Analytical review of the week No. 106 of 03/07/2021.
ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOMESTIC, FOREIGN POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC EVENTS OF THE WEEK
Against the background of the lack of progress in the political party of the peaceful settlement in Donbas, as well as the growing geopolitical confrontation between the West and Russia, the situation in the zone of the armed conflict is aggravated.
A start has been given to judicial reform, in connection with which the struggle for control over the Ukrainian judicial system between the OP and "Western partners" has intensified. Therefore, in the parliament, in the first reading, the law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine“ On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges ”and some laws of Ukraine regarding the resumption of the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine” is adopted, which does not quite suit international partners.
To reduce the pressure from the nationalist and liberal "street" after the verdict of Sergei Sternenko, the President's Office initiated the creation of a mechanism for analyzing resonant court decisions against war veterans in the Donbas and public figures.
Since the ratings of the pro-government team show insignificant growth and stabilization, it is expected that the policy of “tightening the screws” will continue. At the same time, the stabilization of ratings against the background of the closure of TV channels may turn out to be temporary, if the authorities do not take measures to meet the basic needs of society.
Against the background of all of the above, the United States imposed sanctions against Igor Kolomoisky, which finally made it clear that they intend to pursue in Ukraine a course of "de-oligarchization" and "denationalization" of the economy.
Aggravation of the armed conflict in Donbas.
This week, representatives of the uncontrolled territories of Donbas said that “due to the lack of reaction of international observers to the shelling of settlements of the so-called. "Republics", to protect the population from Ukrainian terror, units of the People's Militia were permitted to conduct warning fire to suppress and destroy enemy firing points "1. In turn, the head of the Ukrainian delegation of the trilateral contact group, Leonid Kravchuk, regards this statement as a threat to Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the ceasefire and a threat to disrupt the implementation of the Minsk agreements2.
It is worth noting that earlier, after a trip to the East of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instructed to hold a meeting of the NSDC, as a result of which NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that the Ukrainian military in the conflict zone was not prohibited from opening return fire in case of a threat to life and health.3
Based on these statements, we can say that the ceasefire in Donbas has been thwarted and a new escalation of the conflict should be expected. One of the reasons for this is the problem of the implementation of the political party of the Minsk agreements. The goals of the participants in the negotiation process remain different. The Ukrainian authorities believe that the agreements in their current form cannot be implemented. There is an attempt by Ukraine, by uniting the Donbas and Crimean cases, by the hands of the opposing side to freeze the negotiation process, realizing that Russia will not consider any dialogue regarding Crimea.
After Joe Biden came to power in the United States, geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia will be expected to increase, and against the background of a lack of progress in the political party of a peaceful settlement, it will be quite difficult to maintain a truce. The transfer of the conflict in Donbas to the “hot phase” can also, in some way, serve as an excuse for the implementation of the policy of “tightening the screws” within the countries participating in the conflict, as well as shift the attention of society from the main socio-economic problems.
At the same time, the restraining factor is the fact that the parties to the conflict are trying to win public opinion, preserve their international reputation and international economic projects. None of the participants in the talks wants to be guilty in the eyes of the world community for the disruption of the Minsk agreements. Therefore, opponents actively accuse each other of breaking the truce. Despite the harsh statements against Russia against the backdrop of deteriorated relations, Europe has repeatedly insisted that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements for both sides, which was confirmed by the head of the European Council Charles Michel during his visit to Ukraine.
2. Initiatives of the authorities on judicial reform.
This week, in the first reading, draft law No. 3711-d “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine“ On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges ”and some laws of Ukraine regarding the resumption of the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine” 1 was adopted.
The current Ukrainian government has repeatedly promised the IMF and international partners, who expect direct access to the selection of judges and control over their work, to reform the judicial system. It was proposed to create a special body, which will include international experts with the authority to weed out candidates for the position of members of the SCJ and VKKS, as well as to dismiss them for dishonesty. At the same time, the requirement of international partners to allow their representatives to select and control directly contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine.
