2. Ukraine: be ready for 2019 elections
BSSB.BE intellinews.com 02.10.2018
Balkans Danube Ex-USSR
* The election season has opened in Ukraine ahead of crucial parliamentary and presidential elections slated for next year, and the field is wide open
According to a classified cable sent by the US ambassador in Ukraine, John Herbst, to Washington in 2006, Poroshenko “is clearly sparing no effort to pay [Tymoshenko] back for publicly tarring him as corrupt during the September 2005 struggle that led to Tymoshenko’s ouster as prime minister and Poroshenko’s resignation as NSDC [National Security and Defence council] secretary”.
According to the same document, published by WikiLeaks, Ukraine’s interior minister at the time told Herbst that he had been ordered by the prosecutor general, then a close ally of Poroshenko, to arrest Oleksandr Turchynov and Andriy Kozhemyakin, senior politicians in the Tymoshenko Bloc, for “illegally destroying the SBU security service files on the January  gas deal with Russia and on organised crime figure Semion Mogilevich”, who is on the list of the FBI’s 10 most wanted.
Poroshenko has dragged his feet on implementing many of the IMF programme demands, all of which are politically painful. He agreed to an increase in domestic gas tariffs in 2017 but reneged on the promise as that year’s heating season began. He has fiercely resisted the passage of the Anti-Corruption Court legislation and attempted to water the first version of the law down when it was forced on him by the IMF. He has placed his own people in key government jobs and in particular controls the General Prospector’s Office.
Despite promises to sell his various businesses or put them into a trust, he has maintained control of them – including the TV5 broadcaster, which, however, is among least influential TV channels in Ukraine.
In September, Poroshenko said that Kyiv knows who the Kremlin want to see in the second round of the 2019 presidential elections. “Thank God, my name is not there [in the Kremlin’s plans],” Poroshenko added during the YES annual meeting.
Poroshenko claims it is known that on the basis of the “fifth column” Russia wants to form a powerful pro-Russian opposition in the new Ukrainian parliament, “and, if they are lucky, make it a participant with the right of veto for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.”
Like Tymoshenko, Poroshenko is a polarising figure and ranks high in the “won’t vote for him under any circumstances” polls, making him vulnerable to defeat by a more genuine candidate in a second-round vote.
The pro-Russian Opposition Bloc faction head Yuri Boyko is among the top five politicians in public opinion surveys.
According to online outlet Ukrainska Pravda, Serhiy Lyovochkin, a businessman and former chief of staff under ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, seeks to nominate Boyko as a single candidate from the Opposition Bloc.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker from Poroshenko’s faction, said earlier that investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office had prepared an appeal about three years ago, suspecting Boyko of participating in a criminal organisation that ran fraudulent schemes involving the liquefied natural gas projects of notorious Ukrainian gas oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko. However, heads of the prosecutor’s office have allegedly refused to sign the appeal and file it with parliament.
Meanwhile, local political experts believe that Lyovochkin needs to secure support for Boyko’s candidature from the nation’s largest oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who partly controls the Opposition Bloc if he’s to have a chance.
On the top of that, Lyovochkin needs to prevent Vadim Rabinovich, a populist pro-Russian politician, from participating in the 2019 election campaign.
Hrytsenko is a former defence minister (from 2005 to 2007), who, despite his high ratings, is very vulnerable to criticism and possible corruption accusations.
The politician was one of the defence ministers under whose watch the Ukrainian army suffered catastrophic decline, leaving it unable to stop Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, the Kyiv Post wrote in August.
In 2014, the Prosecutor General’s Office launched several criminal investigations against top defence ministry officials allegedly involved in selling off UAH1.8bn worth of weapons between 2004 and 2015. The biggest sale allegedly took place during the time Hrytsenko was defence minister in 2005-2007, prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko’s spokeswoman Larysa Sargan claimed in 2016.
Hrytsenko denies any wrongdoing and claims that accusations are an attempt by Poroshenko’s circle to destroy a political rival.
In September, the politician said that he does not see “any competitive pretender that can beat me in the sound round vote”. “I see the main opponents are the disappointment, not readiness to vote and lack of trust and believe in our people,” he added during the 15th YES conference.
Hrytsenko added that the Civil Position’s main priorities are rights and freedoms of humans, their property rights, market competition, and no monopolism by oligarchs.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at intellinews.com
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