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16 August, 2013 17:11   ▪  

Expert: the pro-Russian business lobby in Ukraine is today weaker than at the beginning of Yanukovych’s presidency

In spite of the everlasting pro-Russian lobby in Ukraine, constant economic pressure and various trade barriers weaken influence of such a lobby on Ukraine’s economic policy and future perspectives, writes Maksym Bugriy for The Jamestown Foundation

Using all its “soft powers” and lobbying in Ukraine the Kremlin endeavour to arouse public opposition to Ukraine’s association with the EU. Moscow also uses various economic pressures to prevent from signing the Association Agreement with the EU. 

READ ALSO: Russia’s Soft Power Wars 

“A controversial feature of Putin’s Ukrainian policy is the use of economic coercion and the neglect of incentives and relevant “soft power” tools to spur Ukraine’s economic integration with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, or selling Ukrainian natural gas pipelines to Gazprom. Russia’s main policy instruments are unsophisticated trade barriers to reduce Ukrainian exports. Interestingly, the Kremlin directs such trade sanctions against the very representatives of the Ukrainian business elite who are deeply involved in trade and business with Russia and are friendly to this country: Viktor Pinchuk (steel pipes), Petro Poroshenko (confectionery), Anatoliy Yurkevych (dairy products). As a result, the pro-Russian business lobby in Ukraine is today weaker than at the beginning of Yanukovych’s presidency,” writes Maksym Bugriy for The Jamestown Foundation.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian-Russian relations: facing Cool Winter

However, the expert admits that in politics pro-Russian lobby remains active and strong. “Viktor Medvedchuk, a seasoned, shrewd Ukrainian politician and the former head of President Leonid Kuchma’s administration in 2002–2005, has emerged at the center of the action,” Bugriy adds.

Moreover, there is a thought that “if Ukraine signs the Association Agreement, Vladimir Putin will not support Viktor Yanukovych in the 2015 presidential elections and might endorse Medvedchuk or another alternative candidate to Yanukovych.“

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