Ukraine: Trends of the week Issue N. 6/15 April 3 – April 10, 2015

Constitutional top trend:

Change of Constitutional Rules in Ukraine Has Begun

The start of constitutional reform launches a major political reformatting of the entire state system of Ukraine and the creation of a new social contract accompanied by the active involvement of external actors in the process, where Russia, EU and the US lobby their own edits and configuration of the new Ukrainian state’s future.  

Analysis:      The first meeting of the Constitutional Commission, chaired by Speaker Volodymyr Groisman has identified key areas of Constitutional reform: human rights, justice reform and organization of government, decentralization of power and development of local self-government. Preparation and voting of amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on decentralization by July 15 is planned for their entry into force prior to the October local elections. Such plans have considerable potential to fail due to a conflict of interest internal business groups and external actors (especially the EU, the USA and Russia) in question of the main characteristics of the new Ukrainian Constitution. Slow and inefficient reforms in Ukraine over the last year shows that the most likely changes on decentralization and others (particularly on judicial reform) will not be accepted (at least at the stage of support in Parliament at 300 votes) before the election. This means that local elections with high probability will be organized and held according to the old rules.   

Forecast:      The rapid development of Ukrainian Constitutional changes, in which directly involved the EU, and Russia is trying to indirectly affect some separate provisions means the risk of imposing Ukraine to certain compromise between the EU and Russia about new type of government. If the US will not control process of creating a new framework of Ukrainian political system through President Poroshenko and among loyal to him Ukrainian officials, Washington runs the risk to receive Moscow’s federalization of Ukraine under the mask of decentralization. However, Germany and France will actively lobby such favorable revision of the Ukrainian Constitution, as they urgently need to stop the financial and economic isolation of Russia through "conventional" solution of the Ukrainian question even without a return of Crimea under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine and completing real withdrawal of Russian troops from Donbas, regaining full control to the Ukraine the state border with Russia. Most Ukrainian local members of the Constitutional Commission will be used as agents of influence mainly by Russia and used as a blocking force of individual initiatives of President Poroshenko.       

Conclusions:Accelerating the process of amending the Constitution of Ukraine shows the actual end of the old Ukrainian state, which was a hybrid of the old Soviet system and the young generation of post-Soviet elite, and attempt to create a new social contract in Ukraine. No wonder even the leaders of the so called “Donetsk People Republic”, including Purgin expressed intention to join the process. Russia actively tries to lobby their corrections to the process of the Constitutional Commission, which will be used by the current Ukrainian authorities as a card for bargaining with Moscow. EU requirements for strict adherence of Ukraine to the Minsk-2 agreements and Venice Commission recommendations will be the main instrument of the EU (primarily Germany) in search of new formulas for preserving joint Russian-European control over Ukraine.

Political top trend:

Scandal about Possible Resignation of Yatsenyuk is Getting Wider

Sharp political debate on the creation of a temporary parliamentary commission investigating government corruption of Yatsenyuk’s government once again confirmed the lack of unity in the ranks of the pro-presidential coalition. Discussion about the probability of Yatsenyuk’s loss of premier’s post in the circle of political opponents of the government will last. In favor of this scenario speaks distancing by number of Yatsenyuk’s advisers from him and growing criticism from the part of his allies in the coalition.

Analysis:      A possible resignation of Yatsenyuk’s government is actively being discussed in parliament since the beginning of March. Among the possible candidates optimists called current Minister of Finance Natalya Yaresko and even Yulia Tymoshenko. But realists, aware of the economic situation in the country, are being skeptical to such forecasts. The decision on the dismissal of the head of State financial inspection (SFI) Mykola Gordienko was adopted after having heard a report on the results of the official investigation into the SFI officials. In turn Gordienko accused the government of corruption and asked the Prosecutor General to audit the activities of the government. Prime-minister Yatsenyuk called the allegations unfounded. The parliamentary political parties took advantage of the situation and began to raise their ratings. MP of the parliamentary faction "Popular Front" Anton Heraschenko accused Yulia Tymoshenko and representatives of "Svoboda" in organizing a campaign to discredit Yatsenyuk that was "launched by the order of Putin." All parliamentary political forces without exception using real arguments began to shift all responsibility for the situation in the country on the government of Yatsenyuk.

