In Ukraine, the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic combined with the country’s existing political problems could sharpen the appetite for authoritarianism in Ukrainian society.
Having dismissed his young government, President Zelensky risks joining the ranks of Ukraine’s failed reformers. The reshuffle is being seen as a victory for business as usual and oligarchic interests.
Arsen Avakov has survived Ukraine’s change of regime. President Zelensky needs him because of his links to the dark side of the Ukrainian deep state, against which the president’s young reformers are often powerless. The omnipotent minister is prepared to put aside his personal ambition to become the regime’s informal mainstay.
Faced with a fluctuating approval rating, President Zelensky is attempting to instill order in his party’s ranks. The voting machine that he built from his parliamentary majority is beginning to malfunction as deputies refuse to be mere cogs in that machine.
Solving humanitarian problems and stabilizing the area around the line of contact is the bare minimum outcome of talks on Ukraine that all sides consider necessary. At the same time, each side suspects that for its opponents, this minimum is also the maximum in terms of what is politically acceptable.
Moscow never wanted an annexation—it just wanted a bargaining chip. Understanding that is the key to settling the conflict once and for all.
Zelensky’s economic path has turned out to be as contradictory as his political path. Various promises ranging from libertarian reforms to classic social populism are hindering the implementation of any meaningful policy.
Street protests in Ukraine and the threat of destabilization are working to strengthen the authoritarian tendencies of President Zelensky’s rule. He sees that everywhere he has not managed to install his power vertical and his people, the seed of chaos and sabotage is germinating.
Two things have become clear following the dismissal of the head of Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory. First, Ukraine’s history politics must become more inclusive, and move away from the extremes of revolutionary fervor and the principles of party affiliation. Second, if the institute cannot be closed down, then it must be radically reformed. Above all, it must not be allowed to be monopolized by representatives of a single political persuasion.
Kolomoisky has been making use of his ambiguous position as the future president’s business partner since the very start of Zelensky’s election campaign, but this didn’t prevent Zelensky from sweeping to victory in the elections. Now, however, the trickster oligarch is becoming increasingly toxic for Zelensky’s team, not only within the country but also abroad.