Vitaly Portnikov: It’s simply a matter of life and death

Extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada, Kyiv, March 30, 2020. Photo: Office of the President FB

Extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada, Kyiv, March 30, 2020. Photo: Office of the President FB  

Op-ed, Politics

Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
Translated by: Christine Chraibi

The extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada on March 30, 2020 demonstrated that a period of situational coalitions has begun in Ukraine’s political activity.

In fact, President Zelenskyy no longer has a majority in the Verkhovna Rada. As of today, he can rely on two coalition options to make principled decisions. Until yesterday, one situational coalition included several MPs from the Servant of the People party, the Opposition Bloc-For Life, and MP groups supporting oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. However, another situational coalition appeared during the extraordinary parliamentary session of March 30, namely, MPs from the Servant of the People party, the European Solidarity Party and the Holos faction.

This is the most logical coalition in the current circumstances. As was expected, Zelenskyy arrived at a crossroad where he had to choose between an alliance with the oligarchs and the salvation of our country. Only by cooperating closely with international financial institutions and heeding recommendations issued by the West can Ukraine be saved from total collapse. Neither Russia, which is also facing a severe economic crisis, nor the oligarchs, who are still unable to grasp the scale of this global challenge, will save Ukraine or help Zelenskyy.

Kolomoisky’s main concern was getting his hands back on PryvatBank; obviously, he fails to understand that now is not the time to think about the development of the banking sector. MPs from the Opposition Bloc-For Life party continue reiterating that it’s imperative to hold a “dialogue with Russia”, but they have not noticed that Moscow is tightening controls along the demarcation line in the Donbas and no longer needs to enter into any kind of dialogue. In addition, Kolomoisky, who is objectively interested in maintaining Zelenskyy’s coalition with the Opposition Bloc-For Life faction, is waging an ongoing battle with Andriy Yermak, the head of the Presidential Office, thus destroying any possibility of Kyiv holding a “dialogue” with Dmitry Kozak, Putin’s chief negotiator in relations with Kyiv and Moscow-backed militants in the Donbas. This is a clear example of how financial interests interfere with a planned political program… but, it’s not the first time for Kolomoisky.

The only way out for Zelenskyy in this situation – not from the point of view of solving urgent problems, but from the point of view of elementary survival – is to establish a coalition with Ukrainian patriots and public officials who believe in state governance. This is a coalition of national unity, because the MPs who do not join this coalition are simply not interested in salvaging national interests. They are, in fact, concerned only with money and power and, in the case of the Opposition Bloc-For Life faction, the national interests of the Kremlin.

Therefore, if Zelenskyy wants to save himself and save Ukraine, he will continue to look towards statesmen and professionals, towards Petro Poroshenko and Sviatoslav Vakarchuk. Even if part of his electorate continues to be captivated by Russia’s agitprop and some agents provocateurs, even if oligarchic TV channels begin openly attacking the government, Zelenskyy will have to ignore the stupidity of his voters and the attacks of his recent patrons.

Because Zelenskyy’s choice – and Ukraine’s choice – no longer lies in choosing between state-building and the “nice guys” of his TV series, between patriotism and indifference, or between professionalism and amateurism. It’s not even a choice between Ukraine and the “russian world”!

It’s simply a matter of life and death.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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