Over the past seven days, a new era has really started in Ukraine. Poverty hasn’t been overcome yet, as Zelensky’s adverts proposed, yet Mr Zelensky not only took office but also argued with MPs and made several ambiguous appointments. His predecessor Petro Poroshenko is also in trouble – Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office opened the case against him.
In Kyiv, on May 20, the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky took place. The ceremony was held in the building of the Parliament. He got to the Verkhovna Rada on foot and, having received the mace, dissolved the Parliament.
Volodymyr Zelensky started – the way he used to – from a joke:
“My six-year-old son said, ‘I heard Zelensky is the president. It means that I am the president too’. It sounded like a joke but then I realized that this is the truth. Each of us is the president. This is not mine, but our joint win. Each of us swore allegiance to Ukraine. Each of us is responsible.
He also mentioned the losses in Donbas and the cult of the president – notorious posters with the image of the president in every government office. In the end, he stunned everyone with the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada.
“I ask to pass the law on the abolition of parliamentary immunity, criminal liability for illegal enrichment, the long-suffering Election Code and make open lists, please. I ask to dismiss the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. I dissolve the Verkhovna Rada of the eighth convocation.”
Already in three days, the decree of President Volodymyr Zelensky on the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada and the date of the appointment of elections to the Parliament on July 21, 2019, was published in The Uryadovy Kurier. The document came into force, and since May 24 election campaign was officially launched.
It was said in the party “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” and in the all-Ukrainian union “Fatherland” that they are ready for the early elections. And Yuliia Tymoshenko wished the incumbent Parliament to leave “gracefully”.
Union “Self-Reliance” also acts alone in the parliamentary elections. According to Sadovy, in the new list of the party, there will be 70% of new faces.
“People Front” also takes part in the elections (“to fight for the course and the future”), as well as “Political Party of Oleh Lyashko”. According to the leader of the last “to win”.
“Opposition Bloc” also runs for the Parliament. According to the deputy Dmytro Kolesnikov, the party doesn’t have populists but has skilled professionals who “are ready to restore peace”.
Presidential party “Servant of the People” goes for elections with Zelensky’s adviser and ex-speaker of his pre-election headquarter Dmytro Razumkov. It is this party that the “Rating” sociological group predicts 43.8% of the votes of citizens who will go to the elections and have already decided on the choice.
Ihor Smeshko’s party “Syla i Chest” will also participate in the elections, as well as “Civil Position” party headed by Anatoliy Hrytsenko.
Also, the participation in elections was announced by the newly-created party “Golos” headed by the rock-musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk.
However, the consent of parties and people’s deputies to participate in early elections turned out to be a real war with Zelensky. The Verkhovna Rada didn’t include in the agenda the President’s bill on the amendment of electoral legislation at an extraordinary session of the Parliament. Although the day before, Zelensky seemed to be able to negotiate with the faction chairmen.
The presidential document proposed a 3% barrier for parties (instead of the current 5%) and closed party lists (as it is now).
It should be noted that another one project has been registered in the Council on elections – it suggests to vote in open lists, that is, for specific people in the party list. It was brought by three members of the faction of Petro Poroshenko Bloc and one non-factional deputy.
Having failed to approve the presidential bill, Speaker of the Council Andriy Parubiy closed the extraordinary meeting. The next time the Council will meet only on May 28.
Zelensky couldn’t break down the Rada – as well as he failed to get rid of the “old faces” in his team.
He took a dozen of people from his studio “95 Kvartal” to Presidential Administration.
Serhiy Trofimov, the first deputy head of the PA, was an executive producer of “95 Kvartal”, Yuriy Kostyuk, the deputy head, also from there. Same positions were taken by Ruslan Ryaboshapka and Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
Also, President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Viktor Mozhenko from the post of Chief of Staff of Ukraine and appointed Ruslan Khomchak to this post. He is blamed for malpractice which resulted to “Ilovaysk pot” but the incumbent Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak supported and approved the appointment of the military.
Serhiy Shefir, a co-founder of the media studio, became the first assistant to the president, but Kolomoisky’s lawyer and Yanukovich’s official, Andriy Bohdan, was given the main position – the Chief of the Presidential Administration.
Bohdan himself falls under the law on lustration: he can’t work in the civil service for 10 years from the time of the entry into force of the law, that is, until October 2024.
But here, Zelensky’s team found the solution which was given by the previous president Poroshenko. In 2016, PA was withdrawn from the government and remained only an advisory body. Due to this slight incident, “underlustrated” officials can work there.
The author of the law on lustration, Tetyana Kozachenko said that in any case, Bohdan can’t take this job. The Justice Ministry agreed with it. However, the newly-made Chief of Presidential Administration has already spent his first working week.
While Zelensky was celebrating, Petro Poroshenko was made nervous by the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. Investigators began investigating the legitimacy of the actions of the ex-president Petro Poroshenko, a number of senior officials and people’s deputies.
The reasons for this are as follows:
– The сriminal activity of officials of PJSC Centrenergo and the State Property Fund;
– The сriminal activity of officials of PJSC Centrenergo in the purchase of coal;
– The fact of taking over by officials of PJSC Nyzhnednistrovska Hydroelectric power station and PJSC Ukrhydroenergo by preliminary agreement with other persons on the property and funds of the said enterprises;
– The abuse of office by officials of PJSC Cherkasyoblenergo and PJSC Azot.
Former owner of Energy Network Dmytro Kryuchkov told the investigation that actions against Centrenergo were coordinated by Poroshenko himself and close to him people’s deputy Ihor Kononenko.
In military units, on May 23, they distributed a document demanding to question the soldiers about their attitude to possible negotiations with militants of the self-proclaimed “DPR” (Donetsk People’s Republic) and “LPR” (Luhansk People’s Republic). The corresponding document was published by the volunteers of the Come Back Alive foundation.
“The commanders of military units to organize and conduct a study of the personnel attitude regarding possible negotiations with the “DPR”/“LPR” until 16:00, May 24, 2019,” reads the text of the document.
Earlier Bohdan said that the team of President Volodymyr Zelensky was considering the issue of reaching a peace agreement with Russia on the all-Ukrainian referendum. Zelensky himself denied possible negotiations with Russia.
Text by Kostyantyn Rul