The State Administration of Affairs (SAA), created under the second president of Ukraine, manages the money to support the president's activities. Representatives of the department organize official events with the participation of the head of state, maintain the state vehicle fleet, ensure the functioning of residences, etc.
It is necessary to understand that, speaking about the expenses for the President, we also touch upon the expenses for the provision of the activities of all employees of his Office, who use telephone communications, stationery, canteens, and transport every day. In addition, the costs also affect other top officials of the state. The costs also include tasks for informatization. In 2020, for example, no less than 12 million 783 thousand hryvnias were spent on publications in newsletters.
And if some of the expenses for the head of state in the budgets were previously displayed in separate lines, today they are all hidden behind the article "Service and organizational, information-analytical, material and technical support for the activities of the President of Ukraine and the Office of the President of Ukraine." In 2020, expenses under this item were projected at 32 million USD. For comparison, this is slightly less than half of all funds allocated for vaccination against coronavirus in 2021, and about half of all subventions for the socio-economic development of territories that the state allocates to regions. Maintenance of the activities of all museums, libraries, and educational centers of the country costs 3,3 million USD less than the maintenance of the president.
Judging by the reports on the so-called transfer of funds between programs on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers, the president eventually managed to save at least 1 million USD. But so far a clear figure is not known, since there is no annual report on the execution of the state budget for 2020.
In 2020, 34 million USD was spent on the president: this sum is almost equivalent to one spent in 2019. At the same time, on average, about 27.2 million USD was spent on Zelensky's predecessor (taking into account the current rate at that time). In dollar terms, securing Zelenskiy's activities is more expensive than Poroshenko's ones.
Of course, these sums cannot be compared with the costs of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. There is no information on spending on it on the SAA website. But, according to the Ukrainska Pravda outlet, if in 2010 they reached 30.5 million USD, then in 2011 they increased to 44 million USD a year.
For an ordinary Ukrainian, the sum of expenses for presidents is rather faceless numbers. The ratio of these amounts to the average salary of a citizen will help to understand how significant the taxpayers' spending on the head of state is. For calculations, let's take the average income of a Ukrainian in March, according to the State Statistics Service.
Although in dollar terms Poroshenko is a more "economical" president for the country, in terms of the ratio of Ukrainians' income and expenses for the president, under Zelensky, more "fair" amounts are allocated to provide for the president.
The item of expenses for organizing events traditionally involves rather controversial expenses. For example, during the celebration of Independence Day last year, SAA produced and delivered "flower arrangements, protocol, and souvenir products" for more than 3,500 USD.
During the election campaign, Zelensky promised to sell the president's planes and use regular flights. However, later he abandoned this idea, explaining that regular planes do not fly to Donbas.
After the Maidan, SAA transferred two planes and two helicopters to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defense. Of the remaining aircraft, the President uses the AN-148, AN-74, Airbus 319, and the MI-8 helicopter.
In 2020, 2,5 million USD was allocated for air transportation in Ukraine and abroad – almost twice as much as in 2019. But in the end, for incomplete 2020 (from January 1 to December 14), they spent only 535,000 USD, the State Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs points out in response to a request from 112.ua. In March, July, and December, we didn't spend a dime. The reason for these savings is obvious – the pandemic. The incumbent president made three times fewer foreign trips and 1.5 times fewer trips across the territory of Ukraine than his predecessor in 2018.
Among the most expensive flights of Zelensky in the past year was the January trip Kyiv - Zurich - Tel Aviv - Kyiv. It cost Ukrainians more than 90,000 USD. A trip to the Munich conference in February cost 37,000 USD. Flight to Rome (to meet with Pope Francis) – 35,000 USD, September trip to the Slovak Republic – 35,000 USD, a trip to Vienna in the same month – 26,000 USD.
The cost of the flights of Zelensky and Poroshenko turned out to be about the same, but at least 1.5 times cheaper than the average flights under Yanukovych.
However, it is worth noting that, despite the savings in 2020, a substantial amount was still pledged to ensure the functioning of the state aviation enterprise "Ukraine" - 8 million USD.
It is assumed that, in addition to the president, a number of different bodies and services use vehicles from the state vehicle fleet. And although many employees of these institutions admit that they practically do not drive these cars, since they are brought to work by personal drivers, the amounts for the car fleet are substantial annually.
In 2014, there were 352 cars and 6 rare cars in the SAA fleet. Since then, they began to get rid of the "extra" cars: to sell or transfer to the needs of the anti-terrorist operations. Now the balance includes 232 Range Rover, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volkswagen, Skoda, Opel, Bogdan, GAZ, ZIL, KamAZ cars. During the presidency of Zelensky, new cars were not purchased.
The cost of the car fleet for Zelensky turned out to be more modest than for Poroshenko. In 2019, the State Administration allocated 5.8 million UDS for these needs, in 2020 – a million less. Under Poroshenko, spending on this item fell until 2016, but by 2018 it reached 9.6 million USD.
