Analytical review of the week No. 112 of 04/18/2021.
ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOMESTIC, FOREIGN POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC EVENTS OF THE WEEK
12.04. - 18.04.2021
The "Anti-oligarchic Law" initiated by the authorities may turn into another tool for PR, as well as for the elimination of political and economic competitors and the redistribution of spheres of influence.
At the same time, the decisions of the NSDC are clearly "shallower" in comparison with February, moving from the formatting of the country's political field to the solution of individual economic problems, such as smuggling.
The District Administrative Court of Kiev often becomes an obstacle both for the conductors of foreign influence inside Ukraine (NABU, SAP, "anti-corruption", the Suprun team, etc.), and for the Office of the President and the Cabinet. This explains the unanimity of the OP and the G7 ambassadors on the liquidation of this court, despite their disagreements regarding the model of future judicial reform.
1. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted to the parliament a bill on the liquidation of the District Administrative Court of Kiev.
On April 13, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted to the Rada an urgent bill on the liquidation of the District Administrative Court of the city of Kiev. In the message of the Office of the President, it was noted that the society has lost confidence in the UASC. Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposes to liquidate the Kiev District Administrative Court and create the Kiev City District Administrative Court. Judges of the OASK, to whose integrity there will be no questions, will be transferred to other courts.
In turn, the ambassadors of the G7 countries expressed their approval of the intention of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dissolve the District Administrative Court of Kiev. They noted that this is an important step for the reform of the judicial system.
The Kiev District Administrative Court is a structure with extremely high powers that can influence the functioning of almost the entire judicial corps and the political system of Ukraine as a whole. Due to its territorial location, the competence of this court includes consideration of all claims related to decisions of the central executive authorities.
It is for this reason that a struggle is waged around this court between the Office of the President, Western partners and the judiciary, as well as many investigations.
OASK is known for the decisions to remove the acting. Minister of Health Ulyana Suprun, on the unlawfulness of the actions of NABU Director Artem Sytnik and People's Deputy Sergei Leshchenko when disclosing information about Paul Manafort, on the cancellation of the decision to nationalize Privatbank, etc. organizations; seizure of state power; abuse of influence; interference in the activities of statesmen and the creation of artificial obstacles in the activities of the VKKS and its members.
Thus, the Kiev District Administrative Court often becomes an obstacle both for the conductors of foreign influence inside Ukraine (NABU, SAP, "anti-corruption", the Suprun team, etc.), and for the Office of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers. This explains the unanimity of the OP and the G7 ambassadors on the liquidation of this court, despite their disagreements regarding the model of the future judicial reform, about which we have repeatedly written earlier.
2. Results of the next meeting of the NSDC.
On April 15, a regular meeting of the NSDC was held behind closed doors. It discussed security issues in the East of Ukraine, the second extended package of personal sanctions against the organizers of the smuggling schemes, as well as the proposal of V. Zelensky on the development of a bill prescribing the status of oligarchs
The topic of de-oligarchization is very popular in society, nevertheless, this process is largely imposed on Ukraine from the outside. In practice, measures of influence on oligarchs can be carried out selectively, and their result may not be total de-oligarchization, but the redistribution of assets of some representatives of large national capital in favor of others, or in favor of transnational capital.
Accordingly, it can be assumed that it is unlikely that it will be possible to completely eradicate the influence of the oligarchy on Ukraine's policy. The promised "anti-oligarchic law" may turn into another tool for eliminating political and economic competitors and redistributing spheres of influence.
The NSDC also imposed sanctions against twelve people who were accused of smuggling. Considering that the sanctions are mainly imposed on smugglers-importers, as well as the fact that they are not imposed against all persons with a reputation as smugglers, it can be stated that we are dealing with a selective approach and an attempt to redistribute flows from smuggling, and not with the fight against this phenomenon as such.
Against this background, by analogy with smugglers, the process of cleaning up conversion centers begins. On April 16, the Prosecutor's Office, together with the State Fiscal Service (SFS), conducted searches at the owners of conversion centers. According to the investigation, these offices may be involved in the provision of services for the conversion of funds received as a result of fictitious financial transactions with enterprises of the real sector, whose activities caused damage to the state budget on an especially large scale.
Conversion centers are actually the infrastructure of the shadow economy. A lot of schemes go through them - from twisting and VAT refunds to minimizing taxes, cashing out funds, legalizing and withdrawing cash abroad. At the same time, the share of the shadow economy in Ukraine is traditionally high - about 50%. Since this is not the first time this market has been cleaned up, one should not assume that “cleanups” can destroy conversion centers as a phenomenon. Sweeps can also be associated with personnel changes in the STS. There is a struggle for schematic flows and attempts to centralize the “cash out” market under the control of people close to the current government.
