Political scientist Igor Popov: In the upcoming elections, the quota of oligarchs will be much reduced, and there will be a large number of Western partners

Political scientist Igor Popov: In the upcoming elections, the quota of oligarchs will be much reduced, and there will be a large number of Western partners

Ukraine is now going through very difficult times. Russia's military aggression does not stop, although thanks to the courage, heroism and professionalism of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian president still had to adjust his aggressive plans. The storm has also begun on the Western diplomatic front – some of Ukraine's partners are resorting to incomprehensible maneuvers, voicing strange proposals on options for ending the war. One gets the impression that an internal front has opened inside the country, as more and more often the authorities and the opposition are firing off accusations and criticism.

How can Ukraine survive and emerge victorious on all these fronts? What policies will be in demand after the war and when can we expect a power reset? Should Russia capitulate, or will Putin be allowed to “save face”? The answers to these and other topical questions are in an interview with “KP in Ukraine” with political expert of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future Igor Popov.

And Poroshenko, and the party got into a difficult situation

– Igor, a full-scale war temporarily imposed a moratorium on political criticism, disputes and accusations within the country. The authorities and the opposition more or less respected it. But lately it seems that the degree of internal strife is rising. The same testimony of Viktor Medvedchuk against Petro Poroshenko… – what was that? Is an internal front opening in the country?

– Indeed, there was less political competition in the first months. Although it cannot be said that she was completely under a moratorium. Now it becomes much more.

As for the testimony against Petro Poroshenko, it was, in principle, clear that after the second detention of Medvedchuk they would appear. And even the headquarters of Peter Alekseevich expected that they would be published. Moreover, if they had not been published, there would probably have been even more discussions. After all, if there is unpublished evidence, then it means that there is some kind of blackmail, shady agreements, which would cause even more negativity. Therefore, there was not much choice – either publish them now, or during the court hearings it would all get on the air.

Concerning conclusions and consequences. First, the electoral core of Petro Poroshenko does not believe in these testimony of Medvedchuk. But 10% of breakaway sympathizers need additional communication from the fifth president and his team. So far, there has been no communication. This question is more for consultants.

If Medvedchuk's testimony against Poroshenko had not been published, apparently, there would have been even more discussions about blackmail, shady agreements.

Secondly, if we have certain decisions of the authorities regarding the war with Russia or possible options for peace agreements that Pyotr Alekseevich begins to criticize, then, of course, his opponents will remind each time that his statements are less weighty, because there is Medvedchuk's evidence. Both Poroshenko and the party found themselves in a difficult situation.

Legally, this “Medvedchuk-Poroshenko” story will continue for a very long time. They will look for evidence, new witnesses – everything will be delayed.

– Can the same Poroshenko and his associates appeal to the authorities: if we investigate high-profile cases, then we investigate everything – to remind Trukhin about the same case or to get other skeletons from the closet of power?

– Get cases that someone drunk was driving and this happened even before the war is ineffective. The agenda has changed. Questions relating to war and defense can be updated, and there will be no statute of limitations. As for everything else, everything is forgotten. And no matter how cynical it may sound, the war wrote off a lot of power and opposition.

We live in new realities.

– Is it advisable to take measurements of electoral sentiments during the war, measure ratings?

– Sociological research is also carried out during the war. As for many issues, you need to know the opinion of the population. Ratings are also asked at the same time.

Electoral sympathies can be assessed, but should not be published. Given how quickly the situation on the battlefield and diplomacy is changing, these ratings immediately lose their relevance.

I think they will actively start using ratings when the question arises of what to consider as our victory. In the meantime, our policies are relatively consolidated.

– How long can this consolidation last? Is it really up to victory? Is there a risk that our politicians will quarrel?

– If the victory is fast enough, not too bloody, then everyone will go in one column. But, unfortunately, the military situation and the behavior of partners show that nuances may appear.

If we have military failures at the front, interruptions in the supply of Western weapons, if we are forced to some unfavorable peace agreement, then criticism of politicians will intensify. And Russia is counting on it. If we now sign an agreement similar to what Italy is proposing and fix the line of collision, then the Russian plan may come true – we will all quarrel among ourselves and, as a result, we will weaken.

The one-vote policy works

< p>– How big are the risks of Minsk-3? One of your colleagues said that the trips of individual EU countries will not succeed if Ukraine receives sufficient military and political support from the US and the UK – this will allow Russia to surrender.

– Military and diplomatic assistance The West is one of the factors of our victory. We understand that we do not have large stocks of weapons, and incoming weapons systems and ammunition are used almost immediately. Any delays are immediately reflected in the situation on the front line.

There will be no statute of limitations for cases relating to war and defense. Everything else is forgotten. And no matter how cynical it may sound, but the war wrote off a lot of power and opposition.

