To instigate chaos

5 January 2020, 19:12

Any radical change of power in the country entails a major reformatting of institutions and a certain imbalance of the system. There are both positive and negative points to this. The main thing is that this period does not last long and the process is stabilized within a short time. An important prerequisite is the strategic vision of the new government of its course and an awareness of the functions and capabilities of the bodies under its control. Without such nuances, debugging is impossible. Unfortunately, we can witness this through the example of the Ze! Team, which, like a whirlwind, burst into the corridors of power. And if in some areas they have at least some vision of which direction to move, then in the law enforcement and national security fields this is not observed at all. It seems that Zelenskiy and his entourage do not at all understand the purposes of all these structures. At most, the whole matter comes down to loud statements about war on corruption, attempts to use certain structures to their advantage, and at worst, everything is let go with the flow.

Of course, attempts to place loyal people everywhere are being made, because you cannot go on without that. The president put in charge of the SBU, the structure that Zelenskiy seems to consider the most influential, his friend Ivan Bakanov, who he trusts. Apparently, for the reason of not bothering too much with the problem, and most importantly, of not fearing himself this terrible service. For all other offices, Zelenskiy seemed not to have found other “Bakanovs”, so he either left things as they are or appointed someone on the advice.

After all, the quick replacement of the heads of the offices such as NABU (National Anti-Corruption Bureau), SAP (Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office) and DBR (State Bureau of Investigations) is not permitted by law. So, for starters, it was decided to set up collaboration. Although this, of course, does not mean that the “servants” do not want to see their people there, and sooner or later it will happen. As in the case of the head of DBR Roman Truba, who has managed to integrate most deeply into the Ze! Team. The longstanding friendship and close cooperation with the head of the OP Andriy Bohdan seemed to secure office for Truba. He, in fact, acted as if he had come forever. The only problem was he’d overdone and managed to screw up so that at some point he became too toxic to his patrons. One can only imagine the true scale of damage inflicted by Truba to the Ze! Team, if his removal required a real special operation with a change of legislation, unauthorized tapping, and the leak of juicy details of his activities on the Internet. By the way, not only Truba, but also the head of the Office of the President Andriy Bohdan and the whole network of “valuable employees” were affected. It is too early to say whether similar fate is threatening to NABU and SAP leadership. But everything is possible. At least, in OP they have long been making plans to replace the head of NABU Artem Sytnyk.

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Theoretically, Arsen Avakov should leave his cabinet in the beginning of the next year. He is the only one from the previous Cabinet of Ministers who was given a chance. Leaving him as the Interior Minister, the “servants” claimed that they did so in gratitude for ensuring fair elections and in view of the difficult situation in the war-torn country that was in need of order. But only until the end of 2019. If during this trying period Arsen Borysovich does not satisfy the new government, he will be replaced.

However, it is probably not only about gratitude. There is also an awareness of the role of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in ensuring the stability of the government and possible difficulties in the event that it will be uncontrolled. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is the foundation of power. And Avakov seems to have managed to convey this message to Zelenskiy. The SBU, the prosecutor's office, the NABU and other DBRs are important, but the order on the streets (namely, the streets once forced Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country) still hinges on the police, whose loyalty is a guarantee of the stability of the authorities. At least until some point. And due to the fact that bodies functioning system is too complex for most of the Ze! Team functionaries to understand, and that there is no other Bakanov who can manage (or lacks certainty to manage) to provide its stability, it is better not to risk. Even with possible reputational losses.

Of course, this situation is temporary. But today there is no reason to bring up the issue of removing Avakov from post. So far, it sits well with “servants”, that was confirmed by Zelenskiy himself during his Press marathon. Avakov gradually changes the leadership of the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (National Police, DPP (Department of Patrol Police), National Guard), but does not fall over backwards, steers clear of political processes, confidently holds his golden share (his piece of power) and watches. Though as chance offers, he doesn’t mind to show himself: Arsen Avakov has his own “shares” on the street; the movement of “National Druzhinas (volunteer squads)”, that allegedly has ties with the minister, is capable of bringing a convincing number of people on the streets for protests (such as “No surrender!”).

