Poroshenko’s Pre-Election Rally in Chernigov Was Blemished by Chanting Rival Nazis

On March 13th the lame duck Petro Poroshenko visited the city of Chernigov in northern Ukraine as a part of his campaign to win a second term in power. His trip was not announced on the official website of the president, but local media agencies reported that he was taking part in the “Regional Development Council”.

After carrying out his official duties, the “guarantor of the constitution” spoke at Catherine’s Church, where a stage was erected for him. He went to the stage at 14:00. His trip to Chernigov was the third such one where he was pursued by Arsen Avakov’s tamed Nazis from National Corpus. On their Facebook page they already made it clear earlier that they would wait for the president.

The first rally of Poroshenko that was thwarted by nationalists took place in Cherkassy. Then they descended to his event in Zhytomyr, where the president prudently advocated for an iron fence.“National Corpus” promised to disrupt Poroshenko’s electoral meetings on March 9th. The main demand of Andrey Biletsky’s militants is to jail the friend of the president, Oleg Gladkovsky, and his son, who is involved in embezzlement in the defence industry.

The avenue near the Chernigov Philharmonic Hall, where Poroshenko was due to talk, was blocked by law enforcement officers, people were only allowed to pass through if their name was on pre-compiled lists.

According to the local website “val.ua”, while waiting for the president, an elderly man lost consciousness at the Philharmonic Hall. He fell to the floor, hitting his head. He was quickly picked up and given medical assistance.

During his speech at the Chernigov Philharmonic Hall, Petro Poroshenko announced his intention to visit the nearby town of Baturyn after the meeting.

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In the propaganda newspapers that Poroshenko’s tent distributed they talk about one-time payments to pensioners in March and April: 1,200 every month and 1,200 more in the second month. Compensation in the amount of 2410 hryvnia will be received by pensioners on minimum payments who have worked for more than 30 years (women) and 35 years (men), subject to retirement after 2011. The Pension Fund explained that this is compensation for the fact that in 2015 and 2016 pensions were not indexed. In reality, it is voter bribery.

When Poroshenko spoke at the Philharmonic Society, the representatives of “National Corpus” shouted “Svinarchuk [Gladkovsky – ed] in jail!”, “Where are the severed hands?” (i.e., where is the punishment for the latest embezzlement scandal), etc. The president himself, according to local journalists, was very nervous at this moment. When he was leaving the building, the activists also shouted, but Poroshenko’s guards encircled them. While the president was walking, activists shouted “Shame!” and “Bastard”. Poroshenko in response said “Are not you ashamed?”.

Meanwhile, in the center of Chernigov the police remained on duty.

The security measures were very strict. Just before the stage there was a crowd of about 1,000 paid extras people, many held posters in support of Poroshenko. A lot of police officers and SBU employees came to the Church. People were allowed to come to the stage where the president was speaking only by passing through the metal detectors installed 200 meters away from it. According to local journalists, state employees and students from vocational schools and colleges were ordered to attend the rally.

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“National Corpus” said that if they were not able to come to the place of the President’s speech, they would declare their demands remotely. Among them – weekly reports on the case of theft in Ukroboronprom, which people from the entourage of the president are suspected of being involved in. Since they couldn’t come close to Poroshenko and from the stage – 200 meters away – the chants of the Nazis weren’t audible at all, they left.

Poroshenko continued to say: “I promise you that Ukraine will become a free, happy country, and these guys who were forced to shout over there will not be able to break our unity.”


The Ukrainian news agency “Strana”, which can be classified as being oppositional but pro-Maidan all the same, made the following conclusions after the Chernigov rally:

The new pre-election rally of Poroshenko showed that now all his trips will be accompanied by unpleasant surprises. No matter how hard the guarantor tried, the nationalists shouted “Shame!” and “Svinarchuk – in jail”. And of course they were heard by the population of Chernigov, which was nearby.

Thus, the PR component of the president’s rallies starts to strive for minimum values. Meetings with voters, penned in from all sides by fences, police vans, and crowds of police officers, cannot give Poroshenko any good advertising, and risks only to cause irritation and reduce the already low approval rating of Poroshenko in the cities he visits.

In Chernigov this trend has only worsened. The whole city center was blocked by police. Even the inhabitants of the city who work in local offices were not allowed into some streets. It was large-scale, even in comparison with Zhytomyr – where the president had to cut off the entire central square for the sake of “communication with the people”.

Interestingly, Chernigov became the second city where no one broadcast the president’s speeches live. Apparently, they fear the shouting against Poroshenko that “National Corpus” will voice on air. And this is another blow to the pre-election PR campaign of Poroshenko – his media were forced to broadcast cropped versions of the meetings.

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Chernigov showed that Poroshenko is not ready for a frank conversation with his opponents, preferring the tactic of spinning events in his favour. And he is even ready to work in the “police barrage” format in order to not enter into a discussion that is inconvenient for him.

What exactly is inconvenient is also understandable. Poroshenko cannot jail Oleg Gladkovsky, as is demanded by “National Corpus”. And not because he has no formal influence on the investigation. It is because he is his closest business partner. And everyone understands this.

Therefore, the president avoids the pretensions of the nationalists and becomes more and more separated from them by fences and whole armies of police officers, preferring “rallies in the ghetto” to frank conversations.

And lastly, it is important to remember what Poroshenko promised in 2017 (and which explains one of the slogans used by “National Corpus” in Chernigov):

I will not allow anyone to steal from the army. Those who will steal from the army will have their hands cut off. This is the position of the president


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