Expert Dialogue: Ukrainian-Hungarian Relations. Webinar 1

The International Centre for Policy Studies, with the support of the International Visegrad Fund launches the project “Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding”. ICPS experts together with partner organizations such as the Institute of International Relations and Trade (Hungary), the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (Slovakia) and the Bronislaw Gemerek Foundation (Poland) discussed the issues of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations within the framework of the first webinar. Since 2017, relations between the two countries are in constant aggravation. The trigger for the conflict with Hungary was the adoption of the Law of Ukraine on Education which linguistic article caused a sharp critique of the Hungarian government and subsequently led to the blockade by the official Budapest of a number of initiatives in the Ukraine-NATO relations. Recently, the situation has escalated after the scandal with “Hungarian passports” for residents of Transcarpathia and mutual diplomatic threats between the official Kyiv and Budapest. During the ICPS-initiated online webinar, the experts discussed the causes of misunderstandings between Ukraine and Hungary, the existing differences in the policy of good neighborliness, and also highlighted the possible scenarios for the development of relations between Ukraine and Hungary in the future. Currently, Ukraine's relations with western neighbors are characterized by two important factors - asymmetry and hierarchy. The asymmetrical nature of relations is determined primarily by the fact that the role of the western neighboring countries for Ukraine is much more important than the role of Ukraine for them. And as a result, the price paid by Ukraine for deteriorating relations with its neighbors is much higher than the one that potentially will have to pay to neighboring countries for the crisis in its relations with Ukraine. The hierarchy factor is related to the place and role of the "Ukrainian question" in the internal or foreign policy agenda of the western neighbors. For any of the neighboring countries, Ukrainian problems do not have priority, and soon become an additional component of other more important issues. Meanwhile, the region of the Eastern Europe was captured by regional processes associated with the growth of the nationalism influence. The chain reaction of constructing national identities leads to mutual hostility, historical and linguistic controversy, the struggle for the loyalty of national minorities and other similar processes. As a result, the potential for regional cooperation between countries is decreasing, and the contradictions are only rising. Taking into account the possible undesirable consequences of existing trends, the main purpose of conducting expert discussions with ICPS is to seek common, effective mechanisms for the normalization of relations and good-neighborliness between Ukraine and the member-states of the Visegrad Group. First of all, experts recommend the following steps to be taken towards the implementation of the Neighborhood Policy and the improvement of the relations between Ukraine and Hungary: creating a wider regional context and understanding that the above countries are part of one region, cooperation that could expand opportunities for both countries; an open and honest dialogue on the interests of the different positions of the countries on a given issue; refraining from anti-Ukrainian or anti-Hungarian rhetoric in the internal discourses of both countries; search for opportunities for joint projects in the field of energy, regional security, ecology, combating transnational threats. Execution of such top-priority recommendations will help to reduce the number of crises occurring between Ukraine and Hungary, witnessed by which society continues to be in its second year in a row. The International Center for Policy Studies thoroughly deals with the topic of Ukraine's relations with its European neighbors, with relevant developments available at the following links: What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors Ukraine and its neighbors: analysis of regional trends The project also plans expert discussions on relations with other countries of the Visegrad Four. Launching a dialogue at an expert level will foster the development of constructive ideas and solutions and minimize possible challenges for regional cooperation. Project materials: Presentation  ...

ICPS Press
01.10.2018

ICPS macroeconomic forecast: positive and negative trends in the Ukrainian economy

The International Centre for Policy Studies has prepared another analytical publication “Economic Analysis and Trends” for August 2018. It contains a detailed analysis of indicators of the manufacturing sector, prices, financial markets and the forecast for 2018-2020 on the development of the Ukrainian economy. According to the analytical paper, the second quarter of 2018 was characterized by the following trends: Growth of GDP accelerated to 3.6%. There were higher rates of growth in agriculture (due to early harvesting), energy sector and passenger transport. In July, after two months of zero inflation, deflation occurred. Annual inflation further slowed down to 8.9%. In July, the rapid growth of the hryvnia balance of loans of the population restored. Residues on household hryvnia deposits decreased. The forecast part states that the second half of 2018 will be characterized by the following trends: Negative Decrease in private consumption growth. A moderate devaluation of the hryvnia will occur. The price of gas for the population will rise significantly. Growth in industries, in particular retail and passenger transportation, will be lower. Positive Acceleration in agriculture should occur due to the high expected yield of late crops. The dynamics in the food industry will be improved. The level of inflation will not be much higher than the upper limit of the target corridor (8%), despite the devaluation and the expected increase in gas prices for the population.   The document is available in Ukrainian as well as in English. Please contact us for more information, ordering, previewing the release, and getting acquainted with the terms of subscription: e-mail: office@icps.com.ua tel. (044) 253-22-29, (068) 831-94-69  ...

