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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s week: Why is he so unlucky?

Petro Poroshenko. Photo: politikus.ru

What is worse than ill luck? It looks like Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s week was not successful. Just like someone put an evil eye on him.

On Monday, nearly no one appreciated the mournful elegance of the president’s flower laying ceremony at the Glory Memorial. Even the loyal TV channels just aired stock footage, devoting more airtime to the public victory parade. Forgetting that May 9 is no longer an official holiday in their new democratic country (since 2015 Ukraine has been officially celebrating May 8 as the Day of Victory over Nazism in Europe and the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation), some local media reported about the Immortal Regiment marches in the country’s big cities even forgetting to say “the so-called” Immortal Regiment. 

The bad luck spilled over into Tuesday when the Supreme Rada suddenly bristled, though there seemed to be a good and hard-working coalition loyal to the president and government.  Everyone was concerned over the new data of Panama papers leaked by Mossack Fonseca. At least 643 citizens of Ukraine, 469 companies and 3,000 privates and legal entities, including top officials, were named in Panama papers.

Poroshenko ‘survived’ the first wave of the Panama leaks, since he was on a visit to Japan. This time, he proved less lucky. Two factions of the parliament – Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna and Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party urged setting up an investigating committee for the offshores. Even a tete-a-tete meeting with Lyashko at the president’s administration did not help. The Radical Party representatives blocked the parliamentary tribune making all the demands one could think of and more.

Yet, the second half of the week proved more fruitful. On May 12, the Supreme Rada deputies supported the Bill No.4469 cancelling the higher education and working experience requirements for the candidate to the post of the prosecutor general in Ukraine. Furthermore, 264 deputies voted for the president’s loyalist Yuri Lutsenko to become Prosecutor General of Ukraine. 

In the meantime, there were no changes on the international arena… Poroshenko’s May 11-12 visit to Great Britain was postponed, as he did not want to go there “empty-handed” and could no longer “leave the household unattended.”

Why is the Ukraine president so unlucky?

Essentially, all the aforementioned is just the top of the iceberg of troubles threatening the careless presidency of Petro Poroshenko.  However, do not try to explain this with an unlucky train of events or unfavorable alignment of the stars. Things are much simpler - the geopolitical project “Ukraine – the center of the fight for a new geopolitical world order” has run its course.

The key sponsor of “the Maidan revolution,” the United States, is just extremely tired of its own Ukrainian project.  It is tired physically, psychologically and financially.  Ukraine has not brought the expected dividends in the U.S.-Russia confrontation. Furthermore, the Ukrainian crisis has unveiled and exacerbated the American – European discrepancies that were seemingly removed yet long ago.

It has turned out that Europe does not need the U.S. gift – the permanent hotbed of instability into which once successful and developing Ukraine has turned within a couple of years. Europe would be happy to get the erstwhile Ukraine with developing agriculture, industry and metallurgy as a sales market for its goods. However, the market must be at least solvent and stable, but not ruined and impoverished like the present-day Ukraine. If U.S. can no longer afford its own project, Europe will hardly find free funds to do it now, after receiving other gifts from the United States, like the migration crisis etc. 

After a series of intrigues and political plots Petro Poroshenko managed to replace the U.S. henchman Arseniy Yatsenyuk with Volodymyr Grosyman who is loyal to him (as he thought and continues to think so) on the post of the prime minister and avoid another U.S. creature – Jaresco. However, he should not have assessed it as his victory. He did not win; he was just let to think he won. First, let us not forget whose protégé Petro Poroshenko is. Second, President Obama’s team is leaving the political arena now, anyway.

Insisting on a fully pro-U.S. nominee for a governing position in Ukraine means to undertake surplus responsibility and expenses.  It will be clear no sooner than in autumn whether the new U.S. Administration will do. Actually, Petro Poroshenko was just let to feel independent for a few months on condition that there is another fully pro-American second person in Ukraine, the new parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, and he will be under constant supervision by Geoffrey Pyatt. The U.S. ambassador was to be replaced yet after the coup of 2014. However, not to let the wind of freedom turn Poroshenko’s head, they started loading him with small and big problems, political and economic troubles. 

