Article by: Borislav Bereza
The main mistakes made by the Ukrainian President, which in sum may lead to a catastrophe within the country
The President’s communication with his people is more and more reminiscent of the communication scheme his predecessor had used. The Sunday interview was a deja vu. A handful of trusted journalists who ask convenient questions and a recorded interview that evoked more questions than answered only served to convince me of this sentiment. The only thing missing was the story about the tree stumps and earth hares.
So what happened to the President? Why, having won in one round and received a loan of trust from society, did he forget everything he had promised and planned to do, having become completely different from the person who was awarded with Presidential regalia by society.
Petro Olexiyovich hasn’t changed. The period of promises was simply followed by the period of their execution. Everything turned out to be more complex, and the President started making mistakes. While each individual one is not global by itself, the net weight of all of them in the end may lead to a catastrophe in Ukraine.
Having won in the first round of the presidential race and received the venerated seat, Poroshenko started approximating Maidan 3.0. No, he is not a supporter of it. What is more, he is possibly against it. But several mistake he made really do bring new Maidan closer. The principal unwillingness to understand the problems of society and the fact that he has surrounded himself with a team of ‘his people,’ and not professionals, has encouraged an entire number of mistakes that led to the fall of the President’s rating, and the fact that he has nothing to boast except good speeches.
The biggest problem is the President’s team, it is also mistake number one. The infamous ‘Donetsk’ people were replaced with ‘Vinnytsya-Roshen’ people. The President surrounded himself with colleagues and fellow business people, having diluted them with a small number of politicians who had worked with him before. The majority of these people got their titles not because they are high-class specialists, but only because they have the President’s personal trust and have had long-time relations with him. The fact that Petro Olexiyovych’s electoral list includes a lot of people who have a shady past and who had only recently changed parties, does not add to the trust towards the President. The fact that we see the return to ‘talented families,’ when the Parliament includes fathers and brothers and in-laws, does not add points neither to the President nor his human resource policies. Yanukovich’s tendency obviously continues.
Poroshenko’s human resource policies are especially exemplified by Valeriya Hontareva’s appointment as head of the NBU. It was the President’s appointment that made the hryvnia fall, devalued hryvnia resources within the population and helped to remind many people of minuscule salaries during the crazy nineties, and de-facto returned the practice of refinancing which had been practiced back in Yanukovich’s time.
Poroshenko’s team also include several people who do not come from his inner circle and are in their proper place, however their influence on state policies goes unnoticed, and their functions are most reminiscent of the British Crown’s representative obligations.
Mistake #2. The President does not consider communicating with the nation necessary. He does not understand the power of communication technologies. Not only is this not smart, but it is also dangerous for the future of the President’s rating.
Silence regarding revenant issues and events, delayed reactions to emergencies and extraordinary events, a delayed reaction to the changes in the country and a simple lack of explanation for his policies has already led to the sociologists documenting a growth of mistrust towards Poroshenko. This can be explained by the press services’ bad work, or the initial chosen vector of behavior on the domestic policy arena. The fact that neither the President’s press service nor Channel 5, which is owned by Poroshenko, never bothered to organize the broadcast of the Ukrainian President’s speech at the U.S. Congress, talks of their incompetence and supports my claim regarding the first mistake. The fact that the President, being a wonderful orator, does not want to participate in dialogue with the people on principle, only confirms the fact that this is a thought-out strategy. And it is wrong.
Mistake #3. This mistake is consciously-made. They are promises nobody is going to keep. Having promised to sell his business and understood that the procedure itself can be extended over a long period of time, the President does not even try to maintain the front of the proceedings. Influence on Channel 5 remains not only influence, but has formed into a propaganda booth for the current President. The promised 1000 UAH per day and 1 million UAH for all ATO participants remain electoral promises. The justice promised on Maidan, punishment of all those who are to blame not only for the crimes committed on Maidan, but also all those who supported Yanukovich’s establishment as a dictator, remained promises to raise his popularity. It turned out that nobody intends to punish anyone, and ratings have been gained from these promises.
We are currently seeing the effect of disappointment which many supporters of the voting felt after Yanukovich’s election, when the slogan, Everyone will be heard, turned out to be a simple electoral technology, and not a promise anyone was going to keep. The fact that criminals from the Party of Regions have already bought their party memberships in Solidarnist and UDAR, and accorded support from Petro Poroshenko’s Block at the forthcoming elections, only adds pessimism to the predictions of fair elections. Without doubt, these facts reinforce the dominant public opinion that nobody from the ‘old’ regionals will taste punishment.
This is not the end of the list of mistakes. The conclusion may include not an analysis of mistakes, but the particular fact that the unprofessionalism of the President’s team, total corruption, disappointment in all government institutions and the undermining activity of Russian special services will lead to an early change of government. The destabilization of the situation in the country and the creation of destabilizing moods are seen by the Kremlin as instruments to depose the government in Ukraine and establish a fully Moscow-controlled leadership. A paradox. It is undesirable to criticize the government because it benefits Putin’s plan, but there is no more patience left to take this chaos.
In the end, the time has come for the President to reevaluate his role in the history of the state. He has many possibilities to return the people’s trust and become part of history as a reformer. For this, he needs to break out of his phobias and stereotypes. He must not only turn his face to the people, but ground himself in their strength. With this symbiosis, Poroshenko will have a lot of opportunities to make cardinal changes in society. In this case, it is not enough to cite Lee Kuan Yew, it is necessary to follow his methods. Only by breaking the old system, carrying out necessary economic reforms, law enforcement reforms, lustration and real fight against corruption, Poroshenko can counter the machinations of the Russian special services and lead the process of renewal in society. These processes will render the possibility of new Maidan unnecessary. Society needs to believe in its leader, then it will respond in kind. Currently, disappointment and mistrust reign free, which may start a new national uprising.
In order to make a journey of a thousand steps, it is necessary to get moving. The first step may be an open address to the people and further mutual communication, which would show that the President is partial to social opinion. This should be confirmed not by strong and inciting speeches, but actions.
Ukraine wants peace. Ukraine wants an update. We all want change. But it greatly depends on whether the President will hear us now or not, what they will be like and how they will happen.