ICPS Press
24.09.2018

Battle for State Bureau of Investigations

The creation of the State Bureau of Investigations - a new law enforcement body with colossal powers - continues to accompany with permanent scandals from the selection of the Head of Bureau and his deputies and to the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to external competitive commission in appointing 27 people to leadership positions in the department. This battle will be strengthened in the context of the elections which create reasonable suspicions about political game between the Presidential Administration and various groups of the People`s Front for the control of the Bureau. Only the intensification of international attention and civil society can help to create at least to a certain extent a transparent law-enforcement institution controlled by the society. A new turn of run-in The cornerstone of the new wave of confrontation was the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to competition commission to consider the issue of appointing 27 people to the leading positions of the department. Truba`s argument was based on the fact that a number of candidates appear in journalistic investigations and criminal proceedings, in particular regarding state betrayal, and legalization of funds obtained by criminal means. Also, the Director of SBI has accused the foreign competition committee of unlawful destruction of the polygraph results which could give him the opportunity to assess moral, professional and personal qualities of candidates recommended by the commission and sign an order for their appointment. With that in mind, Roman Truba returned all the submissions to competition commission, before having obtained an examination of the legality of his actions by the Institute of Legislation of Parliament and Academy of Legal Sciences which, by analyzing the legislation, confirmed the legality of his actions. Instead the competition commission has already decided at the next meeting regarding reapplying of appeal to Truba for the appointment of 27 candidates for leadership positions in  SBI and also appeal to the specialized parliamentary committee with a request to analyze the legality of actions both the commission and the Director of SBI in this situation.  It is interesting that even before the decision of the competition commission on the recommendation of 27 people to the leadership positions of the SBI the list of “favorites of authorities” was published in media and the lion's share of them was in the final list. Most of them journalists and experts called the protege of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov and the Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine Igor Kupranz. This situation caused a negative reaction in surroundings of the anti-corruption public organizations and the Council of Public Control in SBI. Thus, the anti-corruption activists welcomed Truba`s decision on the rejection of these candidates, calling it a strong step, which gives a chance for the likely independence of SBI from authorities. At the same time, the First Deputy Director of SBI Olga Varchenko stated that the actions of the Head of Bureau are illegal because SBI is a collegiate body and decisions should accordingly be taken jointly by director and deputies. She noted that there were no complaints at all up to half of the applicants and they had to be appointed. In addition, according to the law, the commission has no right to transfer the personal data of candidates to anybody and the polygraph data in general is not a ground for refusal to appoint a candidate. That is, the polygraph was only a formal reason not to appoint candidates elected by the commission, but the main motive should be sought somewhere else. Submerged part of the iceberg In order to understand the current situation, it is worth mentioning some important points, about which we wrote in previous releases of IU. First, the election process of the Director of SBI, his First Deputy and Deputy lasted for 1.5 years. The competition commission was created according to the principle: three persons from the president, the government and the parliament. In fact, the commission includes only representatives of the political forces – 5 from the “BPP” and 4 from the “People`s Front”. Secondly, the establishment and election procedure of the SBI leadership indicates the existence of a planned scheme for the provision of external management of this body by appointing a weak leader – representative of one political force (according to media it is “People`s Front”) and the first deputy and deputy of another – “BPP”. At last, “BPP” and “People`s Front” reached an agreement concerning the position of Director on which Roman Truba was appointed according to the recommendations of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. Olga Varchenko (First Deputy) and Oleksandr Buryak (Deputy), who were previously working at the Kyiv Prosecutor's Office, were elected as Truba`s deputies. Moreover, the long time the establishment of SBI was the question hung in the air and the movement with the appointment of leadership of this body took place after the activation of work of new anti-corruption authorities, because the Bureau can be a good tool to fight against “too self-contained” NACB, having the right to investigate crimes committed by the leadership of both this body and the SAPO. So the current situation became a continuation of the battle of Presidential Administration and various groups of