The passing week seemed to bring us into a car where the brakes were non-operational and the door was locked. All that was left is to pray and hope that you will be able to get there without any losses. Yesterday’s members of the Party of Regions headed the Freedom of Speech Committee, accused of treason were released, public protests did not prevent the new authorities from appointing the old “devils”, and the fake about the release of political prisoners was rocking the entire country. Whether it will be possible to get to point B and survive – read in the traditional digest by Opinion.
The first steps of the ninth parliament
As if it was Tarantino’s latest film – long-awaited and equally obscure for many people – that’s how the first day of the ninth convocation of the Verkhovna Rada has passed. The newly elected MPs took the oath and selfie, texted to friends, examined the canteen and even had time to vote in favour of tackling urgent matters.
The pro-presidential faction Servant of the People almost immediately assured that the coalition was formed because the number of their people’s deputies allows them not to make deals with other political forces. It wasn’t much of surprise as well as the announcement of Petro Poroshenko‘s party European Solidarity about the transition to the opposition. However, with important clarification: they are becoming the opposition to the “servants of the people”, not to Ukraine.
Dmytro Razumkov became the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, and his colleague Ruslan Stefanchuk and the people’s deputy from Batkivshchyna Olena Kondratyuk’s received the positions of Vice-Speakers. “We will be ashamed to look into people’s eyes if we do not do what we promised,” the new Speaker warned, as if not understanding that no one trusts words for a long time.
To make sure that the people’s deputies do not relax and forget who is in charge of everything, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the parliament. Ex-showman seems to continue imitating Lukashenko with a steady image of the “owner”. Thus, he threatened the people’s deputies that he gave them only a year of probation period. Zelensky said that he has already dissolved the Parliament, therefore, he will be able to do it again. However, in his speech, the head of the state questioned the ability to control our car (that is, the state), assuring that his first hundred days in power had passed like a ride at the first gear, therefore, now… we need to switch to the fifth.
Nobody was surprised by the new Prime Minister of Ukraine. As expected, the chair of Groysman is now occupied by Oleksii Honcharuk, deputy of the President’s Office head Andrii Bohdan. Well, the probable list of ministers that was “wandering” around Ukrainian Internet media completely coincided with reality. Despite the hopes of many, Suprun was not left in office, instead, the Minister of Finance and the Interior Minister did not leave their offices.
However, new people’s deputies succeeded in a rather long-awaited step – in the first reading the bill on the removal of parliamentary immunity was approved, 363 MPs voted for it. Only the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life didn’t manage to vote. Therefore, the draft law should be examined by the Constitutional Court, and if no objections are found there, parliamentarians will be able to vote for it at the next session. Under this scenario, MPs will become quite “exposed” since the first of January next year.
Avakov is a devil
With such slogans, activists tried to appeal to Volodymyr Zelensky and the new Verkhovna Rada twice, trying to persuade them not to allow the re-appointment of Arsen Avakov to the post of Minister of Internal Affairs. Fires, posters, public actions, countless posts on social networks and at the same time the failure of reform and high-profile unsolved murders – nothing could have influenced the authorities – Avakov remained in his office.
The new prime minister tried to justify himself and explained it as the necessity of the Interior Minister’s experience, who needed an inexperienced government to control the security bloc. Nonetheless, Honcharuk admitted – Avakov has failed the reform, and his appointment was extremely difficult. And yet it happened.
“One of the reforms that did not occur is police reform. There was a reform of the traffic police, and it went no further. Criminal police reform needs to be continued. If the press or civil society have very specific claims, the president and I agreed: the first serious reason to believe that the model of behaviour is unacceptable, and any person (not just Avakov) should go,” the Prime Minister assured. However, it is quite strange that the very specific and objective claims that activists have been trying to convey for two consecutive days, and which have been evident over the last five years, have bypassed unnoticed.
Poroshenko prepares a coup
The first rule, which is well remembered by the people’s deputies, is “never turn the screen of the phone with the open messenger to the side of the journalist’s cameras.” But we are all learning from mistakes and the newly elected people’s deputy Liza Bohutska is no exception. The media managed to take pictures of the message on a smartphone, where the parliamentarian tells someone about the urgent need to vote for Avakov’s appointment, as Poroshenko… is getting ready for a coup. The photo instantly spread through the network and turned into a real meme, however, Bohutska made a serious assurance – she turned the smartphone to the journalists on purpose.
