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Army, language, and faith - three pillars of Poroshenko's pre-election game

Author : Yaroslav Konoshchuk

This political triad is used by the incumbent president before the forthcoming presidential election in March 2019, however, not everything is that fine with its practical implementation
16:22, 17 October 2018

Army, language, and faith is a political triad, used by president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, before the forthcoming presidential election in March 2019. And although the triad was firmly prescribed in the information space (advertising on TV, billboards), not everything is that fine with its practical implementation. The fire at the Ichina ammo depot, difficulties with language law, delay in the provision of Tomos are all image-related blows, which, however, could be fixed before the elections

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The language question – that is the way it is

After the abolition of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko language law (adopted back in 2012, it granted Russian the status of a “regional language,” it was abolished in 2014 after then-president Yanukovych’s flee – Ed.), the Ukrainian authorities repeatedly expressed their intention to restore order in this field in accordance with their vision. In 2016, the law on language quotas on radio and television entered into force. At the end of the first plenary week of October, parliament finally took up the development of a new document on the state language. In the pro-presidential faction, this issue was called the key one.

As it is known, four bills were submitted to the consideration of the deputies, which split the parliament. For example, the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko (BPP) faction supported the adoption of the draft law of its colleague Yaroslav Lesyuk. In many respects, it has maintained the rules on the use of languages of national minorities, spelled out in the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko language law, which is abolished by the Constitutional Court.

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Their coalition colleagues, the National Front faction, were in favor of the 5670-d bill. This document suggested that official (working) communication should be in Ukrainian, as well as paperwork and document circulation. It also prescribed criminal liability for abuse of the state language and introduction of the institute of language inspectors, who would receive the right to penalize for violating the law.

Such discrepancies led to the fact that cherished 226 votes have not been achieved in support of one or another bill. As the representative of the head of state in parliament Iryna Lutsenko explained in a comment to journalists, the BPP faction initially supported the initiative of her colleague and opposed the 5670-d bill, since the National Front project involves “repressive methods of learning Ukrainian” and does not comply with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

However, sources of 112.ua in coalition factions state that because of the upcoming presidential elections, the president’s political consultants want to expand the electoral core, “flirting” with national minorities, so this is the reason for supporting Lesyuk’s language bill.

 

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In turn, the National Front faction criticized the bill of Lesyuk. "In the light of the upcoming elections, there is a struggle for who will be the king of the hill in the language issue, whose language bill will be supported. Serhiy Berezenko and Iryna Lutsenko strongly persuaded Ukrainian MPs to support Lesyuk’s bill, which is actually an updated version of the Kivalov – Kolesnichenko law. Our colleagues have conferred and said that they would not vote for anything like that. Ultimately, BPP was forced to support our bill, because otherwise, it would be a complete failure," our sources in the National Front faction said. A complete failure probably means a situation where the president would be in an uncomfortable position due to the unresolved language issue put forward by political consultants on billboards.

In order to reach a consensus, National Front removed the rule about language inspectors from the document. Although after the first reading the document turned out to be tougher than the one proposed by the president’s faction. Now, officials will again have to reassure representatives of the national minorities, that the law on language does not encroach on their rights.

Warehouses are burning, but the issue with salary might be solved

In accordance with the Constitution, the President is the Supreme Commander. At the same time, the army is the most trusted institution in Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko paid special attention to the army during his presidency. He repeatedly wore military uniforms, traveled to the location of units, transferred armaments, rewarded the military, and visited the front area in Donbas. He often stresses that "we have created a new army" after its predecessors destroyed it, "the army protects us," "so we are able to stop the aggressor."

It is quite logical that the army became an ideological pillar of his election campaign.

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However, despite regular reports on record spending on the military budget, the army is still not totally fine. There are problems with military personnel housing, Ukraine still does not have contract troops, a large percentage of suicides in the Armed Forces of Ukraine are committed. Corruption scandals - the purchase of fuel, weapons and equipment repair at inflated prices - did not pass by the army either.

In addition, there are two serious problems, and something should be done with them. The officers are leaving the army. The reason is low wages. This summer, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak recognized it. Poroshenko has repeatedly pointed out that the salaries of the military should be increased. “When approving the military budget for the 2019th year, National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine supported my proposal to increase the cash support of Ukrainian soldiers by 35-37%. I am sure that this line should be continued in the future,” the president noted.

He admits that "the insufficient attractiveness of the level of cash support, the traditionally low rates of housing provision (although we raised them several times) poor infrastructure, long-term domestic inconvenience in places of permanent deployment - all this slows down the process of professionalization of the Ukrainian army and contributes to the loss of already well-trained personnel."

 

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Solving another problem also requires money. In recent years, fourth major arsenals have caught fire. This time, it happened in Ichnia, Chernihiv region. And again, the military and security services could not prevent the tragedy. The partners and the opponents from the National Front faction took advantage of the situation, they again voiced the need to dismiss Viktor Muzhenko from the post of Chief of the General Staff. Poroshenko surprisingly did not rule out the possibility of personnel casualties but made it clear that personnel would not solve all the problems.

And if the fight against saboteurs is really an intractable problem, then the authorities can still make people happy by raising the salaries of the military.

Faith will protect the soul and help in the fight against the aggressor

The greatest success of the president’s team is connected with the faith issues. At least, judging by the public reaction. No, Ukraine has not yet received Tomos, but the Ecumenical Patriarchate lifted the anathema from Patriarch Filaret and the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate Macarius and took the Metropolitan of Kyiv under its hand. Kyiv has received a signal – unite and you’ll get your own independent church, recognized by Constantinople. Judging by the reaction of the state and churches officials, this issue is completely solvable. Patriarch Filaret even declared that only thanks to the wisdom of the president, Ukraine will receive church freedom.

The topic of autocephaly was raised in the spring during a meeting of Petro Poroshenko with the leaders of parliamentary factions. However, the adoption of the necessary decisions for this was postponed several times. Now the provision of autocephaly becomes a matter of time. However, Poroshenko has already stated this as a fait accompli. “Ukraine has received autocephaly. Congratulations to all believers on a historic event ... The decision of the Synod finally dispelled fantasies and imperial illusions of Moscow,” Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page.

Poroshenko’s team states it expects to achieve a rating increase of up to 8% from Tomos’s provision in the spring.

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"In addition, the church is a fairly effective tool for mobilizing the voters," interlocutors in the coalition factions assure. It is unlikely that the church issue will disappear from the information space. The unifying council should elect the primate of a new church, which should receive Tomos on autocephaly. Our sources name the Metropolitan of Vinnytsia and Barsky Simeon, who is considered a person close to President Poroshenko, among the contenders for the position of primate. However, the Yevstratiy Zorya, the Spokesperson of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate said that the UOC (KP) will nominate Filaret to this position.

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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