Week’s milestones. Donbas test, foretaste of optimization and scuffle around local elections
Ukrainian authorities are yet to find an effective recipe for the Donbas crisis settlement in difficult conditions. The representatives of the president's party started the talk about the need to reduce the number of ministers and parliamentary committees. The local election campaign which has already started will increasingly influence the situation across the country.
The ongoing armistice in the Donbas does not reduce the amount of problems for the Ukrainian authorities. The President and his political team have to respond adequately to the attempts for "Russian-style” settlement, exacerbated with the EU concern. Meanwhile, it is necessary to preserve the stability of the state and ensure real change. The challenges Petro Poroshenko is facing remain difficult, and his bet on decentralization appears justified. Actually, just like his promise that the final vote for the Constitution will not take place until a political settlement is reached and the Russian troops are withdrawn.
Saving the interaction between the president and the prime minister allows the authorities to maneuver under constant time pressure to make decisions. Distribution of roles is also quite clear: head of state serves as a “dove of peace", the premier is more "hawkish" in his rhetoric. Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, poured more oil into the fire with his “revelations” regarding Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s participation in the Chechen war in the mid-90s. Although Yatsenyuk is accustomed to be “on the frontline” [with his People’s Front political party], the majority of Ukrainians simply cannot imagine him fighting alongside some nationalists fighting for free Ichkeria.
Meanwhile, the prime minister is facing another challenge: he has to agree on a qualitatively new government structure given a fairly fragile coalition, which is rocked from within from time to time. A statement by Natalie Jaresko on her unwillingness to become prime minister sounded obvious. Much more interesting was Ihor Kononenko speaking in favor of reducing the number of ministers, and Yuriy Lutsenko almost simultaneously proposing to reduce the number of parliamentary committees. If that happens, then we can talk about an effort to change the situation. Previously, the multiplication of posts has traditionally been the tool for political compromise. Considering that half of Ukrainian citizens do not see the promised reforms, according to the polls, optimizing the structure of government might as well be the key to its survival.
Local elections in the current situation seem to be a factor of destabilization, as the majority of participants fail to offer local agenda, but rather spit out all-Ukrainian slogans of a political nature. The leader of Batkivshchina [Fatherland] political party Yulia Tymoshenko assured that her colleagues are not going to quit the coalition, but they speak in favor of reshuffle in government. Samopomich [Self-Help] faction also intends to remain in the ranks of the coalition to the end.
Hennadiy Korban, head of the political council of UKROP Party made a speech at a party congress, vivisbly applying for the status of a leader of an opposition, not related to the Opposition Bloc. Oleksandr Omelchenko recalled of the insults of 2006, saying that Vitaliy Klitschko is not able to manage Kyiv properly. It looks like the unfolding local election campaign is preparing quite a few discoveries about Ukraine’s politics and politicians.