REUTERS

Week’s milestones. Spurring minimum wage, Savchenko missing her target, and Avakov’s "caste"

The Ukrainian government has decided to make the most of the effect of the earlier raise of the minimum wage, but so far it has not succeeded much. Nadiia Savchenko seems to have outsmarted herself with the publication of Donbas POW lists. The incident with MP Serhiy Pashinsky using his firearm gave new impetus to public focus on the practice of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov awarding weapons to certain individuals.

REUTERS

The government marked the completion of the New Year’s holidays with the public demonstration of its will to enforce the implementation of its earlier decision to raise the minimum wage to UAH 3,200. Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko expressed confidence that Ukraine had already passed the lowest point of the crisis, and stressed that the executive branch would be strictly monitoring the compliance with the labor legislation by all employers. His immediate boss Volodymyr Groysman, the Ukrainian prime minister, has assured that he will respond quickly to violations of the rights of workers, at the same time stressing readiness to defend "honest businesses from the state racket". At the same time, Groysman’s speech addressing the State Employment Service during the government meeting deserves to be included in the list of negative examples of a public official’s behavior. The Cabinet of Ministers will have to switch as quickly as possible from its paternalistic tone to actual reform in order not to find itself buried in a wave of public discontent and parliamentary criticism after its one-year term of immunity expires.

Many Ukrainians have linked the minimal wage increase with hryvnia volatility rise, which for the second January in a row is "pleasing" those who get their salaries in national currency. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to disregard the need to explain what is happening with the exchange rate, which has already become a sad tradition. Against this background, no one is really surprised with the launch of criminal proceedings by Ukraine’s anti-corruption watchdog NABU against National Bank Governor Valeria Gontareva and Chairman of the Individual Deposits Guarantee Fund Kostyantyn Vorushilin.

Assessing the situation in the country with unquestionable loyalty, Head of the Presidential Administration Ihor Rainin stressed that neither the president nor the pro-president’s BPP party is afraid of early elections, but the election campaign can still be dangerous for the country. This thesis is nothing new so it requires constant confirmation with the specific positive changes. Poroshenko this week presented new Odesa Governor Maksym Stepanov, promising in 100 days to verify the effectiveness of his performance in the strategically important region. In the absence of a strategy to return Crimea and Donbas (it’s difficult to consider a strategy the statements of individual officials), improving the socio-economic situation in the Ukrainian regions at the Black Sea should become a strategic objective of the Ukrainian authorities.

MP Nadiia Savchenko continues to lose trust of the Ukrainian public, having decided despite the warnings of the SBU to disclose Donbas POW and detainee lists. According to the MP, her step would ensure the “all-for-all” prisoner swap before the end of this winter. At the same time, Savchenko admits that these lists, “compiled by her team” are not quite correct, and they should be specified with the help of the International Committee of Red Cross. It seems, in her quest to become the "savior of the Motherland", Nadiia Savchenko has crossed a symbolic "red line", which may affect her political positions.

The domino effect is also observed in the situation around the New Year's incident involving MP Serhiy Pashinsky, which sparked another wave of public interest to those hundreds of firearms, generously awarded by the interior minister to certain “useful” individuals. At the same time, Arsen Avakov remains paradoxically consistent in his opposition to the idea of granting Ukrainian citizens the right to carry firearms, preferring instead to create a "caste" of the chosen ones, against the background of several million weapons already bought by Ukrainians in the black market, according to expert estimates. This cognitive dissonance, in fact, poses a serious problem both for Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov and MP Serhiy Pashynskiy, members of the Popular Front.

Yevgeny Magda

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