Week’s milestones. Rough Poroshenko, fiscal Groysman, and determined Lutsenko
Petro Poroshenko has used the platform of a YES conference in Kyiv to present the current position of the Ukrainian authorities. Volodymyr Groysman pledged an honest budget for 2017, adding that he was ready to prolonged battles in Parliament for the adoption of the country’s main fiscal document. Yuriy Lutsenko showed determination, and not only in his words.
The increasing political pressure from the European countries, whose leaders have their own views on the settlement of the Donbas conflict and the resumption of relations with Russia, prompted Poroshenko to update Kyiv’s position on the issue. Speaking during a meeting of the Yalta European Strategy (YES) forum in Kyiv, the president said that Ukraine would not pursue the implementation of the Minsk agreements until Russia turns on track of ensuring security in the east of Ukraine. Poroshenko also noted that did not intend to forget about Crimea and urged Ukraine’s Western partners to extend sectoral sanctions against the Kremlin. As for the internal policy, the presidential messages remained unchanged - strengthening the fight against corruption, ensuring effective judicial reform, and continued decentralization are still the main priorities. The official Kyiv, in fact, has no other choice but to enter into a period of autumn turbulence as focused as possible, being ready to respond to possible initiatives of its enemies and opponents.
A sudden and tragic death of Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Taranov can influence the situation in the security agencies, which he oversaw while working on Bankova Street. Taranov was an influential and powerful figure who did much to strengthen the country's defenses and security. His death could actually be used against the interests of the State.
Liberation of Ukrainian hostages Volodymyr Zhemchuhov and Yuriy Suprun is not just a success for the Ukrainian side, but also an evidence of inadequacy of Russian-backed separatists. There can be no logic whatsoever in holding in captivity for such a long period of Volodymyr Zhemchuhov, a civilian, who had had his wrists amputated in a mine blast. At the same time, during a hostage exchange, one of the Kremlin’s propaganda journo Graham Phillips nearly impeded the whole process with his outrageous and humiliating remarks.
The budget for 2017 sees a record high level of expenses on defense and national security totaling UAH 129 billion. Not only will the funding of the Armed Forces be increased but also that of the intelligence services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After all, it is for the third year that the country has been waging a hybrid war ignited by Russia. While presenting the draft budget, Volodymyr Groysman announced wage increase for healthcare and education workers. According to him, the debate around the budget parameters will continue for several months, but the government is ready for such a scenario.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the SBU raided the premises of Kharkiv mayor Gennady Kernes in the case of a theft of hundreds of hectares of land. Home of MP Mikhailo Dobkin’s mother was not searched only due to the fact that the deputy himself is registered at that address, which makes it immune to any procedural actions of law enforcers without the Rada’s content. However, a former journalist and now MP Mustafa Nayem got into a debate with Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko during the YES conference, claiming that the current government has no political will to fight corruption, and many citizens agree with him. On the other hand, numerous arrests and detentions carried out by prosecutors over the past few months should raise the level of public confidence in their actions. Of course, that’s if the cases don’t fall apart miraculously once forwarded to the yet-to-be-reformed Ukrainian courts.