Pliushch, Ivan

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Pliushch, Ivan [Плющ, Іван; Pljušč], b 11 September 1941 in Borzna, Chernihiv oblast, d 25 June 2014 in Kyiv. Politician, presidential adviser and candidate, and parliamentarian (thrice speaker of the Supreme Council of Ukraine). During the second term of President Leonid Kuchma he was a leading member (1998–2002) of the People’s Democratic party (NDP); member of the President’s Higher Economic Council as well as the presidential advisory commission on land reform and the Coordinating Council on Problems of Domestic Policy. He received his education at the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy as an agronomist and at the Academy of Social Sciences of the CC CPSU in Moscow, the elite training facility for Soviet Communist Party propagandists and ideologues. In 2001, he obtained the postgraduate candidate’s degree in economics from the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy. Pliushch joined the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) in 1962. After working his way up from team leader to director in various collective farms and state farms, he was co-opted in 1975 into the Party apparatus of the Kyiv oblast committee overseeing agriculture. In 1984 he was transferred to governmental administration, becoming head of the Kyiv oblast executive committee in December 1984. In April 1990 he was elected head of the Kyiv oblast council. On 18 March 1990, he was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR from a constituency in Kyiv oblast. From June 1990 to December 1991, he was acting chairman (speaker) of the Supreme Council of Ukraine; it was under his chairmanship that the Declaration on the State Sovereignty of Ukraine was adopted on 16 July 1990. He gave up his Communist Party membership on 24 August 1991. From December 1991 to April 1994, he was speaker of the Supreme Council of Ukraine. His term as speaker was unremarkable, in that even though he supported President Leonid Kravchuk’s moderately nationalist stance and his opposition to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Pliushch provided no real leadership for the newly independent country.

He won re-election to the Supreme Council of Ukraine in March 1994 from a constituency in Chernihiv oblast. Nominated for the position of speaker, he failed this time to win election. In the course of the life of that parliament, he drifted from the ‘Center’ caucus (1995), to the ‘Independents’ (1996), and finally to the ‘Constitutional Center’ (1998). As a candidate in the 1994 presidential election, Pliushch’s moderate position was overshadowed and pre-empted by Leonid Kravchuk so that he obtained only 1.3 per cent of the vote, second-to-last of seven candidates. By 1998 he had joined the pro-presidential People’s Democratic party (NDP), and was given third spot on its proportional representation list (after Prime Minister Valerii Pustovoitenko and party leader Anatolii Matviienko). Elected to the Supreme Council of Ukraine, he was part of the 77-member NDP caucus and joined the parliamentary committee on local self-government. In the midst of the parliamentary crisis following the presidential election of 1999, Pliushch was once again elected speaker of the Supreme Council on 1 February 2000, at which time he terminated his membership in the NDP caucus. One year later, he co-signed, with President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, a statement pledging to quell the unrest unleashed by the Heorhii Gongadze affair, and thereafter downplayed the seriousness of the parliamentary crisis. After Yushchenko’s dismissal, Pliushch was mentioned as a possible successor with a potential to stabilize the situation. He remained as speaker of parliament until 14 May 2002.

In the 2002 elections to the Supreme Coucil of Ukraine, he won his seat as a representative of the NDP in Chernihiv oblast. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the parliamentary committee on self-government. Within the assembly in terms of political affiliation Pliushch drifted steadily towards the right, adhering at first to the ‘Democratic Initiatives’ group, then from September 2003 to Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine fraction, and finally as of March 2005, the Ukrainian People’s Party (UNP) fraction. During the Orange Revolution of 2004, Pliushch supported Yushchenko for president, and was a member of the Committee for National Salvation.

At the end of 2005, together with the UNP leader, Yurii Kostenko, they formed the Kostenko and Pliushch Bloc, which, however, failed to pass the three per cent threshold in the following year’s elections. Nevertheless, in February 2007, he headed the advisory public council attached to the president’s office, and in May was appointed secretary of the Council for National Security and Defense (RNBOU) by President Viktor Yushchenko. In November, on being elected as no. 23 on Yushchenko’s electoral alliance Our Ukraine—Popular Self-Defense list, he was relieved as RNBOU secretary. He then stayed out of the coalition formed by the Popular Self-Defense (NUNS) and the Yuliia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), and voted against Yuliia Tymoshenko’s appointment as prime minister although his vote was not decisive. In 2011 he abandoned the NUNS fraction altogether. He did not contest the 2012 elections. Meanwhile, from 2010 to 2014, he served on a voluntary basis as adviser to President Viktor Yanukovych.

Pliushch, I. Khto my i kudy idemo: Dopovidi, vystupy, statti, interv’iu (Kyiv 1993)

Bohdan Harasymiw

[This article was written in 2020.]

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