Opinion: Whereto will the Ukrainian President start?

Opinion: Whereto will the Ukrainian President start?

The special feature of democratic revolutionary movements is that only an active part of the citizens rises up against an outdated power and the new government is elected by all citizens. Inevitably, the casting vote had not the people at the barricades or the Maidan, but those who were waiting on the couch the way things turn out. The latter prefer intermediate options, Ramūnas Bogdanas wrote in DEFLI.


After Victor Yanukovych escaped, acts of the temporary President of the Ukraine and the new Prime Minister were not sustained by fear of forthcoming elections that forces politicians to refrain from unpopular, although necessary solutions. So, they both played a very important job and brought the Ukraine to the presidential elections, which both Russia and the West considered necessary in order to establish a new government. For this reason, Russia tried to destabilize the situation for the elections not to happen, and the West urged to overcome all the obstacles in order the Ukraine to have a universally elected President as soon as possible.


The oligarch Petro Poroshenko, being the seventh richest person in the Ukrainian list, became the President. The West gave him a great credit of trust. Even before the inauguration, he was invited to a meeting with Barack Obama in Warsaw and few days later he shook hands with the leaders of the major states in Normandy. Being there, Vladimir Putin, through Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, agreed to communicate with the new Ukrainian government for the first time and his conversation with P. Poroshenko lasted for 15 minutes.


During the three months before the presidential election, the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk made a good impression on westerners, but he did not dare to take any radical steps to restructure completely corrupt and dysfunctional state structures at home. All his energy he poured out for application for financial aid and he succeeded. The next 17 billion of U.S. dollars will be put to good use in order to reorganize the Ukraine.


Nobody knows how things will go. Till now, the major part of billions came from the Russian gas business, and the members of corruption schemes were coining money. Dimitrij Firtash, the main sponsor of the campaign of V. Yanukovich, regulated the gas business.


It so happened that the U.S. agencies had ended an investigation of money laundering for Russian gas, when V. Yanukovich left the Ukraine. Upon request of Americans, D. Firtash was arrested in Vienna, where, at the moment, he was waiting for the decision on his extradition to the United States. And again, it so happened that the presidential candidate P. Poroshenko being in Vienna met his old acquaintance D. Firtash. No transparent explanation of their conversation exists.


Vitali Klitschko, the leader of the opposition party “UDAR”, also met D. Firtash in Vienna. The contents of their conversations are also unknown. P. Poroshenko does not have his own team. During the elections, V. Klitschko expressed his support and activists of “UDAR” formed the core of his election headquarters.


Absence of team is a noteworthy feature, since P. Poroshenko is not a novice in the political world. He was first elected to the Supreme Rada in 1998 in Vinnitsa, where his father was in politics, and now – his eldest son is. He started his political activity with the social democrats being close to the President Leonid Kuchma, but after giving them up, in 2000, he formed his own party, Solidarity. In 2001, he led the campaign of Victor Yushchenko’s bloc to the Supreme Rada and after the victory he became the chairman of the Budget Committee.


In 2004, P. Poroshenko supported the Orange Revolution actively and became one of persons close to Yushchenko’s circle. But his hopes were not fulfilled when V. Yushchenko appointed Yulia Tymoshenko as the Prime Minister. He got high position of the National Security and Defence Council Secretary but it was less influential to economics; he held the position for only a half of a year. Collision of Y. Tymoshenko and P. Poroshenko resulted in resignation of both.


In 2009, V. Yushchenko appointed P. Poroshenko as a Minister of Inferior. He stayed in this post for less than a half of a year as V. Yanukovich won the election. However, P. Poroshenko was one of the creators of the Party of Regions; he supported V. Yanukovich criticizing his old opponent Y. Tymoshenko. Therefore, in 2012, he got the Trade and Economic Development Minister portfolio from V. Yanukovich. He held it for nine months.


Political biography shows that P. Poroshenko has the ability to remain on the surface and the inability to do something important for the state if survives. For a long time his speeches were of European orientation, he criticized corruption while his business empire was prospering in a totally corrupt state. It was a bad sign for P. Poroshenko as a politician, as his business empire to date is in the process of formation: he sells one companies and buys other. About 40 percent of P. Poroshenko business is related to Russia. Domestically, his activities as of a businessman are intertwined with other Ukrainian oligarchs who are not necessarily supporters of the political direction declared by him.