After SAA sent almost 20 million USD for the repair of state buildings in the Crimea and the construction of two helipads, in 2014 and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov instructed the Department to get rid of "excess" property that is not used to support the president's activities. But neither during the presidency of Poroshenko nor during the presidency of Zelensky, not a single SAA object was sold.
Before the elections, Zelensky said: state residences should be "given to children," but later he was allegedly persuaded by the security service. Now the guarantor temporarily lives in a three-story mansion of almost 2500 sq. m.
The Administration of Administrative Buildings of the Main Directorate is responsible for the maintenance of state residences and buildings to support the President's activities. The Office reported that in a little less than a year (from January 1 to December 15), 3 million USD were spent on all objects on its balance sheet. Savings are observed: it was originally planned that the costs would be 0,29 million USD higher.
However, the feasibility of allocating these funds is still in question: the utilities alone for these buildings cost Ukrainians more than 540,000 USD.
Most of all funds were spent on the functioning of buildings in July. We will remind that in the summer the president moved to the residence in Koncha-Zaspa. For this residence itself – four bedrooms, a cinema room, an elevator, a billiard room, a solarium, a sauna, a swimming pool, a wine cellar, a massage room and marble bathrooms – it was planned to spend 125,000 USD. The wife of the president, Olena Zelenskaya, reported that the premises had been renovated.
Spending directly on the president and his Office for incomplete 2020 (from January 1 to December 14) amounted to UAH 11,5 million USD. This is 0,5 million USD less than the Poroshenko Administration cost in 2018.
The money for the president's bodyguards comes from another item – defense and security spending. Moreover, these costs are often much more significant than the costs of supporting the president's activities. For example, in the 2021 budget, 57 million hryvnias were allocated for security. Spending separately for the president cannot be allocated: the State Security Department also protects the head of the Rada and his first deputy, as well as the prime minister, first deputy prime minister, some ministers and the head of the Constitutional Court, the head of the Foreign Ministry and the prosecutor general. Also in the area of responsibility of the SAA is the safety of official foreign delegations.
In dollar terms, spending on security has almost doubled during Yanukovych's presidency: from 25 to 39.4 million USD. Then, during the crisis, they had to be reduced again, and already from the middle of Poroshenko's reign they were constantly growing. If in 2016 expenses were about 24 million USD, then in 2018 they increased to 39.2 million USD. In 2019, when Zelensky came to the helm, spending was planned at 47 million USD.
In the past 2020, 53.4 million USD were pledged to protect the top officials of the state. This is an unprecedented amount during the presidency of three presidents. How much was eventually mastered is unknown. The SAA did not provide a response to the corresponding request.
The President's treatment is covered under the heading “Providing services by medical institutions.” Funds are allocated not only for medical assistance to the head of state and employees of his office, but also for MPs, ministers, and other especially important officials. Therefore, the amount that was allocated in 2020 for the president's treatment for coronavirus remains unknown.
In 2020, about 28 million USD was pledged for the treatment of top officials of the state. This is about the same as the cost of maintaining the president's activities during the Poroshenko era.
In the past year, officials were pledged 4 million less for the treatment of officials than in 2019. However, in the coming year, expenses will increase by another 3 million USD.
Pandemic and plans for 2021
Despite the pandemic, the costs of supporting the president's activities have practically not been reduced in relation to 2019. At the end of the calendar year, according to the order of the Cabinet of Ministers "On the redistribution of certain budget expenditures," 19 million and 74 thousand hryvnias remained from the funds to support the president's activities. They were redirected to other needs.
Other funds saved during the year were redirected by the Cabinet of Ministers, in fact, to the same support for the president's activities. In June, for example, 849 thousand hryvnias were allocated for the restoration of the recently restored Mariinsky Palace and the adjacent territory. In November, UAH 6.9 million was "transferred" to the provision of medical services. Then the media wrote about philanthropy - allegedly the President's Office "donated funds for medicine." However, in fact, the funds went under article 0301170 - for the treatment of top officials of the state.
Moreover, significant cost increases are planned for 2021. The President will cost 10 million more USD - UAH 1 billion 266 million, or 43.7 million USD, based on the projected rate for 2021. The spending on the Department of State Security was increased by another $ 4 million.
Such an increase in funding is explained by an increase in the minimum wage budgeted for. Although the OP had intended to reduce planned costs, the promise was never fulfilled. Moreover, the expense item for the State Administration itself turned out to be a gigantic one, which, in addition to serving the top officials of the state, is also engaged in maintaining cultural enterprises, as well as national parks and reserves, sanatoriums.
In 2021, when the priorities in the fight against coronavirus seem clear, it has grown by 20 million to $ 113 million. Since 2014, this is the absolute maximum that was allocated to SAA. They spent more only under Yanukovych: from 160 to 170 million dollars.