In the last couple of weeks, the situation with Western partners has changed significantly. Perhaps the most resonant was the editorial column of the New York Times. It contains two messages: the first is that American assistance may not be very long, the second is that it is time to fix the line of confrontation, sign a truce.

This surprisingly coincides with the delays in the delivery of weapons from various countries, including the United States. That is, long-range multiple launch rocket systems and harpoon missile systems are promised, but all this is not promptly delivered – and becomes systemic trump cards for negotiations between the West and Russia. Just like the Ukrainian grain, which needs to be exported, has become a certain trump card.

Russia is stepping up its efforts very much: it distributes passports in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and in Mariupol, demands from Ukraine and the world to recognize that these are territories that it will include in its composition. This is unacceptable for Ukrainian society, but this does not mean that if we say no, then the West says: okay – and again starts supplying us with weapons very quickly.

We have problems. And this is probably the biggest challenge for our democracy, how to convince the allies that we at least need to reach the borders as of February 23.

– And how to convince Western partners?

“The one-vote policy works. We have a consensus in society. Zelensky communicates with world leaders, speaks at key international venues. Diplomats amplify this voice. Parliamentary diplomacy is working – our groups have dispersed to all world capitals. The governmental delegation is working – traveling around European capitals, will convince Ukraine of the need to grant Ukraine the status of a country – a candidate for the EU at the June EU Council summit. The oppositionists are also great – we see statements from opposition leaders abroad that we need the renewal of territorial integrity. Our migrants are also doing a good job, coming to the central squares of the world's cities and insisting on helping Ukraine, ending the war.

But objectively, we must understand that the situation on the diplomatic front is very difficult. The West is trying to think about its own interests, fatigue is accumulating, and besides, the Chinese crisis is on the way.

There are more chances that we will be denied the status of an EU candidate

– Is it possible to predict how successful the June EU summit will be for Ukraine? Will we get the status of a candidate or will they come up with some new formula for cooperation?

– Unfortunately, our chances are not the best.

– How precarious is the situation – 70, 50 % or even less hope that we will get the status?

– As of today, if we evaluate the statements of European politicians, there are more chances that we will be denied the status of a candidate.

– If they refuse, when can we apply again?

– I will not go into the regulations, but politically, if we are denied today, this means years during which it is not even worth applying.

Now we have a window of opportunity as Ukraine defends not only itself, but the entire Western civilization. And if we are not given at least the status of a country – a non-binding EU candidate for EU membership, then this will mean that a big undercover game has begun.

Probably the biggest challenge for our democracy is how to convince the allies that we at least need to reach the borders as of February 23rd.

French leader Macron's proposal to create some kind of club of EU friends, in which Ukraine should be included, is about nothing. And it’s good that Zelensky very sharply responded to this proposal. We do not need such a “consolation prize”.

Of course, if they refuse us, we will integrate into the EU on a spur of the moment basis. For this, a lot is already being done and even done. Thanks to the efforts of our diplomacy, the European Commission has lifted all quotas and tariff restrictions on our exports. We have really earned a free trade zone. A month ago, the EU decided to join Ukraine to the Unified Energy System. Ukrainian refugees have received a unique status in the EU, effectively equalizing their rights with EU citizens: access to medicine, education, and the labor market is being opened. The Ministry of Digital Transformation has applied for connecting Ukraine to free roaming.

If we receive progress in all these areas, then this will be a certain substitute for the status of a candidate member in the EU. That is, not a club of friends, no one knows what, but real integration.

The decision not to show the broadcast of the meetings of the Verkhovna Rada is the right one

– Restriction of access of opposition politicians, in particular representatives of European Solidarity, to the national telethon, disconnection of three TV channels from the “digit” – abuse of power under the noise of war or is it an objective military reality?

– Law on the legal regime of martial law provides for the restriction of freedom of speech. And all the warring countries did so. This is always the subject of discussion, but such restrictions are justified.

Of course, I would like these three channels to have their own slot in the telethon, but this will not happen anymore. We will not return to the pre-war information space.

The proposal of the French leader Macron to create some kind of club of friends of the EU is about nothing. And it's good that Zelensky rather sharply responded to this proposal.

– And speaking frankly, on some TV channels, broadcasting was far from democratic ideals, since there was an attempt to format the political consciousness of citizens so that they would vote for those who are shown on TV, and not those who would really be more worthy to govern country.

– But will it not turn out that they will again choose those who are shown on TV? And now they show a very limited circle of people.

– In wartime, you need to show the president, the Minister of Defense, the head of the General Staff or speakers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the heads of regional military-civil administrations. Show more military experts, lawyers explaining what is happening and giving advice on how to properly protect your labor and property rights during the war.

Now is not the time for political battles and competitions between opposition politicians who would say that they could better defend the country.