It would be no exaggeration to say that these troubles have simply poured (and will continue to pour) on him.

For instance, a new IMF Mission launched activity on Tuesday to study the conditions for resumption of financing for Ukraine. It turnout that earlier the main political (and economic) dividends from the IMF went to either Yatsenyuk or his ministers (mainly Pani Jaresco).

In addition, an embarrassing moment happened in January. After the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Petro Poroshenko announced that IMF would issue a tranche in foreign currency within the near future (allegedly there were reliable arrangements with Christine Lagarde), but no money have been provided yet. It is not clear what the current inspections will result in, what the Mission will demand (whether new price hikes or reduction of social expenditures), and how much they will decide to provide, if at all. 

There is another trouble – the permanent political pressure on the president by his old and new opponents.  Starting from Yulia Tymoshenko (whom certain political circles in U.S. have been considering as quite possible alternative to the incumbent political regime in Ukraine since the winter of 2016) up to Vitaly Klitschko, Kiev Mayor, who seemingly supported Poroshenko “in the rear.”   It has been widely rumored recently that the mayor has found himself in rather a delicate situation after agreeing to transfer all utility accounts from the Khrecshatyk Bank to Poroshenko’s International Investment Bank. Actually, the mayor gained nothing and failed very influential depositors. Meantime, financial problems in Kiev are settled with political methods, and Mr. Klitschko knows this firsthand. In addition to it, he initiated a municipal police in Kiev.

Therefore, Poroshenko’s growing concerns over the political developments in Kiev are natural.  How could he make foreign trips, when “mutiny aboard” is possible at any moment?

The only trump card in his hands is snap parliamentary elections. However, will it work now?  First, the recent public opinion polls revealed that the Petro Poroshenko Bloc is yielding to Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, Samopomich and even to the Opposition Bloc. Considering that Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front will not be nominated for parliament, it is “counter-indicative” to think of snap elections in the current presidential and parliamentary coalition in the Supreme Rada. Second, let us not forget that the decision to announce elections depends not only on Kiev. 

It appears that Poroshenko and his political party cannot rely on the support of the regions either. In fact, more and more people in the regions are discontented at the policy of the government and the president, personally. For instance, the governors appointed by Poroshenko are often incompetent and create more problems than solve them. At least look at the Lugansk region governor Georgiy Tuka. That former volunteer escalated the situation in the region so much that only the permanent presence of Ukraine’s Armed Forces prevented a new hotbed of tensions in that territory. To avoid even more problems, Tuka was hastily appointed Deputy Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced to be under stricter supervision.  Yuri Garbuz, MP from the President’s Bloc, came to replace Tuka on the post of the governor. At least, Garbuz has some experience of administrative work at the level of district administration.

Here is another example. A few days ago, Governor of Zakarpattia region Hennadiy Moskal (father’s surname Hayfullin) appealed to the president for reappointment to the other region over disagreement with some appointments at the Customs Office and the actions by Valeriy Patskan, deputy, the head of the regional election headquarters of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc during the local elections in Zakarpattia.  The president agreed with Moskal’s arguments and promised to tackle the problem personally. Yet, there is a nuance: under the Constitution, neither the president, nor a governor has a right to interfere into the human resources policy of the Customs Office.  This field is under jurisdiction of the Government and Fiscal Service.  If the president and his governor are ready to violate the Basic Law to settle such momentary financial problems, they will hardly enlist any support in this region. Therefore, there is no longer any threat of snap parliamentary elections. 

What else to do? Whether to war again?

Poroshenko has the last chance to “survive” – it is his relative independence until autumn. He has surrounded himself with too many unfriendly people, and even enemies. Let us wait and see if he will manage to use that last “gift of destiny.”

Andrey Chesnokov, Kiev 

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