The President’s black stripe
It seems that President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is now going through a black stripe in his political life. The reluctance to become an example of what is to "live a new life" [a slogan from his presidential campaign] leads to significant reputational losses, both in Ukraine and abroad.
The first failure is related to his desire to put in the prime minister’s chair a person loyal to the Head of State. Rocking this chair under incumbent PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk has not pushed the latter to resignation, instead turning the situation into a full-blown political crisis. Having left late last week on a working visit to the United States, Petro Poroshenko was until the last moment trying to seem as the president, who controlled the situation in his country. During this visit, the bid was apparently made on the Ukrainian president’s diplomatic expertise and excellent rhetorical skills in the attempts to water down the problem in the international arena. At the same time, Ukraine’s foreign partners were not born yesterday, and their response to nice speeches was rather weak. Moreover, for every positive thesis of the Ukrainian president on the state of affairs within the country, the Ukrainian MPs presented directly the opposite.
The Verkhovna Rada has shown that it’s unable to create any government – neither the technocratic, nor any other kind.
Thus, the inability of the "smaller" factions to reach any agreement pushed the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko and the People's Front to the formation of the “coalition of two”, supplemented by the turncoat MPs. This can’t be considered the effective end to the already protracted coalition saga. Bargaining in the Verkhovna Rada has not ended by the end of the week as the president of Ukraine wished. Meanwhile, Rada Speaker Volodymyr Groysman is probably the most favored contender for the prime minister’s post at the moment, whose nomination is trying to accumulate sufficient support of MPs (so far, in vain). However, he is anything but a technocrat, whom Ukraine has been vigorously promoting to its Western partners lately. That is, while the president said that the internal crisis in Ukraine was about to come to naught, and the newly formed coalition would form the Cabinet, committed to fulfill the IMF requirements, implement the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, fight corruption and follow the Minsk agreements, The Verkhovna Rada has shown that it’s unable to create any government – neither the technocratic, nor any other kind.
The second failure, incidentally, is directly related to corruption. During Poroshenko’s U.S. visit, The New York Times published an editorial criticized the internal politics of the Ukrainian president, calling it a product of the old system, which, in fact, condones corruption. In addition, it was mentioned that even the dismissal of the odious Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin, cannot be regarded as a signal of readiness to fight corruption.
Reacting to the publication, Poroshenko suddenly began to talk about "hybrid war," including "through the mechanisms of dissemination of information discrediting the Ukrainian state." Poroshenko later defended his statement, saying that his words were "misinterpreted.” He said Ukraine still needed to do a lot to overcome corruption, but the first steps have already been taken.
Meanwhile, ordinary Ukrainians can’t help but worry about how long this "black stripe” will last for Petro Poroshenko.
But the third failure of the president of Ukraine – the OCCRP investigative report which includes notions of Poroshenko’s offshore companies – has destroyed this attempt to save face. In particular, the journalists noted that the problem with the offshore companies set up by Poroshenko is not only and not so much in the fact of their very existence (according to Ukrainian law, public officials have no right to be founders of any commercial structures), but in the fact that the president has not reported in these offshore companies in his tax declaration.
However, it’s impossible to hold the head of state responsible for this, according to the Ukrainian legislation. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has already noted that Poroshenko can become subject of criminal investigation only after he relinquishes his authority.
Almost a day since the Panamapapers megaleaks hit the fan, the president tried to explain what was happening, with the support of his legal advisors – the ones who registered the offshore company on his name. We will see in the nearest future, whether it was convincing.
Meanwhile, ordinary Ukrainians can’t help but worry about how long this "black stripe” will last for Petro Poroshenko. Because this may directly affect the fate of the whole nation, which is in dire need of international financial and diplomatic support.