Week's milestones. Test on Christmas eve and optimism of authorities
During these New Year’s holidays, the Ukrainian society was vigorously tested for its readiness to restore relations with Russia. The Ukrainian President, Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker have each made it clear in their public addresses that the country had already passed the worst stage of the crisis.
A sort of a dessert to the festive menu of Ukrainians was served by Viktor Pinchuk and Vasily Filipchuk. One of the richest people of Ukraine and a renowned expert on international affairs, accordingly, have offered Ukraine to seek more intensively the way to reconcile with Russia, effectively recognizing Donbas the Russian territory and forgetting (for several decades at least) about the possibility of joining the EU and NATO. It should be noted that these proposals were announced against the backdrop of a significant cooling of relations between Kyiv and Brussels as well as discontent of many Ukrainians with how the country is developing, according to sociological data.
The messages by Pinchuk-Filipchuk highlight one of the major trends of 2017: proposals to seek understanding with Russia will cease to be a prerogative of Kremlin-oriented opposition figures. Instead, these theses will be injected into the general socio-political discourse. And this will not be those fanatics wearing pro-Putin T-shirts who will be the main voices of this campaign but rather some quite respectable figures. Stunned by Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential race, the Ukrainian political elites could be retracted into this discourse under the pretext of the need for self-preservation, because there are not so many examples of political self-sacrifice of Ukrainian people’s servants today.
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration after a brief pause has responded to Viktor Pinchuk with a column by deputy chief of the president’s staff Kostyantyn Yeliseiev published by The Wall Street Journal, where he marked the so-called "red lines" Ukraine would never cross in the issue of Russian-Ukrainian settlement. Petro Poroshenko in his New Year’s address stated that country had already passed its worst stage of the crisis. Meanwhile, the attempts will continue to compromise the Head of State with the notorious "Onishchenko tapes", in which the Russian trace is seen more and more clearly.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman intends to make the year of 2017 a period of economic growth and quality development of Ukraine. It is quite a challenge given Ukraine’s current status of a European outsider in terms of the average wage, and at the same time – a leader in terms of corruption. An increase in the minimum wage can’t be enough but the government has a few more months before its one-year indulgence term expires for laying the foundations of economic growth. It seems it won’t be able to do without the creation of conditions for the development of the middle class. In other words, a long-promised de-oligarchization is needed, capable of changing the levers of economic power.
Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy believes that a scenario of early parliamentary (and presidential) elections is being imposed from the outside. Although there is a grain of truth in the words of the head of parliament, the lawmakers are also partly to blame of the relevant public attitude arising as they have not been pampering their voters with too great a performance throughout the whole year. By constantly emphasizing the status of a country at war, it would be difficult to achieve efficient work operation of the parliamentary coalition.
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of Kyiv Patriarchate) Filaret is assured not only in the rightness of the struggle for the liberation of Donbas (his historical homeland) from the occupation but also in the possibility of creating of an independent church in Ukraine in the near future. It is interesting how thismay be affected with the "Drabinko case", where the investigation is focused on MP Vadym Novinsky, one of the main sponsors of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. By the way, the creation of a local church in Ukraine - a powerful argument in countering Russia’s hybrid aggression, while Moscow is trying by all means to prove the futility of the Ukrainian state as such.