But as it turned out, the adopted draft law did not contain exactly the norms expected by the Western partners. The entire High Council of Justice was removed from the control of international experts. The selection mechanism in the VKKS consisted of 2 stages: verification of integrity by the competition commission and verification of competence. At the same time, the competition committee will have the right to assess only the integrity and not the professional level of the candidates. The latter will be assessed by the High Council of Justice. He will also make the final decision on who to appoint to the VKKS. But at the same time, the Integrity Competition Commission was given the right to access all open state registers. And the requirements for the very qualifications of judges have been reduced. If earlier a complete higher education in law was required, now it is simply higher education.
The law also proposes to prohibit persons who were members of the VKKS or the High Council of Justice from being members of the VKKS until the moment when the law “On the restoration of confidence in the judiciary in Ukraine” came into force. This is the law of April 11, 2014.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also announced a large-scale reform of the judicial system2. The authorities intend to reboot the KSU, introduce a jury trial, and transfer the entire bureaucratic procedure to a smartphone.
The adoption in the first reading of the law on the judicial system and the status of judges, in the form in which the powers of international experts are allegedly granted, but not particularly significant, maybe because in the Office of the President they are bargaining for the fulfillment of the requirements of western partners on one issue does not bring the situation to the required conclusion. Nevertheless, with the arrival of the new Joe Biden administration in the United States, the space for maneuver in this matter for Vladimir Zelensky, who wants to establish his control over the judicial system, is narrowing to a minimum.
3. The Office of the President initiated the creation of a mechanism for analyzing resonant court decisions concerning war veterans in the Donbas and public activists.
On Wednesday, March 3, the President's Office initiated the creation of a mechanism for analyzing resonant court decisions against war veterans in the Donbas and public figures1. This initiative, according to the OP, is "a response to the public's request for justice in the courts." It is proposed to check the legal purity of some court decisions, as well as to research criminal proceedings, which began in 2014 on the facts of attacks on public figures and have not yet been completed with the identification of all the perpetrators. The OP believes that many of the veterans and activists were subjected to the unfair application of the laws of peacetime concerning events that took place in the context of Russia's armed aggression.
But although the request for fair trials is indeed one of the main requests of the Ukrainian society, the real reason for this initiative was the protests following the sentencing of the ex-leader of the Odesa Right Sector Serhiy Sternenko, which took place last week2. S. Sternenko is charged with kidnapping and torture. Soon, procedural completion is expected on two more indictments. Sternenko's verdict is a precedent for all right-wing radical groups. It is expected that Sternenko's supporters will regularly gather protest actions, including near the President's Office, to get the verdict overturned on appeal.
On the one hand, after the closure of the TV channels of the "anti-Western" opposition, the authorities tried to balance this and demonstrated to the public that punishment can be applied to representatives of the opposite flank of the political spectrum, thanks to which the sentencing of S. Sternenko became possible. But, on the other hand, with the proposed initiative, the OP is trying to soften the confrontation with right-wing radical groups, as well as pro-Western neo-liberals who are promoting Sternenko, to reduce street pressure and gain time.
4. Sociology. The attitude of Ukraine and Russia to each other. Changes in the presidential and party ratings.
On March 2, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and the Russian non-governmental research organization Levada Center published a sociological study, according to which 41% of respondents in Ukraine had a good attitude towards Russia. Poorly about the same - 42%. Compared to September 2020, the situation has not changed significantly. In Russia, 54% of the population treated Ukraine well, and 31% badly. In comparison with the previous survey, the attitude has improved. In August 2020, 48% of the citizens of the Russian Federation treated Ukraine well, versus 43% who did not. In terms of dynamics, Ukraine's attitude to Russia was the worst in May 2015 (30% - positive; 56% - negative). A similar situation was observed in Russia in January 2015 (26% positive; 59 - negative). Currently, with small negative setbacks, the trend in relations between Ukraine and Russia is gradually returning to positive dynamics after the collapse in 2014-2015.
Ukraine's independence from Russia is supported by 88% of Ukrainian citizens and 80% of Russians. Since September 2020, this indicator in Ukraine has remained approximately the same - 88% (it was 90%) and has practically not changed since 2014.
Unification of Ukraine with Russia wants - 7% of Ukrainian citizens and 17% of Russians. The situation has hardly changed since August 2020.
The number of Ukrainian citizens who are ready to close borders with Russia is 39%, the situation has practically not changed, and Russians who are ready to close borders with Ukraine - 23%; this figure has decreased by 7% since August (30%).
At the same time, almost half of Ukrainian citizens want independent relations with the Russian Federation, but without borders and customs - 49%; the indicator did not change significantly (in September - 51%), and of Russians - 57%; the number increased by 6% from 51% in August 2020).
On March 5, two sociological studies were published from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) 1 and the Sociological Group "Rating" 2.
According to a KIIS poll, the presidential rating is headed by V. Zelensky, 25.3% of respondents are ready to support him. Since the beginning of February (22.7%), the rating has increased by 3%. The second or third places are shared by Boyko (14.7%) and P. Poroshenko (14%). The difference in support for these candidates is within the margin of error. Since the beginning of February, Poroshenko's rating has decreased by 4% (was -18.3%), while Boyko's has grown by 3% (was -11.4%).
The rating of trust in politicians is also headed by V. Zelensky (39.5% trust and 54.3% do not trust, the balance of trust-distrust is -14.7%). At the same time, the situation has improved somewhat since January, the balance of trust increased by 9.3% (it was: trust 35.6; distrust 59.6%; balance - -24%). This is followed by V. Klitschko (33.8% against 52.8%, the balance is -19%). In January, V. Klitschko was in the first place; the balance decreased by 4.7%.
The leader in the parliamentary rating is "Servant of the People" - 21.3% since January (18.2%), the rating has grown by 3%. Second place - OLE - 18.1% since January (24.1%), the party's rating has decreased by 6%. "European Solidarity" - 15%, since January the rating has remained practically unchanged.
Based on the results of the KIIS poll, we can say that the pro-government team managed to stabilize the ratings of the president and the party. V. Klitschko lost to V. Zelensky in the trust rating. But after the decline, the rating of the candidate from HLS Y. Boyko begins to acquire positive dynamics. This suggests that the effect of the closure of TV channels may turn out to be short-lived, and it is possible that subsequently, the rating trends will return to their old positions.
It should be said that the results of the KIIS poll are somewhat different from the results of the study of the Sociological Group "Rating", according to which V. Zelensky is also in the lead in the presidential rating. 22.5% of respondents are ready to support him. In comparison with the poll published last week (23.1% according to "Rating"), the rating did not change significantly (a decrease within the margin of error by 0.6%), but it also stopped improving (which was observed immediately after the closure of the channels). In second place is P. Poroshenko - 14.6%, there are no changes, the rating is relatively stable. Yuri Boyko - 11.6%, - there are no significant changes, insignificant growth dynamics, last week - 11.3%. Since the beginning of February (17.1%, "Rating") a significant decrease in the rating - by 6%.
The rating of trust in politicians is also headed by Vladimir Zelensky, 43% of respondents trust him, 55% do not trust him. Last week (44% versus 54%) - dynamics within the margin of error. Compared to early February, the level of trust increased from 38% to 44%. At the same time, the president's anti-rating, which has been growing since September 2019 (the peak of 60% was recorded in January 2021), has decreased by 3% since the beginning of February (58%).
The leader in the parliamentary rating is "Servant of the People" - 19.5%. Since last week (19.7%), the rating has not changed. "European Solidarity" - 14.7% dynamics of decline (-1.5%), last week -16.2%. “Opposition Platform - For Life” - 14.3%, the rating has not changed.
At present, we can say that the pro-government team has so far managed to stabilize the ratings of the party and the president and reduce the level of mistrust. At the same time, there was no electoral turnaround and the sanctions imposed on political opponents did not play a decisive role in this.
Considering that the ruling team failed to change the overall negative dynamics of the president's anti-rating, the stabilization of the government's ratings can be considered temporary against the background of the closure of TV channels. In the future, it is expected that the rating drop and loss of positions will continue. If the authorities do not take more effective measures to meet the basic needs of society. At the same time, the main opponents will eventually be able to catch up.
5. US sanctions against Igor Kolomoisky.
On March 5, the United States imposed visa sanctions against the Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced this in his statement, quote:
“Today I am announcing sanctions against the oligarch and former Ukrainian government official Igor Kolomoisky for his involvement in serious corruption1.”
The State Department explained that as the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region from 2014 to 2015, Kolomoisky was involved in corrupt practices that undermined the rule of law and the faith of the Ukrainian public in democratic institutions and social processes, including the use of his political influence and official power for personal gain.
“While these sanctions are based on actions during his tenure, I also want to express concern about Kolomoisky’s ongoing efforts, which continue to this day, to undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine, which pose a serious threat to its future,” Blinken said.
It should be noted that a few days before the imposition of restrictions on entry to the United States for Igor Kolomoisky, the American edition of the Financial Times published an article in which he, along with Viktor Medvedchuk, was called a “pro-Russian oligarch”.
Earlier, Kolomoisky's people were removed from the management of the company "Centrenergo", and in the USA some of his assets were confiscated.
The above indicates that Western partners have started "de-oligarchization" in Ukraine. This happens because large national capital remains too influential in the Ukrainian economy and politics, creates obstacles to increasing dependence on Western and transnational capital. In the future, one should expect attempts to "declassify" other Ukrainian oligarchs.
In the outgoing week, the main foreign policy priorities of the Joe Biden administration continued to crystallize. So, against the backdrop of regular statements by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that China is Washington's main opponent, the Americans are in no hurry to introduce new serious sanctions against the Russian Federation, fearing to push it towards a closer alliance with the PRC. In this situation, the United States and its EU allies limited themselves to only a nominal response to the conclusion of Alexei Navalny, who is their agent of influence in Russian politics.
In relations with Iran and the desire to conclude a new "nuclear deal" with it, Washington is showing increasing pliability. Tehran senses this and therefore does not miss the opportunity to set preconditions to the Americans to benefit from any outcome of the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the visit of the President of the European Council Charles Michel to Ukraine was nominal and demonstrated that no intensification of relations between our country and the EU is planned soon.
1. Visit Ukraine of the head of the European Union Charles Michel.
On March 2-3, the President of the European Council Charles Michel1 visited Ukraine.
On the first day of his stay in our country, he, together with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, visited the territories of Donbas controlled by Ukraine, adjacent to the contact line. Here he got acquainted with the implementation of projects financed by the EU and the situation in the region. The President of the European Council also called on official Kyiv to continue judicial reform and the fight against corruption.
Also, Charles Michel promised to increase financial support for Ukraine in response to the desire of the Ukrainian people for European integration expressed during the 2014 Euromaidan. He recalled the 600 million euros of aid that the EU has provided to Kyiv in recent years, and called it "the greatest assistance to the EU partner countries that are not members of the European Union."
After familiarizing themselves with the situation in the city of Happiness, Zelensky and Michel gave a press conference, at which the President of Ukraine thanked the European guest for visiting Donbas. The Ukrainian president expressed hope that the EU will increase the sanctions pressure on Russia to force it to comply with the Minsk agreements and force it "to liberate the occupied territories by diplomatic means."
In turn, Charles Michel noted that he "saw the impact of direct EU assistance in Happiness" and promised that the European Union this year will launch a new program to support economic development and the provision of public services in the region, as well as financing points of entry and exit to the non-Ukrainian controlled territory. According to Michel, the EU expects Russia to ensure full access of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the territories uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government.
The President of the European Council expressed support for the Ukrainian side in the settlement of the conflict in Donbas and accused Russia of non-compliance with the Minsk agreements.
In the end, it can be stated that this visit is unremarkable and did not bring any serious positive results.
Yes, the European Union has recently allocated a loan of 600 million euros to Ukraine. But this is not enough, since our country needs billions of loans. Yes, the EU is funding selected infrastructure rehabilitation programs in Donbas. But this does not in any way bring a peaceful settlement closer, just as the accusations of Russia, voiced not for the first time, in disrupting the implementation of the Minsk agreements, do not bring it closer either.
2. New US sanctions marked the Biden administration's soft approach to relations with Moscow.
On March 2, the US State Department introduced new sanctions against Russia related to the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Russian authorities. The first restrictions imposed by the United States against Russia under the new President Joseph Biden should be seen as a rather symbolic gesture and a soft start on a new round of US-Russian relations.
