Sneaky Tactics of Goncharuk: Why Did Ukraine’s Prime Minister Offer His Resignation?

Of course, the most discussed news in the Ukrainian segment of Facebook was the statement of the Prime Minister of Ukraine Aleksey Goncharuk about his resignation, which he handed to President Vladimir Zelensky. Goncharuk himself stressed that it was done to negate speculation after the leak of conversations in the Cabinet of Ministers, but users of social networks think it has a different goal.

The original source of the scandal was an audio recording published on January 15th, allegedly made during a meeting with Aleksey Goncharuk. In it, a man whose voice is attributed to the premiere says that Vladimir Zelensky has a very primitive understanding of economic processes. At the same time, the head of the Cabinet himself recognises that he is a “complete ignoramus” in economics.

After the scandal, Goncharuk decided to extinguish the negativity, making, so to speak, a move ahead, and January 17th he wrote on his Facebook page:

“I came to this position to carry out the program of the president. He is a model of openness and decency for me. However, in order to remove any doubts about our respect and trust for the president, I wrote a resignation letter and handed it over to the president with the right of submission to the parliament.”

However, judging by the heated reaction on social networks, few believed in the sincerity of his intentions.

The director of the Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management Ruslan Bortnik is convinced that the main purpose of this statement was a desire to receive political dividends.

“The resignation of the Prime Minister of Ukraine, in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, must be submitted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – therefore this action is political, not legal.

In the meantime, either the Prime Minister is an ignoramus in law too, or it is simply a game to get a new ‘vote of confidence’ from the President in the form rejection of his resignation,” said the Ukrainian political scientist.

Viktor Medvedchuk, Chairman of the Political Council of the “Opposition Platform – For Life” party, spoke more strongly. He recalled that in accordance with article 115 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the resignation of the Head of the Cabinet can be submitted only to the Verkhovna Rada, not to the President.

“Goncharuk submitted to the President a statement of his resignation with the right to submit it to the Parliament. But such a statement, in accordance with article 115 of the Constitution of Ukraine, can be submitted by the Prime Minister only to the Verkhovna Rada, not to the President.

In this case, it is Goncharuk’s cheap PR move, which has nothing to do with leaving the post of Prime Minister. The government and Goncharuk should resign. But this, unfortunately, won’t happen,” believes the politician.

That the real purpose of Goncharuk’s demarche was to gain a certain political benefit is not doubted by Igor Guzhva, editor-in-chief of the Internet publication “”.

“Once again – the President of Ukraine according to the Constitution does not deal with the issue of the resignation of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, according to the Constitution and the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers, submits their resignation to the Verkhovna Rada.

The fact that Goncharuk sent a statement to the President, not the Rada, may mean either that he is a complete ignoramus and does not even know who should dismiss him under the Constitution, or it’s a purely political move to force the president to state his position.

The maximum that Zelensky can do in this situation is to redirect his statement to the Rada along with his comments. But there is no way to ‘accept resignation’.

If Goncharuk’s statement is not received today and is not considered in the Rada, the Parliament will be able to accept the resignation only at the next session in February (or will have to convene an extraordinary session). The resignation of the Prime Minister entails the resignation of the whole Cabinet,” wrote Guzhva on his social network page.

At the same time, some political scientists quite rightly believe that Goncharuk started a dangerous game, and by putting pressure on the president, he actually insulted by him and can receive an unpredictable result. In particular, this view is held by a political scientist, head of the “Penta” Center for Applied Political Research Vladimir Fesenko.

He emphasises that Goncharuk’s form of resignation may indicate a desire to remain in office, while receiving additional credit of trust from Zelensky.

“Goncharuk’s resignation from the Prime Minister’s office, judging by the text of this statement and the general political context, is not the Prime Minister’s desire to resign, but a way of fighting to remain in this position.

Firstly, it is not the President who legally decides whether to accept the resignation of the Prime Minister, but the Verkhovna Rada. Secondly, if this issue is resolved through the President’s declaration about the resignation of the Head of Government, it will be contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine. Since the Parliament approved the governmental program in September 2019, the Verkhovna Rada cannot resign the government (including the Prime Minister) until September 2020.

But by raising the stakes, through submitting a resignation letter, Goncharuk may be making a fatal mistake. It seems that Zelensky was not going to dismiss Goncharuk, but he does not like to be given ultimatums, even in such a similar form as Goncharuk did. Therefore, now I am not sure about the reaction of President Zelensky,” suggests Fezenko.