Today, we cannot answer the question of how much the decisions of the new President will affect oligarchs and public interest. It is possible that due to his buoyancy he will move from one scale to another, and it is not possible to predict where it is going. The fact that in 2000 he replaced his golden teeth with modern implants does not mean that he does not like golden splendour. But it may occur that the splendour of power peaks appears even cuter for him. After all, he took positions from anyone’s hands, as long as someone gave. Both V. Yushchenko and V. Yanukovich were suited for friends. Now he has the power to distribute.


The interim government has not done anything for the system to start brushing. Their created Lustration Commission remained at the level of governmental organizations without promised special status for universal lustration exercise. Within three months, the Commission presented the Rada four anti-corruption draft laws but none of them was considered by the deputies. The fifth law was handed to P. Poroshenko last week to become the first order of the new President. We will see the fate of this fifth law.


The President promised with an oath that an antiterrorist operation would be completed in the coming week. That week ended with the beaten Ukrainian plane and 39 victims. But the President fulfilled another promise: the funds saved due to one round of elections were transferred to the armed forces on his order. It is only not clear where the money will settle: as the Ukrainian student studying in Estonia told that when he was drafted into the army for three months they did not get uniforms because the officers sold them. I have already mentioned that the lustration have not started in the Ukraine yet.


The Ukraine elected P. Poroshenko during the first round, as he expressed the third force being between the former government and the opposition. He was in the government formed by Y. Tymoshenko and Mykola Azarov, he supported the Maidan, but he was not on firing lines too much.


With the presidential mandate P. Poroshenko could immediately declare martial law in Eastern Ukraine and activate actions. Instead, he spoke about the humanitarian corridor for those who were not at war.


P. Poroshenko choices to his team show prospective activities of the President. Generally, he tends to rely on old acquaintances: he began to carry cocoa to the Ukraine with his classmate Sergei Zaitsev; his first company called Central Servis was founded with  his former military comrade Igor Kononenko.


Last week, he appointed Boris Lozhkin, his media business partner, to whom he sold his share of business in 2013, as a head of the Presidential Executive Office. With B. Lozhkin and a so called Donbass principal Rinat Achmetov they established “United Online Ventures” that was later sold to the representative of V. Yanukovich family Sergey Kurchenko. Critics say that B. Lozhkin contributed to the Russification of the Ukrainian media significantly. Probably, he received the award “Best Russian Manager” for good reason.


One of the Deputy Presidential Executive Officer became Oleg Rafalski holding the same post during V. Yanukovich presidency, the former deputy of Sergei Liovochkin dismissed in January 2014. Now, he will care of public services and personnel issues that are very important in order to curb corruption. A good illustration of possible results is Lithuanian example: the deputies who won the first democratic elections in 1990 left the whole old Soviet apparatus that transferred traditions of sweet privileges to the re-established state, and until now, members of Seimas become tipsy of them while dragging down confidence of this institution.


Now the President has to decide two things in government of the state: first, he will announce new Rada elections while military actions pending, or he allows the same Rada to act until the end of the term in autumn of 2017 or until terrorist containment – in the latter case influential deputies who know that they will never be re-elected, will try that the war would never end; second, if he initiates the promised constitutional changes that would reduce presidential powers and he could not focus the state government in his hands during such a difficult period. Democracy on a ship which caught by a storm and necessary quick decisions usually mean destruction of the ship.


If P. Poroshenko will not let the powers of his hands, it means he takes responsibility. If he replaces at least a part of the executive branch, it means that it will be different than in the past three months. In this case, there should be a new Defence Minister to start the changes in the army; second, he needs a new face for foreign policy, since it is difficult to talk to Moscow for someone called Kiev junta representative by the Kremlin during three months. The Ukrainian ambassador in Germany still hangs about in Kiev; he might be a good diplomatic head with good relations in Berlin and direct affiliations not to any party, but only to the President.


P. Poroshenko has two hard-line tasks: first, he needs to change Ukraine’s relationship with Russia; second, he cannot disappoint his electorate. The Ukraine, albeit corrupt, is not yet failed as much as Somalia. Its army, although it is only the Soviet army that has been demolished since 1991, is still running and still achieve results. And the West, although it has Schroeders and Berlusconis, is not yet susceptible to anything as a mash, as V. Putin imagines and has the same contemptuous opinion of Western politicians as Hitler had in 1939.


Therefore, the President P. Poroshenko, though he has never gone in his life against the current where he went down – whenever it be V. Yushchenko, V. Yanukovich, or business oligarchs – due to his trained special buoyancy has the ability to steer the Ukraine towards European state.











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