Oleg Tsarev: Analysis & Prospects in the Event of Early Presidential and Verkhovna Rada Elections

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Very often, friends, journalists, and ordinary people ask me the question, when and how will what is happening in Ukraine finish. I can’t say precisely how and when it will all end, but in this article I will describe the most likely scenarios. I will try to give an objective analysis, without expressing my own attitude to events.

Analysis of recent events in Ukraine testifies to the intensification of the political struggle in the direction of early elections to the Verkhovna Rada and President of Ukraine. At this stage of the political struggle it is possible to distinguish the following main political groups that have the preferred influence on the future development of the political-economic situation in the state and their own claim to supreme power in Ukraine:

The group of Tymoshenko-Nalyvaychenko-Saakashvili, which advocates for early elections in the Verkhovna Rada and early elections for the President of Ukraine, currently has the biggest electoral support, including also for the presidency in the person of Yulia Tymoshenko. This group collaborates or leads the negotiation process with the broadest spectrum of political forces, and the funding for the group is accomplished with business structures of co-party members as well as with sponsors of other political forces. In particular, existing information shows testifies to the negotiations on the organization of joint activities of Tymoshenko with Turchynov, Avakov, Levochkin, Kolomoisky, Lyashko, Baloga, Muraev, Saakashvili-Novinsky, Tyagnibok, Taruta, representatives of the Communist party of Ukraine, socialists, other leaders of political parties and social movements.

The increasing level of international attention to the group of Yulia Tymoshenko is demonstrated by her numerous meetings during the period 14th to 21st of November, with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine M. Jovanović, in the building of the central headquarters of “Fatherland” in Kiev on 13 Turovskaya street. (It is worth paying attention to the fact that Tymoshenko meets Jovanović in her office and does not go to her Embassy, like most Ukrainian politicians do). Also, a meeting of Tymoshenko in December 2016 in Ukraine with the so-called “monitoring group” of representatives of the Republican party with John McCain is scheduled.

In the framework of his visit, their US delegates should analyse the socio-political situation in the country, and John McCain plans to hold a private meeting with the leader of the “Fatherland” Yulia Tymoshenko.

The group “Avakov-Turchynov-Parubiy-Yatsenyuk” (group of war), which, being in key government positions, because of its low electoral support, are in favour of the power scenario of the seizure of power in the country. This group is actively trying to enlist the support of a new team in the US, but the US and the EU treats them with caution (with the exception of Yatsenyuk), also because of possible involvement in the shooting of the “heavenly hundred”, the not-completely legitimate coming to power, and the numerous facts of corruption.

The fact of holding negotiations between Avakov (at the initiative of Avakov) and Igor Kolomoisky is reliably confirmed. Avakov offered Kolomoisky to take part in anti-presidential campaign and the financing of activities associated with the removal from office of Poroshenko, promising in exchange the return to Kolomoisky of “Ukrnafta” and the opportunity to participate in the political life of Ukraine.

The group of “Medvedchuk”, which, despite its small electoral support, has favorable support from the top management of the Russian Federation, and, in the event of a change in the political course of the United States (negotiations in this direction with the Trump’s advisor — Carter Page) and possible concessions from the Russian side could gain the exclusive support of Russia. In alliance with Tymoshenko (good relations are built and constant and systemic contact is observed) the group of Medvedchuk could be the most influential political force in Ukraine. Given that Viktor Medvedchuk, not in the easiest of times, was performing the work of a mediator for a long time between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on a variety of issues, it is possible to say that such position and status would be well deserved.

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The group of “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko – Solidarity” is considered influential only in case of the preservation of Poroshenko as President of Ukraine during the carrying out of preschedule parliamentary elections. Otherwise, the fate of “Popular Front” awaits this political force. Without excluding the possibility of conducting not only early elections to the Verkhovna Rada, Igor Kolomoisky, in accordance with his rules, to promise everything to everyone but to fulfil only what is profitable for him, after agreements with Avakov, also held negotiations with Poroshenko, promising him support and assistance.

