Sympathies and antipathies of “administrative resource” in the Lugansk oblast
From the beginning of July heads of the Lugansk oblast position themselves in their public speeches as adherents of Viktor Yanukovich. For instance, on 6 July Viktor Tikhonov, the head of the oblast council, very frankly expressed his opinion in the newspaper “Gazeta v gazete”: “I do not conceal my sympathy for Viktor Yanukovich. He as an experienced man; he embodies the continuity of the course of economic stability, to which our country confidently goes during the recent years. He pays attention to the development of relations with Russia, he also does not forget about the “European house”, where we want to be inhabitants with equal rights. Not the very fact of joining the European Union is important to us, but the achievement of proper living standard in our country! I also like that he originates from working-class. He attained everything by his own efforts, without aid and patronage of relatives. The only criterion of assessment of his work is the high quality of this work. I believe that Viktor Yanukovich can become and will become a real ruler, able to augment the successes and liquidate the existing shortcomings”.
Yet, the more significant fact is that the organs of local power and self-government completely assumed the organization of the election campaign of Viktor Yanukovich in the Lugansk oblast. On 7 July Aleksandr Efremov, the head of the oblast state administration, and Viktor Tikhonov, the head of the oblast council, were present at the conference of the Lugansk oblast public organization “Region”, in which all heads of towns and districts of the oblast took part. The conference was held in labor hours, and about 500 persons were present there. The conference adopted the appeal to voters on the support of Yanukovich and the decision about the organization of work in his support. After this the mass process started of creation of Yanukovichs headquarters and conduction of agitation actions.
The oblast headquarters of the “only candidate” is headed by Mikhail Golubovich, the head of the main directorate of culture of the oblast state administration. Similar headquarters in some towns and districts are headed by the leaders of the organs of local self-government, for example, the secretary of Severodonetsk town council. Some headquarters are headed by pensioners, but, in fact, they are ruled by corresponding executive committees and the members of “Region”.
As a result, the administrative resource is used widely in course of agitation actions, and especially – of the collection of signatures in support of V. Yanukovich.
So, the newspaper “Luganchane” made public the facts of using the administrative resource in the Lugansk oblast. The newspaper informs that in many labor collectives the meetings were conducted in labor hours, where medics, teachers, state employees and militiamen learned that they unanimously endorsed Yanukovich. On 21 July general Krizhanovski gathered his subordinates in the oblast directorate of the Ministry of Interior and informed them, whose side militia had to take. An agitation brigade consisting of veterans of the Ministry of Interior was urgently created, a car was rendered to them. Enterprises and organizations get the orders on the number of people that should be “provided” for participation in meetings. They are also forced to make stands and placards in favor of the “only candidate”, naturally, at the expense of these establishments… The newspaper also wrote about an absurd case in one of villages of the Kremenskoy district, where the village headman gathered local dwellers and laconically enlightened them on the current needs: “If anybody of you, sons-of-a-bitch, would vote against Yanukovich – I will bury everybody”.
Owing to the use of means of the organs of local power and local self-government, the agitation campaign of Yanukovich is the most powerful one: it has almost complete support of communal mass media and significant advantages in the commercial mass media; the free of charge newspaper “Region-Post” is issued (run – 600 thousand copies), which publishes materials in his favor. Many placards and billboards with agitation for Yanukovich can be seen in every town and settlement of the oblast. The financial sources of these actions are not known. In August leaflets in support of the Prime Minister began to appeal in mailboxes of voters.
Numerous mass actions have been held in favor of Viktor Yanukovich, by the way, identical by the methods of organization. For example, on 26 July the oblast forum of democratic forces took place on the Teatralnaya square of Lugansk. After this similar forums were conducted in all towns and district centers of the oblast. However, there were some local “inventions”. For example, before the beginning of the forum of democratic forces in Kremennoy a peculiar registration of participants was held: the organizers recorded the name of a “collective participant” (enterprise or establishment) and fixed the number of people from this collective, who came to the forum.
On 26 July, at 16:00, a meeting of adherents of Viktor Yanukovich was conducted near the building of state enterprise “Luganskugol”. The participants of this action were transported gratis by buses of a communal transport enterprise. Later similar meetings were held in other towns and district centers of the Lugansk oblast. According to the information made public at the forum by Andrey Cherkasov, the chairman of the Lugansk oblast organization of the NDP, gatherings of labor collectives in support of V. Yanukovich took place at many enterprise of the oblast center. There were no meetings in support of other candidates.
Yet, the administrative resource was used most actively during the collection of signatures in the support of V. Yanukovich. As many as 500 thousand signatures were collected in the Lugansk oblast during two weeks! Severodonetsk enterprise “Azot” can be considered as an example of using the administrative resource for the collection of signatures within the legal bounds. Workers of “Azot” appended their signatures not inside the enterprise, but in immediate proximity to it: at the entrance checkpoints of the plant. Before this the workers were warned that the lists would get to the personnel department. As a result, the process of collection of signatures was rather active – queues formed near the tents. The workers were also warned that it was inadmissible to sign for other candidates. Thus, the collection of signatures for V. Yanukovich was completed in the shortest possible time.
It should be noted that in August the headquarters of Yanukovich in the Lugansk oblast started to use new approaches, such as creation of public reception offices with the system of daily reporting, which permits to learn the problems and, what is most important, to get the benevolence of the paternalistically oriented electoral segment. An interesting new idea is realized since the end of August. This is the project “New interaction”, which is able to attract the attention of electorate with collectivistic propensity.
Thus, we have the reasons to state that the Lugansk oblast power mobilized all possible administrative resource for the support of V. Yanukovich. And we have no reasons to reckon that the team of Aleksandr Efremov “put eggs in different basket” – there is no information about the contacts of representatives of the oblast state administration with “Our Ukraine”.
However, it is noteworthy that, in spite of the “positive” interference of power into the election process in the oblast, we almost did not fix the actions, which obstructed the activities of the teams endorsing other candidates to the post of President of Ukraine. As a result, the oblast headquarters of Viktor Yushchenko, headed by Aleksey Danilov, a former mayor of Lugansk, realized several successful agitation projects, such as the campaign “Truth from hands to hands” (subscription to and distribution of the editions that supported Yushchenko), project “Grad” (the mobile group that carried out the agitation in rural areas) and the campaign for collecting signatures in support of V. Yushchenko. In the opinion of A. Danilov, these actions have raised the level of credence to Yushchenko in several times, and today 19-20% of voters are ready to vote for him (the rating of Yanukovich is 27-28%). Some representatives of regional headquarters acknowledge that Yushchenkos rating appeared unexpectedly high for the Lugansk region, but the data, which are adduced, are essentially less than the results of calculations made by the head of Yushchenkos headquarters.
Certainly, the Lugansk oblast is still one of the most “red” in Ukraine, and the number of votes, which will be given for Simonenko, will be significant there, although the agitation campaign of communists is rather passive that time.