We’ve come to the point when the hyped and much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive is all but through, without ever breaching Russia’s first of many fortified lines in its defense in depth, losing a catastrophic amount of equipment and taking a horrifying amount of human losses.
President Zelensky now needs to buy himself some time, while he unleashes a massive forced conscription campaign to replenish the tens of thousands of troops he squandered in ‘meat attacks’ against the overwhelming Russian defenses.
For that, he needs at least the appearance of a ‘democratic’ governance in the fields of elections and the combat of corruption to keep his international backers in line.
So he is promising to do it – but with the former comedian and his Nazi-friendly regime, there’s always a catch.
In an interview with Ukrainian TV, Zelensky announced that, contrary to previous statements, the country may hold elections after all, despite the ongoing martial law.
“‘I would not like to fantasize that we would live without elections for three, five, seven years’, Zelensky said. ‘I don’t want the perception that the government clings to power. I don’t cling to anything. I would like to hold elections. Elections are possible if the US and the EU are ready to provide us with 5 billion hryvnia [$135 million] we need to organize presidential elections in the country. I will not take this money from the defense budget’.”
In May and June, the world was told that elections in Ukraine would be possible only when hostilities are over.
“Zelensky’s apparent ‘change of heart’ came after the visit of a bipartisan delegation of American lawmakers led by influential Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on August 23. Graham and his Democratic counterparts, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren, met Zelensky in Kiev and made it clear to him that he should hold presidential elections in 2024.
‘We need an election in Ukraine next year. I want to see this country have a free and fair election even while it is under assault’, Graham told reporters during a briefing in Kiev. The GOP senator claimed that Ukraine ‘has changed’ because ‘in the past it was a very corrupt country’, but now ‘Ukrainians are not profiting’ from US aid.
That’s not what Pulitzer winner Seymour Hersh wrote when he shared the CIA’s estimate that ‘Zelensky and his entourage embezzled at least $400 million From US aid in 2022 alone’.
Dr. Marco Marsili, Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis:
“Ukraine is among the most corrupt countries in Europe and toward the bottom globally, and financial aid from the West is definitely an opportunity for Ukrainian political and military leaders to put money in their pockets, as demonstrated by two major corruption scandals on government procurement of military catering services and electrical generators that were revealed last January.”
Those with just a cursory level of information my find Dr. Marsili’s position a bit cynical, and ask themselves: ‘haven’t we just been told that Zelensky is implementing a hard clamp on corruption?’
Well, yes – and no. Kiev’s regime made a ‘smart’ move, by proposing legislation equating corruption to treason, clearly manipulating the public’s desire for justice, but also opening himself to backlash from officials and watchdogs.
“Two senior officials following the proposal, who were granted anonymity to speak candidly, say concerns are growing within Ukraine’s anti-graft agencies that Zelensky’s plan will take top corruption cases away from their oversight and pass them to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which falls under the president’s command.
The SBU could, potentially, have the power to bury corruption cases involving top officials. The move, the officials say, could put Ukraine’s anti-corruption infrastructure under threat, and anti-corruption watchdogs are sounding the alarm.”
By using the SBU, Zelensky can protect high-level regime officials from corruption charges and obtain tools to destroy his opponents. Democracy, right?
He already did it once. His Office Deputy Head Oleg Tatarov had his case was transferred to the SBU — and buried there. In practice, it’s expected that this change it will mean the collapse of whatever anti-corruption system still exists in Ukraine.