The week that passes strikes not as much with a strange way of the new government to flirt with Ukrainians as with the ability to forget and ignore really crucial things. The change of the priorities and the silence that kills – in traditional digest from Opinion.
If it seemed to you that nothing could overtake the advertising of Yulia Tymoshenko and the profile pictures of the Ze-team on the Ukrainian Facebook, you were deadly mistaken. The epopea with the alleged dismissal of the head of the President’s Office, Andriy Bohdan, literally blew up the network and certainly made Ukrainian journalists pretty nervous.
“The source reported” – a phrase that risks becoming a meme within the home media. Who and why from the President’s Office divulged information about Bohdan’s intention to leave seem to collapse into oblivion. Instead, we have a great example of how the state machine can gain control of the media, focusing on the whole agenda. And yet – an example of dead communication. It is quite clear that for more than ten hours, Andriy Bohdan’s private messages and phone were torn apart by journalists’ efforts to find out: is it true? Zelensky himself dotted the “i’s” in the puzzling games of the president’s environment: the whole team have written resignation letters, and if society urges the guarantor will sign them shortly.
“We don’t hang onto power. We – all the key people who came with me – agreed from the beginning that we would write resignation letters. If the society or the president feel that one or the other person cannot cope with the tasks set by Ukraine, then at any moment this person, not holding to a seat, will resign,” Zelensky emphasized while jokes about Bohdan Schrödinger circulated across the Internet.
To call Bakanov over “this dastard” is no longer trendy. The sixth president of Ukraine began to resemble a certain Ukrainian Robin Hood, who takes money from the rich and gives to the poor. True, in a somewhat peculiar manner: every so often Zelensky invites officials to say goodbye to their property to eliminate some problems in the region.
Same happened recently during the president’s dialogue with Smila mayor Viktor Fedorenko. Volodymyr Zelensky suggested that he pays off the city’s debts for heating… by selling a private car. This is how the “servant of the people” decided to settle a situation in which the inhabitants of Smila pay for heating and the debts of the city don’t disappear. The following dialogue took place between the president and Fedorenko:
Zelensky, “Are you a mayor?”
Fedorenko, “I am a chairman of the city administration. I have duties.”
Zelensky, “What car do you have?”
Zelensky, “A car. I want to know what car you have”
Fedorenko, “I have Toyota.”
Zelensky, “Sell it!”
This strategy of building an image of a “manager” already seems classic for the new president. Before that, at a meeting with the leadership of the Zakarpattia customs, having heard from the customs officer complaints about the low salary, Zelensky asked about the phone brand. When heard that he has an iPhone, the guarantor immediately turned the situation in his favour. Interestingly, did the president notice that, even during the “impoverishment,” every third schoolboy uses the phone with an apple on the back cover, not to mention Ukrainian adults? However, in a network for such communicative tactics, Volodymyr Zelensky has already been called a “Ukrainian Lukashenko”.
By the way, about iPhones. The Ze-team’s promise to create a “country in a smartphone” (don’t confuse it with a “land of dreams”) seems to be coming true. This week, the president signed a decree “On Some Measures to Improve Access of Individuals and Legal Entities to Electronic Services” to arrange the work of state registers and develop electronic state services.
According to experts, this decree should make life easier for Ukrainians by reducing the number of certificates. That is, the plans are to create a separate online resource where all sorts of information about the household composition, registration by place of residence and the like can be verified online, without standing in long queues for offices. Whether this decision of the new government will end the bureaucratic hell – only time will tell. Who knows, a decree may soon be issued to create the promised Land of Dreams.
Meanwhile this week, those who dreamed that the dollar would drop in price took even longer queues at exchange offices: for the first time in three years, the rate fell below 25 hryvnias. And while the couch experts were sorting out what happened and whether to expect an “eight” rate, the experts explained: it’s quite traditional for foreign currency at this time of the year and it’s connected with the export of agricultural products. At the same time, experts explain: strengthening the hryvnia in this situation can lead to quite obvious risks.
“Usually, we’ve had a season that starts from January to the mid-summer when the hryvnia is strongest. Now, this season has been intensified by foreigners coming in and buying our local securities. Since the beginning of the year, $ 3.5 billion has come in, this week alone over 500 million. As a result, this has created an imbalance, the dollars are too much and the hryvnia has become stronger subsequently. It has created additional risks for the economy. But for two consecutive days, we see the National Bank becoming a wall and preventing the exchange rate from volatility,” an investment banker Serhiy Fursa explains.
Patriarch Filaret reminded of himself this week by another attempt to legitimize the existence of the Kyiv Patriarchate. This time he appealed to the Minister of Justice to… continue registration of the UOC-KP. However, Filaret received his response forthwith but from the Ministry of Culture. There he was reminded that… there is no such church anymore.
“Although the religious association of the UOC-KP terminated its activity by merging and joining the UOC, all the functions of the former UOC-KP were transferred to the governing bodies of the UOC,” the Ministry of Culture explained.
Whether Filaret would stop here – the question seems rhetorical. Another thing is that for secular Ukraine, religious games somehow feel quite comfortable in the frame of public and journalistic attention even in the 21st century.
But while the network’s mornings begin with a discussion of the next “tricks” from the President’s Office or the drop of foreign currencies, there is no silence at the frontline, despite the truce regime. Militants fire daily at the Ukrainian positions, often using prohibited weapons for this. The Joint Forces Operation headquarters daily reports on new violations of the occupiers and injured Ukrainian soldiers. But, it seems, Russia continues its classic behaviour, not caring an iota about any treaties, international laws, and in general, about anything that doesn’t correspond with the interests and imperial tastes of the Kremlin.
Furthermore, the games of Bohdan, Filerat’s hysterics and Zelensky’s antics have replaced the most important – the year after the attack on the official and activist Kateryna Handziuk. Kateryna was attacked on July 31 near her home. Sustained wounds and continuous suffering resulted in her death. Kateryna’s murder is a point of no return, a moment after which the public doesn’t seem to soon believe in the justice and efficiency of the law enforcement system. One year after the attack, organizers and customers are still on the loose. The people who killed Kateryna continue to live a normal life, while her friends and the whole conscious community don’t get tired of asking the new authorities now, “Who ordered Kateryna Handiuk?”
On the anniversary of the attack, dozens of activists from different cities came to Kateryna’s hometown, Kherson, to once again remind the public that attackers must be punished. Already on the morning of July 31, everyone who passed the building of the City Executive Committee was able to see a large inscription on the wall: “The murders of Kateryna Handziuk will be punished.” A series of actions across the city, visits to persons involved in the murder of the activist and mention of her – a woman who fought against the system until her last breath. And, it seems, continues to fight so far.
All this erases any mockery of the president’s team, any games with the electorate and foreign exchange rates. When in the modern world it is possible to kill a person, who fights for a better future for her country, with impunity, everything seems to be fading into the background. Therefore, the top of the line question this week should not be “Did Bohdan write a resignation letter?” but “Who ordered Kateryna Handziuk?”.
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel