The by-elections in Ivano-Frankivsk region showed that the presidential party would fight for power with all its might. And the leader of the "servants of the people" himself will not give up his sweet burden. Although not long ago Volodymyr Zelenskyy hesitated whether he should run for re-election, and now such a bid has actually been made.
However, the current head of state is not the only contender for the mace. His rival and predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, is also not averse to taking the presidency. By the way, he promised to return to it a year after losing in 2019. Two years have passed, but Poroshenko never returned. Why?
No comeback. What prevented Poroshenko
"I am your verdict," Zelenskyy told Poroshenko at the famous stadium. Poroshenko, after the defeat, replied to him: "I will leave the office, but not politics." Later, in November 2019, during a visit to Lviv, Petro Oleksiyovych added in his usual pretentious manner: "My Ukrainian people gave me great happiness—to be the leader of the entire state and the entire great nation for these five years, and the Lord will help, and we will return to the presidency."
If discarding all the verbal prestidigitation, then the main thing that prevented Poroshenko from making a "comeback" is, in fact, the absence of early presidential elections. The prerequisites for them did not emerge—at least not yet.
«Early presidential elections are possible in our country in two cases—either impeachment or revolution. Impeachment is ruled out, because the newly adopted law on this procedure not only does make it easier, but confuses it so much that it makes it simply impossible. As for the revolution, a critical mass of hatred is needed, but President Zelenskyy is still protected from it by a certain level of his support. And this support remains in spite of everything ».
And indeed: whatever one may say, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the leader of the people's trust. At least, according to the version of the sociological group Rating that assessed the mood of Ukrainians at the end of March. 46% of respondents trust the head of state, 51% do not trust. The situation with Poroshenko, by the way, is much worse. 23% trust the fifth president of Ukraine and the head of the European Solidarity, 75% do not trust him.
And when assessing the chances of presidency, Zelenskyy is also ahead of everyone, and even with a sizable lead. Now 21.8% of respondents are ready to vote for him. And for Poroshenko, by the way, only 12.3%. Yurii Boiko with the Opposition Platform—For Life with his 11.1% of all respondents is breathing down Poroshenko's neck. And the likelihood that Boiko will make it to the second round is significant.
However, all these figures are more than arbitrary. In 2013, before the start of the Euromaidan, the rating of President Yanukovych had been 25.1%, Klitschko had been in second place with 15.1%, and Petro Poroshenko, who after some 7-8 months received a lightning victory in the first round of the presidential elections, had been left behind at the very bottom of the list with a pitiful 1.2%.
Of course, only Euromaidan could shake up this whole deck. But now a new revolution is not planned. Firstly, because the middle class has always been the engine of our Maidans, says Bohdan Petrenko. And the middle class, as well as business representatives, is simply not up to this now. The economy is bursting at the seams, and the quarantine cataclysms only accelerate its decline. Secondly, Ukrainians have always taken to the streets for an idea: in 1990 it was a demand not to sign a union treaty and to distance themselves from the USSR, in 2001 they manifested for punishing Gongadze's killers, in 2004—for fair elections and a recount of votes, in 2013—for European integration.
Fortunately, we haven't had hunger riots yet. Hopefully, there will none.
"When the population is poor, it focuses exclusively on looking for a job. The active participation of the middle class is required that will take to the streets for values, not for a piece of bread. For all the revolutions in Ukraine, that we know so far, were precisely for values," Petrenko emphasizes once again.
However, let's imagine for a moment that the Maidan did take place or that President Zelenskyy voluntarily resigned. Would this increase Petro Poroshenko's chances? Actually, it is unlikely. And that is why.
Reputation and lack of "martyrdom"
As the late Kernes told his partner Dobkin: "You have a boring face, and no one will give money." Petro Poroshenko does not need money for the elections—he has his own. But he still needs to do something with the reputation. In a conversation with , political analyst Andrii Zolotarov notes that Petro Poroshenko is rather monotonous as a politician. His discourse revolves around endless criticism of all of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's actions, including the vaccine he was able to acquire.
