Warm hearts and common sense
October 14, the Defender of Ukraine Day. Ukrainians marked it with the march named "No - to capitulation!". The MP from the European Solidarity party and the commander of the "Hospitallers" battalion Yana Zinkevich told what is this march about.
"Now the main requirements of this action are the ban on introducing special status for the uncontrolled Donbas territories or any other regions of Ukraine, because this is the path to our collapse. This is the ban on the amnesty for the militants of the so-called" LNR "and" DNR ", this is a ban on the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from demarcation line, this is a ban on any non-state paramilitary groups, in particular the people's militia on the Donbas territory, this is a ban on the holding of elections of any authorities or self-government on the territory of the ORDLO until full control is obtained along all Ukrainian-Russian border, "she said.
It would seem that everything is expected. However, the reaction to the event from President Zelensky was somewhat inappropriate. On the eve of October 13, the official FB page of the head of state places a long post in which there are congratulations to the defenders and a cautious warning, and maybe even a veiled threat. "I believe that warm hearts will not overshadow common sense on this day. I ask you to be prudent, act responsibly, within the framework of law and public order. And please, do not succumb to the provocations of those who really want to create an eloquent picture for Russian television." - Zelensky addresses the march participants.
The fact that he himself could have appeared on the march is not even discussed. But in vain. "The march is built along red lines that are significant for society:" No - to Steinmeier’s formula, amnesty for militants, compromises with the Kremlin, and the special status of Donbas. This can be regarded as a march against Zelensky, but if he takes the right steps, he can rely on the protesters, and they will not be enemies to him, but support him, ”political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov said in an interview.
“He (Zelensky) could have appeared on this march, and regarding rating and PR, it would be an excellent move. But I think that Zelensky would not have the courage to take such a step. At a press conference he clearly noted he would not overstep the red lines, and with this message he could now go out to the protesters and turn them into his supporters. But, unfortunately, during such actions he prefers to leave Kyiv. No, he will not appear, especially against the background of rumors that the rally was paid by Poroshenko, "the expert adds.
We will return to Poroshenko later. In the meantime, a few words about what Zelensky is afraid of.
Almost all the experts we interviewed agree that the October 14 campaign is more than a tribute to the fallen heroes and the celebration of the religious holiday. "Although nowhere in the announcements of the march Zelensky was mentioned, everyone understands that this action is directed not so much against the course towards rapprochement with Donbas, but against the policy of the current government," said Taras Berezovets, director of Berta Communications.
“In general, the march against capitulation has the potential to speak out against Zelensky himself,” adds Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism.
Petrenko explains that the heating season may also become a reason for dissatisfaction with Zelensky. It would seem there is no connection with the march? The expert sees it like this:
“One of the tasks of Zelensky press marathon was to calm the topic of surrender. They tried to interrupt Steinmeier’s topic in form and content. Zelensky is aware that the march against surrender is a detonator of negative attitude towards him. The Ze-team is actively working against this. Even if now the topic of surrender does not directly affect the interests of 73% of voters, then later - as a catalyst - it will lead to dissatisfaction with the president. The heating season starts and huge utility bills will begin to appear – this worries ordinary citizens. The march will help the negative attitude towards Zelensky to go to other areas," says Petrenko.
What President Zelensky is doing well now is successfully multiplying the rejection of a certain part of society. “The story began much earlier - from Independence Day, when the military parade was canceled. There is a misunderstanding between the part of society that went through the war or helped the army, and the authorities who view the war in Donbas as a problem that needs to be addressed in the interests of oligarchic groups. And the confrontation lasts more than one month, and here the comments of the head of the presidential office regarding the paid protests have added fuel to the fire. That is, there was a direct insult to the participants," political analyst Yevgen Bulavka said.
Obviously, the president’s team is beginning to more closely monitor what, how and when they speak. And also - they learn to act in advance, taking protests in the right direction.
"Zelensky made a classic attempt to seize the agenda. Today, the National Squads and other forces will try to turn this story in a different direction. They play the role of strikebreakers in this situation, and their task is to stand on the side of Zelensky, hiding behind national-patriotic slogans," - comments Taras Berezovets.
He also believes that “it would be cool to come to the rally. But such a decision is normal for the politician, and Zelensky, as an artist, is used to applause, he is not ready to go against the mood of people and is afraid to go out to the crowd chanting slogans against him”.
Director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadym Karasev does not agree with this. "I don’t see the need for Zelensky to lead this march. The patriotic community has the right to hold it, but this does not mean that the president should participate in all actions, both for and against him. The head of state should be above the fight, like an arbiter. He is the guarantor of constitutional rights and freedoms, and not the leader of a political force," the expert is convinced.
But participating or not in the march, Zelensky has a serious problem now. It was well formulated by Taras Berezovets: "The number of those disappointed in Zelensky is growing, and, of course, they should flow somewhere. Petro Poroshenko has every chance to increase his internal capitalization."
It is likely that Zelensky's predecessor, who publicly promised to regain the presidency in a year, is today the main phobia of the current guarantor. At least Poroshenko is definitely a significant factor of irritation. That's just the irony of fate in the fact that he assumed such a role not entirely voluntarily. He simply has no choice, political scientists say.