the “People's Front” for the influence on SBI. It seems that in the outlined conflict Truba defends the interests of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov and the MP from “People`s Front” Serhiy Pashynskyi whose proteges were rejected during the competitive selection phase, instead the candidates agreed with Presidential Administration and Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov have prevailed. The result of such a situation will certainly be the delaying of the start of work of SBI, which has been postponed from September to October. In general, this situation plays into the hands of the heads of the GPO and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who before the creation of the Bureau retain significant powers in their hands. It is not excluded that the authorities generally decided to block the procedure for starting the work of SBI, because today it has already been possible to find a common ground with the heads of NACB and SAPO. The evidence of this is the “secret” meeting between Artem Sytnyk and President Petro Poroshenko, support from Arsen Avakov and “People`s Front” to the head of SAPO Nazar Holodnytskyi, in particular, during the consideration of his case in the Qualification-Disciplinary Commission of Prosecutors. Although Truba himtself is optimistic and plans to launch SBI in October. For this he decided to appoint, by his order, deputies of territorial units and acting heads of units of the central apparatus, who, according to him, will help to launch the work of the Bureau. The Internal Competition Commission №2 defined 14 winners of the competition for the positions of deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. As of September 5, Truba appointed five deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. But this is not enough to start the work, because the order to recruit 150 investigators has not been signed yet, and in fact, there is no one to investigate crimes. In addition, the sole appointment of deputies and acting heads of the central apparatus by Truba is questionable from the point of view of the law, which stipulates that such actions must be carried out jointly with his deputies. Roman Truba hopes that in September the Verkhovna Rada will consider a bill that partially solves the issue of appointing candidates for leadership positions and participation of the Director of SBI in this. But given the current political scenarios and the collision of the interests of the main parliamentary players in gaining control over SBI, this bill has practically no chance for adoption, as well as inclusion in the agenda. Thus, it is expected the continuation of the bidding between the main political players, the result of which will determine the future launch of SBI. There is likely to be a political consensus about maximizing delay of the work of this body. The international community and civil society should be more actively involved in the monitoring of the situation with the formation of the “Ukrainian FBI”, since the transformation of this body into another institution of political competition can obliterate all previous achievements, both in reforming law enforcement bodies and fight against corruption.    ...

ICPS Press
20.09.2018

The “Big” Ukrainian-Russian Treaty: Time to Terminate?

Ukraine is about to terminate the epochal Treaty with Russia, singed more than two decades ago, by activating the clause of its Article 40. Sending a notification of non-prolongation six months before the end of another ten-year period would bring the Treaty to an end – and that’s the plan of the Ukrainian President. From our perspective such a move would weaken Ukraine’s international position, including vis-à-vis Russia. The Treaty has been a legal instrument for holding off Russia: despite the fact that Moscow violated the Treaty by annexing Crimea, further escalation was made more risky and expensive because the Treaty has been valid. Moreover, this fundamental document has been referred to in numerous legal processes Ukraine has been running against Russia internationally. Last but not least – the Treaty has been an instrument for Ukraine to induce its weaknesses in a confrontation with a much superior rival. In asymmetric conflicts weak parties need binding norms and agreements, even if they are violated; while stronger parties want to get rid of them. A move by Ukraine to terminate the Treaty may in the end play with Russia’s hand. Introduction There are 41 articles in the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The word “cooperation” is used most often, 35 times. In 1997 it has been definitely a treaty about cooperation virtually in everything. Those days are gone. The Parties to the Treaty are rather fighting than cooperating. Russia has annexed Crimea and supported separatists in Donbas. Hostilities with varying degrees of intensity are under way in economic, trade, energy, information, and a number of other areas. But the Treaty has still been in force. According to Article 40, the Treaty is supposed to continue automatically every ten years, unless one of the Parties notifies the other of its intention to terminate no later than six months beforehand. Deadline for Ukraine is the last day of September. At a recent meeting with ambassadors President Poroshenko demanded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare documents to notify the Russian party, that Ukraine would opt to halt the Treaty. This would be a simple legal step with possible huge political