Week's milestones. Anticipation of Euro-Atlanticism, #turnitdown, and Constitutional Court's resonant ruling
Petro Poroshenko outlined the tonality of his future presidential campaign, of which he has not yet spoken out loud. Yulia Tymoshenko called the huge price of the Ukrainian GTS a couple of days before the new round of gas war with Russia. The nationwide #turnitdown campaign helped Naftogaz while running the risk of getting lost in a series of similar appeals. Viktor Yanukovych resurfaced in Moscow. Protesters' tent camp outside the Verkhovna Rada has been dismantled. The Tripartite Contact Group in Minsk announced a general truce starting March 5. The Kivalov-Kolesnichenko language law was declared unconstitutional.
Poroshenko's meeting with the prsss on the last day of winter traditionally lasted two hours, bringing no trouble to the head of state and allowing him to convey his main messages. Among them was distancing himself from the idea of early Rada dissolution, expressing hope for effective cooperation of all branches on the reform path, and reflecting on the consolidation in the Constitution of Ukraine's course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The idea so no obvious opposition from the democratic camp, while possible changes in the Constitution testify not only to the strategic character of the initiative, but also about the long-term nature of the problem. It is unlikely that Ukraine's politicians will publicly admit that both NATO and EU don't expect Ukraine's accession before 2030. It is actually possible that the pace of the country's European and Euro-Atlantic integration will be even slower.
The Verkhovna Rada did not justify the president's hopes, failing to vote for the new National Bank head and new composition of the Central Election Commission. At the same time, the deputies adopted in the first reading a long-sought draft law on the Anti-Corruption Court. Now the legislators will try to assume more obligations and accept the document required by the Western partners before the end of spring. Hopefully, they will succeed.
Yulia Tymoshenko in the fervor of the struggle for the preservation of state-owned gas transmission system claimed its sky-high price was $300 billion. It remains a mystery where the former "gas princess" took such a figure from. Anyway, the new round of the notorious Russian-Ukrainian gas war, which broke out after the Stockholm Arbitration ruled in favor of Naftogaz in a gas transit dispute, quickly smeared the effect of Tymoshenko's weird calculations. The Russian energy monopoly "took offense" and reduced by 20% the pressure in export pipelines, seeking to make the Ukrainian side tremble not only from the cold. Naftogaz urged the country to cut gas consumption with a "turnitdown" hashtag... and won another battle with the Russian blackmailer, promptly finding a partner in the face of the Polish PGNiG. Both Petro Poroshenko and Naftogaz top managers have assured the public that the peak of the energy crisis has been overcome, while PM Volodymyr Groysman might regret that he did not find an opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with a winner of the week, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev.
It's unclear what prompted Viktor Yanukovych's Russian hosts to allow him to resurface at a Moscow press conference since he voiced no sensational statements. The ex-president of Ukraine looks worn off as well as deprived of objective information on the latest developments in Ukraine, however hard he tries to prove otherwise.
Kyiv riot police forces dismantled a tent camp outside the Verkhovna Rada, detaining more than a hundred protesters (some of them – after desperate resistance on their part). An already traditional debate ensued in social media drawing parallel lines between the reformed police and notorious Berkut forces of the Yanukovych times… An inappropriate posting by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov spilled more oil into the fire. Opposition parties promised to have police forces punished once they "come to power," while Mikheil Saakashvili said he was planning to set up a mass rally on March 18, which can hardly be seen as a rapid response.
The Tripartite Contact Group in Minsk announced yet another truce in Donbas, starting March 5. Both the Ukrainian military and Russian proxy forces announced their readiness to observe it, while Kurt Volker's appeal to liquidate the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics" may not make things easier for all. However, before the next inauguration of Vladimir Putin, hardly anyone seriously expects a change to a better in the Donbas crisis.
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared illegitimate Law "On the foundations of the state language policy," aka the "Kivalov-Kolesnichenko" law, over violations of the adoption procedure. The first decision the Court handed down under its newly-appointed chief will significantly raise the bar of expectations. Meanwhile, Ukraine needs a new language law that will not only ensure the dominance of the state language but also provide for an actual development of the rights of national minority languages, especially in the context of the promised European integration.