At the same time, influential functionaries in the US Republican party express dissatisfaction with the work of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and as potential candidates for the presidency during the next elections consider the Head of “Fatherland” Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Head of the SBU Valentin Nalyvaychenko (currently located in the United States, supported by representatives of the CIA and the people of Levochkin), and former Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Also not in favor of Poroshenko is the scandal that Poroshenko staged, having published the black cash of the Party of Regions in the interests of Clinton, the payee of which was also Paul Manafort. As a result, the Chief of Staff of Trump Paul Manafort was forced to resign. Now Poroshenko is hiring one of the most expensive lobbying firms – BGR group, associated with the Republicans – it is unlikely to improve relations with Trump. Not only because the head of the group, Ed Rogers, led the campaign “Never Trump”. The fact is that most likely Trump will assign the work in Ukraine to former lobbyist of the Party of Regions Paul Manafort. Manafort also, most likely, will work through the person with whom he cooperated for many years. I’m talking about Sergey Levochkin. In this case, the influence of Levochkin on developments in Ukraine after the New year will increase dramatically. By the way, I would remind those who connect the election of Trump with high hopes that it is precisely Manafort, as an Advisor and strategist of the Party of Regions, who convinced Yanukovych of the need for the election of the European way of development and the signing of the association agreement. It is obvious that Trump, like any member of his team, will act in the interests of the United States, and not in the interests of Russia or Ukraine.

“The Oppositional Bloc” has every chance to pass in the Verkhovna Rada, and is interested in holding early elections to the Verkhovna Rada and to the Presidency of Ukraine. However, having oligarchic funding, Oppositional Bloc is not very active in protests, in order to avoid conflict with the authorities and possible loss of their industrial and financial resources, media, and other assets. The current standoff between the leaders of the party — the group of Levochkin, Firtash, Boyko on one side, the group of Akhmetov on another side, and Novinsky on a third side significantly affects the low productivity of the Opposition Bloc’s activities.

In particular, the main functionaries of the “group of Akhmetov” are categorically against any protests aimed at the destabilization of the socio-political situation in the country with the aim of the early termination of powers of the President and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. According to the conviction of Akhmetov, the early termination of powers of head of state and Parliament, as well as conducting deep reforms in the country is possible only after the establishment of peace in the East of the country.

This position raises a number of complaints from the side of Novinsky and Firtash, who advocate more active participation of the representatives of the Opposition Bloc in protest activities, and who are convinced that ignoring their suggestions may lead to increased electoral support of voters of other organizers of protest actions – the parties “Fatherland” and “For Life”, which is unacceptable in anticipation of possible early parliamentary elections.

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The active position of Novinsky and Firtash are clear, both of them entered into the clinch with Poroshenko, but each for their own reasons. Novinsky did a lot in order to thwart the plans of Poroshenko to take control of the canonical Orthodox Church. The dream of the Western world to create a separate Ukrainian local Church, or at least to divide Orthodoxy was doomed to not be unrealised. I am sure that the removal of immunity from Novinsky was just banal revenge for the fear and humiliation experienced by power during the orthodox procession. The attitude of Poroshenko to Firtash is due to a business conflict.

“Radical party of Oleg Lyashko” recently changed direction of its critics and allies several times, in accordance with funding sources. For a small period of time, this political force has been under the influence of Levochkin, Kolomoisky, Tymoshenko, and at the present time — Akhmetov. In other words, the frequent change of political partners and sponsors is familiar for Lyashko and does not scare him.

“Self-Help” has managed to retain its electoral influence, retaining the possibility of entering into the Verkhovna Rada in case of early elections. At the same time, the reduction of the rating of the party leader Sadovoy and his chances of winning in case of balloting on possible early presidential elections in Ukraine, as well as a reduction of interest on the part of political leaders and U.S. Embassy staff, should be noted. It turns out that the fact that Sadovoy did not want to leave the post of Mayor of Lvov, struck off his opportunity in the future of becoming President. Apparently, he didn’t want to release the bird from his hands and did not want to give up control over the cash flows of Lvov. But this gave the opportunity to expose him to criticism and radically reduce its rating.

“Svoboda” has revived its chances to get into the Verkhovna Rada in case of early elections.

The party “For Life” (Rabinovich, Muraev) demonstrates the most dynamic growth of electoral support among the newly established political parties, in the short term breaking the entrance barrier. In my opinion, the name “For PEACE” (Muraev and Rabinovich) would be successful for them. Many believe that the recent additional funding from the People’s Deputy Novinsky and former first Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Igor Kaletnik helped the development of “For Life” very much. The issue of the possible exit of the so-called “group of communists” (Golub, Khrapov, Puzakov), and control-by-them party cells (Kherson, Cherkasy, Chernigov, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr) from the Union of Left Forces (leader Vasily Volga) and their subsequent entry into the party “For Life” on the initiative of Kaletnik is also being solved.