In addition, the political scientist assumes that the exertion of political pressure on Zelensky may end in a spontaneous reaction coming from the president and the resignation of Goncharuk.

“There may be a repeat of the story with Aleksandr Danilyuk. The former Secretary of the NSDC tried to influence President Zelensky in the same way. And it ended in his resignation. After all, the president can say: Well, Aleksey, since you turned out to be such a weak man, then leave, but under your own will and send your statement to the Verkhovna Rada. But maybe the president will confine himself to reprimanding an agitated Prime Minister and give him another chance, but only for a while.

It is not necessary for the Prime Minister to twitch and cause hysteria. It is necessary to react more calmly to such problematic situations,” he emphasises.

On the other hand, the whole story will certainly cause significant damage to President Zelensky, regardless of his decision to dismiss or leave Goncharuk as head of the government.

This conclusion is reached, in particular, by the Kiev journalist Igor Lesev.

“To swallow this (Goncharuk ‘s words – ed) is to wipe your feet once again on yourself. Or rather, on your own approval rating, which the comedian so anxiously worries about. And from the outside it is required to swallow it. Note how Poroshenko bots and media funded by Soros‘ grants synchronously whitewash Goncharuk.

And here they came up with a trick – a resignation letter addressed to the president. This is in a parliamentary-presidential republic. Goncharuk could immediately write a statement of his resignation to the Vinnytsia housing office. Or to the District Council of Shepetovka. And what if they will also consider his statement?

In general, if this guy is going to be removed, it will be done in another way. Goncharuk knows some things, but in this case these skills are not required. The lad is playing out the mise-en-scene ‘angry Zelensky’. The president was indignant, but he looked at the tremendous success of the man in the three-piece suit and decided to change his anger to mercy.

But here’s the thing. This is most likely to happen. But Zelensky won’t come out of this story without a loss. He was called stupid. Not by voters who gave him their vote and don’y owe you anything anymore. We have the right to call him whatever we want. It’s our business. He was called stupid by a creature from a trash heap. A nobody who rides a scooter. If he isn’t fired for this, Zelensky will be called stupid in all the offices of the country from now on. By default,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

With all the fervour that has run high concerning this information leak and the subsequent reaction of Ukrainian politicians, social media users have one question: will possible personnel changes change the general policy of the authorities? The answer doesn’t usually sound very optimistic – most likely not.

Thus, the public figure and head of the Housing Union of Ukraine Aleksandr Skubchenko is convinced that the possible dismissal of Goncharuk due to the scandal with the Cabinet of Ministers conversation leak will not fundamentally change anything in the economic policy of the authorities.

“Goncharuk wrote a letter of resignation and referred it to the President. A strong step.

I am sure that many will now start to provoke Zelensky, forcing him to accept his resignation. It makes no sense to remind [Andrey – Head of the Presidential Administration – ed] Bogdan of the same statement and that the statement is still gathering dust in a drawer. They [Presidential Administration – ed] are also forcing the issue. The point is, who to replace Goncharuk with and what can they offer the country and us? With what program can they provide an alternative? Who is this alternative in our country?

There is no alternative in Zelensky’s team. The names may change, but the course will remain the same,” he claims.

From the whole kaleidoscope of opinions of social network users on the possible resignation of the head of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers it is possible to at once draw several obvious conclusions.

1. The form and method of Goncharuk submitting his resignation shows that his primary goal is to obtain political points by playing the ‘nobility’ card. It’s like saying: since you accuse me of disrespecting the President, I am ready to leave by myself. At the same time, it is obvious to everyone that Goncharuk would actually like to remain in office.

2. Vladimir Zelensky doesn’t have many strong political decisions to make as a result of all this scandal. Whatever he does, most of the negative consequences will affect his approval rating, and the experience of the past months has shown how zealous Zelensky is about his popularity.

2. The scandal with wiretapping within the walls of the Cabinet of Ministers and, above all, the content of discussions between officials once again showed the level of personnel that the Ukrainian president can have. And it is obvious that this situation will not improve after the well-deserved dismissal of the head of the Cabinet of Ministers. In other words – Zelensky simply has no suitable personnel, none at all.

Fedor Fefelov

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