Week’s milestones. Change of approaches in Donbas, growth forecasts by Groysman, and "schemes" for President
The Verkhovna Rada this week adopted a law "On the special aspects of state policy to ensure state sovereignty over the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions." The prime minister believes that the average salary in 2018 will grow to UAH 10,000. The Prosecutor General reported to the Rada national security and defense committee on the Yanukovych assets seizure. Investigation journalists from Schemes TV show reported on the overseas vacation of the Ukrainian president.
The deputy corps has approached seriously enough the debate on a draft law, not only branding Russian an aggressor state but also blaming the Kremlin for the damage to the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The adoption of this law was accompanied by vigorous discussion, as many legislators attempted to present their own vision of the situation in Donbas and the prospects for decision-making. The weighty 20-strong support of the bill’s final version does not fully reflect the positions voiced - there are simply certain laws which it would politically unprofitable to oppose. For example, Yulia Tymoshenko did not please fans of her political talent by appearing in the session hall at least a single time. The "Opposition Bloc" took up the role of the bill’s main critic, together with Viktor Medvedchuk, as the new legislation suddenly became a consolidating factor for a traditionally two-headed faction.
After the law comes into force (there are no grounds for believing that the president will not sign it off), the military will gain control over the actions taken to contain and refute Russian aggression in Donbas. The head of state will be entitled, if necessary, to extend the effect of the law to other regions of Ukraine. In the Ukrainian-controlled territory adjacent to the line of contact and in the security zones, the rights of the military will be expanded substantially, which has raised objections on the part of human rights organizations. The situation for Ukrainian citizens who remain in the occupied territories will not change drastically: Ukraine intends to recognize only birth and death certificates issued by occupation authorities.
PM Volodymyr Groysman, who last week turned 40, seems to have decided not to force during the upcoming electoral cycle the issue of transition from the premier’s office to the presidential one. At least, his latest interview with Novyi Chas Krayiny contains no breakthrough ideas and objective specification of measures required to ensure "at least 5% growth" of the Ukrainian economy and an average salary of Ukrainians at UAH 10,000. By the way, parliamentarians gave Groysman a luxurious birthday present, adopting a law on privatization that allows the government to prove that it can meaningfully receive additional funds from the sale of state assets.
Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko continues the dialogue with his critics, this time on the platform of the parliamentary committee on national security and defense. Using the inherent oratorical expressiveness, the country’s top prosecutor tried to convince the deputies that the seizure of Yanukovych team’s assets, even after the publication of the Al Jazeera investigation, will not shortly turn into reputational problems and pay-offs for Ukraine.
The Schemes investigative TV show last week focused on Petro Poroshenko’s winter vacation. Journalists claimed that the head of state flew to the Maldives where he lived incognito, having allegedly spent about half a million dollars there.
The billionaire president can afford such expenditures so the questions that arise in relation to Mr Poroshenko in this context could only lie in the moral plane. Much more interesting are the journalists’ sources and several coincidences: a notorious Russian TV propaganda talking head Dmitry Kiselev spoke about Poroshenko’s vacation just days before the Schemes released their investigation report, while Putin’s spox Dmitry Peskov after the publication of the report on the Maldivian voyage, showed some "perfect timing" skills, mentioning "non-public contacts” between Russian and Ukrainian presidents.