opposition Strategy." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0721 23 July 2001/Dialog)

Zerkalo Nedeli [Kiev]. 23 February – 1 March 2002. Serhii Rakhmanin and Yulia Mostovaya. No. 7 (382). "Ukrainian Political Parties. Part III. The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc." [Accessed 8 Aug. 2003]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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