The conflict between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and oligarch Rinat Akhmetov is just beginning to flare up. It all started because of the anti-oligarchic law, and now the oligarch has accused the President of lying. asked experts how serious this confrontation is.
Law against oligarchs
When Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced and sent a bill against the oligarchs to the Rada, he planned that this should strengthen his ratings. However, a confrontation began with the richest people in the country, and although the NSDC has not yet announced the list of oligarchs, it is already possible to say who will be in the forefront there.
Potential involvees of the official list of oligarchs took the news rather negatively:
- Akhmetov stated that he did not consider himself an oligarch and was ready to sue;
- Medvedchuk also denies that he is an oligarch;
- Novynskyi called the initiative harmful;
- Kolomoisky stated that he didn’t care and he was ready to stitch a star with the inscription "oligarch" into his clothes;
- no eloquent statement were heard from Pinchuk;
- Poroshenko sees a lever of pressure on the opposition in the law. However, he decided to sell his TV channels.
The position of the politicians is clear, but how can one explain the dissatisfaction of big businessmen?
According to political scientist Petro Oleshchuk, they are confused by the very prospect of being included in the list of oligarchs and losing their media influence.
"You have been working for a long time on some kind of reputation, on an international reputation as a serious, seemingly authoritative businessman, and here you are declared an oligarch. That is, you are no longer a respectable businessman, but a semi-criminal element opposing democracy. This is reputationally unpleasant. This again opens up the possibility of sanctions against the media. Obviously, without the media influence, the influence of the oligarchs will significantly decrease," the expert notes.
Volodymyr Fesenko, Chairman of the Board of the Center for Applied Political Studies "Penta", shares this opinion.
"Escalation" on Akhmetov's channels
Important conclusions can be drawn from the content of the political talk shows. If the rhetoric on Pinchuk and Kolomoisky's channels has not changed, then Akhmetov's channels criticize the authorities much more in the new season.
The broadcasts of Savik Shuster's Freedom of Speech and Talk Show No. 1 managed to touch on all topics that were inconvenient for Zelenskuy. They also recalled the Pandora Papers, the failure of the special operation to detain the militants of the Wagner PMC, and the scandals with the Servant of the People deputies. They criticized the law on oligarchs and the dismissal of Dmytro Razumkov from the post of Speaker of Parliament as well.
Akhmetov's channels give a site for criticism for politicians opposed to the President, including Poroshenko. The Former Speaker Razumkov became a welcome guest.
"I think that some political managers in Akhmetov's team decided to stake on Razumkov... This is a traditional story for our oligarchs. It's like there is a commodity on the market, in this case a political one, whose shares are growing. And if the shares are growing, you need to buy at the start, you need to support it," Fesenko believes.
"TV remains the main source of information about the situation in the state for many Ukrainians, and this tone, positive or negative, stories about some problems in the state or stories about the activities of the authorities, or their inaction, are reflected in the approval rating," he explains.
How conflict between Zelenskyy and Akhmetov can end
The conflict continues to gain momentum, but it’s hard to say who can win.
Energy expert Gennady Ryabtsev is sure that it is too early to talk about a serious confrontation.
"If there was some kind of war, we would have already seen the decision of the judiciary, and the decision of the same NSDC with the corresponding names. Since there are no such decisions, and we are talking only about some kind of veiled hints, there is no point in talking about war, in my opinion. Yes, maybe there is a change in rhetoric, but this is just rhetoric," he commented on the mutual accusations of the authorities and DTEK in the problems in the energy sector.
But, according to Oleshchuk, the conflict may soon go beyond the walls of television studios.
I do not know what resources will be involved in the near future, but it is obvious that Akhmetov is serious about such a confrontation. So far, mainly in the media plane, but if it continues, it will involve other resources. We remember the protest actions that took place back then with the participation of, for example, miners and employees of Akhmetov's enterprises. It is quite possible that their pilgrimage to Kyiv will soon await us," the expert suggests.
The expert also considers the positions of Kolomoisky and Pinchuk to be interesting.
"Kolomoisky doesn't care about his reputation. Some countries are looking for him and demand extradition, cases have been opened against him... It's hard to say in the case of Pinchuk. Perhaps he expects that he will solve his problems due to his connections with the West, with the international structures. I think he has decided not to rush to any conclusions for now and is waiting," Oleshuk adds.
Zelenskyy's statement during the press marathon that Akhmetov is being drawn into a coup d'etat can be easily called the next stage of the conflict. The oligarch's answer was not long in coming: he stated that it was a lie and promised to fight the dictatorship and censorship.
Experts and political analysts say that it is important to predict the next steps, but very soon the NSDC will declare Akhmetov an oligarch and after that the rules of the game will change.