consequences. For several times the issue of possible termination of the Treaty has been heavily debated in Ukraine. Pros and cons are rather well known by now. But the moment is different today: now a decision has to be taken, be it continuation or termination. There’s no room for further uncertainty. Moreover, presidential elections are just several months ahead. That adds specific flavor to any foreign policy moves, especially when it comes to dealing with Russia. Ukraine doesn’t seem to have a long-term Russian strategy, but politicians do have their election strategies at hand. The stance of the future of the Treaty, which has already become a symbol of hybridism of bilateral relations, may be a powerful asset in election wars of 2019. Political speculations aside, the Treaty is a part of a broader fundamental problem: finding the best way to deal with Russia. This is not an easy problem at all. Strategic asymmetry, high level of interdependence, and lack of trust are key features to keep in mind while shaping the future of bilateral agreements. What’s So Big about the “Big” Treaty? In 1997 the world has been different from what it is today. It is even more so when comes to the Eastern Europe and regional security arrangements. Twenty years ago it seemed like former Soviet republics, although going through a difficult transformation period and occasionally suffering internal conflicts, would however manage to maintain international peace. The agenda of regional security has not been yet dominated by Russia’s intentions to regain dominance over post-Soviet space. Even Russia’s relations with the West have not yet been damaged – that would happen shortly after. Bilaterally Ukraine and Russia were mostly concerned about division of the Black Sea Fleet and the status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukrainian Sevastopol. An agreement was needed to resolve most urgent issues and set the framework for further – as it was believed – friendship, cooperation, and partnership. Twenty years ago Russia’s share in Ukraine’s foreign trade was about 38.5%[1], comparing to current 25%[2]. The two countries were united by economic ties, joint ventures, transit capacities, and social interactions. The potential for further cooperation seemed huge, and the Treaty was set to enhance it. The Treaty is mostly about cooperation – from military to educational issues. It covers important problems of citizenship, language, economic cooperation, which were equally important in 1997 and after. But what is more important, it sets a mechanism for settling disputes, establishes regular meetings of minister of foreign affairs, joint commissions and other tools for a constant and active bilateral dialogue. It also outlines strategic partnership between the two countries, aiming at further strengthening it. A part of the Treaty that lays out general principles of bilateral relations (Articles 2-7) carries the spirit of the agreement[3]. This is because of this part that the Treaty is labeled “big”. This is about being good reliable and predictable neighbors, respecting sovereignty and borders of each other and resolving any conflict issues by negotiations and peacefully. To a certain extent the Treaty contained a model for post-Soviet space of how relations with Russia can be arranged. The Treaty has been a framework. It was designed to be a basis to a number of other bilateral documents, among which the Black Sea Fleet Agreement of 1997, the Treaty on the Russian-Ukrainian State Border of 2003, and the so-called Kharkiv Accords of 2010 are the most important. Overall there have been 451 interstate agreements between Ukraine and Russia before 2014. Many of them, of course, were signed before the “Big” Treaty. More than forty of them have already been terminated or suspended as a result of annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. The “Big” Treaty is still valid. Why the Treaty Should or Should Not Be Terminated? The Treaty is valid, although attempts to terminate it have been earlier taken. Back in 2014 the Ukrainian Parliament discussed a law, aimed at denouncing the Treaty, but failed to approve it. A broader approach, targeting at breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia and introduce visa regime for Russian citizens visiting Ukraine, has also been quite popular among Ukrainian politicians and experts. Earlier this year the President called for suspension of specific parts of the Treaty. When it comes to discussing Ukraine’s further steps regarding the Treaty or, generally, regarding Russia, there always appears emotional side hand in hand with political reasoning. Having a valid treaty about cooperation, friendship and partnership – referred to as “strategic” in Article 1 of the Treaty – is certainly a kind of schizophrenia under current geopolitical circumstances. The spirit of the document is completely ruined, and it no longer reflects in any way a true agenda of bilateral relations between Ukraine and Russia. On the other hand, the document in many ways reflects actually what Ukraine would like to one day have in relations with Russia: respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, refrain from the use or threat of force or peaceful ways of settling disputes. These are fundamentals of mutual trust and good neighborhood. If Ukraine is ever to have another treaty with Russia, it most certainly would contain all these passages. Traditional argument against terminating the Treaty comes to possible weakening of Ukraine’s position in international courts. However, from a juridical standpoint, the fact that the Treaty had been violated does not depend on whether it is terminated or not. Russia can be hold responsible in any case. From this point of view, it is not clear enough what was meant by President Poroshenko, when he mentioned that Ukraine “is prepared and legally protected enough for a next step – termination of the Treaty…which due to Moscow has long ago become an anachronism.”