It is also worth noting that in comparison with the decisions that were made by the NSDC in early-mid-February (suppression of the opposition), its current decisions were clearly "grinded" and moved from the plane of formatting the political field to the plane of solving rather private economic problems. This testifies to the "crisis of the genre." And if it is not overcome, then in the bureaucratic apparatus after a while the processes of degradation of the vertical of power and sabotage of the course pursued by the president will inevitably resume. Actually, in order to stop these processes against the background of the then falling presidential rating, the epic was started 2 months ago with the country's control with the help of the NSDC. However, as we can see, this practice cannot last long.
3. Results of by-elections to the parliament in district 87.
This week, the district electoral commission of the district number 87 in Ivano-Frankivsk adopted an updated protocol on the voting results in the by-elections to the parliament, according to which Vasyl Virastyuk wins the by-elections to the parliament. On April 14, the DEC held a meeting, at which it considered the issue of clarifying the protocol on the results of voting at seven polling stations, where trials began on April 2. As a result of the by-elections to the parliament on March 28, in district 87 in Ivano-Frankivsk region, the candidate from the Servant of the People Vasily Virastyuk bypassed the candidate from For Maybut Oleksandr Shevchenko by 749 votes: Virastyuk received 31.25%, and Shevchenko - 29.69 % support. A. Shevchenko decided to defend his result in court.
The confrontation is not between V. Virastyuk and A. Shevchenko in the 87th district - it is the confrontation between V. Zelensky and I. Kolomoisky standing behind them. It is important for I. Kolomoisky to get an additional vote in the parliament and to strengthen his position, and V. Zelensky needs to demonstrate victory by the majority vote in Western Ukraine. The clash for this mandate turned into a symbolic battle between the authorities and the oligarch, which should show the real capabilities of V. Zelensky, I. Kolomoisky, as well as the real capabilities of the Servant of the People and the SBU in confrontation with the judicial system and its local authorities. Despite the fact that the DEC recognized V. Virastyuk as the winner with a difference of 422 votes, the CEC is in no hurry to recognize the results of these elections, and therefore the confrontation between V. Zelensky and I. Kolomoisky continues.
4. The Parliament has failed to vote for the return of the preferential tariff for electricity and for a moratorium on raising prices for housing and communal services.
On April 13, the parliament failed to vote for draft resolutions Nos. 4609, 4590 and 4587 on the introduction of a 1-year moratorium on increasing energy tariffs and reducing electricity prices and gas distribution tariffs. The opposition was in favor of revising tariffs and a moratorium on raising them. The ruling party called this initiative populism. Because regulations and laws are not the instruments that can restrain tariffs in the state. And the Cabinet of Ministers has all the tools it needs to curb the growth of tariffs, and it allegedly does it.
In general, in Ukraine, according to the State Statistics Service for the year, utility rates increased by 18.6%.
In the medium term, tariffs for all types of utilities will continue to rise, as they have a "hidden tax", the funds from which go, among other things, to partially cover the budget deficit and repay IMF loans.
The increase in tariffs is an element of the policy of total fiscalization aimed at collecting funds from citizens that the state has nowhere to get. The rise in tariffs is one of the main reasons for the decline in the government's rating.
It should also be added that, quite within the framework of the trend towards total fiscalization, the government recently passed a closed order that sets several new barriers for applicants for state compensation for communal services.
At the same time, the problem of increasing tariffs becomes especially painful for the Ukrainian society due to the low income of citizens. Incomes of the population of Ukraine stopped growing last year due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the issue of raising tariffs lies not so much in their level as in low incomes of citizens, against the background of tougher conditions for receiving subsidies and the absence of a market for housing and communal services. For example, Ukrainian citizens cannot choose electricity suppliers for themselves. Since August 2020, there is no single gas price for the population. The price is set by the company with which the consumer has entered into a gas supply contract. On average, gas prices for the population offered by suppliers in January 2021 ranged from UAH 6.99. up to UAH 10.80 per cubic meter.