“Do you think that knowing that everything is being photographed and I’m sitting right beneath them, I just showed what I wrote? Of course not. When back in 2017 tent city with demands to the Verkhovna Rada stood under the Parliament, Lutsenko, on the instructions of Poroshenko, opened a case against Saakashvili for “trying to make a coup for Kurchenko’s money.” Not so long ago, Poroshenko on his webpage urged his supporters to block the Parliament and make “Maidan” with burning tires if something goes “wrong.” Isn’t it an effort to make a coup? That is, Mikhael is a coup, and Poroshenko is nothing serious… Of course, he will not come to the Rada tomorrow with tanks. But it is the fact that he is planning to return,” the people’s deputy assured.
Freedom of speech – to the Party of Regions members
And before our car started to switch from the first to the fifth gear and go in the direction of the coup… that is, towards the bright future, there was another news, this time not invented by Bohutska – the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech will lead… ex-regional and member of Medvedchuk’s party Nestor Shufrych.
Almost immediately journalists assessed this step as a spit in the face, and bloggers began to remind the public that Mr Nestor still has some murky background. Voice and European Solidarity parties also opposed this appointment, and at the end of the week, Petro Poroshenko‘s and Yulia Tymoshenko‘s parties withdrew their deputies from the committee. Now Sufrych will have to protect freedom of speech in the company of representatives of Servant of the People.
Vyshynsky – out
Another unexpected turn on our route that even Shufrych and Medvedchuk might envy – the release of Kyryl Vyshynsky, the head of the Russian information division of RIA Novosti-Ukraine, who is suspected of high treason. In particular, he was accused of distributing materials that were calling for the taking over of the constitutional order, inciting national hatred and degrading honour and dignity of the state.
However, according to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Kyiv, the measure of restraint was changed… to a personal obligation, as required by the defence of Vyshynsky. The wave of betrayal has already gained a few meters in height and is about to wash us off the road, as the Prosecutor General’s Office assured us – the release took place in preparation for a 35 to 35 hostage exchange, a – RIA Novosti-Ukraine editor gave written consent to participate. The most surprising thing is that Vyshynsky himself assured that he did not agree to anything, and the court’s decision is just a court’s decision. But we know quite well what the truth is for representatives of Russian propag… media, right?
Let’s joke about hostages now
The exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia is one of the main topics this week. Initially, a week ago, Zelensky assured that in the coming days he is waiting for the results, the Russian media joined that expectation in a while, assuring that the countries had already settled down everything. The things were heated up by the release of two pro-Russian figures of Odesa’s May 2 case and Vyshynsky, whom we mentioned previously.
In fact, everyone was in a state of constant anticipation of at least some news. One of the people’s deputies, referring to his own sources, assured that the exchange should happen already on… 30-31 of August, therefore these two days became especially hellish for everyone. And at this moment, the newly appointed Attorney General Ruslan Riaboshapka entered the arena, reposting on his social media a post that was saying that sailors, Sentsov, Karpyukh, Balukh, and Hryb… were flying back home.
Whether they have been told something about media literacy and the responsibility of officials for the information they disseminate and broadcast remains a big question. After all, for many, including the top media, Riaboshapka’s post has become a 100% guarantee that our men are on their way home. Thus, news headlines filled the long-awaited words about Kremlin prisoners returning home. And then… the reaction of the President’s Office, where the information was branded as a fake one together with the request of the SBU not to rush with such news, because so far… no exchange has happened.
If the transition from the first to the fifth gear looks like this, then our car seems to be in a huge problem. While regionals are preparing to defend freedom of speech, representatives of the new government are levelling the weight of those words. While the civil society is demanding the creation of at least one government without “devils”, these requests remain unheard or at least ignored. And while in the minds of some people’s deputies the old government is planning a coup, our car is speeding further. And it is good that there are no sharp turns or cliffs so far. Maybe there still will be a possibility to stop.
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel