Savchenko vs. Tymoshenko: Maidan ‘Valkyries’ fight for Poroshenko’s throne

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December 17, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski –

On December 16th, Verkhovna Rada deputy Nadezhda Savchenko gave an interview to the Ukrainian TV channel Espresso TV, in which she stated that the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics are not terrorists. According to her, “There, some are separatists and some are collaborationists. And there is part made up of the occupied population.”

Savchenko also added that Ukrainian authorities need to decide whether they are dealing with an anti-terrorist operation or a war in Donbass, and then it will be easier to define the leaders of the DPR and LPR. What’s more, she confirmed that she held a trilateral meeting with the leaders of the republics and representatives from Russia in Minsk. Commenting live on Hromadsky TV, Savchenko also announced that an agreement on exchanging prisoners had been achieved as a result of meeting with Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky. In her words: “We agreed on just how many people can be exchanged. According to the lists, this means 226 from the Ukrainian side and 52 people from the separatists.”

Such statements by Nadezhda Savchenko and her meeting with the leaders of the DPR and LPR have provoked a storm of outrage in Kiev. Representatives of the Fatherland Party led by Yulia Tymoshenko have claimed that Savchenko did not coordinate her actions with anyone, adding that they reject any negotiations with the leaders of the unrecognized republics. Subsequently, the Fatherland Party expelled Savchenko from the ranks of the faction.

Poroshenko has also expressed his regret that Verkhovna Rada deputy Savchenko met with the leaders of the DPR and LPR. What’s more, he placed the blame for her actions on the political force for which she ran for parliament, i.e., Fatherland and its leader, Tymoshenko.

In so doing, Poroshenko is attempting to turn minuses into pluses. He is compensating for the lack of military victories on the Donbass front with minor tactical successes in the struggle against his political opponents. If it ends up being confirmed that Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has resigned and fled, then Tymoshenko will be left as Poroshenko’s main opponent in Ukraine. 

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The rumors have been confirmed that Tymoshenko has been at negotiations in Washington, at which she has actively proposed herself for the role of a new, more effective manager (president) of Ukraine. Poroshenko is turning into a lame duck. The Obama Administration’s departure could mean the political death of the administration’s Ukrainian protege, President Poroshenko.

It’s worth recalling that Poroshenko won the first round of extraordinary presidential elections in Ukraine back in 2014 because, as even Ukrainian politicians admit, his victory was secured by a  strong push from Washington. The main victim was Tymoshenko, and the secret was subsequently revealed that she was advised not to protest her loss and not to gather a new Maidan, or else face large unpleasantries. Tymoshenko resigned, but did not abandon hope to win in the future. Perhaps this future has arrived. Not even a trace remains of Poroshenko’s old approval rating or his unconditional support by the Americans. His old enemies have intensified their work and even members of his team (ex-governor Saakashvili, members of Yatsenyuk’s cabinet, and Avakov, etc.) are playing against him. Thus, Poroshenko is being forced to take care of his political survival.

The struggle for the presidential throne between regional, oligarchic, and political groups is leading to a new division of Ukraine. And now two women from the same political bloc have emerged in the foreground who are similar in many ways, including not having a drop of femininity. On Tymoshenko’s side is the branched regional structure of her party, enormous experience in political struggle, and large financial resources (before her arrest she was estimated to be worth about $1 billion, largely obtained by stealing Russian gas). But Tymoshenko is the flesh and blood of the Ukrainian oligarchic system, hence the sharp drop in her approval rating. 

Savchenko, on the other hand, does not have political experience or her own political force and money. But she possesses one quality: she is of the flesh and blood of the Ukrainian people. Although this people is sick and unintelligent, it is still the people. After all, Savchenko is the only real Ukrainian among her competitors. As is known, President Poroshenko, PM Groysman, ex-PM Yatsenyuk, and Tymoshenko are Jews; Avakov is Armenian; and Saakshvili is Georgian.

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Indeed, there are almost no real Ukrainians in Ukraine’s top leadership. Hence why Nadezhda Savchenko, if she finds a competent political consultant and is offered financial aid by some Ukrainian oligarch, has a good chance of posing serious competition to Yulia Tymshenko. While the former “gas princess” is busying herself with senseless activities in the Rada, Nadezhda Savchenko is “working” (which just so happens to be the slogan of Tymoshenko’s electoral campaign). What’s more, Savchenko is the only one saving Ukrainian troops from captivity in Donbass, which neither Poroshenko nor his main opponent Tymoshenko have bothered themselves with.

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