5. Sociology. V. Zelensky has lost the leadership of citizens' trust.
According to a poll published on April 15 by the Sociological Group "Rating", Vitaliy Klitschko is the leader of the trust of Ukrainian citizens, 56% of respondents trust him, 43% do not trust him. %, while the incumbent President Volodymyr Zelensky is trusted by 43%, and not trusted by 54%. It is also important that V. Klitschko's balance of trust, unlike all other politicians, is positive (+ 13%). At the same time, V. Zelensky's balance of trust is (-11%) and already has a well-pronounced negative trend. According to a poll published by the Rating group on April 9, the balance of trust in V. Zelensky was (-7%) and lost 4% over the week.
Regarding actions to combat coronavirus, 49% of respondents believe that the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko is taking effective action to eliminate the threat, 47% are of the opposite opinion. At the same time, the actions of the president are considered by 29%, and ineffective by 65%. Regarding the Prime Minister, only 18% consider the actions to combat the coronavirus to be effective, 69% - the opposite opinion.
The above results of the sociological study once again record the fact that when the citizens of Ukraine are offered a choice between the central and local authorities and are asked who they trust more, the choice is made in favor of the local authorities. This is due to the fact that citizens tend to place the responsibility for general economic problems in the country on the government, president and parliament, while they attribute visible achievements in the field of infrastructure to local mayors, etc. V. Zelensky is not the first time inferior in the rating trust V. Klitschko. According to a survey by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), which was conducted at the end of January this year (before the introduction of sanctions against opposition television channels) , V. Zelensky (trust -35.6%; distrust - 59.6%; balance - -24%) was already inferior to V. Klitschko (trust -37.5%; distrust - 51.8%; balance - -14, 3%) on the trust balance by almost 10%.
It should be noted that, by and large, all political leaders of Ukraine have a low level of citizens' trust, their ratings are maintained mainly due to the fact that society does not see a real alternative.
The deterioration of US-Russian relations has become the main foreign policy trend of the outgoing week. After Biden's phone call to Putin with a proposal to meet, the White House deliberately went to raise rates and introduce new anti-Russian sanctions. This was done both in order to demonstrate toughness towards Russia to the internal public, and in an attempt to "talk from a position of strength" with the Kremlin. As one would expect, such actions inevitably met with a symmetrical response from the Russian side, complicating the already difficult bilateral relations. Nevertheless, preparations for a meeting between Biden and Putin in Austria have not yet been removed from the agenda.
The position of Germany and France regarding a peaceful settlement in the Donbas remains unchanged. This was confirmed by the results of the recent visit of Vladimir Zelknsky to Paris, where he spoke with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Leaders of "Old Europe" continue to call for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, rather than rewriting them, and blame the current aggravation on both warring parties.
1. Recent trends in US-Russian relations. Diplomatic scandals between the Russian Federation and the US allies.
Last week, a trend emerged for the continuation of the US-Russian confrontation. Militant statements and mutual sanctions were interspersed with conversation between the presidents of the two countries, which, although it creates opportunities for detente in bilateral relations, will most likely lead to the continuation of the confrontation between Russia and the United States.
The relations between the two countries in the outgoing week were openly ambivalent. On the one hand, US President Joseph Biden called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. As a result of the conversation, both sides declared their readiness to continue the dialogue on the most important areas of ensuring global and regional security. Biden also invited Putin to attend the Climate Summit, scheduled for April 22-23. The most important component of the conversation was the invitation of the American President to Putin to meet in the coming months in a third country to discuss relations between the two countries.
Naturally, statements of this kind were perceived extremely positively and interpreted as a relaxation of tension in relations between the two countries. However, two days later, the United States introduced new anti-Russian sanctions on a wide range of issues: from interference in elections to “undermining security in countries and regions important to US national security”.
As such, the new US sanctions against individual officials and organizations are rather symbolic. The prohibition of American banks to buy Russian government debt during the initial placement also does not pose any significant threat to the Russian economy due to the low share of the United States in the volume of this debt and the ability to buy government bonds in the secondary market. Nevertheless, the very fact of the imposition of sanctions after the conversation between the presidents of the two countries symbolically closed the possibilities for a reset of bilateral relations under the new American administration.
Russia in these conditions answered symmetrically. Along with the expulsion of a number of American diplomats from Moscow, the Russian authorities gave the go-ahead for the closure of a number of grant recipient organizations operating in the Russian Federation. Among them was the structure of A. Navalny "Anti-Corruption Fund". The Russian prosecutor's office filed a lawsuit at the end of this week to declare it extremist.
Along with another deterioration in US-Russian relations, a similar degradation occurred in the relations of the US's Eastern European allies with Russia. So, on April 16, it was announced that Poland was expelling three Russian diplomats due to "violation of diplomatic status". In fact, it was clear that this was done in solidarity with the American sanctions. Russia immediately announced that the answer would be symmetrical.
