Why is Poroshenko still president?

UkraineOf war and crises - one year President Poroshenko

The bells of the Kiev Cathedral of St. Sophia herald the inauguration of the President. The country has a new head of state: Petro Poroshenko.

"The hope in him was very great. And the trust. But the situation in the east makes it difficult for him. Without the situation in the east, the reforms would progress much faster, everything would be much easier. As long as there is no peace, we only think that one: When is he coming? "

Like Juliane Gurchumelia from Uzhgorod in the Ukrainian Carpathians, many of those who voted for Poroshenko are still reluctant to criticize. They do not give up Ukraine, just like Artyom Oscheljanjenko from the Cherkass region or Sergei Losjen from Poltava. Despite war and crisis.

"Yes, we are making slow progress. Slowly but surely. It is very difficult because Ukraine is in a desperate situation. But we do not lose hope because we know that we are moving in the right direction."

"Society has changed, it is now much more organized and patriotic. It used to be difficult to get someone to do something, but now we are developing our own initiative. Take the many volunteers or the donation bazaars. In a year and a half it will be better. "

The death bells were by no means rung in Kiev on June 7, 2014. Nobody suspected that a year later, almost 7,000 people died during the battles for eastern Ukraine and that the war is ongoing.

No Ukrainian president took office under such difficult conditions. When Petro Poroshenko was sworn in in the Kiev parliament, there were already victims in the clashes with the pro-Russian separatists. Poroshenko was the first to offer a peace plan. The pro-Russian fighters were supposed to lay down their weapons, whoever had no blood on their hands would receive an amnesty, and Russian mercenaries should be able to leave eastern Ukraine through an escape corridor. He turned to compatriots in the east in Russian and promised:

"I will travel to you very soon and bring peace with me and a project for the decentralization of state power. I will guarantee you that you can use the Russian language freely. I will not divide Ukrainians into right and wrong. I will explain the peculiarities of each Respect regions. They have a right to their view of history, their pantheon of heroes and their religious traditions. "

Poroshenko also reclaimed the occupied territories, including the Crimea. He knew that the majority of Ukrainians were behind him. But the new president had no idea of ​​the extent of the upcoming fighting. The newly created National Guard, the emerging volunteer associations and the previously desolate Ukrainian army found themselves in a full-blown war. Against separatists who were instructed, armed and supported by fighters from Russia by Moscow. The Russian President denies the involvement of the FSB secret service and the regular Russian army to this day. A British television journalist Petro Poroshenko recently asked whether he had confidence in Vladimir Putin:

"Trust? No. But I have no option. However, I do not believe that the liberation of our territory can be achieved by military means. Also: I am the President of Peace. I do everything to keep the peace. I would like to to be clear: This is not a fight against Russia-backed separatists, this is a real war with Russia. "

The head of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Kiev thinks that the Ukrainian head of state sometimes mouths too much and unnecessarily risks losing his credibility.

"He has a tendency to say things that are simply stupid, and that people take it that way. It started when he became president and said that this war was over in two weeks. Everyone knew then, It is in no way tenable. The other day he said that the Ukrainian armed forces are the best in Europe. He has said that several times. That is what people feel after everything that has happened and after everything that is known about the condition of the Ukrainian army , where volunteers have to collect their equipment themselves, where offices collect money so that people who are drafted have a bulletproof vest with them or a decent helmet or decent shoes. People find that a mockery. "

Pervasive corruption

Ukraine is facing bankruptcy and has not been able to pay for the natural gas imported by Russia for months. The surprisingly mild temperatures helped to survive the winter despite the cold heating. The citizens are ready to freeze, to tighten their belts, as long as they can be sure that things will look up after this dry spell. But there is one thing they no longer tolerate: the ubiquitous corruption. Oleksij Chmara has been registering the extent of bribery and corruption in business and state institutions for many years. He heads the Ukrainian branch of Transparency International. He can understand the impatience of his country folk, but he warns against it.

"The people set the bar very high after the Maidan. Punish and fire the corrupt officials, liquidate the corruption mechanisms, no longer give anyone the opportunity to steal money from the state budget. All of this should be done in a year. But that can only be one Create a dictator. A dictator with absolute power who can shoot people without a trial. Of course, it would also be possible in a consolidated balance of power. "

But Ukraine is still a long way from consolidated power and separation of powers. In the administrative apparatus, in the ministries and in the police, there are officials who still want the Yanukovych era back and are disloyal to the new government. Corruption is the greatest deterrent for potential partners like the European Union. Although 52 percent of Ukrainians - and thus more than ever before - want to become members of the EU, the EU recently made it clear at the Riga summit that the Eastern partnership is by no means leading straight to EU membership. Ukraine has not implemented the reforms necessary to obtain visa-free travel, not to mention the requirements of the EU Association Agreement, which Prime Minister Arseniy Yazeniuk signed. The country is on the way to reform, but it could be much further, admits constitutional lawyer Ihor Koliuschko from the Center for Political Reforms.

"In the past year we have initiated about 50, maybe 60 percent of the reforms that would have been possible. The reforms for the decentralization of power, for the development of the state apparatus, the electoral law. And the reform of the judiciary are missing. so the foundation of everything. "

Unlike the non-governmental constitutional lawyer, the Ukrainian corruption guard from Transparency sounds a little more satisfied. At least as long as the fight against corruption is at stake.

"A whole package, a whole complex of anti-corruption laws and measures has been passed."

Which must now be implemented. The citizens have little confidence in politics, Poroshenko was not a preferred candidate for many voters, but only the lesser of two evils. They are still waiting for at least the worst kleptocrats in the deposed government to be tried.

