Parliament

100 Days of Dizziness from Mistakes

05.03.2015
Lesya Shevchenko

Open Society Foundation President Lesya Shevchenko commented on the intermediate stage of the Parliament coalition for ‘Novoe Vremya’ blog.

The blog post in Russian ‘100 Days of Rada: Dizzy from Mistakes’ as of March 3rd, 2015.

Based on the 100 days progress of the promised reforms, the coalition should be called "the majority of plasterers". The best they can offer is ‘redecoration’.

Last year the Maidan gave a strong mandate for reforms in Ukraine. But the dynamics of these changes, unfortunately, are completely opposite to Maidan’s demands. As a result, society is disappointed again, watching a large-scale simulation of the ‘real fight’ with the corrupt system.

Ironically, on March 2, the first hundred days of the new Parliament, coincided with 85th anniversary of the program article of Bolshevik dictator Joseph Stalin "Dizzy with success". The communist leader revealed the negligent executives, who extremely obstinately put into practice the general line of the Communist Party, leading to ‘excessive pressure on the ground’. At the same time, Dzhugashvili peremptory concluded: "The ultimate turn of the village to socialism can be considered already secured".

Analysis of the draft laws, submitted by the coalition members - since creation and through its 100 days, 21 February - suggests these people came to Parliament without a clear understanding how to transform the country. First of all, the coalition positioned itself as a very shaky structure. Coalition agreement signatories demonstrated fundamental ideological differences on legislation, for example, on subordination in not yet established anti-corruption bureau.

Second, the main struggle traditionally concerns the influence and authority – ‘Batkivshchyna’ and ‘Samopomich’ MPs had managed to publicly fight over the land issues (who should dispose the lands outside the settlements). Different ‘approaches’ to land reform clearly reflect the Presidential Administration – Government - Parliament - Oligarchic interest groups multangular.

The coalition program consists of 17 points. The first and perhaps the most important point in the face of Russian military aggression - National Security and Defense - received sufficient attention in the form of 45 MPs’ submitted bills. The coalition mainly focused on country’s informational security (in this regards, we wonder about the work of the notorious MinStets (translator’s note – acrid acronym MinStets stands for the Ministry of Information Policy, led by Yuriy Stets), mobilization and defense industry. As many as 22 draft laws focused on the status of temporarily occupied territories and their inhabitants, as well as the functioning of the government in the area of anti-terrorist operation. These solutions, however, failed to bring the promised results. At the same time, within 100 days Parliament never took care of the National Security Strategy, Military Doctrine or editing the Law on the bases of internal and foreign policy.

MPs have declared the termination of the non-alignment status, but to join NATO Ukraine still has a long way to go, including diplomatic obstacles and bringing the army to NATO standards. MPs were obviously in no rush to care of the army reform and increased social protection. These were left out, except of money issue. In reality, the soldiers still complain about the unprecedented bureaucracy and the old military problems.

Three more points - Constitution, Fight against corruption and Judicial reform – were deliberately ‘swept under the Rada’s carpet’. MPs began to deal with removal of immunity for themselves and the judges and the ratification of the Rome Statute. The anticorruption passion had subsided: the only passed law concerned the Anti-Corruption Bureau (its leadership was to be appointed back in January). By the end of March the coalition estimated more transparent revenues for officials, including the information on land owners, cars and other benefits. So far, the relevant draft laws are stuck in committees.

A number of proposals for disciplinary action of judges were also focused on ‘redecoration’. No one had dared to touch bases of Ukraine’s corrupt justice. At the same time, the coalition put more pressure in Law enforcement, despite the draft laws were not voted yet. These look fundamental, at least on paper: creating National police, State investigation bureau, Military police, changing pre-trial investigation, etc.

MPs seem to expect the Government to deal with the Economic growth. They submitted only three projects in this area. These draft laws suggested the narrow pointed solutions for individual companies. The enterprise development received more attention due to the agenda set by the Association Agreement with the European Union, including the draft law of regulations, which will potentially allow Ukrainian goods to enter the EU market. Another 12 draft laws somehow relate to Deregulation. At the same time, the investment attractiveness was not yet thought of. The Labor Code, enacted in the USSR in 1971, and repeatedly revised afterwards, was offered another ‘redecoration’ (instead of the promised new Labor Code).

Fluctuations of hryvnia prompted many MPs’ populist rhetoric, aimed to resonate with people's dissatisfaction with the National Bank. The list of draft laws aimed for nothing but self-PR, provided for things like resettlement of foreign currency loans at the rate of 8 UAH per US dollar. The latter idea essentially shifts the citizens’ debt burden on the banks and the state (in the form of refinancing). Some draft laws involve strengthening the fragile financial sector, in particular concerning the work of Individuals’ Deposit Guarantee Fund and obstructing terrorism funding.

The changes in the Energy sector of the country, still sick with dependence on gas imports, also faced the difficulties. Out of seventeen proposals one only was voted. The questions of gas and electricity market remained diplomatic tasks and the subject of dialogue with external creditors.

Parliament struggled to regain control of over OJSC ‘Ukrnafra’, de-facto controlled by Igor Kolomoisky, and dealt with opening of the gas market, while coal supplies remained deprived of attention.

The Development of infrastructure – the roads and other transport facilities – received attention close to zero. Changes in the social sphere, in fact, have not started.  The MPs were trying to introduce small changes, often ignoring the expert suggestions.

Based on the 100 days progress of the promised reforms, the coalition should be called "the majority of plasterers". The best they can offer is ‘redecoration’.

It looks like the pale and sick with tuberculosis patient is offered a face blush to improve health. Time is running out. Maidan taught people the skills to demand things from the government. There are plenty of factors which should make Parliament work instead of holding the sluggish debate, including increased resentment, the aggression from the northern neighbor, and rigid frames imposed by the West. Otherwise, the country will lose the chance to change, obtained through the difficult lessons of revolution and war.

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