On April 17, the Czech Republic made the decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats. The reason was the accusations of the involvement of the Russian military intelligence, in the person of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were "lit up" during the history of the poisoning of the Skripals, to the explosion at a military ammunition depot in Vrbetica in 2014. As with Poland, Russia has promised a symmetrical response.
On the same day, the Ukrainian consul Alexander Sosonyuk was detained in St. Petersburg. The FSB said that he received information of a classified nature. The Russian Foreign Ministry recommended Sosonyuk to leave the country within 72 hours. Ukraine viewed the detention of its diplomat as hostile and expelled one Russian diplomat in response.
There is no doubt that the events described above were the result of a deterioration in US-Russian relations. The Eastern European allies of the United States demonstrate solidarity with Washington in its confrontational policy towards the Russian Federation, and Moscow, in response, takes harsh measures against those affiliated with them.
2. The international context of the aggravation in Donbass.
The situation in Donbass remained one of the central topics on the world politics agenda this week. The main events took place, first of all, in the diplomatic and informational environment and had a clear tendency to reduce the intensity of the confrontation. Nevertheless, the key interests of all parties involved in the conflict remain the same.
Thus, the leaders of the Russian Federation continue to defend the position that Moscow is not interested in escalating the conflict and does not intend to be the first to initiate an aggravation of the situation. The Kremlin assigns all responsibility for what is happening in the region to Ukraine and its "Western curators, who have turned the country into a powder keg." In this sense, Moscow's rhetoric has remained the same over the past seven years and has not undergone significant changes. At the same time, the concentration of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border continues.
Western countries also continue to occupy the same position. Verbally demonstrating full support for "independence and territorial integrity", NATO or individual Alliance member states are not ready to directly ensure the security of Ukraine in the event of a conflict with Russia.
Moreover, following the April 16 meeting of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris and a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the heads of France and Germany declared the need for both sides to implement the Minsk Agreements and spoke in favor of the continuation of the Normandy format. This may serve as a sign that Europe blames both Russia and Ukraine for the escalation in Donbass.
An important result of Vladimir Zelensky's talks with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel was that they, in fact, set a condition for the Ukrainian side - to accept the "cluster" settlement plan developed in Berlin and Paris.
Its essence is to agree on the sequence of actions of the parties to implement the Minsk Package of Measures and, when this happens, to transfer the clusters to the TCG in the form of recommendations for the development of a "road map" there. It is understood that it will be the final peace plan for resolving the conflict in accordance with the Minsk agreements .
The Franco-German settlement plan includes 11 clusters. Here are the contents of the most important of them:
Cluster A, dedicated to security and humanitarian issues, has seven items: a complete ceasefire, demining, withdrawal of heavy weapons, disengagement of forces in new sections of the contact line, opening of additional checkpoints, release and exchange of detainees, safe and reliable access of a special monitoring mission (SMM) OSCE throughout Ukraine.
• There are four points in the political and economic cluster. The Steinmeier Formula (approved by the contact group in October 2019; defines the mechanism for enacting the law on a special procedure for local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions) is included in Ukrainian legislation. Then the leaders of the countries of the "Normandy Four" will approve the "road map", and then Kiev will agree with ORDLO in the contact group on all legal acts that will relate to these regions of Donbass.
The last point of the cluster refers to Ukraine's implementation of a constitutional reform, which presupposes decentralization as a key element and the adoption of the following laws: on the special status of CADLO, on local elections, on amnesty and on a special economic zone. Each step of the paragraph is provided with a link to the corresponding provision of the "Package of measures on the implementation of the Minsk agreements"
• Cluster C on security contains only two points: "the beginning of the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from CADLO" and "the beginning of the disarmament of all illegal groups in CADLO, with the exception of the people's militia." The same number of points in the next “political” cluster D. At this stage, the constitutional reform, which implies decentralization, temporarily comes into force in Ukraine, and the laws on local elections in CADLO and the special economic zone there temporarily begin to operate.
• Cluster E describes the completion of the withdrawal of foreign formations and the disarmament process described in Block C, and adds provisions that security in ORDLO should be supported by joint patrols of the Ukrainian police and local people's militia - with the participation and mediation of the OSCE SMM. It also refers to the expansion of the international presence along the border of Ukraine at the expense of the OSCE.