Factor of Poroshenko
“Poroshenko is trying to be an opponent of the government and a person opposing the government. But the fact is that the current protests are primarily protection for the ex-president from the criminal prosecutions that are being conducted against him. Therefore, in my opinion, if there is a significant amount of street protests , it’s Poroshenko and his team. Zelensky is well aware of this, so it’s not without reason that Serhiy Pashinsky was detained after the recent protests. In general, the confrontation between Poroshenko and Zelensky will be one of the the most acute conflicts in our politics, "said Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management.
“But such actions are unlikely to play into Petro Poroshenko’s hands, since he is, in fact, a downed pilot. If he takes the stage today as the leader of the opposition, this can be negative for the opposition itself. It will not be able to accumulate the voices of those people who perhaps would have joined this action, but they will not, because Poroshenko is there. If he will continue to be present at such actions, then he will be a secondary character, "says Bogdan Petrenko.
Karasev adds: “Poroshenko would like to be the leader of the opposition, but this is impossible. There is opposition represented by the Opposition Platform - For Life, there is a small liberal opposition of Vakarchuk, there is opposition to the land issue and the opening of the land market, which Tymoshenko embodies. These are all oppositions of the one direction. Poroshenko simply has nowhere to go. He wants to avoid criminal prosecution due to political activity - neither Tymoshenko nor Vakarchuk have such a problem. "
At the same time, Poroshenko (just like Zelensky) should not feel too comfortable in the crowd of protesters. The attitude to the ex-president is different, and no one is going to idealize him. "Representatives of different parties will be on the march, and not all of them love Poroshenko. Just like not everyone loves Tymoshenko. For some, she is enemy number two after Putin. As for Poroshenko, there are a lot of people who think that he failed. Now they are ready to stand side by side to prevent the special status of Donbas, but tomorrow Poroshenko will again become an opponent for them. These are people who do not want Ukraine to lose independence, "said Kyrylo Sazonov.
“No, I don’t see here the intentions typical for Ukrainian politics to use street protest in their own interests. Although it is obvious that the power team is afraid of Poroshenko and seeks to neutralize it - purely out of their own complexes and fears. Though not through electoral indicators, but through attention, which Poroshenko attracts from a part of society. No wonder there are rumors about a meeting in the President’s Office, where a command was given to present Poroshenko’s suspicion before November 1. But so far this is at the level of rumors and insiders, " Yevgen Bulavka notes.
And what about the U.S.?
Thus, we have quite interesting layouts within the Ukrainian political monopoly. There are leaders who do not show themselves in any way. These are Tymoshenko and Vakarchuk. There is a leader who is not very much loved in the protest layer and which nonetheless attracts everyone's attention. This, so to speak, is the head of the opposition, the former president and future (possibly) person involved in the criminal prosecution Petro Poroshenko. And there is, finally, the current guarantor of the Constitution, Volodymyr Zelensky. The one who is afraid of the crowd and looks in the direction of Poroshenko with fear.
And far beyond the ocean, there is also America, the very “Washington Regional Committee” that forms the attitude towards the domestic establishment both in the international arena and inside Ukraine. “Washington is following very closely the events in Ukraine and will try to use our internal situation for their internal political struggle. I think the democrats sympathize with Poroshenko - they are in the same role and in the same connection, and the republicans and the“ trumpians ”, of course, hold Zelensky’s side. Washington is in the split like Ukrainian politics,” Ruslan Bortnyk says.
“Democrats' sympathies are most likely focused on their own future,” Vadym Karasev disagrees. “And on the whole, America’s current attitude towards Ukraine can hardly be characterized by sympathies or antipathies to individual politicians. In general both Republicans and Democrats are only interested in the Ukrainian government today being more sensitive to their wishes. "
“Both Democrats and Republicans are primarily interested in using Ukraine in the interests of their election campaign, and not to provide support to someone from the Ukrainian establishment," says Bohdan Petrenko.
One way or another, the president’s precarious position hurts Zelensky’s negotiating positions and weakens him before the Russians and other members of the Normandy Four. In their eyes he looks like a person who does not control the internal situation, and, accordingly, does not control the external course either “Now for Zelensky this is mortally dangerous, because, seeing his weakness, the Russians can force him to make very painful compromises. And this will further spark protests inside Ukraine,” says Taras Berezovets.
However, with own problems, protests and marches, we don’t notice how “the chances of Biden and Trump are reduced, because after all the scandals they became too toxic. But the chances of Senator Elizabeth Warren are gradually increasing," the expert continues. There is a destruction of Biden and Trump, and if the latter still has a chance to be re-elected, then Biden already has no chance. "
What a hypothetical presidency of the Democrat Warren will give Ukraine? Undoubtedly, it’s too early to talk about this. The scandal with Biden, Trump and Zelensky "will have negative consequences for years to come for Ukraine too. How to get out of this situation? To do this, you must have a wise leader at the head of the country who understands all the challenges and knows how to deal with them. Unfortunately, we do not have such a leader," Berezovets says.