April 25, 2019: Mini Scrum With Zelensky Team Senior Adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk

Oleksandr Danylyuk

Oleksandr Danylyuk

Less than a week after the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s presidential elections, the international business community has many question as to the future direction of the new administration. One of the keynote speakers at a European Business Association (EBA) forum was former finance minister and key Zelensky adviser, Oleksandr Danylyuk. Here’s a transcript with my mini scrum with Mr. Danylyuk:

The decision you referred to of President Putin to issue Russian Federation passports to Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Donbas. Does that send future relations between President-elect Zelensky and Mr. Putin on a bad footing - especially when it comes to ending the conflict?

That was clearly a step in the wrong direction on the Russian side. It’s a provocation, it’s a way to test the waters how the future government and how the president-elect will react to that situation in this transition period. We understand, we have an experienced team - that we should not react to such provocations…We should not damage our position.

Our position is to adhere to the Minsk agreements. That ensures that there is an international coalition around us and that will make us stronger. It wasn’t us who provoked, it was the Russian side.

Is there any hope to free the 24 Ukrainian sailors in Russian captivity? I understand that was a priority of Mr. Zelensky.

It is a priority. We all hope that it will happen. It’s our citizens who are waiting to be rescued - and their families at home.

Many analysts say that although Mr. Zelensky has many great ideas, but that the Parliament will block lot of his measures. There are so many factions in there and it’s difficult to get policies through, especially economic ones. Is that a big concern?

In a way, it is a concern. But I look at this from the position that let’s compare our strengths. We need to examine our weapons. If you look at the arsenal of Volodymyr Zelensky, you will see (the support) of 73 percent of Ukrainians. If you look at the arsenal of the other side…the level of approval of Kyiv government institutions is not that high. President-elect Zelensky has much higher moral rights to implement what people are expected of him.

Some of the key points made by Mr. Danylyuk during the EBA forum:

  • Things will not change overnight: we understand the problems that have accumulated

  • Lutsenko’s career as prosecutor general appears finished.

  • President-elect Zelensky will stay on the course of steering Ukraine towards European integration: the process of the practical implementation of the Association Agreement hasn’t been moving as quickly as it should; it’s important to catch up with the lost pace. “Less statements and more activities on the ground.”

  • Much depends on Parliament. But Mr. Zelensky is not scared. The establishment feels Mr. Zelensky is not needed. They are comfortable with the status quo. “For sure it won’t be simple; there will be a very serious struggle.”

  • Under the previous administration reforms had stopped. We need to relaunch the anti-corruption infrastructure. It is entirely paralyzed. We need to re-launch the body for corruption prevention: it’s been turned into a body for political persecution.

  • The team of incoming president Volodymyr Zelenskiy expects revisions to Ukraine's $3.9-billion programme with the International Monetary Fund in May (via Interfax)

Michael Bociurkiw