"Political" cluster F is short: indefinite by virtue of the law on local elections.
Thus, the European leaders in Paris, in an ultimatum, offered Vladimir Zelensky and Ukraine to return to the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures and did not support the initiative to rewrite it.
Speaking about the position of the Ukrainian side, it should be noted that Kiev prefers to keep the conflict primarily in the media sphere. Last week, Ukrainian leaders ruled out a military solution to the conflict in Donbass several times, which is an unequivocally positive signal. At the same time, President Zelensky is obviously interested in increasing external support for Ukraine, as evidenced by the visits to Turkey and France, and strong requests for the country's accession to the EU and NATO. However, these words will clearly remain just words, since Ukraine's entry into the Alliance is a red line for Russia and does not meet the interests of Germany and France.
The position of the United States in this conflict continues to be restrained. They benefit from the preservation of the sluggish confrontation in the Donbass, since this allows them to disrupt the agreements between Russia and Europe, and gradually wears out the forces of the Russian Federation. Under these conditions, even a hypothetical meeting between Biden and Putin, which was discussed in the previous section, is unlikely to contribute to the settlement of the conflict in Donbass.
3. Analysis of the report of the US National Intelligence on the main threats and trends in world politics.
Late last week, the US published the National Intelligence Community's annual Threat Assessment Annual Report.
The main competitor and threat in it, quite predictably, is China. The section describing the threats emanating from it is called rather characteristic - "Chinese onslaught to become a global power."
The general characteristics of Chinese politics presented in it are as follows, a quote:
“The Chinese Communist Party will continue its nationwide efforts to spread Chinese influence, undermine the influence of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and enforce new international norms conducive to an authoritarian Chinese system. However, Chinese leaders are likely to look for tactical opportunities to reduce tensions with Washington when such opportunities are in their interests".
The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence estimates that China will maintain its core innovation and industrial policies because Chinese leaders see this strategy as necessary to reduce dependence on foreign technology, secure military advancements, and sustain economic growth, and thus ensure the survival of the CCP.
The forecast of China's main actions in the Asia-Pacific region for the coming years includes the persistence of tensions on the Sino-Indian border, intimidation of competitors to secure their own control over the South China Sea, pressure on the Taiwanese authorities to push them towards reunification with the PRC, and condemnation of any interaction between Taipei. with Washington.
About the interaction between the PRC and the Russian Federation, the report says only that the key areas in it for Beijing are the military and economic spheres.
In addition, according to American intelligence, China will continue to implement the One Belt-One Road project, despite the difficulties arising on its way. This part of the report clearly shows the intention of the American side to oppose the Chinese infrastructure project.
As for the priority area of confrontation with China, it becomes clear from the report that the US sees the technological sphere as such. It follows that the main target of US sanctions and trade restrictions as part of the unfolding Cold War with China will be Chinese technology companies. This means that new scandalous attacks on Huawei, TikTok, and other corporations are almost inevitable.
And if China in the report is called the main geopolitical and technological rival of the United States, then Russia is described in it as the state that poses the greatest threat to American interests by military and paramilitary means.
For example, here's a typical quote:
“We believe Moscow will use a range of tools - notably influence campaigns, intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation, military aid and joint exercises, mercenary operations, assassinations and arms sales - to advance its interests or undermine the interests of the United States and its allies. We expect Moscow to intervene in crises if Russia's interests are at stake. It can turn a power vacuum (in crisis zones) into an opportunity if the expected costs of such actions are low".
Also, according to American intelligence officers, Russia is likely to continue to expand its global military, intelligence, security, commercial and energy assets and establish partnerships with both allies and opponents of the United States - first of all, developing strategic cooperation with China to achieve its goals.
It is also interesting that the report calls Russia a key cyber threat.
Among the states that threaten the interests of the United States, Iran and North Korea are traditionally mentioned in the report of the American national intelligence.
In general, the document makes it clear that in the coming year, Washington's foreign policy will develop in an inertial direction. Americans will accuse Russia of military aggression, espionage, and cyber attacks; they will impose "technological" sanctions against China and assist its opponents in the region; and Iran and North Korea continue to act as "abodes of absolute evil" in the eyes of the American political class.
4. Visit of Vladimir Zelensky to Turkey.
On April 10, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Turkey, where he met with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
This is the fourth meeting between Zelensky and Erdogan in two years. Prior to that, the Ukrainian president visited Turkey in August 2019 and last October, and Erdogan flew to Kiev in February 2020.