[4] Ukraine has been equally ready for this step during recent four years. However, it has never been an easy option. Terminating the Treaty is often believed to weaken legal constraints on Russia’s further aggressive actions. On the other hand, by annexing Crimea from Ukraine and supporting separatists in Donbas the Kremlin has demonstrated that considerations of hard power calculations are far more important for Russia than any legal commitments. Not only has the “Big” Treaty with Ukraine been violated, but also founding principles of international law. It doesn’t look like if Russia decides further escalation is in its interests, the Treaty would stop it. But the Treaty is also important in one more regard. Ukraine is a weaker party to a protracted asymmetric conflict. Weaker parties are usually better off when a stronger party is bounded by norms, agreements, and multilateral commitments. In other words having no framework agreement with Russia would damage Ukraine more. Possible weakening of international position versus Russia may be a price for internal political gains. Bringing legal basis of bilateral relations into correspondence with political reality is, of course, necessary and inevitable. The “Big” Treaty hasn’t lived up to expectations, and is certainly among other important international norms, violated by Russia. The end of another ten years period of extension may be a right moment to terminate the Treaty. However, extensive analysis should be carried out to define how termination of the Treaty would impact the whole complex of bilateral Ukrainian-Russian agreements. Conclusion Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine has undermined all the values which were laid out the foundation of bilateral relations and thus made the Treaty outdated. However, there have been good reasons for Ukraine so far not to rush and halt the agreement. A violated Treaty has been referred to in international courts and put additional diplomatic and political costs on Russia. With its fundamental provisions being broken, it still provided minimal toolbox for protecting some of remaining Ukrainian interests in relations with Russia. But today – due to the Treaty’s timeline and Ukrainian elections approaching – compromised decisions have little chances to work out. Rhetoric about abandoning some of the Treaty’s provisions, so popular several months ago, is no longer applied. Terminating the Treaty, as well as announced Constitutional amendments about Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership aspirations, are supposed to work together and help bring electoral result next year. Simple decisions, however, are not going to work in a situation so difficult. Ukraine should be getting ready for more unpredicted and more risky relations with Russia after the Treaty is terminated. [1] http://www.ukrexport.gov.ua/ukr/tovaroobig_z_ukr/rus/2631.html [2] http://countries.bridgat.com/Ukraine_Trade_Partners.html [3] Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation // http://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_006 [4] President: We Are Ready for Termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation // https://www.president.gov.ua/news/prezident-mi-gotovi-do-pripinennya-diyi-dogovoru-pro-druzhbu-49254...

ICPS Press
13.09.2018

2019 Elections: white-blue camp

Following the annexation of Crimea and the military conflict in the East, the white-blue or conventionally perceived "pro-Russian" electorate has decreased by at least 5 million potential voters, but it remains a solid part of all the voters in the country - not less than 20-25% of voters. For politicians competing for this election niche the key challenge in the 2019 elections will be the development of an updated ideological platform, their consolidation and the ability to organize and accordingly motivate their electorate. Internal squabbles and self-complacency can potentially weaken white-blue camp, while only modernization of its ideology and more active work with voters can ensure their success in the 2019 elections. “Oppobloc”: uneasy marriage of convinience "Opposition block" consists of different groups. Each of them has its own center of influence. But due to solid support in society (according to recent polls, 8.5%), these groups keep together, despite constant scandals within a single political force. "Oppobloc" is torn apart by internal contradictions. If earlier the main conflict was between groups of people's deputies representing the main sponsors - the oligarchs Dmitry Firtash and Rinat Akhmetov, now there are misunderstandings within all the groups. The controversy intensified after an unsuccessful attempt of the odious politician and Vladimir Putin's fellow sponsor Viktor Medvedchuk to enter the "Opposition Bloc". The reasons for the failure of this initiative were different - the toxic personality of Medvedchuk, the reluctance of the Bloc to let to its ranks a strong person who used to control everything, including contacts with Moscow etc. In any case his accession to the “Oppobloc” did not take place, and the "Oppobloc" is now experiencing increased disintegration processes. The most visible sign of disintegration has been establishment of such projects as "For Life!" led by Vadim Rabinovich and Yevgeny Muraev, "Christian Socialists" led by Mikhail Dobkin, together with Medvedchuk's longtime ally Nestor Shufrych, left the "Opposition Bloc". But even those who remained in faction have been preparing alternative platforms for participation in the elections: Peace Party of Vadim Novinsky, Republican Party of Yuriy Boyko, Industrial Party of Kolesnikov, Ukrainian Perspective of Vilkul and others. In their election programs representatives of "opposition forces" focus on the issues that are now of greatest concern to their voters: to end the conflict in Donbas, revise the budget to enable economic development and social justice, abolish pension reform, develop accessible and high-quality medicine and education, carry out tax reform, lower pressure on taxpayers, more incentives to revitalize the economy, create attractive conditions for investors, provide energy security of the country and ensure heating in Ukrainian homes, restore financial and economic stability, fight corruption, conduct reform of decentralization and local self-government reform, reduce tariffs etc. And if with the election slogans of the white-and-blue politicians’ positioning is more or less understandable, then the situation with the only candidate for the presidency or the parliamentary election list is much more uncertain. Yuriy Boyko has the highest rating: according to the latest polls, 8.4% - mostly voters of the East, the South and Donbas. Another possible candidate may be Vadim Novinsky supported by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and business partners, primarily by Rinat Akhmetov. Another longtime associate of Akhmetov Boris Kolesnikov, who "manages" the oligarch's political projects, is unlikely to run at the elections, and will most likely support Novinsky. Kolesnikov has already revived his "shadow" government and will probably soon become politically more active. Despite the moderately critical rhetoric towards the government, the analysis of the "Opposite Bloc" actions allows experts to conclude that it cooperates with authorities and might lose the position of the main opponents of the current regime. In addition, such actions and moderate opposition rhetoric open a wide field for maneuvers for more radical forces - for example, "For Life!" Rabinovich and Muraev, who can take a significant part of the electorate. All this, together with internal conflicts in the faction, can deprive "Opposition Bloc" from the role of main opponent of the acting government and worsen the results at the election race. “Party of Peace” of Vadim Novinsky A potentially strong player in the white-blue electoral field will be Vadim Novinsky and his movement "Party of Peace". He can strengthen the “Oppobloc” split. Given the close relationship between Novinsky and Akhmetov, with whom they remain business partners, his group (Olexander Vilkul, Borys Kolesnikov and other "Akhmetov people") can go to parliamentary elections as a separate group. The main electoral effort of "Party of Peace" most likely will be focused on controlled areas of Donbas. Here, in addition to a fairly large electorate of the Party of Regions, Akhmetov's charitable foundation, which has for a long time and systematically worked with the population, will help them. The family of Vilkul will be able to ensure good result of the elections in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Novinsky has good chances in the Mykolaiv region, where he owns ship-building yard "Ocean", Mykolaiv machine-building factory and many other companies. It is not easy for Novinsky's party to win in the Kharkiv region, which is actively dominated by "For Life!" with the support of the Dobkin’s Christian Socialists. However, trump card of Novinsky for nearly the whole country is the support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Novinsky made a good shot by naming his political project "Party of Peace". According to all social surveys, more than 40% of respondents consider the chievement of peace as the priority task. And this issue is especially actual for the residents of eastern Ukraine. Besides peace, Novinsky promises working places and care for the socially disadvantaged groups, while rigorously criticizing the current government, which increases the support of voters. “Who is whose Rabinovich?” On the background of conflicts within the "Oppobloc", the party of Vadim Rabinovich and Yevgeny Muraev "For Life!" is rapidly gaining popularity. According to the latest social studies, 8.1% of Ukrainians support it. Although both parties are of pro-Russian nature, they have financial and personal contradictions. Thus, they are unlikely to choose a single candidate for the presidential election. Vadim Rabinovich will obviously run for the elections separately. He is now supported by 5.5% of voters. He divides his main electorate with Yuriy Boyko - in the East, South and Donbas. Rabinovich tries to position himself as a "third force": he did not hold high government posts and, like many Ukrainians, is dissatisfied both with opposition and with the authorities. He blames the authorities for inefficiency, economic crisis, decline in the living standards, and the opposition - in flirting with authorities and lacking a constructive position. In foreign policy, he advocates Ukraine as "Switzerland of Eastern Europe", in other words, he supports the ideas of neutrality and independence. After leaving “Oppobloc” Rabinovich has strained relations with Sergyi Lyovochkin. Politicians continue to exchange compromising materials, accusing each other of the game in the interests of Bankova. "For Life!" and "Oppobloc" today are fierce competitors in the white and blue camp. Since both parties have a rather high rating, they are unlikely to unite before the elections, although under Moscow's pressure this option is possible. Inside the party "For Life!" there is also no agreement and trust between its founders. Muraev does not like unipersonal PR of Rabinovich and the way his is  making decisions without consulting with his partner. Muraev even suspects Rabinovich in obtaining funding from Bankova. He is also against the split of the opposition camp. The situation is still not critical, but, nevertheless remains rather intense. One can not help noticing the rapprochement of the party "For Life!" with Viktor Medvedchuk. Nestor Shufrych, Medvedchuk's loyal associate who left “Oppobloc” has joined Rabinovich's political project. The truth is, however, that Shufrych has not left the faction yet not to lose the mandate of the MP. Medvedchuk is advantegous for Rabinovich. He has serious financial resources, and also, he can create a good PR on the topic of war through close ties with the Kremlin, for example on the issue of the hostage release, and so on. The phenomenon of Murayev and Rabinovich is not so connected with media resources and significant investments of Medvedchuk, rather as with the fact that they took on a radical critique of the government. By doing so, they can get ahead of "Oppobloc" which is more playing at giveaway with Bankova than really criticizes it. In its current form "Oppobloc" is more a part of the ruling establishment than the opposition to it. All this can lead to significant losses in their rankings while their electorate being taken away by more radical and determined political forces from the white and blue camp. “Osnova” of “technocrat” Taruta Partly Serhiy Taruta and his party "Osnova" will fight for the votes of the white and blue group. He and his party declare themselves as a constructive opposition to the system of state power in general, while offering alternative ways of development for the country. This party favors the idea of liberal market: state non-interference in the economy; maximum freedom of trade and competition; individuals are responsible for their own destiny, however important issues for the whole society should be resolved together; the government is equally distant from all religious confessions. The party leader positions himself as a technocrat, and his associates as people of action. The frame of his party consists of those who worked for serious positions under former President Yanukovych - Andriy Nikolayenko, former chairman of the Kirovohrad RSA, Yaroslav Arsiriy, deputy minister and director of the department in the Ministry of Culture and deputy chairman of the Kirovograd Regional State Administration, and Volodymyr Polochaninov, ex-deputy from “Batkivshchyna”. Taruta is a frequent guest on TV with his party being actively advertised on billboards. Serhiy Oleksiyovych tries to present his power as a progressive, liberal, non-populist and intelligent "third force". "Osnova" tries to play on two electoral fields. Reported ideas are closer to the liberal-democratic camp, but personalities are more understandable for the white and blue electorate. Taruta criticizes the Minsk process and Kiev policy for reintegration of Donbas. As for now neither Taruta nor his party have sufficient rating. "Technocrat" Taruta is looking for more influential allies. He has good relations with oligarchs Victor Pinchuk and Rinat Akhmetov, in politics - with Yulia Tymoshenko. Experts even discuss a possible alliance under the format of Tymoshenko being the president and Taruta - the prime minister. Prospects for such cooperation are rather dubious. But Taruta, obviously, may be useful for Tymoshenko in her struggle for the presidential post, for example, as an antagonist to Anatoliy Hrytsenko. “Our Land” (“Nash Krai”) "Our land" will also fight for votes of supporters of the white and blue. Vitaliy Kovalchuk, deputy head of the presidential administration, was engaged in its creation at one time. "Our land" basically includes former non-disbursed deputies of the "Party of Regions" "(Anton Kisse, Olexander Feldman and Sergiy Kaltsev) who position themselves as managers and patriots of their small homeland.  “Our land” does not have traditional ideology and can be hardly connected with either right or left political forces. It focuses on local issues planning to raise public support among voters for whom a beautiful school on a nearby street or an asphalted road is a top priority. Representatives of “Our Land” as a rule are loyal to the authorities, but at the same time adhere to moderately oppositional rhetoric in order not to lose the white and blue electorate. The given party has a number of problems. First, Igor Kononenko and Vitaliy Kovalchuk compete for control over it under the entourage of Poroshenko. Secondly, the party does not have a charismatic leader, therefore it will not probably reach the national level. Party “Revival” (“Vidrodzhennia”) Another political project, which publicly claims its opposition nature, but in fact, plays in favor of authorities and can take the votes of supporters of the