A million dollars for Manafort. Americans replace Russian spin doctors in Ukraine

A million dollars for Manafort. Americans replace Russian spin doctors in Ukraine

One of the features of the current election campaign in Ukraine noted by experts is the lack of Russian spin doctors in the electoral field. Americans have closed off access to the "bodies" of the three key players in the parliamentary elections...

One of the features of the current election campaign in Ukraine noted by experts is the lack of Russian spin doctors in the electoral field. No, the number of Russian citizens in Kiev identifying themselves as such has not fallen.

It is simply that the Americans have closed off access to the "bodies" of the three key players in the parliamentary elections - the Party of the Regions of Ukraine, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), and the pro-presidential Our Ukraine - People`s Self-Defence Party (NU-NS). And they are being valued accordingly: The US group is being paid several million dollars for the season."

According to observers, the reason for the absence of Russian maestros on the main political forces` lists of political consultants is that earlier they came to Ukraine not so much to turn a profit as to try out new election strategies on a small country without any particular risk to their reputations.

But, as became clear in the 2006 parliamentary elections, strategies which could work well on Russian territory often did not work out in Ukraine.

As a result, Russians here were put under pressure and forced to surrender their key positions to American political consultants.

All the main players in Ukraine`s electoral field have resorted to their services, plus President Kuchma`s former chief of staff and former Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn`s bloc, which crashed out in the previous parliamentary elections.

As Kost Bondarenko, director of Ukraine`s Horshenin Institute for Management Issues, noted to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the Russians have surrendered their place to their colleagues from overseas.

"It`s fashionable right now to have Americans on the staff for intimidation. So you can say that if you are going to deprive us of votes (as happened to Lytvyn in 2006), then there is someone who will stick up for us," the political analyst said.

It seems that only second-tier parties have decided not to splurge on foreign specialists. To be specific, the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU),which, according to Yaroslav Mendusa, a member of its parliamentary faction,will not hire foreign spin doctors. The deputy maintains that the SPU has organized all its election campaigns without their help.

Thus, Paul Manafort, the most famous consultant in the United States, is working for Viktor Yanukovych. He also worked for the premier during the last elections.

Since February 2007 a group of spin doctors headed by Bill Clinton`s former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart has been working with BYuT. Washington lobbyist Sten Anderson has been leading a group working with Our Ukraine, and Viktor Yushchenko personally, since the beginning of the year.

It is well-known that Paul Manafort worked for dictators for almost a quarter of a century. For example, he conducted an election campaign for former president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos and worked for the Argentinean army during the Argentinean revolution in the 1980s.

Yuliya Tymoshenko`s political consultant Joe Lockhart managed a team which worked for Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign. Incidentally, that campaign ended in his victory. Sten Anderson has not done any election campaigns, but a couple of years ago he worked together with Paul Manafort.

In order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, Ukrainian specialists are, however, marching shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. Donetsk specialists Ihor Shuvalov, Yuriy Levenets, and the Kiev political consultant Andriy Yermolayev are working for the Party of the Regions. The political consultants Vadym Karasev, Oles Doniy, and Viktoriya Podgornaya are working with the NU-NS.

But only Russian specialist Aleksey Sitnikov, president of the Image Contact political consultancy company, can be seen in close proximity to Yuliya Tymoshenko. In Ukraine he enjoys the respect of his colleagues on the shop floor and is also familiar with the situation at first-hand.

Ukrainian consultants themselves explain the presence of a large number of American specialists thus. According to Vadym Karasev, director of the Institute for Global Strategy, "the Americans have their own exclusive niches where our political consultants cannot compete with them. For example, they are very good at preparing political speeches.

Russians are distinguished by their art for creating a situation: a negative image for the opponent and a positive image for the client." Vadym Karasev maintains that spin doctors` consultations will cost each key party $200,000. According to him, their fee will not increase in connection with the early elections, and may even decrease since the financial peak was in 2004 and 2006.

This article was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor.

FOOTNOTE:  The information above which states "Since February 2007  a group of spin doctors headed by Bill Clinton`s former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart has been working with BYuT," is not true, and is thus misinformation.

Ron Slimp, partner in TD International, represents BYut and Yulia  Tymoshenko in the USA, not Joe Lockhart.  TD International is the FARA-registered representative of Mrs. Tymoshenko and BYut in the United States.

TD International hired Joe Lockhard`s firm to do a small project in relation  to Yulia`s trip to Washington this past spring. They were one of several  firms hired to do projects to support the trip.  AUR Editor Morgan Williams.

REPORT: By Irina Khmara

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow, in Russian 22 Aug 07 p 6

BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Thursday, Aug 30, 2007

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