UKRAINE'S SYMONENKO WINS SUPPORT OF PROGRESSIVE SOCIALISTS. The Progressive Socialist Party of Natalya Vitrenko, who came fourth in the 31 October ballot with 10.97 percent backing, has thrown its support behind Communist leader Petro Symonenko in the 14 November runoff. The party said on 10 November that it favors Symonenko because he "stands for changing the course of economic and political reforms," AP reported. Besides Vitrenko, Symonenko is supported by six former presidential candidates: Oleksandr Moroz, Oleksandr Tkachenko, Volodymyr Oliynyk, Mykola Haber, Oleksandr Bazylyuk, and Yuriy Karmazin. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT EXPECTS SUPPORT FROM MARCHUK'S ELECTORATE. After nominating Yevhen Marchuk secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November 1999), President Leonid Kuchma said he expects Marchuk's electorate to support his bid in the 14 November runoff, Kuchma's spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko told Reuters on 10 November. Martynenko added that Kuchma and Marchuk "are already one team." Marchuk said his appointment will allow him to crack down on corruption and crime in Ukraine, while Kuchma commented that Marchuk is an "expert in this field," adding that "together we shall deal with [corruption and crime] so that somebody's bones will crack," AP reported. Besides Marchuk, Kuchma is supported by four former presidential candidates: Yuriy Kostenko, Hennadiy Udovenko, Vitaliy Kononov, and Oleksandr Rzhavskyy (see also "End Note" below). JM

UKRAINIAN HRYVNYA MOVES OUTSIDE GOVERNMENT-SET TRADING BAND. The hryvnya on 10 November moved outside the government-set exchange corridor of 3.4-4.6 hryvni to $1, AP reported. The National Bank set its exchange rate at 4.613 to $1. On the interbank currency exchange, which is seen by experts as a more accurate indicator of the currency's real value, some 5 hryvni were offered for $1. Economy Minister Vasyl Rohovyy said the previous day that the hryvnya will return to the official exchange band if Kuchma wins the presidential ballot. Symonenko's victory, he said, would "significantly destabilize the situation on the currency market." JM


The first round of Ukraine's presidential elections on 31 October left incumbent Leonid Kuchma in the lead and his Communist rival, Petro Symonenko in second place. Under Ukraine's electoral rules, if no candidate receives more than half the vote, then the two with the highest share of the vote go on to a run-off.

Kuchma seemed comfortably ahead in the first round with 36 percent of the vote, compared with Symonenko's 22 percent. But Kuchma has been criticized throughout his term in office for the troubled state of the economy, for failing to introduce major market reforms, and for presiding over a government riddled with corruption. Critics say that Kuchma is now playing on the fears of a communist return to power in order to win second-round votes from many who intensely dislike him.

Symonenko has openly acknowledged he favors a return to Soviet-style government and wants a new Soviet Union, with Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as initial members. He has also said he will reverse those market reforms Kuchma has introduced.

Ahead of the second round of voting on 14 November, Symonenko has been trying to gather support from some of his former rivals among the 12 other opposition hopefuls who competed in the first round. Symonenko has put together a loose coalition of three leftist and three centrist former candidates in the hope that their supporters will vote for him on 14 November. He has the backing of the leader of the Peasant Party and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko. But his support from the two candidates who took third and fourth places in the first round is clearly less than wholeheated.