Week’s milestones. Aftermath of disaster, scandal with trail, and unification of tariffs
The memory of the Chornobyl disaster requires continued efforts to eliminate its consequences. A suspension of a TV host Savik Shuster’s permission to work in Ukraine has grown from a routine bureaucratic act into a large-scale scandal with an international trail. Unification of the gas price for all categories of consumers has made the “old political guard” speak up.
Chernobyl remains largely a marker of the world’s perception of Ukraine. Already 30 years have passed since the terrible man-made disaster, triggered by the desire to subdue nuclear reaction to the instructions of the ruling Communist party, which caused grave consequences. Ukraine and the whole world still remember the bitter “taste” of radiation, which scattered throughout Europe from the small town of the Ukrainian Polissia area. Today’s Confinement project is the result of concerted efforts of the international community, while the very existence of Chornobyl is a constant reminder of the need to strike a balance between expediency and efficiency in the exploitation of scientific achievements of humankind.
Meanwhile, a scandal unwound in Ukraine a Canadian national Savik Shuster’s TV show. An experienced host of a panel show, who has long capitalized quite deftly his status of a beacon of freedom of speech, went on hunger strike after his work permit was suspended by an employment service in Kyiv. Plenty of politicians spoke in defense of Shuster, while both the president and the prime minister called for the offices involved to address the conflict issue. But an experienced moderator of political panel shows with predictable results was unstoppable: Savik Shuster created the Committee for the Salvation of freedom of expression, which united many of traditional guests of his show. I believe that the perturbed comment of OSCE official Dunja Mijatovic on the issue is not the last one, and other negative assessments of the situation are still to come.
The Cabinet of Ministers has taken a step, which was expected from the previous government, on the harmonization of gas prices for all categories of consumers with its simultaneous slight decrease. This time, the executive branch showed the structure of pricing of the blue fuel, which will depend on its value at the European hubs and the cost of its delivery to Ukraine. Thus, Ukraine not only refuses from purchasing Russian gas, it also intends to keep the subsidies for the needy. The Government has already submitted to the Parliament a proposal to abolish the taxation of pensions, and it is highly likely to be supported. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was fast to respond to the news as its head, Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) called on the government to lift all gas discounts for religious organizations.
The Government's initiative has sparked some righteous anger of the old school politicians, who ride the wave of social issues in the struggle for electoral weight. They accused the Cabinet of Ministers of a crime against Ukraine, mesmerizing their grateful listeners with a bundle of figures. Moreover, the theme of the early parliamentary elections as a panacea will surely take a good share of their agenda in the coming period.
President Petro Poroshenko called the unification of gas prices "a powerful anti-corruption hit." He also stressed that the war cannot be an excuse for the economic crisis anymore, calling on the government to focus on improving the income levels and economic growth. Poroshenko has appointed four new Governors and fired the chief of the Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service Viktor Hvozd. In addition, parliament seats in seven single-mandate constituencies are now vacant, which significantly increases the relevance of early elections there. The question of the change of 80% of the composition of the Central Election Commission is just as relevant.
The systemic crisis, in which the parties in power and the political veterans are now experiencing, pushes new party projects to a more decisive action. Nova Kraina [New State] Association called on Democratic Alliance and Volia Narodu [Power of People] to unite, but no answer has yet been provided. Yehor Firsov, former MP who was recently deprived of his mandate, and former Deputy Prosecutor General Davit Sakvarelidze announced the creation of a new party project. We will see whether multiplying the number of political forces results in a shift from quantity to quality.