After the off-year parliamentary election in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko and many of his supporters are likely to have to leave the country urgently
Only a few days left before the special election to the Verkhovna Rada, called by the new President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. His predecessor Petro Poroshenko continues active struggle for deputy mandates for his party “European Solidarity”, which recently had to rebrand and remove the name of the odious ex-President from its title. The former head of state himself acts in the usual ways, using aggressive rhetoric, since he got pretty skilled in it over the past five years of Ukraine’s governance, as well as regularly criticizing almost all the initiatives of Zelensky.
However, these techniques help a little: Poroshenko’s party seriously lags behind the leaders of the election race to Parliament, and, first of all, from the pro-presidential party “Servant of the People”. The latter, in its turn, effectively converts the huge popular support of the incumbent President into solid figures in the election polls. Energetic behavior of the current leader of Ukraine, who applies bodacious methods, also plays in hand. The President gives officials at various levels a real tongue lashing regularly, expertly playing on the audience expectations and skillfully maneuvering between the interests of different population groups. The initiative on vetting of those who held important public positions from February 2014 to May 19, 2019 also added many points to Zelensky and his party.
In the current circumstances, the victory of the “Servant of the People” in the parliamentary election is almost a fait accompli, while the “European Solidarity” is likely to be content with the role of one of the outsiders of the race. The post-election setup will finally allow the renewed Ukrainian authorities to establish cooperation between state bodies and to implement at least some of the promises made during the presidential and parliamentary campaigns.
Election to the Verkhovna Rada, in fact, was the last chance for Poroshenko to solidify more or less in Ukrainian politics in the foreseeable future. Now, after July 21, he risks being in a very unenviable position. It is curious that the business partner of the former President of Ukraine, Moldovan oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc has been in almost the same situation recently. The political regime he established collapsed with the formation of an alliance of opposition socialists and pro-Europeans, after which the ‘unofficial master of Moldova’ was forced to leave the country urgently. Plahotniuc, although he did not resign from his parliamentary powers, has been outside Moldova for at least a month and is not going to return yet.
Back in mid-June, it was reported that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gave Poroshenko and Plahotniuc guarantees of personal security and inviolability of their foreign assets. At the same time, there is information in Moldova that at least three European countries have initiated an investigation against the Moldovan oligarch. It is worth remembering that criminal cases against Plahotniuc, who is currently in the US, are opened in Russia, which plans to start his search through Interpol.
Moldova itself is intensively digging into the former leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and at the same time for political and economic crimes. So, the Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu stated the need to investigate the criminal activities of Plahotniuc on the territory of Transdniestria. Interestingly, she simultaneously accused the former Ukrainian President of contraband activities. It is not surprising that the topic of combating cross-border crime and smuggling under the Poroshenko-Plahotniuc schemes has become one of the main topics in the recent meeting of the Moldovan Prime Minister with President Zelensky.
The reality created by the new Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities under the strict supervision of the European Union does not involve previous enrichment schemes developed by the cunning partners-oligarchs from Moldova and Ukraine. Their detection will certainly reveal a lot of unpleasant evidence that can be easily used to promote criminal cases against former rulers in Kyiv and Chisinau.
There is no doubt that the investigation will take place anyway. The new authorities simply can’t ignore the enormous public demand for punishment of the embezzling oligarchs, who for many years looted Ukraine and Moldova. In addition, their imprisonment is an excellent opportunity to increase popularity, which both Kyiv and Chisinau clearly does not want to miss. Under these conditions, even guarantees from the United States may not save the once all-powerful oligarchs from political lynching at home. Vlad Plahotniuc, who found ‘shelter’ in the United States, was the first to understand this. Soon his longtime partner may go down this path, who is rumored to have requested political asylum in the United States, and is preparing for a urgent departure from Ukraine immediately after the parliamentary election.
Now the new authorities in Kyiv face a serious test of strength – how they will treat Poroshenko (allow him to leave the country or block the departure) will clearly show whether they’ve taken into account the mistakes of neighbors and how serious their intentions are to punish their predecessors.
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