On the eve of Zelensky's arrival, the Turkish president phoned Putin, with whom he discussed Donbass.
The official reason for the visit was the participation in the ninth meeting of the high-level strategic council between Turkey and Ukraine.
The list of topics was almost the same as that discussed six months ago.
During the talks, Zelensky and Erdogan, according to the official version, discussed the situation in Donbass, cooperation in the military sphere, a platform for the "return of Crimea", a free trade agreement between the two countries and cooperation in the field of tourism.
The main interest of the Ukrainian side during this meeting was probably the invitation of the Turkish leadership to the Crimean Platform summit, which is planned to be held in Kiev on August 23, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of independence. Ukraine has offered to join the platform for a number of states, including Turkey, France, Great Britain, Germany, Canada and the United States.
The main idea of the "Crimean Platform", as conceived by Ukrainian diplomats, is to raise in the international information environment the topic of the need to return the peninsula to Kiev's control.
In view of the fact that the prospect of the return of Crimea to Ukraine at the moment seems elusive, the main goal of the planned event is the PR of Volodymyr Zelensky inside Ukraine as a "president who does not forget about Crimea." International partners may be interested in the "Crimean Platform" only to the extent that they intend to use the Crimean precedent to put pressure on Russia and introduce new sanctions against it. However, this is more likely to concern the United States and Britain than Turkey.
Especially when you consider that Russia has already promised to consider the participation of foreign states in the "Crimean Platform" "an encroachment on its territorial integrity".
As for Turkey's interests in cooperation with Ukraine, one of them is the sale of the vaunted Turkish drones to Kiev, and cooperation in the issue of their production, which Erdogan openly stated during a meeting with Zelensky.
Another obvious interest of Turkey is the conclusion of an agreement on a free trade zone with Ukraine. Currently, Ukraine has a positive trade balance with Turkey. However, the indicators of Turkish supplies to our country are growing much faster than the supplies of our goods to Turkey. In addition, there is a technological imbalance: Ukraine sells to Turkey, mainly grain and primary processing goods, and buys from there, including machinery and equipment.
Thus, the conclusion of an FTA agreement at the moment would be much more beneficial for Turkey than for Ukraine. Probably, this is why Kiev is still being delayed with it.
Speaking about the international political consequences of the next visit of Vladimir Zelensky to Turkey, one cannot fail to mention that soon after it, Russia suspended flights with Turkey from April 15 to June 1. Many media outlets assessed this decision as a transparent hint to Ankara from the Kremlin that it should not push too much the development of cooperation with Kiev in the military sphere.
However, on April 12, the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov said that the authorities made this decision due to the alarming epidemiological situation and it had nothing to do with the past negotiations between Zelensky and Erdogan.
What was the main reason for the ban on flights during the beginning of the holiday season, we can only guess. But in fairness, it should be noted that the political factor is still not excluded here.
5. Disclosure of preparations for a coup d'etat in Belarus.
Saturday, April 17, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko reported on the detention of the members of the group, who, as he claims, had the task of eliminating the head of state and kidnapping his children.
Simultaneously with a similar statement, the Russian FSB made a statement, which detained the members of this group in Moscow. At the same time, the Russian special service gave information more widely, stating that it was not only about the murder of Lukashenka, but also the preparation of a coup d'etat in Belarus on May 9.
As reported in Moscow:
“The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, together with the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (RB), as a result of a special operation, suppressed the illegal activities of Yuri Leonidovich Zyankovich, who has dual citizenship of the United States and the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Iosifovich, a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, Feduta. revolutions "with the involvement of local and Ukrainian nationalists, as well as the physical elimination of President Alexander Lukashenko. Ziankovich came to Moscow after consultations in the United States and Poland. In the Russian capital, he planned to meet with representatives of the Belarusian Armed Forces to persuade them to participate in a coup involving local and Ukrainian nationalists. The coup was planned in Minsk on May 9 during the Victory Day parade. Currently, the detainees have been transferred to Belarus”.
Along with information about the arrest of the conspirators, video recordings of their talks were published on Belarusian television, during which they discussed the organization of the assassination attempt on A. Lukashenko based on the scenario of the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade in 1981.
It is worth noting that information about the participation of Ukrainian nationalists in the preparation of the coup in Belarus was announced only from the Russian side and at the time of publication of this material had not been clarified.
As for the situation as a whole, it fully fits into the trend of deteriorating relations between Russia and the United States, and, accordingly, their “junior allies”.