Let us remind you that in August last year A. Navalny was poisoned, fell into a coma, and was taken to Germany for treatment. Western countries blamed Russia for the incident, which allegedly used a chemical warfare agent to eliminate an opponent of the Putin regime. No specific evidence was presented in this case. After A. Navalny returned to the Russian Federation, he was detained for violating the requirements for serving a suspended sentence and sent to a colony for 2 years and 8 months.
Earlier, the European Union and Great Britain had already imposed sanctions due to the poisoning of Navalny, but restrictions were imposed on top Russian dignitaries, such as the director of the FSB and the head of the administration of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation1. The United States, given the change of administration in the fall-winter, imposed sanctions against Russia because of Navalny only now and American restrictions are also quite symbolic.
Seven high-ranking Russian officials, who are associated with the case of A. Navalny, fell under the sanctions. These are the FSB director, two deputy defense ministers, the head of the RF Presidential Administration, and others. These people had no right to have real estate and accounts abroad, and therefore the restrictions are unlikely to greatly affect them.
For the Russian economy, this measure will also not have any long-term consequences, since sectoral sanctions or restrictions on large businessmen have not been introduced. The sanctions imposed against several special research institutes of the FSB and the GRU related to chemical issues are also, most likely, symbolic since these structures are unlikely to have had close contact with the United States. The United States has also imposed several secondary restrictions of a similar symbolic nature.
In general, the Biden administration apparently could not at all not react to the incident with A. Navalny, however, not wanting to spoil relations with Moscow and push it towards a closer alliance with China, Washington went for rather symbolic restrictions concerning Russia.
3. The United States abandons its policy of regime change abroad with the help of its armed forces and has identified key geopolitical challenges.
On March 3, during a speech on the strategic priorities in the foreign policy of the new US administration, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken outlined the new approaches of the United States in the foreign policy sphere and highlighted key geopolitical challenges for Washington.
According to E. Blinken, an important innovation of the Joe Biden administration will be the rejection of the forceful imposition of democracy abroad and the overthrow of authoritarian regimes through military intervention1. He said that the "good intentions" that guided the previous American administrations did not justify themselves, led to the loss of the confidence of the American people, and gave a bad name to democracy as such. This meant the ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other, countries, where after the US invasion bloody civil wars have lasted for decades.
It should be noted that it was precisely about the refusal to overthrow the regimes by force. According to E. Blinken, from now on the United States will concentrate its efforts on "pushing others" to carry out the key, in the American opinion, reforms, fight corruption and stimulate democratic transformationsю The US Secretary of State indicated that although the policy of forceful regime change with the help of the US Armed Forces is currently postponed, support for color revolutions and work with agents of influence within other countries will continue and, quite possibly, intensified.
These countries primarily include China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Moreover, it is the US-China relations that the Secretary of State named the largest geopolitical challenge for the United States in the 21st century2.
As we wrote earlier, although Donald Trump is no longer the American president, the confrontation with China remains one of the key trends in US foreign policy. The continuity of this policy by the Biden administration is explained by the overdue trade imbalances and the significantly increased geopolitical influence of the PRC.
It is characteristic that Russia, Iran, and North Korea, although they are called "serious challenges" for the United States in the Secretary of State's speech, are still a relatively soft start of US-Russian relations under the new administration in the form of an extension of the START III treaty and symbolic sanctions in the case of A. Navalny. , speaks of Washington's readiness to gradually revise its approaches in policy towards Moscow in the framework of a more global confrontation with China.
4. The situation around the US-Iranian talks. How Possible is a New "Iranian Nuclear Deal"?
On February 28, the American edition of The Wall Street Journal, citing its sources, reported that Iran had rejected the EU's proposal to negotiate with the United States on the resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump had previously rejected.
According to the newspaper, Tehran wants to get guarantees that the United States will lift some of the sanctions against it after the meeting in Europe1.
