The change of power in Ukraine is usually paralleled by the “relocation” of its elites. This process was particularly striking after 2004, when the “white-blue” pro-Yanukovych’s associates, frightened by the arrival of the pro-Yushchenko’s “orange” forces, staged to massively migrate abroad. After 2014, this happened again. Because, despite the fact that both the former president and the former prime minister fled from the country, a considerable part of their party associates stayed in Ukraine, not getting involved in the dirty team. The “old” power settled down to live under the “new” elites. Those who emigrated, are supposedly thinking about repatriation. Supposedly. For example, we know about the desire of Viktor Yanukovych to return to Ukraine, as his lawyer has stated.
Ex-PM Azarov does not mind to go back too. He, however, promises to think a thousand times before coming back to Kyiv. According to Azarov, until 2018 a package of sanctions was in force, which, however, were not prolonged. European Court not only lifted the sanctions but also ordered the EU to reimburse the costs of the Austrian lawyers of Mykola Azarov.
Andriy Portnov is on the list of the aspirants too. The background of this policy is quite unclear. Yanukovych appointed Portnov as First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, literally one month before the fall of his regime — January 24, 2014. And on February 22, Andriy Portnov left the territory of Ukraine. On February 28 of the same year, the General Prosecutor’s Office demanded that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine detain Portnov for 10 days.
Therefore, since March 6, 2014, Portnov has been on the lists of high-ranking Ukrainian officials, for whom the EU and Canada imposed financial sanctions. But this did not last long. Restrictions were lifted on March 5, 2015. The very next day after the second round of the presidential election, Portnov, who now lives in Austria, announced that he intends to return to his homeland in May.
The expert, by the way, names the name of another potential repatriate – Serhiy Bondarchuk, who in 2005-2010 served as CEO of Ukrspetsexport company. Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office opened criminal proceedings against Bondarchuk in suspicion of misappropriation of 7.5 million USD. On March 15, 2017, he was detained and arrested in London, and later released on bail. However, the persecution is now moved to the correspondence stage, because in July 2018, he received political asylum in the UK.
Oleksandr Onishchenko has similar intentions. MP Onishchenko was accused of fraud in the contracts for the supply of gas and embezzlement in the amount of 100 million EUR. On July 5, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada removed parliamentary immunity from him, agreeing to bring him to criminal responsibility, to detain and arrest him. However, on the eve of voting in parliament, Onishchenko left the country.
Mikheil Saakashvili speaks about possible changes too. Ukrainian law enforcement officers are conducting an investigation on suspicion of receiving financial support from oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko in relation to Georgia’s former president and Ukraine’s Odesa ex-governor. And this is, by the way, another intriguing figure, which theoretically can also miss the native land. However, Kurchenko’s position on the issue of his comeback has not been voiced publically.
But Saakashvili is ready to repeat his political career in Ukraine again. By the way, not only this Georgian politician. Let us remember about his compatriot Khatia Dekanoidze (Ukraine’s former chairman of the National Police), who is also ready to come back. The fact is that Zelensky does not need Dekanoidze and Saakashvili. But even if we take apart the total MIA head’s anticipation of Saakashvili, another problem arises here: what exactly is Saakashvili going to do in Ukraine?
For the Zelensky administration, Saakashvili has long been “downed pilot.” “What does he want to do not? Promote his civic activism? We remember Tigipko, who took part in the 2010 presidential election and ranked the third, having a significant drop in the rating before. But I do not think that this story will repeat in the case of Saakashvili. Those hopes, previously connected with him, have now been transferred to Zelensky. He might return, but his prospects are not very good,” expert Bohdan Petrenko believes.
“Quite possibly, Saakashvili will return. He is used to being in the center of attention, he loves TV cameras, and politics brings him pleasure. If there is any a chance for a certain destabilization, he uses it. He will not pay attention to whether someone really needs him or not. If he wants to return, he will make every effort to make this possible. Will he do it legally? I do not rule out that with a change of power this may be possible,” expert Serhiy Taran says.
Obviously, Volodymyr Zelensky should heed such recommendations. He has not yet become a full-fledged president, and the danger in the form of political migrants, who are going to return home, is already waiting for him. By the way, we have forgotten one more name of those who might return back to Ukraine – oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky. But the story of this character is just another long story.