Covid-confrontation of Ukraine's center and its regions

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

November 17, the Verkhovna Rada did not find enough votes to cancel the weekend lockdown
10:49, 18 November 2020

November 17, the Verkhovna Rada did not find enough votes to cancel the government decree on the introduction of weekend lockdown. That is, cultural, entertainment, and sports facilities, as well as restaurants and coffee houses, will continue to receive visitors only on weekdays.

However, a number of mayors will not wait for this decree to be canceled. They directly announced their resistance to the government's initiative. The latter's motivation was that such measures would finish off private business, but would not affect the epidemic situation. Therefore, the split along the line "central power – local power" has become more noticeable.

Cherkasy Mayor Anatoliy Bondarenko said that he "categorically does not support" the actions of the central government. Meanwhile, an interesting situation has developed in Odesa. The region supported the quarantine, but the city did not. The City Council noted that restrictions on the "orange" zone will continue to operate in Odessa over the weekend. But no one will introduce any additional measures.

Related: Covid-19 in Ukraine: 12,496 new cases over 24 hours

Ternopil mayor Seriy Nadal spoke out more sharply – no Saturday or Sunday quarantines, he said. According to him, restaurants and cafes can work, but until 10 pm and in compliance with quarantine requirements.

But while Ternopil is simply resisting the government's decision, the Lviv City Council goes further and declares its readiness to appeal the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers on the weekend quarantine in court. On the eve of the D-day, re-elected Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy, said that Saturday and Sunday were canceled in the city, and since there were no days off, there would be no weekend quarantine. At first, many took it as a joke. Other mayors did not joke with him either.

The Lviv officials are joined by the restaurateurs of Ivano-Frankivsk, the entrepreneurs of Uzhgorod, as well as the deputies of the city council of Lutsk. They are all determined to sue Prime Minister Shmygal.

The victory in the local elections of rebellious mayors proved that they correctly sensed the conjuncture and, in particular, satisfied the public demand for quarantine restrictions. That is, they turned out to be more far-sighted than the central authorities. And as she tightens the quarantine screws again, the protests can't help but become more decisive.

Related: Dutch government gradually cancels lockdown restrictions

Commenting on what is happening in Ukraine in relations between the center and the regions, Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, avoids using the word "split." He believes that this would be whipping up an already difficult situation. However, he agrees: the "disintegration" of Ukraine is still taking place and gives it its own definition.

"Fragmentation of Ukraine has begun. There will be a further distance between the regions from the center, the person, from the authorities and the rule of law. So anarchy will begin. First, the decisions of the central government will not be implemented at the regional level, then the decisions of the region will not be implemented at the district level. everything will end with everyone setting legal and ethical standards for himself. And if a person considers it right, for example, to make repairs in the middle of the night, he will do it," Petrenko says.

The expert, thus, outlines two consequences of the independence of the regions at once. The first is the weakening of ties between different parts of Ukraine. And second, the blurring of the notion that rules (laws or regulations) are binding on anyone.

But there is also the third consequence. It lies in the fact that "anti-quarantine" actions on the ground will entail the delegitimization of the central government. “The deeper the rejection of the central government, the faster the conviction will crystallize that it is possible not to comply with the government's decisions. And even more – you cannot comply with laws, not comply with the Constitution and the like. Where will all this lead? To complete collapse. First - legal, and then - and political,” the political scientist is convinced.

Related: About 40% Ukrainians to get through Covid-19 until May, - doctor

To avoid this, the central government should have declared a state of emergency, analyze incidence tendency. Here Petrenko recalls the May experience of Cherkasy and notes that then it was not calculated whether the epidemic situation in the city worsened and whether the economic situation improved due to the premature abandonment of strict quarantine.

Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Center for Analysis and Policy Management, adds to the list of the consequences of regional arbitrariness, a complete undermining of trust in the authorities as such.

“The regions and the central government cannot agree among themselves on the fight against Covid, and therefore, one should not expect any solidarized effective steps from them. And society does not trust the actions of the authorities in general, especially against the background of debunking regarding the use of money from the coronavirus fund. Tactically, this all means the absence of any state policy, while strategically, we see how the power from the center rolls over to local elites, oligarchic groups, or external partners,” says Bortnyk.

And if on Tuesday the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a resolution on the abolition of the weekend quarantine, this, according to Bortnyk, would have led to the resignation of the Cabinet. Since such a decision would testify to the condemnation of the actions of the government by the legislature.


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