As for the temptations to introduce a single correct position, it is obvious that they exist. But this is a question that needs an answer after the war.

– Some bills of the “servants of the people” caused a wave of criticism in society. These include Getmantsev's initiative to increase tax pressure, and a bill to change the anthem, and recently a project on “executions of the military.” Is there really no communication between the “servants” and Bankova on the subject of legislative activity, if such strange initiatives appear?

– Strange bills appeared in all convocations of parliament. There are strange deputies who, without showing their bills to someone more reasonable, quickly register them. But the positive thing is that, as before, these strange initiatives became the subject of maximum discussion in the press, but did not even reach the consideration of the relevant committee. So now.

In fact, the parliament in a military regime works effectively. On the one hand, there were political debates and consultations. They take place, as a rule, remotely: long and meaningful. But when it comes to consideration in plenary mode, empty debates are rejected, and deputies vote quickly and harmoniously.

There are strange deputies who, without showing their bills to someone more reasonable, quickly register them.

– Since the full-scale military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the plenary sessions of the Verkhovna Rada have not been broadcast live. This is explained by the security issues of people's choices. But why not upload a recording of such military “plenary meetings”?

– As soon as the deputies find out that the meetings will be shown in the recording, self-promotion will return to the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament will again be used for populist statements, instead of being engaged in lawmaking.

The competition for the new Zelensky Bloc will be opened

– You wrote on your Facebook that “Russian aggression will completely change the political field of Ukraine. After three months of hostilities, voters have already forgotten about many politicians and political brands. Moreover, most of them will not return to public politics. After the war, there will be new challenges in society, and they will determine the political agenda.” Which politicians are gone forever, and who has a chance to come or stay in power?

– So we actually have all the politicians gone. Only those who adapt to the new realities will be able to have a second wind. With the oligarchic pluralism turned off on TV channels, it becomes much more difficult to reach some kind of rating. Therefore, we will have unification processes. Now politicians of the second echelon are actively negotiating among themselves or parliamentary politicians about unifying processes. So far, these negotiations are going quite hard.

After the war, in any case, we will have a lot of economic problems, but at the same time a window of opportunity will open. Now several “Marshall plans” are being written, which will then be combined into one. And funds of international technical assistance will be allocated for it. And this money is not just for the restoration of destroyed bridges and roads, but also for the implementation of previously postponed reforms, because there was no public consensus or the oligarchs did not want to carry out. And it is the politicians who will be able to implement all this that will be required in parliament. How to get them there is another question.

– And this issue is very important, because the next elections should be held according to the proportional system. They can slip cats in a poke.

– Yes, we still have an open competition for the new Zelensky Bloc, which in the coming years will win all elections, whenever they are held. Based on the public consensus of trust in Zelensky, a list of people whom he will lead to the Verkhovna Rada will be formed.

But I think that his second party list will be much better than the first, since he has gained much more political experience and will select people more carefully.

– I doubt that Zelensky personally will form the list of his future bloc .

– In any case, I think the quota of oligarchs will be much reduced. But all the same, financial and industrial groups will want to have their representation as gratitude, including for their role during the war. The quota of Western partners will be large. And I would like her to be professional too, and not just loyal.

– Speaking of oligarchs. Will the deoligarchization course continue after the war?

– This will already be a somewhat different deoligarchization than was envisaged and planned before the war. After February 24, most of the oligarchs showed themselves normally.

After February 24, most of the oligarchs showed themselves normally. This means that it is expedient to reach a new public agreement with them, which will be controlled, among other things, by the updated Antimonopoly Committee.

And this means that it is expedient to reach a new public agreement with them, which will be controlled, among other things, by the renewed Antimonopoly Committee. The basis of the financial condition of the oligarchs is monopoly. And here we need a whole group of politicians who will be able to strengthen the control function of parliament over the activities of monopolies, and develop new antitrust legislation, and control that it works.

Some cartels and trusts in our country can be destroyed and distributed, as in many Western countries.

– You expressed the opinion that the adopted and signed law “On the ban on pro-Russian parties” meets the public demand, however will not solve the problem of pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine completely. Explain why?

– The easiest way is to prescribe that the parties, which in their charter indicated that they support the aggression of the Russian Federation or Putin's policy, have no right to exist in Ukraine. But…

Let's look at two parts of this question. Political – among the voters, no one supports Russian military aggression and Putin's policy, but there are many admirers of the works of Pushkin or Bulgakov. There remains a certain percentage of Ukrainians who will fundamentally use the Russian language in everyday life. And there will be parties that will play precisely on these issues, and they will receive sufficient support to get their representatives into parliament. And those who supported Putin's policy three months ago will migrate to these parties.

