Week’s milestones. Budget blitzkrieg, new owner of PrivatBank, and Donbas escalation on holiday eve
Ukraine has good chances to celebrate the New Year with the budget 2017, approved despite procedural imperfection. PrivatBank was transferred to state ownership, accompanied by an exchange of views on the subject between ex-management and the NBU governor. Another escalation in Donbas does not allow any optimism regarding the prospects for the development of the situation in the east of Ukraine.
The country's main financial document has been passed in the time interval, familiar to the current parliamentary convocation: that is, between midnight and dawn. However, this time it was as much as 274 MPs who supported the government estimates of the state revenues and expenditures, which allows Groysman’s Cabinet to look into the future spring with certain optimism. A high-paying role, according to some last-hour edits to the text of the bill, was played by "the coalition’s reservists " from Vidrodzhennia and Volia Narodu parliamentary groups. It even seemed as if the latter has never hosted a fugitive MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko, who has been lately seeking to accuse Poroshenko of political corruption, although from a comfortable distance. The vote for the budget of part of the Samopomich faction should ring an alarming bell for the faction leader, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy, who prefers active offensive actions on the political front instead of sitting idly in Lviv. People's Front through its solidity allowed Arseniy Yatsenyuk to launch a political PR campaign claiming the party's role in the country’s rescue. Unusually uniform this time was the pro-presidential BPP faction. At the same time, the Opposition Bloc and Batkivshchyna, without saying a word, ignored Groysman’s budget initiatives. Yulia Tymoshenko, instead putting forward any constructive ideas, radiates readiness for early elections, not only with her political statements but also with the message of her good physical shape.
Batkivshchyna faction has expelled from its ranks MP Nadiia Savchenko, whom the Verkhovna Rada also deprived of a status of the Rada’s delegate to the PACE. Stripped of her faction’s support, the legislator is not going to stop her political spree, especially in the context of a series of her European trips and the statements claiming the presidential administration intended to destroy Nadiia Savchenko. Today it is difficult to predict the actual prospects of the RUNA political project announced by Nadiia Savchenko, even more so in the conditions of the mandatory use of populism as the element required to boost popularity in the current political environment.
A real spoonful of tar in the budget ointment was the extension of the Rada’s recess by refusing to hold the first plenary week in 2017. It is surprising how the legislators didn’t address the issue of their salary increase (the voters have already forgotten about the summer surge of the deputies’ wages), but anyway, the extra week off for public servants in the country in a serious crisis raises many questions. Among them is the question whether the deputies still have that collective sense of self-preservation and their own vision of their prospects for the near future.
Along with the adoption of the state budget for 2017, the state was quick to become a new owner of Ukraine’s largest financial institution, PrivatBank. It should be noted that the takeover of the financial giant’s helm has passed almost without any incidents, although after the procedure was completed, NBU Governor Valeria Gontareva and former management of PrivatBank exchanged harsh statements over the causes of the bank crisis. Obviously, some restraint in this issue would be a right thing for the representatives of both parties, because at stake is not only the stability of the bank but also the stability of the country’s financial system.
The latest events at the Svitlodarsk Arc in Donbas showed that militants and their Kremlin backers respond asymmetrically to even small tactical successes of Ukraine’s Armed Forces. It’s about fake news on tortured Ukrainian soldiers captured by militants. Their widespread dissemination looks very revealing on the background of spinning the “news” that in 2016 only a total of 17 Ukrainian citizens were released from militant captivity. The call of the Tripartite Contact Group to establish a Christmas ceasefire, according to the latest developments, was just a voice crying in the wilderness.