New President, new politics?

Ukraine president in standoff with Parliament

On 27 May 2019 the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled that it would not launch an inquiry concerning the lawsuit on the decision of President Zelenskiy to dissolve the Supreme Rada. The court argued that the issue is a matter for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.

Earlier, on 23 May, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of the People’s Front, filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court of Ukraine demanding that the decision of Zelenskiy to dismiss the Supreme Rada and call snap parliamentary election, which he announced during his swearing-in as Ukraine’s new president. On 30 May, according to the People’s Front official webpage, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine opened an inquiry into the lawsuit against President Zelenski’s decision. 

The official webpage of President Zelenski’s administration publishes the transcript of the meeting between the president and heads of the party factions of the Supreme Rada. 

The meeting was held on 21 May, the day after the inauguration of the president. On 31 May Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko stated the transcript is incomplete. He claimed that the transcript was released in censored form. Parliament Chairman Andriy Parubiy agreed, stating that he had also noticed changes in the transcript and that, in his view, there are twists in the transcript. 

The transcript published by the administration has caused a stream of sarcastic comments in the media and social networks because of the verbal confrontation between the president and Oleg Liashko. During the meeting president Zelenski stated that “the main argument for dissolving the Verkhovna Rada is the extremely low confidence of Ukrainian citizens in the institution – 4%”. The transcript also indicates that the leaders of the factions did not consent to hold the elections with closed lists. 

On 20 May during his inauguration President Zelenskiy announced the decision to disband parliament and call for a snap parliamentary elections. He also said in his address that his first priority as president to reach a ceasefire in the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine. The Parliament which is the result of the events in Kiev in winter-spring 2014 is largely against the president who won the elections in a landslide over Petro Poroshenko. Zelenskiy also moved parliamentary elections for July this year. 

On May 21 President Zelenskiy met heads of all parliamentary factions. On May 30, 2019 the verbatim of the meeting was made public due “to multiple requests”. The Speaker Andriy Parubiy said the factions could not come to terms regarding the new edition of the electoral law. 

On 22 May the Speaker of Parliament Parubiy stated that he considers the president’s decree to disband the parliament illegitimate being in breach with the Constitution. He also threatened to sue the president. 

On 6 June Parliament rejected Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman’s resignation following President Zelenskiy’s call on 20 May for the government to step down. The vote came the same day that Zelenskyy’s office announced that the president had formally asked Parliament to dismiss Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak and Security Service chief Vasyl Hrytsak neither of which was backed by the parliament. The president’s office added that a move to dismiss Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko was pending. 

On June 6 the Parliament adopted the Law on the Temporary Investigative Commission with impeachment norms while refusing to even consider the Law on Impeachment submitted by the President’s administration. 

During talks with top European official Donald Tusk in Brussels, Zelenskiy’s administration quoted him as saying “Ukraine in the EU would be the death of the Russian imperial project”. He was immediately accused of plagiarizing Poroshenko’s speech. The entire paragraph of Ukraine in Europe to be “a powerful blow to Russian authoritarianism and the way to democratic changes in Russia and throughout the post-Soviet space” of speeches coincided. Zelenskiy’s administration launched an investigation into the mishap, accusing Ukrainian foreign ministry staffers who worked on parts of the speech of making a “diversion” and of “continuing to work for Poroshenko.”

On June 11 President Zelenskiy addresses the Constitutional Court and leaves the session stating that he did it to avoid being blamed for putting pressure on the judges. 

Surveys and ratings prior the electionsSteady support for Zelenskiy.

According to a recent survey, conducted from 29 May – 3 June, by the Rating Group, 34% of respondents state that Ukraine is on the right track, 37% are of the opposite view, and 29% do not have an opinion. The overall dynamic is positive. Respondents who are optimistic about the present situation are mostly residents in central and south Ukraine. 50% are satisfied with the new president, 11% are of a different view. 16% are satisfied with the work of Poroshenko and more than 80% differ. More than 90% are not content with the work of the Parliament. 

The Servant of the People party is the favourite for this period with 48,2% support in the poll. The Opposition Platform – For Life had 10,7%. Poroshenko’s new European Solidarity party rated 7,8%. The top negative rating is Poroshenko’s party: 52% of respondents would not vote for it under whatever circumstances.

On 18 June the Social Monitoring Center published results of their next survey as of June 8-June 14 this year.

According to the data, The Servant of the People party would get 47,5% if elections were held at the time of the survey. The next four parties overcoming 5%-barrier would be “Opposition Platform – For Life” with 11%, Fatherland “Batkivschyna” Union with 8,7%, The European Solidarity of Petro Poroshenko with 8,3% and Golos “Voice” party with 5,3% (founded in May 2019 by singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk). 

Yuschenko under investigation

On 6 June, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that the country’s third president, Viktor Yushchenko, is under criminal investigation for taking possession of a building complex and structures of the Mezhyhirya Residence, as well as a house in Novi Petrivtsi (Kyiv region) and land plots worth Hr 540 million. A criminal case is opened under Article 191 part 5 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code.