Legal – we need to draw conclusions from the last lustration, which the Venice Commission really crushed. First, instead of collective responsibility, provide for individual responsibility. Lustrate not everyone who has ever been in the Party of Regions, emigrated to the Opposition Bloc, Opposition Platform for Life, etc., but only those who, with their statements, votes and actions, really supported and brought the “Russian world” in Ukraine closer.

Secondly, there should be a clear appeal mechanism – if a person does not agree with the decision to ban him from being elected or holding public office, he can apply to the appropriate body and prove his case in the competitive process. This is the only way to purge the authorities of the so-called pro-Russian politicians and officials.

Post-war reconstruction will require non-standard solutions

– We simulate the situation: the war ends by the end of 2022. Should we immediately go for a reset of power – to hold early parliamentary and presidential elections?

– On the one hand, this parliament works decently during the war. Only a few deputies escaped. The rest come, despite the security risks, work in the hall and even with voters on the front line. But on the other hand, the configuration will be new, the tasks will be new, and there is a certain political logic to fix the team of favorites based on the results of the war and, accordingly, delegate them to a list of names that will work in the government and parliament. It is too early to talk about it now, but there may be a possibility of early parliamentary elections.

Regarding the presidential elections. After the war, a series of unpopular reforms must be carried out. And if the presidential elections are scheduled – in 2024, then Zelensky, a year before the elections, needs to think about some popular steps in order to be re-elected. Therefore, the reforms will have to be paused.

And if he (Zelensky. – Auth.) receives a renewed mandate of confidence, then he will have a window of opportunity to carry out unpopular reforms, including deoligarchization, despite even possible public resistance.

And I'm talking now not only about the reset of power, but also about the country as a whole.

– After the war, will we return to the discussion about the form of government – strengthening the presidential vertical?

< p>– And during the war, and at least the first year after its completion, the country must be manageable, and the authorities disciplined. We will be waiting for a collective recovery, cleansing of collaborators. Democracy will be limited in any case. But whether the constitutional model will be changed for this and we will get a more rigid vertical, or will it work in fact, because the constitutional majority will have one political force, we will see.

– And how they will these restrictions have been fixed – will it be a new law or will some special legal regime be introduced?

– A special period will be announced. This is not martial law, but… Understand, the biggest war in Europe in the last 70 years is being waged against our country. Therefore, in order to rebuild the country after it, some non-standard solutions are needed.

And if each oligarchic group starts telling that it must receive contracts for restoration, otherwise it will interfere with others – the road to nowhere .

The biggest war in Europe in the last 70 years is now being waged against our country. Therefore, in order to rebuild the country after it, some non-standard solutions are needed.

– Are you predicting a tough fight for access to funds?

– To funds for restoration, to power … There will always be competition. If we are talking about the means of recovery, I can assure you that the West will carefully control income and expenditure – just as tightly as military aid is now controlled. Western partners will create all control mechanisms. But all the same, even with minimal earnings against the backdrop of a falling economy, everyone will want to earn money. In all countries, competition for billions of dollars in contracts is always very high.

Society has high expectations after the end of the war

– Is it possible to predict that the war will end precisely with the capitulation of Russia, and not invent any legal outlet for the Kremlin's military aggression?

– The answer to this question depends on what we consider a victory. About three weeks ago, the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas wrote a column to the effect that nuclear states don't lose wars. It was a dogma for a long time.

Today, some kind of legal construction is indeed being sought to enable the Russian president to “save face”. These approaches are popular in Western society – about a compromise: they say, the aggressor must get something so that he agrees to end the war.

The question of the legal end of the war is very complicated. Our society has high expectations. We all believe in a quick victory. We want more, but if it turns out that victory will cost Ukrainians dearly and society is not ready to pay a high price, we will have to compromise.

– How to prepare society for such compromises and is it even possible ? If the Ukrainians do not want to make concessions?

– Then it will lead to a big internal political crisis. And that is why we need wise elites who, on the one hand, will support the fighting spirit of society, and on the other hand, taking into account world realities, will be able to play everything correctly with our partners in order to achieve the highest possible result for Ukraine.

Political scientist Igor Popov: In the upcoming elections, the quota of oligarchs will be much reduced, and there will be Western partners big

Igor Popov Dossier KP

Expert on political issues of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future.

He has two higher educations – a teacher, a psychologist. In 1998, he completed postgraduate studies at the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine with a specialization in Electoral Behavior.

He has 25 years of experience in electoral processes: he headed the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (1996-2009), worked in election observation missions in 20 countries of the world, consultant and manager of campaign headquarters, developer of political strategies and information campaigns.

2009 – Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine (Viktor Yushchenko) – Representative of the President in the Verkhovna Rada.

2011-2013 – First Deputy Chairman of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service.

From November 27, 2014 to August 29, 2019 – People's Deputy of the 8th convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the electoral list of Oleg Lyashko's Radical Party, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for the Prevention of Corruption, member of the delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

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