Kiev, March 29 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the first Ukrainian leader in history to command a majority of individual parties in parliament. However, its strength will be put to the test next week as it urges lawmakers to pass reform laws needed to develop a $ 8 billion bailout package.
Ukraine is severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic, and Parliament has to pass the banking law and lift the ban on the sale of farmland to qualify for a new loan agreement from the International Monetary Fund.
Legislator in Zelenskiy’s party, Nikita Poturaev, told Reuters he was expecting a “serious fight” to adopt the measures.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers a speech during a parliamentary session in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 4, 2020. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
The banking law, which would prevent former bankruptcy trustees from regaining their wealth, contradicts the interests of Ihor Kolomoisky, a wealthy tycoon and early supporter of Zelenskiy’s 2019 presidential campaign.
Kolomoisky was co-owner of the country’s largest lender, PrivatBank, until it was nationalized in 2016. He has had a long lawsuit against the government to win it back or get compensation.
Zelenskiy said it was necessary to pass the bills to prevent insolvency, but the forthcoming vote has highlighted the divisions in his “servants of the people” party that the former actor had created from scratch last year.
On the one hand, there is an informal group that campaigns for the IMF deal and launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #NoDefault last week.
The group aims to free Ukraine from “corruption and oligarchic influence,” according to a document written by Poturaev, one of its members. It has also put Zelenskiy under pressure not to hold direct talks with separatists supported by Russia.
On the other hand, there are legislators associated with Kolomoisky who previously suggested that the country not pay its debts.
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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits before his address to the nation on state television in Tehran, Iran on March 22, 2020.
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The new “IMF loan, like all the previous ones, will be stolen,” said Alexander Dubinsky, legislator and journalist for Kolomoisky’s 1 + 1 channel before entering parliament, by telegram.
“As far as I know, most Servant of the People MPs are ready to support the Kolomoisky law,” said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. But the votes of a servant of the people’s group minus the deputies associated with Kolomoisky may not be enough, he wrote.
A legislator was one of the first people in Ukraine to test positive for coronavirus. Some could stay away from the upcoming parliamentary session, either because they are also sick or because they fear infection, Fesenko said. (Edited by Matthias Williams and Giles Elgood)