The change in the leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office is a different story. It was designated to be led by Ruslana Ryaboshapka, who had joined the Ze! Team at an early stage and made a good impression on Zelenskiy. An ambitious, young, promising and Merited Lawyer of Ukraine with experience in civil service was well-suited to become the Prosecutor General. Moreover, as Bohdan, the leading prompter and adviser to President, probably thought, he could be easily controlled through his deputies. But it turned out that loyalty to the president is not always identical to loyalty to the head of his Office: Ryaboshapka in his high government position seeks to lead his own game.

Although this is probably not Zelenskiy’s biggest problem (for whom his presidency is a complete frame-up), it is only one of them. After all, it seems that today he is being framed on all sides and he is less and less able to control the situation. In this way, the illogical steps and actions taken by the authorities and the structures under their control are increasingly reminiscent of the selective justice of Viktor Yanukovych’s times. The prosecutions of political opponents, including the former president, the questionable, thinly veiled case of bullet-proof vests, and the impudent search of a veteran’s pizzeria, and finally the initiating proceeding against the deputy Sofia Fedyna and volunteer Marusia Zvirobiy for their speeches have raised a red flag. After all, this is against the backdrop of ignoring the “creativity” of Andriy Portnov, who openly threatens citizens through social networks; that of Oleksandr Dubinskiy, who calls for getting Poroshenko’s forum “From Kruty to Brussels” gas-poisoned, or that of Mikhailo Dobkin, who proposes to declare martial law in order Poroshenko, Turchinov and Parubiy to be hanged. It is worth noting that these things primarily cast a shadow on the president, no matter how hard he tries to stay clear from them. Some people are losing trust in him, some are openly mocking at him, and those who suspected him of dictatorial enticements are being convinced of their fears and assumptions.

The misunderstanding of the functional purpose of certain bodies, in hands of which a considerable piece of power is concentrated, makes the president a hostage. Moreover, without having a single national line, the structures left on their own begin to live their own lives and act at their discretion depending on the degree of their loyalty, the priorities of the leadership, and the interests of the groups of influence in or outside the bodies. It is where business comes on the stage, instigating infighting and havoc. This, of course, weakens them, renders them incapacitated, and consequently weakens the government itself, so the state becomes vulnerable. One can only guess who, in each case, calls the shots and is the ultimate beneficiary. And also for what purpose it is being done and what the prospects will be.

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Zelenskiy is being banally intimidated with fuelling tensions with radicals and enemies, and that deprives him of the ability to make sound, adequate decisions. In his time Yanukovych was intimidated by the all-powerful Right Sector on the Maidan. Or when, in the spring of 2013, two activists went to prison for a year and a year and eight months for graffiti with his portrait decorated with a red dot on his forehead. In this sense, Zvirobiy’s case is quite exemplary. The case is clearly unpromising and will probably fail in court. But the main message that tried to send Zelenskiy has flown: he is in danger. And as all this is happening just before the meeting of the “Normandy Quartet” in Paris and the planned on December, 8 “No surrender!” protest act, so someone is obviously craving for radicalizing and heating up the situation. The answer to the question “who?” lies on the surface. After all, that the rocking of the boat is done by the hands of the DBR says a lot. Not by the police or other agencies, but by the structure the leadership of which is suspected of having links with Andriy Portnov, a former deputy of Yanukovych AP (Administration of President), who does not conceal his negative attitude to the Maidan, Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, Ukrainian worldview and identity. Simply put, he does his best for benefit of Russia. It would be foolish to think that he is not using his capabilities and the connections he has in the judicial and law enforcement systems.

Actually, such stories, which are gradually making the puzzle complete, are what is in fact the game of Russia to destabilize and rock the situation in Ukraine before the meeting in the “Normandy format”. Moscow benefits from this as no one else, because it has not abandoned its plans to destroy Ukraine. And as soon as the authorities are not capable to resist these provocations, and the structures that are supposed to be engaged in it are by definition disoriented, the security prospects that emerge on the horizon are unfortunately disappointing for Ukraine.


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Malko Roman

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