Week’s milestones. Warning in Brussels, struggle for ethics, and Savchenko factor

The Ukrainian Week in the European Parliament has by and large boiled down to the Ukrainian officials being issued an inaptitude notice. In a struggle for ethics of civil servants, the government decided to ban state officials from publicly criticizing state authorities. A sham trial of Nadia Savchenko in Russia is in the home stretch.


Coming to Brussels, “to see and be seen,” is a traditional dream of most Ukrainian politicians and social activists. But never before have so many Ukrainian MPs landed in the European political capital at once. Over sixty officials from Kyiv were careful not to wash dirty parliamentary linen in public and tried their best to radiate confidence in the future of Ukraine reforms. Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Groysman went on to reassure the country’s European partners that all the rumors about the political crisis in Kyiv are exaggerated, stressing that the majority of the democratic forces are ready to create a new coalition. Since the current Rada regulations allow for imitating coalition activity even after its death, it would be better to believe in deeds, not words, in this matter. A massive Brussels deployment of the Ukrainian lawmakers has not brought Ukraine a single inch out of the crisis.

Volodymyr Groysman does not exclude his transfer from the Rada speaker’s to the prime minister’s chair, although the media have been more optimistic about the chances of Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko who, on the contrary, showed no apparent will to be at the government helm. However, her political equidistance (except for the possible influence of the former clients of “Jaresko, the investment banker”) and the credibility in the eyes of the West may be more important than the reformist spirit. Having sensed an opportunity to ascend to the new political high of a Speaker chair, Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko continues to maneuver his small faction. Pro-Yatsenyuk People's Front is trying to keep rank of prime minister's allies, while the processes within the pro-presidential BPP faction defy claims about any unity in Rada’s major faction.

It seems Yatsenyuk is at variance with the majority of his allies, and the longer he remains at his post, the less space he has for political maneuver.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk has hard time from the talks behind his back. But the prime minister continues to call on all political forces to let his government work and, finally, show some class in implementing reforms. Banning civil servants from criticizing state authorities in the framework of the declared struggle for ethics rather proves Yatsenyuk’s lack of strategy in the fight for his chair than shows his sophisticated political skills. It seems Yatsenyuk is at variance with the majority of his allies, and the longer he remains at his post, the less space he has for political maneuver.

The trial of Nadia Savchenko, which is nearing completion in a Russian court, is another difficult challenge for the Ukrainian politics in general. Daring and uncompromising Putin’s hostage, Savchenko is not going to dance to the tune of the Russian justice system. Moreover, her behavior is creating serious problems for the Russian authorities. In this context, it is much more important for the Ukrainian politicians to speak with one voice on the issue of Savchenko’s release, than compete in being more vocal in supporting the Ukrainian MP and PACE delegate. Meanwhile, the Kremlin continues its large-scale political game with the whole western world rather than with Ukraine, and its denouement will become apparent soon enough.

Yevgeny Magda

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