- What Ukrainian government should focus on in the short-run (first few weeks) and in the middle-run (first few months) perspective?
Ukraine has received 9 IMF assistance programme’s since 1991 and has never fully implemented any of them, especially the most difficult structural reforms which are opposed by oligarchs and other vested corrupt interests. Why is it likely to be any different today when Ukraine’s second democratic revolution has been hijacked (again) by oligarchs? Both Viktor Yushchenko and Petro Poroshenko belong to the oligarch-friendly wing of Ukraine’s ‘pro-European’ political spectrum and are in reality Kuchma-Lite political figures.
The appointment of Volodymyr Groysman is similar to Yushchenko’s appointment of Yuriy Yekhanurov because both presidents desired prime ministers they could control, not in order to implement reforms and fight corruption but because they are seek power for power’s sake. The priority of the new government should be on implementing structural reforms demanded by the IMF and EU Association Agreement and reducing corruption in order that Ukraine is no longer the fourth least corrupt state of the 15 former Soviet republics (only 3 Central Asian states are less corrupt). These policies will be unlikely to be implemented and public disillusionment and stagnation will deepen, as in 2006-2009 -and we now how that ended.
- What steps or decisions of previous governments the new government should not repeat?
Yatseniuk lacks charisma and was unable to connect to Ukrainian citizens and voters. Any government implementing ‘kamikadze’ reforms needs to engage with and explain these reforms. There was in particular no attempt on the part of the prime minister and president to reach out to Ukrainian voters in eastern and southern Ukraine where instead, Poroshenko relied on oligarchs, former Yanukovych supporters and discredited officials who will never implement policies that assist Ukraine’s European integration.
But, because I doubt the Groysman government will implement structural reforms or fight corruption then public relations will not be a strategic priority. The Yatseniuk government was responsible for socio-economic and financial questions while President Poroshenko was responsible for the rule of law, corruption and the war in the Donbas. With the appointment of Groysman, Poroshenko will be responsible for everything which will negatively impact upon his popularity and make him unelectable for a second term. History, and Ukrainian voters in the next presidential election, will pass a very negative judgement on the Ukrainian leader who failed to prosecute politicians and siloviky for their murder of unarmed Euromaidan protestors.
Pavlo Sheremeta, founding director of the School of Public Management gave an interview to Polish daily newspaper “Rzeczpospolita” on challenges, which the new government will have to face. Full text of the interview is available on thewebsite. Working translation into Ukrainian can be found here.
*Dr. Taras Kuzio – сurrently a Senior Research Associate at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. Taras Kuzio has been a consultant to different branches of the US government, including as team leader on a USAID spring 2015 assessment of democracy, governance and human rights in Ukraine.