Week’s milestones. Personnel carousel, contagious populism, and local interests
The Verkhovna Rada approved a new Head of SBU, dismissed the Minister of Ecology, and issued a "black mark" to Georgia-born Health Minister. Changes at the faction leadership level seem to be very exemplary. Flirting with foreign currency borrowers may end up poorly for the Parliament’s eighth convocation. The constitutional amendments on decentralization became a reality.
The past week was filled with HR issues. The Verkhovna Rada approved the appointment of Vasyl Hrytsak as a new Head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), with little difficulties (only a Samopomich faction refused to vote, and the reasons of such passiveness will be discussed below). The constitutional majority needed to approve Hrytsak, is seen as a serious compliment for the new SBU chief. No less decisively, albeit with a smaller number of votes, the MPs sacked Ihor Shevchenko from the post of Ecology Minister. It seems that the namesake of the great Kobzar overreacted with his attitude toward his dismissal. Bloc of Petro Poroshenko expressed dissatisfaction with its own protégé Aleksandr Kvitashvili, which allows us to predict continuing transformation in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Meanwhile, the prime minister radiates confidence and admiration regarding the new patrol police in Kyiv.
Another voting provoked a reshuffle in the pro-power factions. 229 MPs passed in third reading the draft law on the restructuring of foreign currency loans, with all parliamentary factions having contributed diversely (for example, 50% of the President’s faction supported the bill). Following the immense popular criticism of this vote on the Internet, some MPs recalled their ballots, forgetting in the heat of self- justification that the legislation does not provide for such reverse moves. However, Yulia Tymoshenko has consistently advocated the need for preferences to currency borrowers, disguising it with the need for healing the country’s banking system. Tymoshenko just cannot get off the populism tracks, which may jeopardize her political career in the medium term. However, in the short term, it creates a pretext for the consolidation of her potential electorate.
But let us get back to the reshuffle. Sparking populism among members of a pro-presidential faction forced its head, Yuriy Lutsenko, to write a letter of resignation, which was followed by a two-hour conversation with the president. As of today, Lutsenko remains on his post, but there will probably be changes within the faction. The faction of the Popular Front will be headed by Yatsenyuk’s trustee Maksym Burbak. This demonstrates the prime minister’s will to increase his control over his colleagues.
It is interesting to note that some experts see the parties of the president and of the prime minister as partners in local elections. However, it is hardly appropriate to discuss any alliances before the rules for local elections are adopted by parliament. Samopomich, whose leader Andriy Sadoviy claims he will take part in future elections independently, has already declared its readiness to consider leaving the coalition, which certainly may be done with an eye toward this autumn. There is an ongoing process of the emergence of new political projects that will try their best in a local campaign. People's Control, led by Dmitro Dobrodomov, has been officially registered.
President meets the upcoming local elections by unveiling his initiatives on decentralization of power, proposing corresponding draft amendments to the Constitution. They were officially submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, but the parliament will hardy do anything more than redirecting the bill for examination to the Constitutional Court. There is no need to count on a triumphal passage of presidential initiatives in the Rada, as the parliamentary majority lacks unity. Some politicians see the amendments as prospects of significant strengthening of presidential power. Political bargaining is likely to take place between the parliament and the president, and the winner is difficult to define today.