"Now Poroshenko is trying to focus on charity, but this does not work very well, because even those who are disillusioned with Zelenskyy do not see leadership abilities in Poroshenko. They do not see that he proposes any changes for the better, there is no trust in him—it has dried up," Zolotarov notes.
"Poroshenko did not understand the main reason for his defeat, did not understand that the voters had given a red card to the old politician,they were frankly tired of him. And voters became tired of Poroshenko because when proclaiming patriotic speeches, he took care of his own pocket. This discrepancy led to the appearance of Zelenskyy in 2019. But Poroshenko did not draw any conclusions, and that explains his high anti-rating."
The expert adds that at one time Poroshenko waited for "a bulldozer on Bankova Street that dragged him into big politics, because he certainly would not have got there from the front door."
And now, according to the political analyst, he will not get there in the same way, unless some turbulent events happen, that Poroshenko is counting on.
"He missed his chance to become a national leader in 2014-2015, and now, as the late Lobanovskyi said, "the score is on the scoreboard," says Zolotarov.
Persecution of Poroshenko
No matter how cynical it may sound, Poroshenko could be helped by the promotion of those two dozen criminal cases that were initiated against him during 2019-2020. The political analyst notes that the former president tried and is trying to play this card, but he will not achieve success, because the image of the persecuted "works only in the segment that supported him in 2019, the new electorate will not be mobilized with such a trick."
And yet, the TV picture with Poroshenko being summoned for questioning always looked bright and served as an excellent newsbreak. But it never grew into anything more. The persecution of the ex-president gradually came to naught, and the case did not come even more to trial or verdict. Now, however, insiders say that the authorities will try to tie Poroshenko to Viktor Medvedchuk.
It is, in particular, about transferring a part of the Samara—Western Direction oil product pipeline under the control of the structures belonging to Putin’s compadre. This transfer became possible due to the order of the Antimonopoly Committee controlled by Poroshenko’s people during his presidency. So, at least, asserts the former ally of Poroshenko and the People's Deputy of the previous convocation Serhiy Leshchenko.
So far, no investigative actions have been initiated on this episode, but after the NSDC had introduced sanctions against Taras Kozak and Viktor Medvedchuk, the European Solidarity office started talking about the possible persecution of their leader. As is, the plan is as follows: to kill two birds with one stone, that is, to neutralize both Medvedchuk and Poroshenko, and to bring Yurii Boiko to the second round of the presidential elections, who is guaranteed to lose to Zelenskyy. He is losing, because the theme of Russian revenge and the traditional for Ukraine election of the lesser of two evils will be promoted.
By the way, the aforementioned sanctions added bonuses to Zelenskyy, and even gave rise to a flurry of rhetorical questions about why Petro Poroshenko at one time could not/did not want/did not think of closing Medvedchuk's channels and at least thus putting the lid on the "Russian world"? And what if there is a grain of truth—in numerous journalistic investigations proving that Medvedchuk and Poroshenko are not so much opponents as allies?
Needless to say that such talk does not add to the popularity of the former president. In this context, he was dealt a rather skillful blow, and this is even strange, given the awkwardness of all the Zelensky administration’s actions. But even if Medvedchuk did not exist at all, there is still something to charge Poroshenko.
"Poroshenko is closely connected with his negative rating that has been following him since his presidency. And although it is often said that Ukrainians, allegedly, have a weak historical memory, nevertheless, everything is fine with the memory that concerns the first persons. For Poroshenko, the positive lies in the fact that he was able to stay in politics, and not be sidelined as a public figure. But the negativity that presses on him will not allow him and his party to develop into the number one political force. Those percent of voters who did not vote for him in the second round will remember why they did it, and now they will not flow to Poroshenko."
Can the situation change in favor of Petro Poroshenko? Experts say that the likelihood of early parliamentary elections in our country is higher than the likelihood of presidential elections. And it is the reboot of the Verkhovna Rada that will show who is who and who the Ukrainians trust (or not). For Petro Poroshenko, therefore, the primary task is to clear this very, parliamentary, hurdle.