According to one of the latest social surveys, Servant of the People party of Volodymyr Zelensky is one of the leaders of the parliamentary elections. 25.9% of respondents are ready to vote for the political project of the newly elected president of Ukraine. One-fourth of the parliament (even more, taking into account the redistribution of seats between the winners) is a tidbit of the political pie.
Servant of two masters
Some experts believe that the team of the informal guardian of the newly elected president (oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky) will certainly be represented in the ranks of his party. The others are convinced that this would not happen.
“Kolomoysky, who, in his own words, heads Zelensky’s fan club, so he understands that strengthening the president is possible only if he doesn’t have any of the old politicians in his team... But Kolomoysky can still promote his own people to the Zelensky team, just like Avakov has already done,” Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute of Research of Extremism, assures.
At the moment, Zelensky’s entourage is a tangle of contradictions. We already know that part of the ZeTeam is Zelensky’s colleagues from his Kvartal 95 TV production show, these are show business people and media producers, who have quite cleverly promoted their candidate. This motley gathering was joined by a group of defectors - the so-called “old faces.” The presence of such people in the new government and Zelensky’s close circles unwittingly becomes a sign of the immutability of Ukrainian politics. Such people, according to Andriy Zolotarev, head of the Third Sector Center, might discredit Zelensky.
If Zelensky wants to have a ready-made faction in the Verkhovna Rada for the sake of rationality, it would be better for him to turn to those politicians, who are now oriented towards Ihor Kolomoisky. Yes, these would be the same “old faces,” but they will relieve him from the hassle. But who are these “people of Kolomoysky” in the Verkhovna Rada? (Strictly speaking, it is more correct to say “the people of Kolomoysky and Avakov, MIA head,” after all, the Minister of the Interior is also part of Zelensky’s fan club).
Ruslan Bortnyk, Director of the Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, lists the following reference points for the newly elected president:
Part of the National Front party (close to minister Avakov);
UKROP Informal association (allied to Kolomoysky);
Dissatisfied MPs elected to Parliament under the majority system in the Dnipropetrovsk region constituencies, supporters of Kolomoysky’s Privat group.
As for the defectors from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Bortnyk does not see them on the list.
List all the flavors for us
Meanwhile, the leaders of the factions mentioned above are already giving advances to the newly elected president. “In general, we intend to support Zelensky, especially at a time when he still does not have a representative office in the Verkhovna Rada... I do not rule out that a situational coalition might be formed before the next parliamentary elections to support his initiatives,” MP Vitaly Homutynnik, the co-chairman of the Vidrodzhennya deputy group, said in his interview to “Novoye vremya” outlet. As you know, Vidrodzhennya group is relatively small, it consists of 24 MPs, and it was formed from former members of the Party of Regions – Homutynnik, Anton Yatsenko, Ihor Shkira, Dmytro Svyatash, Valeriy Pysarenko, Anton Kisse, Oleksandr Presman, Eugen Geller, Viktor Bondar, and others.
“The majority of the MPs, regardless of party affiliation, voted for Volodymyr Zelensky as the future president,” Homutynnik shared his secret, which, by the way, is related to Kolomoysky's common business interests. The MP and oligarch are united by the private Ukrnaftburinnia mining company, where Homutynnik shares are 50% (the rest belong to Kolomoysky) in the Deripon Commercial Limited offshore, which controls the earner.
As for the Avakov’s group, besides his adviser and the de facto speaker Anton Herashchenko, most of the battalion commanders included in the National Front’s list also belong to it. These are Yuriy Bereza, Andriy Teteruk, and Eugen Deidei., as well as Lyudmila Denisova (Ukrainian Ombudsman), Iryna Yefremova, Oleksandr Kirsh, Serhiy Faiermark – about ten MPs.
Speaking about Avakov’s attitude to Zelensky, it is generally known. Arsen Avakov has chosen his favorite even before the first round of elections, not to mention the second one. Describing the winner of the presidential race, the minister notes his lack of experience and good personnel.
The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has elaborated a de facto guide for Zelensky. And also a hint at where he should look for the team. However, besides the Avakov group and the people of Homutynnik, who unanimously voted for Zelensky, there are other layers of the establishment, ready to demonstrate their own “elite.”
During the current presidential election, Kolomoysky’s UKROP party had a technical role: MP from Ivano-Frankivsk, Oleksandr Shevchenko, whom the party nominated for the presidency, was mainly engaged in smear campaigning against Poroshenko, while he himself won only 0.57% of the vote.
It is possible to endlessly explore the lobbies of Ihor Kolomoysky in the Verkhovna Rada, although, as Andriy Zolotarev tells us, Zelensky would put a bet “not on Kolomoisky, but on Pinchuk’s people.”
But unlike oligarchs Dmytro Firtash, Ihor Kolomoysky, and Rinat Akhmetov, Pinchuk does not have a formed group of “his” MPs in parliament. He is associated with Yakiv Bezbach, a non-fractional MP, who was the manager of the Nyzhniodniprovsky Pipe-Rolling Plant, which is part of the Pinchuk Interpipe company. Bezbakh was elected to the Verkhovna Rada of the VII and VIII convocations in Dnipro city in the same constituency, where Viktor Pinchuk himself received victory in the parliamentary elections twice.
Representatives of Bloc of Petro Poroshenko Olha Belkova and Pavlo Rizanenko are also believed to be close to Pinchuk, Ukrainska Pravda assures. Investigators say that Belkova came to parliament from EastOne, company that manages Pinchuk’s assets. Before that, she headed the international direction in his foundation, including the WorldWideStudies educational program. Three other MPs, members of the Euro-Optimists interfactional organization, took part in the project: Natalia Katzer-Buchkovska (National Front), Aliona Shkrum, and Oleksiy Ryabchyn (Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party).
However, we’re not going to study Pinchuk’s ties with Batkivschyna here but will mention another close acquaintance of the oligarch, with influential American businessman George Soros, 42nd President Bill Clinton, and his wife Hillary.
The list of Eurooptimists includes Natalia Katzer-Buchkovska, Aliona Shkrum, Oleksiy Ryabchyn, as well as Victoria Ptashnik, Dmytro Dobrodomov, Olena Sotnyk, Ivan Krulko, Svitlana Zalishchuk, Mustafa Nayyem, Serhiy Leshchenko, Viktoria Voitsitska, Viktoria Siumar, Oleksandr Chernenko, Yehor Sobolev, Hanna Gopko, Ihor Lutsenko (known as a patron of the far-right in Ukrainian parliament, - ed.), Oksana Syroyid and others.
In general, Andriy Zolotarev summarizes: “Zelensky has clearly outlined who he will not cooperate with – Viktor Medvedchuk and Petro Poroshenko. Cooperation with the others is possible.”