It is hard to say how President Zelensky imagines the elections in Donbas, about which he spoke in his last video address. Even under favorable conditions (that is, with the restoration of full control of Ukraine over the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, which is not yet close), it is necessary to draw up a register of voters, form commissions, campaign with the participation of all-Ukrainian parties that want to run in the east, and the like. All this is a huge piece of work, especially when you consider that you have to start from scratch. However, now the president has "his own CEC", where 12 of the 17 mandates belong to representatives of the Servant of the People party. Verkhovna Rada voted for the new Central Election Commission (Oleg Didenko was appointed as its head). In other words, we will consider that the first step to all the changes necessary for the authorities has been taken.
Who is who it new CEC
Boyarchuk Oksana, Kyiv private notary. She is a kind of a private person, very little information is available on her on the web.
Gataullina Olena. Legal Counsel of the Collegium Law Group. Previously, she was associated with the Udar party of Kyiv city mayor Klitschko, and after that, she established relations with the Servant of the People.
Gren Vitaliy. The former head of the legal department of Ukrop party (Ukrainian nationalist right-wing political party).
Didenko Oleg. At one time he was engaged in private legal practice, was the executive director of the Collegium Law Group LLC. Since 2014, he has been a member of the CEC under the Udar party quota.
Yevstigneev Andriy, a representative of the previous Central Election Commission. He was nominated by the Batkivshchyna party of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yefremova Iryna is another member of the CEC composition. Previously, she came quota on the National Front party. She has a diploma in philology and public administration, that is she does not have a legal education.
Karmaza Oleksandra. Candidate of Law, Chief Consultant of the Legal Department of the Verkhovna Rada.
Lyubchenko Pavlo. He claimed the position of a judge of the Constitutional Court and the mandate of an MP (from the Lyashko’s Radical Party). As a result, he ended up at the CEC.
Perepelyuk Volodymyr. Little is known about him. He worked at the secretariat of the Cassation Administrative Court.
Plukar Vitaliy. He was elected to the CEC in 2018. He was nominated by the fraction of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. He graduated from Lviv State University of Internal Affairs.
Postyvy Serhiy. Former business manager of the executive committee of the Bilotserkivsky city council. The former assistant to a number of Ukraine’s MPs.
Fritsky Yuriy. Head of the department of constitutional, administrative law and social and humanitarian disciplines of the private university.
All of the above people represent the quota of the Servant of the People. The second largest parliamentary faction of the Opposition Platform - For Life also has its representatives – Serhiy Dubovyk and Yuriy Miroshnychenko.
Serhiy Dubovyk was the deputy head of the secretariat of the Central Election Commission; Yuriy Miroshnychenko was repeatedly elected to parliament from the Party of Regions and from the Opposition Bloc. Miroshnychenko was also the representative of the president in the Verkhovna Rada during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.
As for the other factions, they all delegated one member to the Central Election Commission.
Buglak Yuriy was nominated by European Solidarity. He is MP of the current convocation, and began a political career as an assistant to MP Poroshenko in 2002-2006.
Glushchenko Victoria. A representative of the interests of Batkivshchyna faction as part of the Central Election Commission. In the past, she was already associated with the CEC - Glushchenko worked as a chief consultant and defended the CEC side in the courts.
Finally, Gevko Andriy, former Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, represents Holos faction.
“The new composition of the CEC will be completely under the control of the president,” Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, comments. Moreover, decisions are made by the Central Election Commission by a simple majority, and the Servant of the People has 12 out of 17 votes there. Yes, those who disagree might have a dissenting opinion, but in any case, the final decision will remain with the President’s Office."
Political analyst Mykola Davydiuk fears that the new CEC will be no better than the previous one. “He (President Zelensky) wants what he wants. He does not see any reason to reassign the CEC, that is, to break these people. It’s easier to get his own people and manage the election process as he likes,” the expert is convinced. Davydiuk believes that the new CEC will differ from the previous one.
The global challenge, he says, is that the Ukrainian CEC still resembles its Soviet counterparts. After all, they are ready to serve any power and to fulfill all the tasks that they will be assigned.
His colleague Andriy Duda also notes that all the CEC formats that have existed so far have been bodies implementing political decisions. However, given the current mono-majority, the situation is somewhat different. Pressure on the Central Election Commission might lead to unexpected consequences.
However, as Petrenko rightly noted, the majority in the CEC belongs to the current government.
Top benefits of Zelensky
It is quite obvious that the Central Election Commission, led by the President’s Office, will take any decisions that are favorable to the latter. What can they relate to? First of all, local elections. As we already wrote, early elections, the measure of the capital and the city council might take place at the end of this year, early elections in other major cities might be held at the beginning of the next year.
“The next elections will be held in a much less loyal environment for Zelensky. Regardless of whether the Servant of the People will carry out reforms or not, a pool of people dissatisfied with its policy will be formed. Therefore, it is important to control those who will count the votes. Especially if you aim at the elections not only in Kyiv, but also in other cities,” Petrenko notes.
After all, the participation of the CEC in organizing local elections is small. Since the CEC does not organize local elections, does not count votes and does not establish the result. The role of the CEC is minimal. It only approves the composition of territorial election commissions, but high-level commissions - in particular, regional ones.
“In a year, a situation may well arise when parliament will be dissolved,” says political analyst Ruslan Bortnyk. Moreover, President Zelensky has already frightened MPs with such a prospect, and he has experience in conducting such an operation.
But even if this does not happen, benefit number three takes effect. Zelensky’s team announced a series of all-Ukrainian referenda, the results of which are approved by the CEC.
After all, it is the CEC that is involved in the “punishment” of “naughty” MPs. A similar precedent took place in 2016, when Mykola Tomenko and Yehor Firsov lost their mandates. Then Tomenko and Firsov wrote a letter of resignation from the faction, knowing that there was a norm that would entail the loss of a mandate. And it happened. True, the mandates were taken away not by the CEC, but by the congress of the Solidarity party. But it was the Central Election Commission that approved the new MPs to replace those who dropped out of the game.
It is possible that we will come across a repetition of this or a similar story in the near future.