The other day, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, has stated that he sees “neither moral nor legal” grounds for his resignation. But he is “ready for this.”
“As far as I know, the collection of signatures for my resignation has begun, and, according to the data for the past week, 19 signatures have been collected,” the Prosecutor General ironized. “As soon as 150 signatures are collected, let’s talk then. I am ready for a report in parliament and ready for any decision of the parliament,” Lutsenko added.
Also, the Prosecutor General has noted that, if necessary, he is ready to cooperate with newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lutsenko admitted that over the past year, there were meetings between him and Zelensky. The Prosecutor General described them as “not too public,” “not too frequent, but regular.” Lutsenko said that he was ready to provide Zelensky with his advice in the fight against corruption if only the newly elected president would like to.
But the fact is that Zelensky does not want anything from Lutsenko. And even more. Zelensky’s adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk made it clear: it’s time for someone to leave. “A separate position regarding Yuriy Lutsenko. I understand that the establishment wants to maintain its status quo. But during the announcement of the election results (exit polls), Zelensky has made an important statement: he believes that Lutsenko is a man of the past. And if he (Lutsenko) wants, he can return to politics, but he should definitely quit the post of Prosecutor General, where people who come to carry out a real reform should come,” said Danylyuk.
However, Yuriy Lutsenko doesn’t understand the hints (as well as direct imperatives). Although he is right here: there are no legal grounds for his dismissal. After all, the appointment of Lutsenko to the post took place on May 12, 2016, and the Attorney General's cadence lasts for six years. Theoretically, Lutsenko could stay at his post until 2022, handing out advice on anti-corruption measures. But will he succeed?
Establishing the character
Yuriy Lutsenko “stated that he would not retire, although he had previously said that he would leave with Poroshenko,” Taras Berezovets, director of Berta Communications, notes. The configuration of the intentions of the Prosecutor General has really changed: it is now obvious that the official is struggling to shift his ground.
Ruslan Bortnyk, the director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, adds: “Lutsenko understands that Zelensky does not have votes in parliament now, and as long as the new president is weak, he will use the time to develop some guarantees for the next political cycle.”
Bortnyk adds that it is quite indicative that the Prosecutor General’s Office calls for the interrogation and handing over of suspicions a number of significant figures from the Poroshenko’s clan. We are talking about former head of the Presidential Administration Boris Lozhkin, current Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Oleksiy Filatov, former head of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeria Gontareva, former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, owner of the Burisma gas production company Mykola Zlochevsky and co-owner of ICU investment company Kostyantyn Stetsenko. The agendas for all the defendants were published on the Prosecutor General Office website on April 22, the day after the second round of presidential elections.
Formally, such an initiative did not come from Yuriy Lutsenko himself, but from his subordinate, Prosecutor Kostyantyn Kulik, but this does not change the deal.
So, Lutsenko himself stands behind “steamrolling” Gontareva, Lozhkin and the others. He “will now try to use any reason, any case, to show that he is not Poroshenko’s Prosecutor General, but that he is ready to be the Prosecutor General, who would start criminal proceedings against Petro Poroshenko’s associates,” Oleksiy Yakubin, political scientist, notes.
Ruslan Bortnyk believes that “Lutsenko is now trying to distance himself as far as possible from Poroshenko – this is very typical of him. He has done so since the times of being a member of the Socialist Party and Our Ukraine and all those projects that helped him gain a foothold in politics.”
Ukraine’s ex-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, the predecessor of Lutsenko, adds: “I think he would still betray in the future, this was just the beginning. Of course, I could be wrong, but if a person is a traitor by nature... Lutsenko saves himself, he is such a person by nature.”
In this connection, a natural question arises: does Zelensky need such an ally? After all, the experience of Petro Poroshenko, who promoted Lutsenko to a high position and did not receive gratitude for it, is obvious.
Buy an elephant!
“The games for the post of Prosecutor General continue for today. And those who were oriented on Poroshenko at one time are now trying to play their own game, realizing that this vertical will definitely leave the stage. Today’s game testifies that there are people who can strengthen fighting against corruption. But I would take a very close look at all the people that took this position earlier,” Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, states. He warns: “During the next presidential campaign, when Zelensky’s ratings begin to fall, his team can understand that they could be booted just like Poroshenko.”
Theoretical prolongation of the cadence of Lutsenko at the Prosecutor General’s Office will mean “absolute disgrace of the newly elected president. He will continue to occupy the office and will not show any results at all,” Kyrylo Molchanov, political scientist, predicts. He adds that today Lutsenko has one of the highest anti-ratings among Ukrainian politicians.
Until Zelensky’s team is 100% ready to conduct its own expert for the position of Prosecutor General, Lutsenko will be happy with his mission of a temporary replacement. Zelensky has already decided on his contender for the post of head of the Prosecutor General’s Office but does not announce the names, director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadim Karasev tells us. “Lutsenko is out of Zelensky’s interest. A compromise transitional period can only be set while Zelensky is “growing up.” The new president has already looked at someone for the post of new prosecutor general but keeps specific names in secret, the political analyst notes. Only the Verkhovna Rada can really resign the prosecutor general. The president is also able to initiate such a dismissal. But President Zelensky is a newcomer who does not have his own support and is forced to use the services of defectors. Moreover, the Verkhovna Rada is an extremely heterogeneous structure, consisting of groups and movements. “
“Lutsenko will try to “sell” himself, but he understands that he doesn’t have anything. He will at least try to quit the game without “criminal tails”... Lutsenko repeatedly fell and rose – this is his career line, so even if he does not achieve anything in these parliamentary elections, he can take part in the following ones,” Petrenko notes.
“In the future, Lutsenko might return to active political life and even emerge somewhere in the lists of Poroshenko or Klitschko,” Ruslan Bortnyk says. But Vadym Karasiov believes that even this scenario is too optimistic for him. “He will not have time to create his own political power – there are too many image risks. In other parties, he is hardly expected, despite his “interesting” political biography. Perhaps, he will vote for the majority,” Karasiov says.
An intriguing is the figure of Ukraine’s next Prosecutor General. In addition to above-mentioned prosecutor Kulik, who openly spoke on the side of Zelensky during the presidential race, Serhiy Gorbatyuk, head of the special investigations department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, is mentioned as a candidate for the post of the prosecutor general.
A few days ago, Gorbatyuk confirmed his ambitions: in a commentary for Espresso TV channel, he stated that he was ready to take the post of Prosecutor General under president Zelensky.
“Prosecutor General’s Office needs changes because there are a large number of violations of the law, which primarily comes from the Attorney General himself. This, in particular, interferes with the investigation of the criminal proceedings of our department,” Gorbatyuk claimed.
In addition, he took the opportunity and to remembered his chief Lutsenko, his old opponent. According to Gorbatyuk, Lutsenko “came to the Prosecutor General’s Office not as an employee, not as a lawyer, but as a representative of political forces.” “His most important task was to be the release of the prosecutor's office from any external influence. If he did this, then despite the lack of legal knowledge, it would be his great merit. But, in my opinion, he not only failed to do this but increased such influence,” Gorbatyuk stated.
“Gorbatyuk gives a signal that he is ready to be a new Prosecutor General,” Karasiov commented. However, in his opinion, neither Gorbatyuk nor Kulik will obtain the required number of votes.