white and blue is the party "Revival". Like "Our land", this party became a shelter for deputies from the Party of Regions who did not want to associate themselves with the former beneficiaries of the Party of Regions - Lyovochkin, Akhmetov, etc. The most well-known people in the "Revival" are Viktor Bondar, Anton Yatsenko, Viktor Ostapchuk, Volodymyr Pylypenko and Vitaliy Khomutynnyk. The main political messages of the party are limited to economic reforms (proposed introduction of the principle of economic nationalism) and changes in the taxation system. The party wins from having a deputy group in the parliament, but obviously loses in support of the population. In the upcoming elections, the "Revival" will bet on majoritarian candidates, while Bankova can help it with financing through the state budget. “Left Opposition”: risen from the ashes Among the white-and-blue electorate in the East and Donbas there is some support for the movement "Left Opposition". The given all-Ukrainian public association of left and center-left forces consists of five parties and 13 civic organizations. It is headed by the leader of the forbidden Communist Party, Petro Symonenko and his colleague, prominent veteran communist Georgy Kryuchkov, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party Nataliya Vitrenko, former director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Valery Soldatenko, as well as athlete Rudolf Povarnitsyn. After the prohibition of the Communist Party of Ukraine and the collapse of the SPU on the left ideological flank, there emerged a vacuum, which the left-wing politicians would try to fill up with "political insurgents". The rhetoric of their "Left Opposition" is marginal, being pro-Russian and anti-Western. They call the revolution of dignity a coup d’état, after which Ukraine lost economic and political sovereignty. Normal development of Ukraine is possible only together with Russia and Belarus while the course towards Euro integration will lead to the degradation of the Ukrainian state. Thus, the movement "Left Opposition" proclaimed its purposes to be the restoration of good relations with Russia, the entry into the Customs Union, the recognition of Russian as the second state language. Using such a rhetoric, this political project will probably not receive many votes, but nevertheless will be able to take a certain percentage of votes from the “Oppobloc” and “For life!” The struggle between the opposition white and blue forces is disastrous to them and plays in the favor of Bankova. It is very important for President Poroshenko not to allow a single candidate for this part of the electorate. It is advantageous for him that they go apart and compete with each other. Poroshenko is also advantageous to play the scenario in the second round with a sparring partner Boyko or Rabinovich. When Ukrainian voter is offered a choice between two evils, Poroshenko will look obviously better and it is unlikely the voter will now choose a candidate from the white and blue. Despite the conflicts in the white and blue camp, the politicians who represent it are distinguished by some discipline, which is primarily based on the economic interests. Therefore, it is likely that most of the white and blue, including Novinsky and Rabinovich, will support Yuriy Boyko in the presidential elections in 2019. Others have weak ratings. Taruta, with his "Osnova", will most likely speak on behalf of Tymoshenko. Dobkin will act in the way Medvedchuk will direct him, and the new old "left" will move in the direction indicated by Moscow. In general, the white and blue politicum is a reflection of several oligarchic groups. First of all, there are big groups of Firtash-Lyovochkin-Boyko and Akhmetov, as well as small groups of Pinchuk and Kolomoisky. It is these shareholders who decide everything and determine the architecture of the relationship between the political groups and forces under their control. There is great controversy between these shareholders, as they cannot agree on distribution of their place in the Ukrainian economy, or concerning the person who should be the president - the arbiter in the relationship between the oligarchs and the guarantor of the implementation of the agreements reached between them. In addition, Poroshenko is able well enough to play upon differences among them. Previously, he clearly dented the position of the strongest oligarch after the Revolution - Igor Kolomoisky, while others are now precarious to enter into direct confrontation with him. All this is extrapolated directly to the white and blue opposition politicum, which is very versatile and unlike Tymoshenko, Hrytsenko and other politicians, has not decided the format for going to the elections (single candidate or several, united political force or several different). They could be an alternative to the current government, but because they are scattered and do not show proper activity, unlike the others, it may happen that in the second round of the presidential election they will not oppose Poroshenko, and there will appear completely different political figures. As a result, the situation may emerge when "Oppobloc" from the main opposition of the current government will turn into outsiders. And this will be the price they will pay for failure to negotiate, for targeting not the voter, but the sponsors and the expectation that they will win on the wave of dissatisfaction with the authorities, which, however, can currently pick up other players....

ICPS Press
04.07.2018