Ukrainian President Preoccupied With Domestic Political Rivals Despite Looming “Russian Threat”


Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Last we checked, NATO is once again denying vaguely-sourced media reports claiming Russian troops are withdrawing from their battle positions despite President Biden’s continued insistence on the contrary. But in Kyiev, President Zelenskiy remains preoccupied by the relentless squabbling with his own domestic political rivals.

According to Bloomberg, which published quotes from a national address given by the president on Monday (when there aren’t as many western journalists “in country”, we guess the news travels slow), Zelenskiy is already downplaying the likelihood of an invasion himself, while insisting yet again that Ukraine’s real troubles are “the oligarchs”, whom he has been fighting ever since his stand-up comedy days.

The president in a national address Monday slammed unidentified businesspeople for fleeing the country in the face of a US warning of a potential imminent assault. Russia has repeatedly denied it is planning to attack.

Zelenskiy, a former comedian who campaigned in 2019 on promises to take back power from oligarchs in the former Soviet republic, has increased pressure on the rich since Russia began building up troop levels in November. Ukraine’s most influential businessmen have less than three months remaining to unload assets that qualify them as oligarchs under a law passed last year.

As one think tank expert on Ukrainian issues was quoted as saying, the Ukrainian president’s concerns about his most powerful and financially resourceful domestic adversaries was just the latest example of this “peculiarity” of Ukrainian politics: elected politicians prioritizing political interests before, well, other affairs of state.

“It’s like playing chess simultaneously against several opponents,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta research institute in Kyiv.
“It’s a peculiarity of Ukraine’s politics. Here external threats never distract the government from combating internal opponents.”

Funny, they do that in the US, too.

To be clear, Zelenskiy’s campaign against the Ukrainian oligarchs is nothing new. A law passed in September allows the country’s National Defense and Security Council to define an “oligarch” using three of four criteria, including the following: their participation in public life, level of influence over mass media, ownership or control of a company with a monopoly and/or assets exceeding $85 million (or 2.4 billion Ukrainian hryvnia). Those who are deemed “oligarchs” will lose certain political privileges, like the ability to legally finance or participate in government, and – importantly – “participating in privatizations”.

One of Zelenskiy’s most prominent critics, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, has blasted the anti-oligarch campaign as a witch hunt against Zelenskiy’s political enemies, and an attempt to “shut up the independent media”.

But he has, of course, divested his own media assets to certain “allies” in order to comply. At least one “oligarch” who was accused of “fleeing” was later revealed to have returned to Ukraine.

As a reminder, Zelenskiy’s grip on power remains extremely tenuous, with polls showing only 24% of voters support his government (so far, the news of a major military threat massing on his eastern flank have, unsurprisingly, made him look impotent). He will face re-election in 2024, and during the last vote, Poroshenko trailed him by less than the margin of error.

Before we go, we have a “reminder” for anybody out there who has evidence of the looming Russian conquest – which the US government has been trumpeting, without sharing any real evidence – obviously Monday and Tuesday have been duds, and the Ukrainian government is asking that anybody privy to his info to “please give us this information”.

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