The Wall Street Journal claims that Iran's withdrawal from direct nuclear talks with the United States could spark a new round of tensions between Tehran and Western capitals and between Europe and Washington. The interlocutors of the publication reported that Iran has so far ruled out the possibility of participating in a meeting with representatives of Washington in Europe, saying that first, it wants to get guarantees that the United States will lift some sanctions after these negotiations. The EU expected to hold talks in the coming days, and the US was ready to take part in them. The meeting was supposed to discuss the possibility of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, from which President Donald Trump emerged. Joe Biden's administration and Tehran would like to re-establish the agreement.
Considering the above and what was said earlier by US and Iranian officials on the issue of starting negotiations on a new nuclear deal, today the positions of the parties are as follows:
The US is officially demanding that Iran reduce its uranium enrichment indicators, but unofficially it is ready to start negotiations without this condition.
Iran, in turn, wants to lift some of the sanctions immediately after the start of negotiations, and otherwise, they are ready not only to continue the enrichment of uranium in current volumes but also to increase it.
Thus, it is clear that the United States is more interested in these negotiations than Iran and is willing to compromise. Tehran knows this and therefore does not miss the opportunity to set preconditions to the Americans to benefit from any outcome of the negotiations.
Shortly, the topic of US-Iranian negotiations on a new nuclear deal will remain one of the most discussed in world politics.
In the Ukrainian economy, the tendency to strengthen fiscalization continues - to search for additional ways to strengthen control over citizens' funds, to cover the budget deficit, and repay debts. The trend towards a gradual decrease in the influence of large Ukrainian business on the situation in the country continues.
1. The bill on "tax amnesty".
At the end of September 2020, MP from Servant of the People, Daniil Getmantsev, announced plans to submit a bill on "tax amnesty" to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration. He briefly described the main points of the amnesty: "5% - general rate, 9% - increased rate on assets abroad, 18% on cash1." This week, the Rada voted in favor of the bill in the first reading.
According to the logic of the legislators, the subjects of this bill must submit special declarations between July 2021 and July 20222. The voted version of the bill suggests a payout radius of 2.5% to 9%, depending on the asset. After paying a one-time tax, money and property will be considered legal, and they can be used in Ukraine and abroad. Lawyer Rostislav Kravets recalled that money in a bank account is not cash. According to lawyer Alexander Yaretsky, banks cannot accept unconfirmed assets. At first, Getmantsev stated that the amnesty would be purely voluntary, but, most likely, the authorities did not disclose all the details in advance.
At the end of February 2021, the President introduced four bills on the tax amnesty to parliament - No. 5153 (amendments to the Tax Code), No. 5154 (amendments to the Budget Code), No. 5155 (amendments to currency legislation), No. 5156 (amendments to the Criminal Code) ... The texts of the bills were published only on March 1, 2021.
According to them, minors, incapacitated, and civil servants will not be required to submit declarations starting from January 1, 2005. The declaration can be assigned either by the full name of a citizen or resident, or by a special code, but in this case, a notary will be needed. You cannot declare assets obtained by criminal means. If the funds intended for the amnesty are directed to the purchase of government bonds before June 20, 2022 and the actual filing of a zero declaration, then the rate will be only 2.5%. The legalization of funds involves the transfer of cash to a special bank account. The tax itself is paid within 10 days from the date of filing the declaration. The source of income will not be checked.
There are also exceptions to amnesty.
You will not need to fill out a declaration and pay if you own an apartment up to 120 square meters or a house up to 240 square meters, non-residential real estate up to 60 square meters (not for commercial purposes), land plot up to 2 hectares, one vehicle (except for passenger and engines more than 3 liters, or worth over 2.25 million hryvnias), assets worth less than 400 thousand hryvnias. Thus, the main purpose of the amnesty is the migrant workers, entrepreneurs, sole proprietorship, receiving salaries in envelopes, IT specialists.
The law does not spell out how to deal with real estate purchased in the USSR and how to be immigrants from Crimea and Donbas. The military is subject to declaration, but civil servants are not. All people who once had time to work in the civil service are hooked.
Submitting a declaration is primarily beneficial for people entering politics or public service.
In parallel, there is a tightening of the declaration of income. Bill No. 5156 provides for an increase in the fine for an inaccurate declaration from 3-5 to 5-15 non-taxable minimums. A new fine of 50-100 non-taxable minimums is envisaged for not filing a declaration by individual entrepreneurs and self-employed.
