Ukrainian parliament fails to oust government

17.02.2016514
Triumphant Yatsenyuk and disappointed Jaresko. Credits: Reuters

Triumphant Yatsenyuk and disappointed Yaresko. Credits: Reuters

16 Feb. — The Ukrainian parliament failed to reach the number of votes necessary for dismissing Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s government. 194 of the needed 226 people’s deputies supported the proposal. Earlier, the government report for 2015 was recognised as unsatisfactory by the votes of 247 parliamentarians.

The potential dismissal of Yatsenyuk’s cabinet has been a major topic for several months now. Alternative candidates for the post of prime minister have often been named: Odessa Oblast Governor Mikheil Saakashvili, Finance Minister Natalie Yaresko, Speaker of Parliament Volodymyr Groysman.

The current government has met with reproach for its extremely slow-moving reforms, numerous accusations of corruption, and internal feuds. The last straw was the corruption scandal surrounding Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development. Like the other “Vikings” in the government, the Economic Minister Aivaras Abromavičius was primarily orientated towards the West and tried to perform his functions in the best possible way. However, in the end he was forced to resign due to Ihor Kononenko’s constant interference in his activities. Kononenko is the deputy head of the parliamentary faction Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP).

Abromavičius’s resignation cast into doubt the Ukrainian authorities’ entire reformist path – and most importantly, the reputations of Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as its guarantors. In such conditions, they tried to show the West their usefulness and effectiveness. Attempts were first made at the Munich Security Conference, and later on the morning of February 16th, when the “main one responsible” for the war with corruption in the cabinet – Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin – was dismissed.

An attempt to topple the government then followed. In spite of the fact that the contents of Yatsenyuk’s report were positive overall (growth of local budgets, successes in European integration and in the confrontation with Russia), practically all factions in the coalition and the Opposition Bloc considered it revealingly negative.

Yuriy Lutsenko, leader of the BPP, harshly criticised the government. According to him, it “has come to a halt and is just defending its posts. You haven’t sewn pockets. People are frustrated that the prime minister speaks so well but they do not feel the results of his work for themselves. We have forgotten the smell of the tyres from Maidan.”

Closing his speech, the head of the presidential faction handed the speaker of parliament a draft resolution for the vote of no confidence with 159 deputies’ signatures on it (submitting it to a vote requires a minimum of 150).

Representatives of practically all factions in the ruling coalition supported dismissing the government. It is noteworthy that the Opposition Bloc and People’s Will factions abstained from the vote. These are associated with Rinat Akhmetov and Ihor Kolomoyskyi, respectively.

According to MP Mustafa Nayyem, “the failure of the vote of no confidence is the result of a conspiracy between the oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov, Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Serhiy Lyovochkin on one side, and Petro Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk on the other. What took place today in the hall and the events of the past week were a well-directed spectacle in which Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin played the role of the necessary victim.”

The former Ukrainian Defence Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko agreed. “It was 32 votes short for the dismissal of the government. The Opposition … Bloc did not provide 35 votes. The presidential bloc, which sort of initiated the voting, did not supply 39. According to the agreed upon plan, one of the oligarchs – Poroshenko (BPP) or Akhmetov (Oppobloc) was supposed to keep back just enough (votes – Ed.). As we see, both overinsured themselves just in case. Not even in ‘fixes’ do they trust each other,” the politician wrote on Facebook.

“In Ukraine there has been a cynical government coup with the participation of the president, prime minister, the kleptocratic part of the coalition and the oligarchic bloc,” announced the party Samopomich (Self Reliance) on its Facebook page.

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