October 13, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a video message in which he urged Ukrainians to come to polling stations on October 25 and cast their vote for one candidate or another. The president also said the following:
"On October 25, at the polling station, I will ask you five important questions about what we discuss on the streets, in the kitchen, and on the Internet, about what we argue with friends, parents or taxi drivers, about what we have never been asked before. Five important questions to get your opinion."
It was unexpected for Ukrainians, for politicians, and for the Central Election Commission.
Central Election Commission. The Commission said that learned about this poll from Zelensky's video message and did not know who would conduct it.
Committee of Voters of Ukraine. An all-Ukrainian public organization, one of the main tasks of which is to protect the electoral rights of citizens, expressed the opinion that conducting a poll on election day is contrary to the Electoral Code.
The President's Office. The main message from the OP's statement was the following:
"The poll proposed to be held on October 25, unlike the referendum as defined for the referendum by the Constitution, will not have direct legal consequences." The body added that the president's initiative "will allow every citizen to speak out about what is really important for society."
Initially, the president did not voice either the questions themselves, or even the topics they would touch on, which contributed to an even more active discussion of his initiative.
Finally, on October 16, the secret was revealed. According to the president, on election day on October 25, Ukrainians will be asked:
- Life imprisonment for corruption on an especially large scale
Explanation from President's Office. The department noted the absence of a systemic effective fight against corruption and expressed the opinion that "the real will of the people" can change this state of affairs.
“Every time the president proposes to the political environment to toughen the state’s reaction to corruption, in response, we get numerous options for a speculative “no.” Therefore, now we will ask the people of Ukraine directly.”
Ukraine provides criminal, administrative, civil, and disciplinary liability for corruption offenses and offenses related to corruption.
Nevertheless, many high-profile cases often get stuck in the courts, and some of the top corrupt officials have not yet received the punishment they deserve.
Zelensky, during his speech in the Rada on October 20, said that Ukraine has zero-tolerance for corruption. At the same time, according to the president, all the conditions for combating it have been created.
"Now there are legislative, operational, material, psychological conditions, but there is no real result yet," the Ukrainian leader said.
- Creation of a free economic zone in Donbas?
Zelensky is convinced that it is possible to return the occupied territories of Donbas by creating special conditions on the free part that will affect the pace of reintegration.
"This is an extremely important issue that can provide the country with the opportunity to establish a truly effective reintegration model."
A free economic zone (FEZ) is a limited territory with a special legal status in relation to the rest of the state.
Often this special status is expressed in preferential tax or customs conditions for domestic or foreign entrepreneurs. The main purpose of creating a FEZ is to solve the problems of socio-economic development of the state, individual regions or industries.
The idea of granting the status of a free economic zone to Donbas is not new. For example, in early August this year, it was expressed by the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) Leonid Kravchuk, although he did not explain the details.
According to the former First Deputy Minister of Economy and Head of Political Affairs of the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) Pavlo Kukhta, the creation of FEZs in the territories controlled by Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk regions mighy lead to the emergence of an internal offshore.
"If systemic reforms are not carried out in Ukraine as a whole, investments would not come, regardless of this FEZ. And without this, the whole point of tax cuts and facilitated regulation within such a zone is lost," the expert explained.
Kukhta also expressed a lack of understanding about the fact that a similar topic is raised in an all-Ukrainian poll. In his opinion, "this is a question for specialists, not for the general public."
- Reducing the number of MPs from 450 to 300
Explanation from President’s Office. The department says that this issue is related to decentralization - the regions receive more powers, so the help of such a large number of MPs is not needed.
"A decrease in the number of MPs can have a positive effect on the quality of representation of the interests of voters. Competition would increase. The parliament will become even more professional."
In August last year, Zelensky introduced a bill to the Rada, which involves amending the articles of the Constitution to reduce the number of parliament members from 450 to 300.
In February 2020, the Rada adopted this document in the first reading, but for a final decision in the second reading, the bill must gain at least 300 votes.
- Legalization of medical cannabis for critically ill patients
Explanation from President’s Office. The department believes that it is necessary to know the opinion of the people on this issue now, "otherwise the speculations of politicians, supporters and opponents will continue for years."
The Office of the President also stated that in recent years, in many countries of the world, cannabis has begun to be used in painkillers for seriously ill patients and that it is also effective in combating depression and post-traumatic syndrome in the military.
In Ukraine, cannabis-based medications are prohibited, while opiates, which are more harmful to the body, are allowed.
In May last year, the parliament registered a bill regulating the use of cannabis in medicine and scientific research. The document was included in the parliament's agenda on July 6, but the MPs did not proceed to consider it.
- Security guarantees defined by the Budapest Memorandum for restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
Explanation from President’s Office. The department considers it necessary for the authorities to obtain a mandate from the people to appeal to the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum to fulfill their obligations.
The memorandum was signed on December 5, 1994. According to it, Ukraine, having abandoned its nuclear arsenal, received guarantees of security and existing borders from the leading military powers of the world.
Despite this, Russia's security guarantees against Ukraine were repeatedly violated even before 2014.
Who to give money for the poll?
On October 14, Dmytro Razumkov, the Speaker of the Parliament, said that the parliament did not make any decisions related to the poll, including in terms of its financing.
"Five questions from the President of Ukraine – who to fund this poll? We answer officially – Servant of the People party. The corresponding decision was made at the meeting of the Supreme Council of the party on October 20."
The political force assured that the poll is not agitation, since it will not use party symbols.
Based on the party's statement, "in fact, this is a generally accepted exit poll format:"
Servant of the People will not conduct research on its own but will enter into an agreement with a company that deals with sociological surveys. Citizens who will conduct research will stand outside the polling stations.