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Southeast of Ukraine needs a leader, not a Committee, says Mikhail Pogrebinsky

Mikhail Pogrebinsky. Photo: gazeta.ua

On August 3, at the Ukraine Hotel in Moscow, the former prime minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov presented the so-called Ukraine Salvation Committee. The former prime minister invited to the Committee the former Supreme Rada deputies from the Party of Regions Igor Markov, Vladimir Oliynyk, Coordinator of the Mothers of Ukraine movement Galina Zaporozhtseva, and an activist from Kharkiv Alexander Alexandrovsky. An EADaily correspondent talked to Mikhail Pogrebinsky, a Ukrainian political analyst, about the goals and prospects of the Committee. 

What do you think is the goal of the Committee?

- First and foremost, they have set up the Committee to engage in politics. They found themselves in Moscow against their will and are well informed of what is taking place in Ukraine. In addition, the former prime minister Mykola Azarov has enough experience in economic management and can share his opinion on the real situation, which helps him remain in politics. However, I do not think the project is promising politically. There are no prospects for this team to return and replace the incumbent authorities.

It is little probable that the people who are discontented and seek changes in the country will gather around that team. It appears to me that the authorities in Ukraine will change either through military actions, a coup d’etat that will bring to power a more right-wing force, or, in case of large-scale war, the power will be changed after it suffers military defeat.  Therefore, I do not see that team in any serious processes in Ukraine. They can just comment – be subjects that talk about everything.

Among others, the Committee suggests a return to the “old” Ukraine - before the coup of 2014 and the civil war in the southeast of the country. Do you think it is possible?

- No, it is impossible. One cannot set back to February 19 2014. There is Minsk process, and if they try to make a breakthrough in it, it will be a chance to change the situation in the country. As to a chance to return to the pre-coup situation, I do not see any.

Will the persons comprising the Committee be able to give the incumbent regime a good run for its money?

- I do not think they can. A healthy competition is possible when there is a chance for victory. In the given case, I do not see any. As to the persons involved in the Committee, Oleynik is from Central Ukraine and his political story is affected enough. He did not even show himself as a potential leader of the East and South of Ukraine – without it, it is unreal to compete with those who have gained a strong foothold in the West and in the Center. One needs to enlist a strong support of the East and South and fight for the votes of the Center to have a chance for victory, let alone that the incumbent authorities will not give Sumy at any elections. Look at what is taking place in Kharkiv. A public opinion poll there revealed that the Opposition Bloc has good chances. However, they do not register the Bloc not to let the rivals to the elections. In case of fair elections, the Bloc might gain the majority at the regional and city councils and try to win the municipal elections etc. However, no one will let them do it.  They do not register the organization in Kharkiv, which means that it will not be allowed to participate in the elections. 

As to Igor Markov, he really showed himself as the man of the East and the South. He was even imprisoned under Yanukovych, which shows that Yanukovych’s regime in late 2013 was not adequate: attacked by the nationalist opposition that was gathering pace then, he jailed the man who bravely resisted it.  As to the idea to nominate Oliynyk as the leader of the project, I think it is at least strange. Oliynyk lacks voters’ support and cannot win the presidential election, theoretically, I think.

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