The cleansing of the most active Belarusian oppositionists financed by the American special services, regardless of whether their plans to overthrow Lukashenka were realistic, is a logical continuation of the cleansing of the Russian political field from American and pro-American NGOs, including the Anti-Corruption Fund. Alexei Navalny.
In fact, we are witnessing an attempt to cleanse the Russian sphere of influence (which includes Belarus) of American agents capable of destabilizing the political situation from within. Fresh US sanctions served as a catalyst for starting this process. When Moscow saw that the United States was determined to speak from a position of strength, they decided to protect themselves as much as possible from the risks of internal destabilization.
In Ukraine, the trend outlined last week for the redistribution of budgetary funds of developing countries in favor of the purchase of vaccines produced by Western pharmaceutical corporations (Pfizer and others) is being implemented, as was indicated in the IMF report, which spoke about the ineffectiveness of the allocation of budgetary funds for health care.
In addition, by raising politically the stakes against Russia, Ukraine is deterring foreign investors. The latter sell bonds of the external state loan, thereby lowering the hryvnia exchange rate.
1. Plans of the NSDC to combat conversion centers.
The continuation of the NSDC's course in the fight against smugglers is the idea of suppressing the work of conversion centers in Ukraine. This issue was supposed to be considered on April 9, but was postponed until this week, and then - again postponed for an indefinite time.
The problem is that the real goal of the fight against conversion centers may be a banal desire to redistribute this market in their favor. Businesses themselves, using such services, complain about the imperfection of Ukrainian legislation, which, in fact, forces them to apply to converting centers. The IRS ineffectively accepts taxpayer information tables, forcing the business to spend additional time on it, and conversion centers help streamline this process.
The scale of the activities of the conversion centers is so great that these centers cannot remain unnoticed by the power structures. Lviv businessman Vasily Kostyuk has lost his "roof" in the person of the former head of the Tax Service Sergei Verlanov, and thus risks falling under the sanctions of the NSDC. Several more people are at risk of being sanctioned, but they are all connected with Verlanov. Most likely, the NSDC sanctions against people employed by conversion centers pursues the banal goal of redistributing the market, and a potential beneficiary Andrey Gmyrin, who is close to the current government, can become the initiator of this redistribution.
2. The parliament wants to redistribute 6.5 billion hryvnia due to underfunding of hospitals in favor of purchasing a vaccine against coronavirus.
As we predicted in early April based on the IMF report, developing countries like Ukraine should, according to this organization, spend more budgetary funds on "health care", which in reality means more funds for the purchase of vaccines (Pfizer), even due to underfunding of institutions' health care systems.
On April 14, on the official website of the ruling Servant of the People party, it was announced the decision of the relevant parliamentary committee to support the budget with additional expenses of 6.5 billion hryvnia for the purchase of the coronavirus vaccine. This money will be taken from the program of state guarantees of medical care for the population in the II-IV quarters of 2021. This program finances hospitals and medical personnel.
Thus, the government plans to carry out a paradoxical reallocation of funds in favor of purchasing vaccines to the detriment of the healthcare system as such, instead of taking funds from other sectors such as construction and reconstruction of roads. And this is in conditions when the number of covid infections and hospitalizations in Ukraine remains consistently high. This decision, however, fully meets the interests of Western pharmaceutical companies.
3. The director of the Rothschild banking house criticizes Ukraine for curbing the rise in gas prices for the population.
On April 14, Giovanni Salvetti, Managing Director of the banking house Rothschild & Cie., gave an interview to Strana.
In it, the banker openly announced his negative assessment of the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to limit the growth of gas prices for the population in February 2021 at the height of negotiations with the IMF. He expressed the opinion that this limitation is temporary.
The growth of the protest movement in January-February 2021 was one of the factors that provoked the authorities to impose sanctions against Taras Kozak on February 2, which led to the suspension of broadcasting of three opposition TV channels Zik, 112 and NewsOne. Then Ukraine was interested in receiving the next tranche of the IMF, but the president was forced to sacrifice it because of the growing protest movement that threatened to get out of control.
Despite the pressure from the IMF to raise gas prices for the population to the world level, the desire to stabilize the presidential rating outweighed.
Via Giovanni Salvetti, Western capital once again reminds Ukraine of the need to cooperate with the IMF and fulfill its conditions.
4. Non-residents began selling Ukrainian government bonds for a total amount of UAH 2.5 billion due to the threat of renewed hostilities.
Since the end of March 2021, non-residents began to sell Ukrainian government bonds, reaching a total sales of 2.5 billion hryvnia. Because of this, the hryvnia may fall in price against the dollar and reach a rate of more than 28 hryvnia per dollar in the next week.
