“Reset”, “curtailment”, “changes” – these are the things that will determine the internal policy of Ukraine in the upcoming months. Parliamentary elections are behind, now it is the time of the “coalitiade” and the creation of a new government, and new reforms will arise. They are urgent and pressing. After all, judging by the statements of Zelensky’s team representatives, there will be no delays.
“Down to the foundations, and then…”
Rebooting the power is necessary, it is a mandatory process when it changes. Curtailing the predecessors’ practices is a feature of unstable societies, and reminds of the words from The Internationale: “…down to the foundations… and then we will build our new world”. Actually, it is a Ukrainian tradition: the new ruling elite demonstrates disregard to yesterday’s achievements, crosses them out and starts from scratch, or just pretends that they start from scratch. Of course, it’s easier to pull things apart than to put them right, but the issue is complicated by the war, so the decision to curtail certain developments should be extremely balanced.
Changes also demonstrate the potential of those who received the highest mandate of public trust, formed a parliamentary majority and government. We are talking about creating new realities with the help of knowledge, experience, and resources. And talking about great responsibility. After all, in case of failure, the changes will fall under the bulldozer of curtailment, and the trust of society will shrink like a ball having its air released.
“The change of the elite leads to a new round of reforms since the previous elite imitates reforms. They lose in elections due to the fact that throughout 5 years, society does not see results, and the new elite comes with slogans about real reforms,” Borys Malyshev, the expert of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform, explained. “And when the power does carry out reforms which result in an increase of the population’s trust level, the new power is bound to continue or, at least, not to curtail them, because there is already a certain result which is positively estimated by society. Unfortunately, over the past 20 years, there were few cases of reforms that received public support. And now the new power can pick up only some of the areas, perhaps decentralization and the functioning of the ProZorro system.”
Before the elections, the society received clear signals from the authorities about new reforms that will replace the extremely inefficient old ones. New bills must be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada at the initial meetings, supposedly on effective changes. In particular, the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Danyliuk and the deputy head of the President’s Office Ruslan Riaboshapka announced these initiatives.
“The main thing is not to protract the ‘coalitiade’,” Valeriy Karpuntsov, a people’s deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation, noted to Opinion. “After the majority is formed, the issue of the appointment of the Attorney General and the full-fledged head of the SSU will arise. The country is at war, and the entire power bloc should be complete, without any deputies. A government must be formed. The second issue is peace, victory in war. The third one is corruption. It is necessary to adopt a law on combating illegal enrichment, but not in the wording of the President since special civil seizure without a court sentence is the dekulakization of the new era. Such a law would contain signs of unconstitutionality, and its fate will be like the previous ones.”
Forging a sword and a shield
It was the power unit that came to the attention of the authorities. Immediately after the formation of the new parliament, the NSDC intends to propose bills on the reform of the defense sector and law enforcement agencies to the president. According to Oleksandr Danyliuk, the laws “will move from the dead point of reform in the field of security and defense”.
According to an expert on national security Taras Zhovtenko, we need to continue current reforms. An effective reform of the law enforcement system stopped at the stage of creation of the National Police, and other important divisions of law enforcement and investigation agencies, courts continued to function in the old system of coordinates. It nulled the previous successful results. The dynamics of the AFU reforms is primarily focused on ensuring the combat effectiveness of units; the important issues of logistics, command structure, effective territory defense are currently of less priority. It is important to bring the reforms to a single comprehensive result – to create an effective system of the national security ready to counter standing challenges.
“The defense sector is based on the combat capability of the armed forces, but in modern Ukrainian realities, issues of reforming the defense industry and the system of public procurement in the defense sector are gradually coming into force,” Mr. Zhovtenko told Opinion. “Without appropriating results, there will be no conditions under which the latest developments in the field will be put into service as quickly as possible and at an affordable price, and the defense industry will not function properly. However, not only weapons are a subject of public procurement in the defense sector. The problems of the procurement of food and the reform of the military nutrition system are acute. The optimal result in the medium and the long term should be the gradual abandonment of the state ownership of defense enterprises.”
The NSDC secretary raised the issue of partial declassification of the state defense order. Won’t it harm the national security of the state? Taras Zhovtenko explained: if it doesn’t touch the procurement related to the development and the supply of new weapons and military equipment, it might not. However, procedures
for the publishing and providing access to such information should be clearly regulated, as well as the classification of such information itself. However, the SSU is the cornerstone of the reform of law enforcement agencies. According to Oleksandr Danyliuk, the reforms of any other spheres require changes in the Security Service.
