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Ukrainian Politician Sees New Generation of Leaders

(Washington, DC--March 4, 2002) A new liberal party in Ukraine, calling itself the "Winter Crop Generation", hopes to make an impact in upcoming parliamentary elections according to one of its founders who spoke at a recent RFE/RL briefing.

Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, a current member of the Ukrainian Parliament and one of the founders of the party, said that the purpose of the "new political bloc [is to] bring in new people, particularly the younger generation of business people, to all processes in government," thereby serving as a catalyst for real reforms both in the economy and the political system. This potential base for the party was born in the last years of Soviet rule and matured in the difficult first decade of Ukrainian independence, Khoroshkovsky said, "that segment of society which is not represented by anyone in the parliament today."

Khoroshkovsky, the deputy head of the parliament's budget committee, left the National Democratic Party of Ukraine to form the "winter-croppers" after the failure of repeated efforts to reform the party from the inside, he said. Describing himself as a "pragmatist", Khoroshkovsky predicts that in the coming parliamentary elections on March 31, the communists will lose seats, and former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko's bloc will fragment even if they manage to win control of the parliament.

Khoroshkovsky said that, "A real patriot [of Ukraine] is that person who can earn his living without the state. It is us who should take care of our country." The members of his party "learned [their] economic values from their own lives," and he estimates that the "five to seven million entrepreneurs in Ukraine" could come to support the new party.

When asked about his position on freedom of the press in Ukraine and the creation of an international investigation commission to look into the killing of Heorhiy Gongadze and other journalists, Khoroshkovsky replied that his group is working on laws to ensure freedom of the press by placing less emphasis on advertising revenues and that he fully supports the creation of such a commission.