The Ukrainian economy remains unattractive to foreign investors due to concerns about the judicial system, low rates of vaccination and the launch of a mechanism to influence certain players in the country by imposing NSDC sanctions. All these factors negatively affect the attractiveness of the Ukrainian economy, and the whipping up of war hysteria becomes only the “last straw”, which ultimately leads to the decision to sell government bonds and buy up the dollar.
By raising the stakes against Russia, Ukraine is simultaneously scaring off foreign investors. A demonstrative transfer of troops to the East of the country can only contribute to the withdrawal of money from the economy. Thus, the political component neutralizes the attempts of the Ukrainian authorities to attract more foreign investment, exacerbating the situation with the search for ways to fill the budget of Ukraine.
5. Arcelor-Mittal invests 1 billion in eco-modernization.
From the very beginning of his presidency in 2019, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has publicly put pressure on the ArcelorMittal enterprise with a demand to strengthen the fight against environmental pollution. Searches by the SBU began at the enterprise, which eventually led to the blocking of the launch of a new production complex. In 2021, SBU inspections resumed. In parallel with this, the head of the SBU Ivan Bakanov accused the company of financial fraud, namely tax evasion.
ArcelorMittal is one of the largest Ukrainian exporters, which means - recipients of foreign currency. The decision to invest $ 1 billion in eco-modernization could have been the result of complex measures by the SBU, both regarding accusations of excessive environmental pollution from the enterprise, and subsequent allegations of tax evasion. In addition to modernizing its own production, ArcelorMittal also promised to invest in the national economy.
The allocation by ArcelorMittal of an additional billion dollars for eco-modernization will undoubtedly help at least partially solve the problem of filling the budget and the outflow of foreign investments against the background of escalating the conflict with Russia.
Summarizing the main events and trends of the outgoing week, we note that:
First, the fact that the presidential bill to liquidate the Kiev District Administrative Court was publicly supported by the G7 ambassadors is not surprising. OASK often becomes an obstacle both for the conductors of foreign influence inside Ukraine (NABU, SAP, “anti-corruption”, the Suprun team, etc.), and for the Office of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers. This explains the unanimity of the OP and the G7 ambassadors on the liquidation of this court, despite their disagreements regarding the model of future judicial reform.
Secondly, in comparison with the decisions that were made by the NSDC in early-mid-February (suppression of the opposition), its current decisions (on smugglers, etc.) were clearly "crushed" and moved from the plane of formatting the political field to the plane of fairly private decisions. economic problems. This testifies to the "crisis of the genre." And if it is not overcome, then in the bureaucratic apparatus after a while the processes of degradation of the vertical of power and sabotage of the course pursued by the president will inevitably resume. Actually, in order to stop these processes against the background of the then falling presidential rating, the epic was started 2 months ago with the country's control with the help of the NSDC. However, as we can see, this practice cannot last long.
Third, the deterioration of US-Russian relations has become the main foreign policy trend of the outgoing week. After Biden's phone call to Putin with a proposal to meet, the White House deliberately went to raise rates and introduce new anti-Russian sanctions. This was done both in order to demonstrate toughness towards Russia to the internal public, and in an attempt to "talk from a position of strength" with the Kremlin. As one would expect, such actions inevitably met with a symmetrical response from the Russian side, complicating the already difficult bilateral relations. Nevertheless, preparations for a meeting between Biden and Putin in Austria have not yet been removed from the agenda.
Fourthly, the positions of all the main external players regarding the situation in Donbass remain unchanged. Germany and France are committed to a peaceful settlement based on the Minsk Package of Measures, the United States accuses Russia of escalation and imposes new sanctions against it, Ukraine is trying to rewrite the Minsk Agreements, and Russia is putting pressure on it in order to fulfill their political component. Potentially, another complication of Russian-American relations is fraught with aggravation of the situation on the line of contact in Donbas.
Fifth, in the economic sphere in Ukraine, the trend outlined last week for the redistribution of budgetary funds of developing countries in favor of the purchase of vaccines produced by Western pharmaceutical corporations (Pfizer, etc.) is being implemented. A corresponding goal was set in a recent IMF report, which spoke about the ineffectiveness of budget allocation for health in third world countries. In addition, by raising politically the stakes against Russia, Ukraine is deterring foreign investors. The latter sell bonds of the external state loan, thereby lowering the hryvnia exchange rate.