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730 days of “chocolate president”: war, external control, and economic meltdown

On May 25, 2014, Ukraine held post-Maidan presidential election. Petro Poroshenko won with more than 54% of votes in the first round and was approved as president by U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. It was predictable.

What has the “chocolate” president managed to achieve and destroy since then? The number of those who naively believed that the Maidan revolutionaries will manage (want) to reform the country, fight corruption and, at least, get an increase in the pensions and salaries of Ukrainians, if not push the country into Europe, is shrinking dramatically. Yet, earlier this month, Poroshenko still enjoyed some 10% of those who stubbornly refuse to see the reality two years after the Maidan and continue to glorify Ukraine and its “heroes” and blame the president of the neighbor country – Vladimir Putin – for all their problems.

EADaily’s correspondent has interviewed some Ukrainian political analysts to find out their views about the two years of presidency of the Ukrainian “guarantor,” though it is not clear what he guarantees, if he is unable to guarantee anything in principle, even his own promises. For instance, the “chocolate king” promised to end war in Donbass within hours, to get a visa free regime with the EU, sell Roshen and much more.

Alexander Okhrimenko: “It is clear that nothing of what the people, who brought Poroshenko to power, planned has come true. Then everyone dreamed that the outrage that was under Yanukovych will end and people could do business. However, it turned out that Poroshenko is in no way different from Yanukovych. Then Yanukovych sought to become the wealthiest oligarch in Ukraine, now Poroshenko seeks the same. Eventually, the war of oligarchs continues, amid collapsing economy of Ukraine. It is very hard to find any positive fact in the economy of Ukraine of the last two years. GDP fell by almost 17% over the last 2 years, which means that Poroshenko and his team have failed to govern the country. Corruption continues, but bribes now go to the government officials that came to power after Maidan. Everything is collapsing before our eyes and no one in the president’s team knows what to do. Consequently, what we see now are endless publicity stunts.

"This may sound funny, but no one speaks of the Association with the EU any longer, though it was the goal of the Maidan. No one wants to admit that Ukraine has turned into the vassal of U.S. and IMF over the last 2 years. The Ukrainian authorities has no right to make any, even insignificant, political and economic decisions without the consent of the U.S. ambassador. Never before has Ukraine been as dependent as it is now.

"Unfortunately, Ukraine has no future with such leadership. Many Ukrainians have left; others are going to leave, as they have no idea when this outrage will end. All the talks about the economic miracle in case of European integration, European salaries/pensions and many other promises were myths.”

Ruslan Bortnik: “Petro Poroshenko is an ambitious, clever, hardworking and greedy, in many ways, man. However, during 2 years of his presidency, it has become evident that he rarely uses these features for the welfare of the country and the people. His goals and the goals of the people are different. He has managed to become the Chief Oligarch with the Messiah complex, but not the Head of State, not the guarantor of the rights and freedoms of his citizens. Here are the results of his presidency:

— loss of political (Minsk Agreements) and economic (IMF) sovereignty of the country;

— Dependent executive (government, CEC), judiciary (including Constitutional Court), and legislative powers;

— Destruction of the legal framework; “action plans” instead of regulatory framework, radicals instead of legal law-enforcement;

— Loss of Donbass (because of defeat in war) and documented loss of Crimea (Minsk-2): more than 5 million citizens, 10% of territory, 15% of GDP, and 30% of export;

— Collapsed social sector of economy, 2.5-fold growth of impoverishment of the citizens, price hikes (3-6-fold), inflation above 80%, more than 25% decline of GDP, and 300% devaluation;

— Failure to implement any of the key political promises: peace, economic growth, reforms, visa-free regime;

— “Tilting at windmills” instead of reforms: de-communization and war against monuments, and fight for visa free regime etc.;

— Self-discrediting (oligarchs, offshores, dishonesty): a six-fold decline of the rating within 2 years – from 52% to 8% - no chance to be re-elected.”

Vasily Stoyakin: “The key result of the two years of Poroshenko’s presidency is that they have passed. However, the chances to stay in power until the end of the term are fading away quickly. During the 2 years of his presidency, Poroshenko has lost a significant part of his rating inside the country and has seriously spoiled his relationships with the Western partners. For Ukraine with its low importance as an international subject, such situation is very undesirable. For the incumbent authorities of Ukraine that were brought to power by the U.S. to settle its own tasks, such situation is a suicide. In short, the president has nothing to do but hope that the isolation policy will dominate in U.S. after elections and in such case Poroshenko’s normalized relations with the Ukrainian oligarchs will have a positive effect. However, difficulties are inevitable even in that case, considering the difference of priorities and the puppet prime minister. The ongoing reforms in the country have just deepened the social and economic crisis and cut the “pork barrel” of oligarchs and politicians. Apparently, the president does not care for such an important issue as restoration of the territorial integrity. He is not going to implement the Minsk agreements. He says it time and again (though covertly, like he did at the recent summit in Turkey).”

Vladimir Kornilov: “Why did President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko decide to exchange Savchenko with Russians just now? Because, his rating is very low now, and Savchenko’s release will bring him some political dividends. He comes out as the liberator of ‘the national heroine’ from the ‘Russian captivity.’ They will turn her into a symbol. She will start travelling to towns and villages, to Europe and America as the hero of the fight against Russia. They will be using her for propaganda purposes. This will continue as long as she avoids making not so good statements concerning the political life in Ukraine, the relations with the West and Russia.”

Alexander Dudchak: “Poroshenko was ‘made by’ Maidan, as Ukraine lost its sovereignty. Poroshenko’s team of puppets have managed to not only collapse the economy within 2 years, but also deprive Ukraine of any chance to restore it in the long-term outlook. No protective mechanisms for the local producers have been left. The traditional economic ties have been breached, and the country has fully occurred under external control within less than 2 years. Now Ukraine is even farther from Europe than it was before the Maidan. Poroshenko has not fulfilled any of its promises, including the one to stop war in Donbass ‘within a few days and hours.’ As long as Poroshenko is in power, it is very probable that Ukraine will manage to sell its land too. The population is in poverty. The living standards in Ukraine now are at the same level with the poorest countries in the world. Meantime, Poroshenko’s assets have increased 7-8-fold during his presidency. The people of Ukraine will never forget him.”

Ruslan Vesnyanko (Kiev) for EADaily

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