At the same time, it should be noted the manifestation of the contradictions between the leaders of the association is because of competition for leadership and making critical decision, including the election of allies (Muraev advocated for an alliance with Tymoshenko and Rabinovich is categorically against it). It should be noted that Vadim Rabinovich always was close to the head of the SBU Valentin Nalyvaychenko and the President of Petro Poroshenko. This explains the fact that this group could afford criticism of the current government, without personal attacks towards Poroshenko, without risk to themselves, unlike other opposition.

These conclusions about the balance of political forces in case of early elections find their confirmation in recent sociological studies that indicate on average the following results: “Fatherland” – 16.7% of votes (data is presented from respondents who are going to participate in the vote and are decided their choice), “Opposition Bloc” – 13.7%, “Bloc of Poroshenko” – 11,4%, “Radical party of Oleg Lyashko” – 8%, “Self-Help” – 7,2%, “For Life” (Rabinovich, Muraev) – 6%, “Svoboda” – 5,9%.

The party “Ukrop”, because of long-term contradictions between the group of Korban and Kolomoisky-Palitsa, as well as due to the disruption of
financing, significantly downgraded its rating and is not able at present to overcome the threshold, but did not completely lose the chance to restore their ratings for the passage into the Verkhovna Rada.

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On 25th November, 2016, in Kiev at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, the first stage of the XI Congress of the party “Ukrainian Union of patriots” (Ukrop) took place, during which a new edition of the party charter was approved and the political council was re-elected in accordance with it. According to the results of the Congress in the struggle for dominance of the group Kolomoisky-Palitsa received most key positions. Kolomoiskiy is elected as the head of  the Commission of Party Control, endowed with extraordinary powers, the prospects of holding the second stage of the XI Congress were established (date not determined, tentatively in January 2017), during which the re-election of the Chairman of the party “Ukrop” is supposed (main contenders — Palitsa and Korban). If Palitsa is elected, the ongoing conflict between Kolomoisky and Korban will come to an end.

Other parties, according to forecasts of sociologists, would not have received the number of votes needed to overcome entry barriers.

Experts of sociological studies noted the relative electoral progress of the party’s activities “Umnaya Sila” (about 2.8%). On 17.11.2016, in Kiev the constituent congress of the party “Umnaya Sila” was held, during which the memorandum of cooperation between “Umnaya Sila” and “Ukrainian Union of veterans of Afghanistan” and the Socio-ecological party “Union. Chernobyl. Ukraine” was signed.

Leader of “Umnaya Sila” Solovyov is proactive in finding sources of funding. In particular, he negotiates the financing and organization of cooperation with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company “Industrial Union of Donbass” the People’s Deputy of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Sergei Taruta, Vice-President of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs, the owner of holding “Kiev investment group” Khmelnytsky, the former Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Chairman of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs Kinakh. Some people attribute the success of this political force to the support from the group of former regional deputies, who, because of valid reasons, cannot publicly engage in political activities themselves.

In other words, the probability of early parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine is very high. In that case, if the group Avakov do not dare to stage a coup, there is a high probability of Tymoshenko coming to power, who will be able to build relations with Russia and the West. In this case, most likely, the role of probable curators from Russia and the United States will rise – Medvedchuk and Levochkin. It would be advisable for the representatives of big business to build a relationship with them already now.

Steps that are able to radically change the balance of political forces in Ukraine are:

    • the possibility of an agreement between Poroshenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, in case she is offered to lead the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and further support her in the elections for the Presidency of Ukraine, or in assisting the transition to a parliamentary-presidential Republic and the preservation by her of its Prime Minister, with simultaneous guarantee of security to the current President (which is unlikely, because Tymoshenko has repeatedly been Prime Minister, and wants to be President, and knows how quickly the rating of politicians in the post of Prime Minister can fall);
    • the possibility of an agreement between Tymoshenko and Avakov on the joint struggle against Poroshenko, which will accelerate the fall of Poroshenko, but will require in the future from Tymoshenko to share the fruits of her victory.

Other various arrangements are not able to radically change the balance of political forces, with the exception of the death of one of these three leaders — Tymoshenko, Poroshenko, Avakov.

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