Forecast:      In the near future we should expect reformatting of coalition. The issue of changing the government will also be important. For the country that is at war with Russia the dismissal of Yatsenyuk will be discrediting factor for financial donors from the EU and the US who are trying to support Ukraine. The possible change of the prime-minister will have technological character. Any new nominee to head the government will not change the situation and become a rallying point for pro-presidential forces in parliament. The release of the head of government is possible only under Yatsenyuk’s own will. Personal ambitions of the current prime minister are higher than the future prospects created under his political project "National Front". The perspective of the "kamikaze government" and the state activities for Yatsenyuk is much more attractive then reputational loss as political leader of “National Front”.

Conclusions: Ukraine’s critical socio-economic situation in general and the growing dissatisfaction of citizens with government’s action are a prerequisite for fair dismissal of Yatsenyuk. However, in a "state of war" resignation of any government is a threat of further loss of territorial integrity of Ukraine. The discussions about the possible resignation of Yatsenyuk are a prerequisite for collapse of coalition. The new parliament as the previous one, on the eve of local elections becomes a ground for electoral competitions. Government activities of Yatsenyuk demonstrated inability to implement reforms appointed by the President. "Foreigners" in the government are facing resistance from the old bureaucratic system’s representatives.



Security top trend:

Russia is Getting Ready for a New Offensive Campaign in Ukraine

Putin's personal ambition and passion for doubtful historical victories of Russia could lead to a resumption of active military operations in Ukraine in between Easter and the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory - May 9. Plans for further proceeding with capture of territories in Ukraine largely depend on the decision of European leaders to boycott celebrations in Moscow. May 9th will be the crash-test for the EU. Its leadership is forced to choose between returning to the days of "cold war" or to promote their interests in Russia betraying Ukraine and European values with principles.

Analysis:      Despite Minsk agreements, Russia continues to supply military equipment to terrorists from so called “Donetsk People Republic” (DPR) and “Lugansk People Republic” (LPR). On their part, unlike the Ukrainian armed forces, there is no complete withdrawal of heavy weapons. There is no effective control over this process from the OSCE observer mission. This process contributes to schizophrenia among the Russian leadership, which continues to progress and is massive. The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Russian State Duma Pushkov said that he is "feeling that Kyiv is slowly returning to hostilities". He predicted that by May 9th, situation may worsen in the Donbas. A set of Putin's arguments about loyalty of European governments to expansive policy remains unchanged. Ignoring of international security guarantees of Ukraine’s integrity was supported by Putin's statements about the preparation at highest level nuclear weapons during the February events in Ukraine last year. A Kremlin-appointed leader of the occupied by Russia Crimea Sergei Aksenov said he would support the deployment of nuclear weapons on the peninsula, if such a decision will be taken in Moscow.

Forecast:      On 9th of May Russians will be officially announced that World War II was actually Patriotic War. The main focus of Russian propaganda will focus on victory that belongs exclusively to Russia, which defeated fascism alone. The current leadership of Ukraine will be charged to reinstate spread of fascism. Captured Ukrainian territory will be declared the last outpost against the interests of the US and European countries that have ignored the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory. Military Parade in Moscow 2015 will be the largest since 1945. The demonstration of military force and conditional greatness is addressed to the Russian domestic consumer - population, which has to join the Russian military contingent in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Conclusions: The most active phase of renovation active hostilities from the side of terrorists, supported by Russia, will be in May. Occupied by terrorists Ukrainian territories in Donbas has critical mass of Russian military equipment and military. Russian leader on the eve of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory needs success on Ukrainian Front. Paradoxically, it is "conditional and unilateral" ceasefire from the side of Ukraine on boundary line in the area of ​​ATO gave the beginning of internal political conflict among parliamentary forces. So, unfortunately, we can state that active fighting is the only limiting factor to the collapse of the pro-presidential forces. Uniting of any and all political and social forces can happen only on the platform of counter fighting to military aggression of Russia. Ceasefire returns Ukrainian political establishment to its usual state of interpersonal disputes.

Roman Rukomeda

Bogdan Sumenko

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