28 October 2016

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Week’milestones. Alarming Donbas, judicial vicissitudes, and restless Saakashvili

The situation in Donbas remains an important factor affecting Ukraine’s internal policy. The judicial reform was launched against the backdrop of an ugly vote in the Rada for the dismissal of "anti-Maidan judges". The prosecutor general tried himself in a role of an anti-monopoly watchdog.


Preliminary results of the international investigation into the crash of flight MH17 became another serious argument for Ukraine in its struggle to refute Russia’s hybrid aggression. It is also able to affect the situation in the country’s east. The official Kyiv was handed additional arguments to counter the pressure coming from the West, which is trying to resolve the Donbas conflict at the expense of Ukraine’s national interests. The past week has convincingly proved that the militants are not going to fulfill the agreement on disengagement of forces and hardware in three areas along the contact line. Contrary to the deal, they have pumped up the use of heavy weapons.

One of the consequences of the ongoing hostilities has become an increase in the number of unregistered weapons across Ukraine. The experts estimate that there are virtually millions of guns in the black market, which means that legalization of arms is an important political issue. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stresses his categorical stance against such legalization, at the same time insisting on the adoption of a presumption of regulation for the Ukrainian police. Too bad that such an experienced politician does not realize that these processes are interconnected closely and can only move forward along parallel lines.

Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko took advantage of the current situation and proposed to deprive the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of an exclusive mandate to probe corruption cases. For obvious reasons, the NABU, as well as the agency’s high-level supporters who claim tackling corruption to be their top priority, met the initiative with no enthusiasm. Lutsenko also offers to reduce the period of stripping MPs of their immunity. This initiative can actually get a positive response, even more so on the background of the PGO’s plans to bring to justice the representatives of the Opposition Bloc Vadym Novinsky and Mykola Skoryk. Meanwhile, the PGO retains its status of a major newsmaker.

Judicial reform late September entered into force against the background of evident problems with the dismissal of the so-called “anti-Maidan judges" by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It took the legislators a record number of attempts to lay off 29 judges during an extraordinary session. Besides, it was not only the president’s allies who boycotted the move but also the acclaimed anti-corruption fighters, who opted for an overseas trip instead of voting for the long-awaited resolutions. Therefore it is no surprise that the level of respect to the Rada and Ukraine’s political elite in general has been dropping, as the authorities fail to show political will to take unpopular, though necessary, decisions.

Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili confirmed a long-evident duality of his political image. Being also a leader of the Georgian political party called United National Movement, Saakashvili has vowed to return to his homeland (it seems, he aims for a prime minister’s post) and even to appoint Khatiya Dekanoidze (a Georgia-born chief of Ukraine’s National Police) Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia. It should be noted to those preparing to say goodbye to Mr Saakashvili, who has over the past 1.5 years failed to show a once promised new quality politics in Ukraine, that the parliamentary election campaign is getting to its close in Georgia, and Saakashvili's statements are more likely to be aimed at that very campaign.

Yevgeny Magda

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