“I agree with Danyliuk. It is strange that this issue is raised only now,” Viktor Yahun, a major general of the SSU in reserve and an ex-deputy chairman of the SSU, told Opinion. “It should have been done immediately after Bakanov’s accession (deputy head of the SSU – ed.). This reform has stalled the entire process
of security sector reform. The security sector is a complex issue – we do not consider the Defense Ministry, the National Police, the Attorney’s Office separately. After the creation of the NBI and NABU, new bodies partly adopted the functions of the SSU, but the issue of a clear redistribution of these functions and the staff reassignments weren’t finalized. Two more special services were not affected by the reform – the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Department of State Protection. They also need to be brought to a logical conclusion. NATO requires this, otherwise, we will not receive a plan of action for joining the
“The SSU is practically the only law enforcement agency that has not even been touched by cosmetic reform,” Borys Malyshev assured. “Since the 90s, it has been functioning almost without changes, according to the old patterns, which gives rise to unusual functions. It investigates smuggling, corruption, economic crimes, although, by the standards of the EU, NATO and the developed democracies, similar institutions should deal with terrorism, diversification, espionage. Or the Attorney’s Office. In 2014, a new law was adopted, but its implementation was stopped to a certain extent. The local Attorney’s Office was rebooted, the ranks were cleansed, the new personnel was recruited – but everything is still at very low levels. And the regional and Attorney General’s offices stayed untouched.”
Taking the judicial reform back to the starting point
The updated Verkhovna Rada will face an issue of new… judicial reform, even though it lasted five years? The deputy head of the President’s Office Ruslan Riaboshapka is dissatisfied with the changes in this sphere. He called them “fake” and initiated new ones.
“I think such statements are so far just a mobilization PR, apparently there are no strategic statesmen in Zelensky’s team,” Stepan Havrysh, a doctor of juridical sciences, informed Opinion. “The course of point or segment reforms may be another mistake leading to losses. In addition, we need some mass of intellectuals who can interact. Judicial reform is the hardest and has the goal of a new Constitution. As a new treaty on the re-foundation of the state. Ukraine, as it was in 1991, is gone and will never come back.”
Experts note the extremely inefficient reform of the Supreme Court (SC). The Public Council of Integrity made conclusions concerning the candidates for the positions of judges, which should be considered by the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine. But about 95% of the conclusions are ignored,
and the problem of dishonest judges has not gone away. However, the reform is not limited exclusively to the reboot of the SC.
“A lot of cases are in local and appellate courts, where nothing was done to increase the trust of the population for many years,” Borys Malyshev said. “It is time to reform the courts and, perhaps, to partly correct the reform of the SC. Under the previous government, it was rather just the beginning of the reform of the judicial system with positive features, but by and large, it became an imitation. Most of the judges, who were in the highest courts before, got into the SC. The reboot of the supreme judicial body never happened.”
A people’s deputy and a lawyer Valeriy Karpuntsov also has a low opinion on the carried-out judicial reform. In his opinion, it is a failed concept, and the changes were initiated too late since it should have been the first reform that had to be carried out immediately after the Revolution of Dignity: “But the SC personnel was changed in a shoddy way. Now we need to change the courts of appeal, the courts of the first instance. If we start with the SC again, we will only lose time. People will feel the real reform only in a district court.”
“A borshch made on the day before yesterday”
Will the real reforms finally start and not have to be curtailed in Ukraine? Famous
Ukrainians shared their vision with Opinion.
Bohdan Strutynsky, the chairman of the National Union of Theatrical Figures of Ukraine:
“I want to believe that real reforms will be introduced for the development of Ukraine, not its blocking. I really hope that this will happen when the young generation with the Ukrainian ideas and the right moods comes to power, and they will be able to break up with the Soviet past. Young people will not allow “overseers”, the ones who are on the threads, not at the forefront of reforms, to the power. We will only have irreversible reforms when there will be a healthy patriotism – love for Ukraine!”
Vlada Lytovchenko, a cultural worker, a candidate of historical sciences:
“If there are no effective steps and improvements in people’s lives now, then our future is hard to imagine. The change is essential. Two things should be removed: stealing and lies. Because we lie and steal only from ourselves and our children. I do not believe in reforms because the very definition of “reform” for me is something endless and formless, kind of unfinished business in the future. Only daily work and responsibility of each of us, honesty and high moral principles of the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and the years of patience can lead to real changes in life.”
Ivan Plachkov, an ex-minister of fuel and energy:
“Soon we will really witness the beginning of coordinate and decisive reforms in
almost all areas. Unfortunately, they will have a situational, reflex character. Not
always on a professional basis. The reforms will be quite effective. I think the next
team will not minimize them, only adjust.”
Valeriy Kharchyshyn, a musician:
“Most likely, there will be some reforms, but their purpose, vector, and quality will
depend on which camp the likely leader of the race will create a coalition with. If
they choose a pro-Russian team, there will be “reforms of cancellation of
reforms” and their supporters will treat such satisfaction as real reforms. To
get higher ratings, the “reforms” will be public and very artistic, initiated by the President himself. Unpopular decisions will be given to the Cabinet of Ministers and they will make them quietly, discreetly and not always effectively. And all of that will happen under the loud shouts of the new opposition, hardly complete one. If the winners unite with patriotic forces, then a part of the reforms, like medical one, will continue to exist, and it will look like the biggest victory. There is no hope for more since the people’s deputies will be stuck in the agreements and the search for compromises between the polar forces. I predict a short life for this parliament and the newly-chosen and newly-created political forces who will
disappoint faster than they were created. But there is a hope that after such a saving disappointment the real reformers will come to power, the ones who won’t heat up borshch made on the day before yesterday, but will reform coldly and uncompromisingly as the previous convocations have promised.”
Text by Viktor Tsvilikhovskyi