People's Deputy Sobolev from the Batkivshchyna faction criticized the new law on tax amnesty, stressing that all citizens of Ukraine, according to it, will be obliged to submit a declaration and pay from 5 to 7 percent3
2. Growth in food and gas prices in the second quarter of 2021.
In the second quarter of 2021, prices for vegetables and fruits are projected to increase by one and a half to two times1. Starting from December 2020, the price of fuel increased by 4 hryvnias and will grow by another one and a half hryvnia in the second quarter of 2021. Eggs have risen in price by 80 percent in 2020, sugar and sunflower oil - by 50. Onions may rise in price by 2 times. For six months, oil has risen in price by 2 times. Medicines have risen in price by an average of 18 percent since the beginning of 2021.
The price of 6.99 hryvnias per cubic meter of gas exists until April 1, 20212. Naftogaz continues to control up to 75% of the gas market in Ukraine, and in such conditions, a full-fledged gas market is impossible.
The above-described rise in prices is becoming a political factor affecting the rating of the current government and the disappointment of the population with the direction in which the socio-economic situation in the country is developing.
3. "New Land Constitution".
The land market starts in 2021. In addition to the law on the land market, adopted on March 31, 2020, the authorities plan to pass a package of four bills. Bill # 2194 is called the “new land constitution1”. It simplifies the procedures for transferring land to citizens, decentralizes land management, transfers state land outside settlements to communal ownership of communities, and functions of control of the State Geocadastre to local authorities. The bill this week was adopted only in the first reading, there were not enough votes in the second reading. The vote was failed by the deputies affiliated with Ilya Pavlyuk and Igor Kolomoisky.
According to the voted bill, communities will be able to dispose of land and control its use. In theory, the land market will bring additional income to local budgets, attract investment, and form transparent rules for market participants. Local authorities will be able to independently fight the unauthorized occupation of land plots and misuse of land. Communities will be able to clearly define boundaries among themselves.
In practice, this will turn into the emergence of many centers of "land management" on the ground. It is much easier to corrupt the local government than the central one.
Termination of the right to permanent use of especially valuable land no longer needs to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada. Local authorities will now be able to independently determine whether their land is particularly valuable or not. The state examination of land documentation is canceled. There will be only one check of land documents - at the stage of submitting statements to the State Land Cadastre. Bodies of ecology and protection of cultural heritage are losing the function of approving documentation, and will only provide information on restrictions on land use.
4. A new director of Centrenergo was appointed; the competition for the post of head of Privatbank has been blocked.
On February 26, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, at the suggestion of the State Property Fund, appointed Yuriy Vlasenko as the new acting general director of PJSC "Centrenergo". He replaced Alexander Korchinsky in this position, who was appointed in the spring of 20201.
Korchinsky was clearly not dismissed for economic failures. During his leadership, "Centrenergo" fully paid off the state mines for the shipped coal. The company completed the year 2020 with a profit of over UAH 50 million. against UAH 2 billion. loss in 2019.
“The new head Yuri Vlasenko will continue the financial recovery of Centerenergo and the preparation of the company for privatization,” the SPF said in a statement.
The SPFU also completely renewed the composition of the Centrenergo directorate and appointed 8 top managers of the company. And it turned out that Vlasenko is not the only Donbasenergo native in the new top management - several newly appointed directors worked at Donbasenergo at different times.
According to the SPF, the ultimate goal of a complete change in the composition of the directorate and acting. CEO is privatization. But the new management team is temporary. As early as March 1, contests will start in which top managers will be selected. The selection must be completed in two months.
However, the privatization will not be just the company "Centrenergo", which operates 23 blocks (18 - pulverized coal and five - gas-oil) at Uglegorskaya, Zmievskaya, and Tripolskaya TPPs with a total installed capacity of 7,660 MW. SPF owns 78.3% of the company's shares.
“The first stage is the formation of the holding together with the selected promising mines so that Centrenergo could provide itself with coal. The second stage is privatization. Therefore, today (February 26 - Ed.) We have changed the management, ”said Dmitry Sennichenko, Chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine.
