Week’s milestones. Confusion with e-declarations, questionable ceasefire, and staffing intrigues
The issue of e-declarations of assets income declaration stood out at the president’s meeting with representatives of Ukrainian NGOs and a Cabinet meeting as well. A so-called ceasefire in Donbas was thwarted, without really coming into effect. Provocations in Lutsk and Lviv region are aimed at inflicting damage to Ukraine’s image on the international arena. The prime minister and the prosecutor general take turns convincing the public they are not going to leave office anytime soon.
All the hustle around e-declarations is more reminiscent of the course of a teenagers’ disease: high temperature (of discussions), rash (of various initiatives) and the desire to find some kind of a panacea, which in fact turns out to be a skillfully disguised placebo. Although Ukraine has already turned 25, anti-corruption fever keeps shaking it hard. The president, who needed to allow a significant part of the Ukrainian military not to file such declarations, promised to the concerned NGOs, who now suddenly fell under the obligation to report their assets, to create a working group in order to once again adjust the long-suffering law.
It is interesting to note that the spears were breaking around the electronic declarations issue at the time when the website of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption failed to cope with the number of number of those willing to report their assets online, filling a corresponding form. Many officials were anxious about being eventually prosecuted for skipping the deadline for filing their declarations due to the website that was desperately down. The final result has little to do with last year's public shock over the revealed data on the Ukrainian elite’s riches. Far more interesting was the squabble between PM Groysman and NAPC chief Natalia Korchak, who ignored the prime minister's public appeal to resign along with her team. Strictly speaking, anti-corruption practices in Ukraine, unfortunately, are shaping up against the backdrop of a complete lack of political responsibility of their leaders. Meanwhile, on April 14, a one-year period of “immunity from resignation” expires for the Ukrainian premier.
In Donbas, hostilities keep raging contrary to the truce declared by the participants in the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. Car explosion in Mariupol that took the life of a Ukrainian counter-intelligence officer, as well as the ongoing shellings in the ATO zone causing more casualties among the Ukrainian troops along the entire line of demarcation, not only testify to the ineffectiveness of the Minsk agreements, but also tell of the lack of leverage to influence the situation on the part of the world community.
The Ukrainian authorities also need to find a solution that can provide a more effective judicial procedure for those taking part in the ATO. The verdict against General Viktor Nazarov, who was charged with "official negligence" and sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment, was not welcomed either by the head of state, or the defense minister, or the chief of the General Staff. And this is not the first time the issue comes up as the need for the "militarization" of the Ukrainian judiciary has long been on the agenda. However, it finds no reflection in the work of the Verkhovna Rada.
A double provocation - the shelling of the Polish Consulate General in Lutsk and an attempt to block the international motorway in Lviv region – have failed to influence the Polish-Ukrainian relations as masterminds of these acts intended. Long-standing ties between one of such masterminds, Nikolai Dulsky (from a radical organization Nazhdak) and the Russian intelligence have been revealed recently. Of course, such provocations will continue. Moreover, in the near future, they will become more intensive, and it would be great if the Ukrainian authorities provided a consolidated response to all of them.
In early April, parliamentarians will start their two-week legislative streak, after which they intend to leave on a vacation under a favorable pretext. PM Groysman is probably the one who profits from this situation the most, as he will get more time to prepare for his annual report. However, the prime minister is already convinced that the pension reform can be launched as early as this summer, bringing in seven years the liquidation of the Pension Fund deficit.
Among the numerous information spins, one of the most prominent ones are reports about the upcoming replacement of Groysman by Yuriy Lutsenko. The rumor is promoted by the reports of Viktor Shokin willing to return to the chair of the prosecutor general. At the same time, Lutsenko both in words and deeds demonstrates his determination to stay in office. The refusal by Panama to grant Vladyslav Kaskiv, who is wanted by PGO, political asylum, as well as the detention in Georgia of Ihor Kiryushin, former deputy of Eduard Stavitsky, contributes to this. Searches at the premises of a tobacco monopoly with Russian roots can also be attributed to the success of the prosecutor general. Touching upon the future settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Lutsenko in an interview with Bild stressed that he did not see the possibility for full amnesty of militants in Donbas, but did not exclude that many of them would be pardoned after the withdrawal of Russian troops.