Ukraine’s politician, leader of Holos party (which gained almost 6% at Ukraine’s snap parliamentary elections) Svyatoslav Vakarchuk called for banning any contacts of Ukrainian citizens with Russia.
This is the second such initiative of the singer, who would lead the smallest faction in the Rada. Previously, he offered to imprison (for 15 years) for negotiations with Russia, which were not sanctioned by the authorities. When voicing these ideas, the leader of Holos has already seized the initiative even from the “war party” headliners - European Solidarity of Petro Poroshenko.
At the same time, Vakarchuk is striving to get into a coalition with the Servant of the People - a party that came to power under the sign of an ideological thaw and opposing Poroshenko. However, Vakarchuk essentially supported the Poroshenko’s “army, faith, language” slogan at the presidential election.
And even before becoming president, Volodymyr Zelensky himself had a movie business in Russia. In addition, he has repeatedly stated that the situation with the persecution of the artists is abnormal.
What do Vakarchuk’s statements mean for a possible coalition and whether they would include this “little Poroshenko” into the new coalition?
The leader of Holos party aid yesterday that Ukraine needed to adopt a law on relations with Russia. He means to explain to Ukrainian citizens to legally interact and how to legally not to interact with the neighboring country.
This is mostly about prohibitions. At the moment, you can do anything that is not prohibited. For example, trade, visit relatives, conduct business, act in films and perform on the Russian stage. All this is the basis of the constitutional rights of the Ukrainians. They could be limited only during the officially declared war. But Svyatoslav Vakarchuk believes that everything can be banned only by law.
It is curious that speaking about the relations between Ukrainian citizens and Russia, Vakarchuk is most concerned about the concert tours. It is worth noting that until 2014, Vakarchuk himself was very active in touring the neighboring country and was earning very decent money there, which ended after Maidan.
However, it is not clear what responsibility should be provided for violation of the rules of this law. Administrative, criminal, equalization of tours in Russia to treason?
Vakarchuk is not quite original with this idea. Mykola Knyazhitsky, the former head of the committee on culture and spirituality, also made a similar initiative. However, he proposed to create a "wall of sham" - a special register of such artists.
March 1, 2018, Knyazhitsky submitted a bill No. 8085 "On the specifics of conducting touring and concert activities by persons who take part in entertainment events in the territory of the aggressor state and in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine." The project proposed to create a register of Ukrainian guest performers on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as in the Crimea and in uncontrolled Donbas.
Now Knyazhytsky enters the Rada as a member of Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party. That is, in fact, it is Vakarchuk's like-minded person. However, the singer is preparing for a coalition with the Servant of the People party. But how does this party relate to Vakarchuk's proposals on Russia?
Zelensky’s position on concert tours to the Russian Federation
Zelensky, judging by his statements, is much calmer than Vakarchuk is. The future president announced that he had stopped traveling to Russia with concert tours. But at the same time, he did not call for the punishment of actors who do this. And in a loud scandal with Ukraine’s singer Maruv, who was forced to refuse from participation in Eurovision 2019 Song Contest for touring in the Russian Federation, spoke out in her defense.
Commenting on the investigation in the defense industry by Denis Bigus, Zelensky mentioned the case of Maruv.
In a pre-New Year interview with journalist Dmytro Gordon, the future president stated that he did not feel negative feelings for artists traveling to Russia. Also, he recently stated that he condemns preventing Ukrainian singer Ani Lorak to hold concerts in Ukraine – usually this is done by the far-right.
President’s assistant Serhiy Shefir also stated that he was a negative attitude concerning cultural prohibitions, "because in this way we will not achieve anything." By the way, his brother Borys Shefir even more openly called for warming of cultural relations with the Russian Federation - however, Zelensky administration then stated that this was a personal opinion of a person, associated with the organization.
Zelensky does not share Vakarchuk’s ideas on banning concert tours. But they warmly support Poroshenko. July 21, Vakarchuk, did not rule out that Holos would join the coalition with the Zelensky party and was even were ready to become Ukraine’s new PM. And the next day, he made a statement that neither Servant of the People party voters nor Zelensky himself would like it.
Does this mean that Golos is losing hope of joining the coalition?
On Monday morning - the first day after the election - it was clear that the Servant of the People was gaining a majority in parliament.
On the eve - on the evening of the election day - both Zelensky and head of the party, Dmytro Razumkov, said that they were ready to begin consultations with Holos on the creation of a coalition. And, although the next day it became clear that Servant of the People could self-sufficiently for it, no one publicly withdrew proposals to Vakarchuk. On the one hand, they could have done this simply in order not to offend Holos.
On the other hand, it can really be taken to the coalition “just for decoration”. With a share of 18 MPs + a few single-mandate district MPs, Holos will not be decisive in the majority. But it will give the right signals to the West. And secondly, it will bring some confusion into the parliamentary opposition to Zelensky, headed by Poroshenko on the one hand, and Opposition Platform - For Life, on the other.
The only question is how comfortable Vakarchuk would feel in such a situation. Entering the coalition, he shares with the Ze team all responsibility for future mistakes and miscalculations. Therefore, it is possible that the Vakarchuk party will be more comfortable to stay in opposition.
If Zelensky has become the President of Ukraine, immediately imbued with the seriousness of his post and stopped mixing his presidency with the small interests of the stage, then another comedian, becoming a politician overnight, decided that he could be "a little more than a king "and pulled into politics all his scenic pettiness.
Vakarchuk looked insulted: why is he refusing from concert tours to Russia, while other singers and comedians continue to make money on Russian tours. And then Vakarchuk became a politician, hurray! He was going to make a law that would satisfy him as a comedian, while in the Rada, he became a "little king," Israeli journalist Solomon Mann, commenting on the events in Ukraine, writes.