"The European Union has frozen accounts of people from the Yanukovych regime. For a year. With the request to produce evidence within one year that the money was a bribe. This year the government and the Prosecutor General's Office have not provided any information. In the meantime the sanctions against the Ukrainian suspects will be lifted again. That is a big minus on President Poroshenko's balance sheet. "

The president's understanding of power

The renowned constitutional lawyer Ihor Koliuschko sees clear deficits in the president's understanding of power. Poroshenko has not really made the democratic principle of the separation of powers his own.

"The president thinks like his predecessors: He wants to keep the judiciary under his control. He justifies this with the necessary reforms and that these judges cannot be allowed to act independently. What is being sent as a signal to society is that the government has influence would like to have the judiciary, perhaps more civilized than the previous one, perhaps also more covertly. But this way the judicial reform does not progress to the extent that it is necessary. "

Even Miriam Kosmehl from the Naumann Foundation in Ukraine does not assume Poroshenko's attitude to blockade. The almost 50-year-old cannot be called a real reform engine.

"He does not reform with passion and determination. One example is the appointment of the head of the anti-corruption office. This is the most important and central anti-corruption authority, which is responsible for state employees and also for monitoring the implementation of the important lustration law Appointment of the head long delayed because he wanted someone that civil society did not want. Civil society ultimately prevailed. But this incident is a good testimony to the fact that he does not primarily place high-profile reformers in the central positions, but just people who are his confidants. And this so-called law of proximity is common in Ukraine, but it is also something that is associated with him. "

Poroshenko is literally on everyone's lips. Roshen, the chocolate brand of the same name, has been selling well in Ukraine and Russia for years. But at the same time the chocolate factory is Poroshenko's sore point. Before he took office, he had promised to sell these and other companies in order to avoid conflicts of interest as entrepreneurs and politicians. Again and again he has to put up with questions about what has become of his announcement.

"There is hardly anyone more interested in keeping their promises than I am. We have found one of the best companies, Rothschild, which sells companies worldwide. It was agreed with her that I no longer have the right to interfere in company matters As soon as peace reigns in Ukraine, there will be investors again. In addition, the Russian government is obstructing sales efforts. "

In fact, the production facility in Lipetsk, Russia, is being searched again and again, most recently in April when OMON special forces from the Russian Interior Ministry arrived. A uniformed man closes an iron gate and sends visitors away.

"Please go to the main entrance, there is information there."

Suspected tax evasion, it is said from the Russian side, after that the matter regularly fizzles out or Roshen confectionery is subject to an import ban, as in the so-called candy war 2013. The constitutional lawyer Ihor Koliuschko, who drafts laws for reforms, has in terms of it Company sales understanding for the president.

"On the one hand, it was right to announce that we would sell our businesses. But I also understand that this is not so easy now that nobody in our country wants to invest money. And just giving everything away cheaply isn’t either Path."

Outside the political arena, the old competitors are waiting. For example, Igor Kolomoysky from Dnepropetrovsk, whom he has just deposed as governor.

The most important challenger is and will remain the richest man in Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov. Many of its coal mines, smelters, and steel plants are in the separatist-occupied area. Unlike the mines around Donetsk, which had to close, operations in Mariupol have so far been able to continue. Yuri Ruban from Poroshenko's presidential administration explains why production is still possible there, although there has been almost uninterrupted fighting in the vicinity of the port city for months, despite the Minsk peace agreement.

"He owes the fact that he still earns money at all to the volunteers who protect Mariupol, where two of his large metallurgical combines are located. If Mariupol falls to the separatists, Akhmetov will be all over."

Kolomojski, also worth billions with a general store consisting of banks, a television station and oil and gas production companies, is considered a rascal. But Kolomoysky has been on the side of the new Kiev government since Viktor Yanukovych fled the presidency. He financed volunteer battalions to prevent separatists from occupying Dnepropetrovsk. Unlike Akhmetov, who waved, did not position himself and is now being dismantled.

"Akhmetov may be the big loser, but most of all the country, Ukraine, has lost," says Yuri Ruban, political scientist in the Poroshenko administration.

"He believed that he could get on well with both Kiev and the separatists and play his game. He did not understand who he was dealing with in Putin. Akhmetov was the one who created the Party of Regions, who created it who supported Yanukovych and his insane policies until the end. And when there was this power vacuum, he tried to take advantage of it. Now he is the loser, nailed in Kiev, cannot go to Donetsk or Lugansk. Because there now others are in charge. And his functionaries from the Party of Regions are also in Kiev. "

Is Poroshenko's political strength enough?

Akhmetov, up to now an energy monopoly, can count his days, says the Poroshenko man. The energy commission has started its work. In Donbass the sparrows whistle from the rooftops that Akhmetov is said to have bribed the separatists so that they spare his factories during the fighting. Akhmetov is still supposed to finance the former Yanukovych party, which is now pushing the opposition bench in parliament under a new name.

"The opposition bloc, that is the old Yanukovych Party of the Regions, is addressing the poor Ukrainians specifically today and is taking advantage of their dissatisfaction for their revanchist plans. That is why anything is possible. The government must tell the people what it is up to. If Poroshenko hides something from the people, they will get angry and move back to the Maidan in the coming autumn or winter. "

It is questionable whether President Poroshenko's political strength will be sufficient to hold the country together. Because the heavyweight man from the Ukrainian province does not lack the will to power, but he has allies, fears the author of numerous reform laws, Ihor Koliuschko.

"He was an independent figure, a compromise. He only founded his party when he was in office. But the Petro Poroshenko bloc gathers too many different people, so it is not a stable political force. In this respect, it will not stay in power for long, on the other hand there is currently no competitor. All those who are currently eligible in politics are significantly worse. "