The State Property Fund of Ukraine expects to carry out the privatization of a vertically integrated company (VIC), created based on Centrenergo PJSC and several state mines, by the end of 2021.
According to the Ukrainian media, citing their sources, a certain "team" has now entered Centrenergo, representing the interests of several groups of influence.
This is, first of all, Maxim Efimov, the people's deputy and the owner of Donbasenergo. Efimov is now on good terms with Zelensky and his entourage. Interestingly, his company D Trading, along with the enterprises of Pinchuk and Kolomoisky, has become one of the largest importers of Russian electricity this year. Plus - the coal lobby, which is interested in entering the VIC with the supply of coal for thermal power plants.
Rinat Akhmetov prefers not to advertise his interest in Tsetrenergo. Nevertheless, in the matter of removing the proteges of I. Kolomoisky from the management of the company, his interest is traced.
5. Naftogaz has published a strategy until 2030.
Recently, Naftogaz presented the company's "business strategy" until 20301. Perhaps the document that the government received contains reasonable numbers and calculations, but unfortunately, this was not in the version for the general public.
It is noted that it is necessary to allocate $ 20 billion for the production program. However, the management of Naftogaz did not explain what production volumes should be counted on and what the production cost and return on investment would be.
Experts have estimated the expected cost of production on the Black Sea shelf at $ 300 per cubic meter. m. NAC Chief Executive Officer Otto Waterlander said that the prime cost would not exceed $ 200 per cubic meter.
Such inconsistencies and the lack of clear answers to questions about financial performance probably indicate that the company's business strategy is an even more "raw" document than the sad 20/20 program, which was never implemented.
Conclusion - Naftogaz does not study. The company suffers from internal bureaucracy, which it cannot overcome after two years of active struggle. There is also no responsibility for the failed programs.
The basis of the company's strategy - the growth of gas production - is explained by the growth of proven reserves and focus on alternative energy sources. The state gas monopoly, oriented towards the profit of the company's foreign beneficiaries, remains highly ineffective.
Summarizing the above, we note that:
Firstly, in the issue of judicial reform in Ukraine, a conflict of interests between the Office of the President and Western partner-creditors is becoming more and more apparent. The OP is interested in ensuring as much control of the judiciary as possible to the first person and his protégés in the judicial community. This was reflected in the draft law on judicial reform, which was voted in the first reading this week. In the West, in turn, they want to subordinate the Ukrainian judicial system to themselves, through the admission of "international experts" to the selection of judges. In this regard, soon, one should expect an increase in pressure from Western creditors and ambassadors on the Ukrainian authorities in the matter of carrying out a model of judicial reform that is beneficial to them.
Secondly, the OP's initiative on "the need to analyze sentences to nationalist activists" looks like a clear concession to the lobby of Western grantees, who are promoting Sergei Sternenko, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison, and demanding his release. Also, this is an indirect concession to the entire nationalist and veteran community. By doing it, the authorities seem to be confirming indulgence for the nationalists for any violations of the law.
Thirdly, the imposition of sanctions by the United States against Igor Kolomoisky, as well as the previously published article in the Financial Times, where he was called a “pro-Russian oligarch”, along with Viktor Medvedchuk, testifies that Western partners started “de-oligarchization ". This happens because large national capital has become an obstacle to the strengthening of the influence of "Western partners". In the future, one should expect attempts to "declassify" other Ukrainian oligarchs.
Fourthly, against the backdrop of regular statements by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that China is Washington's main opponent, the Americans are in no hurry to introduce new serious sanctions against the Russian Federation, fearing to push it towards a closer alliance with China. In this situation, the United States and its EU allies limited themselves to only a nominal response to the conclusion of Alexei Navalny, who is their agent of influence in Russian politics. In relations with Iran and the desire to conclude a new "nuclear deal" with it, Washington is showing increasing pliability. Tehran senses this and therefore does not miss the opportunity to set preconditions to the Americans to benefit from any outcome of the negotiations.
Fifth, the trend towards total fiscalization remains in the Ukrainian economy - the search for additional ways to control the assets of citizens. The trend towards a gradual decrease in the influence of large Ukrainian business on the situation in the country continues.