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Week’s milestones. Budget and Christmas in Parliament, anti-corruption mess, and Avakov, the Constitutionalist

The Verkhovna Rada pleased Catholics and Protestants by including December 25, the Western-style Christmas holiday, in the list of the country’s official days-off and also adopted in the first reading the draft budget for 2018. Petro Poroshenko congratulated the Ukrainian Marines in Mariupol. The relationship between the anti-corruption agencies and the Prosecutor General's Office has been deteriorating rapidly, while the establishment of the State Bureau of Investigation is unlikely to help shift the situation for the better. Mikheil Saakashvili is ready to become prime minister, and this statement allows suggesting a complete collapse of the opposition's hopes for early parliamentary elections. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the People's Front had prepared a draft Constitution of the parliamentary-presidential republic.

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Parliamentarians tried to finish this autumn on a positive note, having adopted changes in the list of days-off. From an applied perspective, the new Christmas holiday, on December 25, should symbolize the country’s unity with the Western world but Ukrainians are inclined to have a good rest ahead and right after the New Year anyway. Much more interesting is the draft budget for 2018 adopted in the first reading, which allowed Volodymyr Groysman not only predicting the next "year of economic success" but also calling on legislators to complete the budgeting process before December 10. This would give the government an opportunity to better prepare for entering into the new fiscal year, and send parliamentarians on a traditional long vacation, not at their own expense.

The President visited Mariupol to award the distinguished Marines in honor of their professional holiday. Meanwhile, the profile parliamentary committee considered the amendments to the law on reintegration of Donbas, demonstrating readiness to adopt it in the second reading in early December. There is no notion of severing diplomatic ties with Russia, while the recognition of Russia as the aggressor is unlikely to be excluded from the draft.

The heads of Ukraine’s two major anti-corruption watchdogs, NABU and NAPC, are at odds – they publically exchanged accusations, while NABU also demonstrated its principled attitude toward the prosecutor general. In this mess, it seems easy to make some foolish steps on a national scale, in particular, by undermining confidence in the fight against corruption. Unfortunately, the struggle for justice in Ukrainian realities often has negative consequences not only for the image of the main figures of the fight, but also for the general situation in the country.

Against this backdrop, the creation of the State Bureau of Investigation may please the public by an unexpected outcome and by the lack of excessive expectations from the effectiveness of performance of this investigative body, designed to deal with the investigation of highest-profile cases. Perceived as favorites - Anatoly Matios and Oleksiy Horaschenkov - will not get the top post in it, while Roman Truba together with Olha Varchenko and Oleksandr Buriak can prove in about a year that the choice of the competitive commission was not accidental.

Mikheil Saakashvili is rapidly parting with the image of a sophisticated politician, resorting to mostly tactical actions. Regular deportation from Ukraine of his comrades-in-arms has a demoralizing influence on him. The ex-head of Odesa Regional State Administration perceives such moves as transparent hints at his own future. The leader of the "Movement of the New Forces" publicly expressed his willingness to get at the helm of the new government, although other opposition leaders do not speak out about the prospects for its formation.

For example, Yulia Tymoshenko focused on demonstrating the victorious path of her "Batkivshchyna" party in the elections to the unified territorial communities and criticizing the authorities, while in the light of her promises not to unite with anyone, Saakashvili's rhetoric looks presumptuous, to put it mildly.

Arsen Avakov opened up to the public from a different angle. The Minister’s comrade-in-arms, Anton Gerashchenko, in the heat of political discussion recently called him "the guarantor of the country’s democratic development", while failing to admit that the bright image of Mr Avakov does not correspond with the functions of the ministry he heads. Avakov has been persistently promoting the idea of carrying out a constitutional reform to optimize the format of the parliamentary-presidential republic. The idea, of course, has its right to life, but in Ukrainian realities and with the current rating of "People’s Front" it will not be easy to implement.

Yevgeny Magda

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