Our Ukraine

Our Ukraine (‘Наша Україна’; Nasha Ukraïna’) formally Viktor Yushchenko’s Bloc ‘Our Ukraine.’ Electoral alliance in the 2002 parliamentary elections and a parliamentary caucus within the Supreme Council of Ukraine, under the leadership of Viktor Yushchenko. Launched in July 2001 with an announcement by Yushchenko from the top of Mount Hoverlia, the highest peak in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains, the bloc was aimed at bringing together those political forces who were at once in favor of economic (market) reform, nationally conscious, and democratically inclined. In its philosophy and outlook it was seen as a manifestation of the national-democratic Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh).

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the bloc’s platform promised to continue the fundamental changes launched by Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko’s government (1999–2001): healing the rift between society and state; building an effective economy; reviving the nation’s European traditions; and integrating Ukraine into global developmental patterns. It also promised to pay adequate wages and pensions, to eliminate the shadow economy, to create new employment opportunities, and to protect agricultural producers. It offered to make politics professional, accountable, and clean. The ten parties making up the bloc in March 2002 were: the two wings of Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh), Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Liberal party, Youth party, Christian-Popular Union, Reforms and Order party, Republican Christian party, Solidarity, and Forward, Ukraine! The bloc’s component parties spanned the center and right wing of the political spectrum, combining pro-business, pro-Western, conservative, and nationalist forces. The bloc gained 23.6 percent of the PR vote in the 2002 elections, showing particular strength in western and central Ukraine, which yielded 70 of 225 seats in the proportional contest. Together with victories in 42 single-member districts, Our Ukraine emerged from the elections with 112 out of 450 seats in parliament, ostensibly the largest contingent.

Viktor Yushchenko’s hope that his bloc would form the majority (or the core of one) in parliament did not materialize. Despite having 119 members in his caucus on 15 May 2002, Yushchenko was outmaneuvered by the pro-presidential groupings (which had entered parliament as the For a United Ukraine bloc) who did eventually form a working majority. Our Ukraine remained in a minority position throughout the entire term of the Supreme Council of Ukraine, and its policy positions were sidelined. It failed to secure any of the three speakership positions, but managed to obtain the chairmanships of ten (out of 23) committees.

After a year spent attempting without success to oust President Leonid Kuchma, Our Ukraine changed its tactic in April 2003 and resolved with its parliamentary allies to work in a more constructive manner to modify Kuchma’s policies. It opposed in general his constitutional reform proposals, particularly the indirect election of the president, as it did also his backing of the single economic zone with Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Kazakhstan. Once the Supreme Council had approved the latter in September 2003, Our Ukraine began to take steps to impeach Kuchma. Having failed to convince their fellow parliamentarians to their point of view, Our Ukraine, together with other opposition caucuses, resorted to disruptive tactics to register, for example, their preference for a fully proportional electoral system, opposed by Kuchma. In turn, a forum planned by Our Ukraine in Donetsk in October 2003 was disrupted by pro-Kuchma forces. These and similar events at the time were thought to have been orchestrated by Kuchma’s chief-of-staff, Viktor Medvedchuk. In March 2004, when it was clear it had failed to stop Kuchma’s constitutional reforms, Our Ukraine reverted to anti-government street protests and announced it would form a new, ‘European-model’ political party, presumably of the Christian-democratic family. As of 13 July 2004, its parliamentary caucus had shrunk to 100 deputies, still the largest single fraction in the Supreme Council of Ukraine. At a convention of the Reforms and Order party on 18 July 2004, the party’s name was changed to Our Ukraine, Yushchenko’s candidacy for president was endorsed, and the party’s leader, Viktor Pynzenyk, hailed the move as indicative of the ‘readiness for creating a single, united democratic Our Ukraine party.’

Our Ukraine voted for the constitutional amendment which resolved the crisis manifested by the Orange Revolution and Viktor Yushchenko was elected president. But within the Supreme Council of Ukraine members of his party proved to be ambivalent about both the constitutional change and their support for the new president. When Yushchenko dismissed his ally Yuliia Tymoshenko as prime minister, she was replaced by Yurii Yekhanurov who led the party (actually a six-party alliance) in the 2006 elections. Our Ukraine’s campaign was listless, and by promising now to uphold its Orange Revolution ideals it was reminding voters it had abandoned them. It was committed to integration into Europe and to protect the Ukrainian language. With 14 percent of the vote, it won third place, well behind the Party of Regions (32.1 percent) and the Yuliia Tymoshenko Bloc (22.3 percent).

The same three parties combined within the Supreme Council of Ukraine to form a short-lived second Orange Coalition. Within a few months, Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the Party of Regions, supported by the Socialist Party of Ukraine and Communist Party of Ukraine, was appointed prime minister and Our Ukraine went into opposition. Six Our Ukraine ministers from Yuliia Tymoshenko’s cabinet joined the new coalition; four later quit.

For the 2007 elections, Our Ukraine formed an alliance with Popular Self-Defence party (Narodna Samooborona); its list was headed by Yurii Lutsenko, formerly member of the Socialist Party of Ukraine and a popular minister of the interior. This NUNS bloc, now a nine-party electoral alliance, took 14.2 percent of the vote for 72 seats. In 2008, Viktor Yushchenko became party leader and from 2010, its honourary head. The party contested its last election in 2012, obtaining 1.1 percent of the vote and no seats.

In 2013 Serhii Bondarchuk attempted to dissolve the party and to expel Viktor Yushchenko as leader, but this move was thwarted by the Justice Ministry which ruled it an unauthorized action by reason of Bondarchuk’s having himself been expelled from the governing council of the party. Papers recovered from ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s residence in 2016 revealed that Our Ukraine had accepted over one million dollars from the Party of Regions in 2012. The party of Yushchenko and the Orange Revolution, the whole project of a pragmatic national democracy—now discredited and compromised, in addition to being chronically disunited—thus passed into history.

Hesli, V. ‘The 2006 Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine,’ Electoral Studies, 26 (2007)
Flikke, G. ‘Pacts, Parties and Elite Struggle: Ukraine’s Troubled Post-Orange Transition,’ Europe-Asia Studies, 60, no. 3 (May 2008)
Haran, O. ‘From Viktor to Viktor: Democracy and Authoritarianism in Ukraine,’ Demokratizatsiya, 19, no. 2 (Spring 2011)
Kuzio, T. ‘Yushchenko versus Tymoshenko: Why Ukraine’s National Democrats Are Divided,’ Demokratizatsiya, 21, no. 2 (Spring 2013)

Bohdan Harasymiw
[This article was written in 2024.]

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