CommentaryOriginalSociety

Continuous Extreme: 2020 results and 2021 Expectations

New Year 2020

The world is tired of quarantines, wars, conflicts and crises. This difficult year was remembered by unprecedented conditions and decisions. Promote Ukraine asked the experts what were the most important events for Ukraine in 2020. How did they affect the state, the economy, and society? What can we expect in 2021?

Oleg Savychuk, an analyst at the Joint Action Centre

The year was full of global events, among which it is quite difficult to determine which of them had the greatest impact. But it is worth emphasising the following:

  1. Pandemic, quarantine and quarantine restrictions.

The coronavirus has shown that no country is fully prepared for such tests. Especially Ukraine with an incompletely reformed health care system. Therefore, the reaction of the state and further restrictions became important. State of emergency, restriction of rights and freedoms, the prohibition of free movement, etc., is the practice of almost every country in a developed democracy. Ukraine did the same, gaining time to find a vaccine and cutting off the spread of the disease.

But everything had to be done correctly. The Cabinet of Ministers has unconstitutionally introduced quarantine, changes its rules every week and does not always respond to circumstances on time.

  1. Local elections.

Without belittling, the most important political event of this year.

First of all, the decentralisation reform depended on the elections: new powers, changes in the administrative-territorial system, completion of the process of community unification, more money on the ground. This time, it was not just such a fierce struggle for positions in local self-government that took place: communities have finances, powers, and trust among voters.

  1. Collapse of power systems.

The confrontation between the authorities and mayors who opposed quarantine restrictions or amendments to the Constitution regarding decentralisation. That was influenced by the elections, which motivated mayors to seek an alternative to government decisions.

  1. Law enforcement system.

The recognition of the decision to appoint the NABU director as unconstitutional, the threat to dismiss General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova in the absence of “landings, suspicions of crimes committed by pro-government people’s deputies and representatives of the president’s office – all this shows that Ukraine still does not have a proper law enforcement system.

Judiciary. There is still no judicial reform that would allow the courts to operate properly and independently. The mechanism for selecting judges is still virtually blocked. The UACC and its judges still have an extraordinary influence on the state, and their good faith is in doubt.

  1. The crisis of the elites.

Declining confidence in the government creates a vacuum that someone has to fill. But there are no new alternatives. That is why the president is both the politician of the year and the disappointment of the year, and the majority of people in the local elections supported the current mayors.

Elena Goncharova, communications expert

Almost everything that happened during the year was, indeed, unpredictable and incomprehensible to the mind. We mentioned the value of health as basic, and do not forget to wash your hands several times a day. Lockdown turned upside down all the problems that were not only in countries but in society as a whole. I mean self-isolation when people closed their houses and found themselves in a closed system alone with their thoughts. At best, in the family circle, the dream of those who lacked such a pastime has finally come true.

It is in such conditions that a person suddenly discovers many psychological problems and needs to communicate more than ever. The information vacuum about an unexplored and still unusual, completely incomprehensible virus has become an ardent motivator to prudently follow the recommended norms and have fewer contacts in the offline society. Therefore, everyone abruptly went online, the so-called digitalisation took place in Ukraine, however, not in the sense that was originally laid down.

People’s consciousness has changed significantly and now almost everyone, without exception, has felt the importance of having at least a minimum knowledge of using PCs and smartphones.

Loneliness in the network is our future in 2021. Communication processes of communication and interaction between people, whether personal or at work or negotiations with business partners, are significantly reformatted.

Oleksandr Zakrinichiy expertOleksandr Zakrynychny, human rights activist

On 4 April, a large-scale forest fire broke out in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone on the territory of Kotovsky Forestry, which was extinguished only after 10 days, and in some places, firefighters continued to extinguish forest litter until 3 May; 4300 hectares of territory were affected by fires.

On the night of 23-24 May , an operative in his office tortured a woman who was summoned to the police station as a witness: he wore a gas mask, handcuffed him and fired a shotgun over his head, after which he raped the victim several times. On 2 December, prosecutors filed a lawsuit against five Kagarlyk police officers who tortured and illegally imprisoned people.

On 23 June, heavy floods began in the western regions of the country due to heavy rains. Hundreds of kilometres of roads, dozens of bridges and kilometres of coastal fortifications were destroyed, and hundreds of people were relocated.

On the morning of 21 July, on the Theater Square in the centre of Lutsk, a man seized a suburban bus “Berestechko – Krasylivka” with 13 passengers. He said that the bus had been mined and he had an automatic weapon and a large number of explosives. Besides, he said, another explosive device was placed elsewhere and could be detonated remotely.

On 24 July, the Ordzhonikidze District Court of Kharkiv chose a pre-trial restriction for Mykhaylenko in the form of detention, setting bail for him at UAH 175,760.

As you know, on the night of 21-22 November 2019, storm waves anchored the tanker Delfi, which was in the waters of the port “South.” Off the coast of Odessa, the ship ran aground, and crew members were evacuated. Finally, on 10 September, the tanker was transported to the seaport “Chernomorsk.” In total, the work to remove the vessel from the shoal lasted 30 days and cost about 14 million UAH.

On 30 September, several fires were recorded in natural ecosystems in the Luhansk region. As a result of the fire, about 5.000 hectares of forest were burned, six people died, 71 people went to the hospital for help, 25 people were hospitalised, and 80 country houses and 45 houses burned down.

On 25 October, local elections were held in Ukraine under the new Electoral Code, which introduced a system of open party lists, reduced the number of deputies, and expanded the possibilities for recalling them. The biggest threat and obstacle to the 2020 elections was the COVID-19 pandemic. The election took place. Yet, the epidemiological situation in the country harmed voter turnout, which had not exceeded 37%. According to some estimates, non-compliance with sanitary requirements and social distance during election campaigns and voting was one of the reasons for the sharp increase in the incidence of coronavirus in the following election weeks.

Mariya Emelyanenko expertMaria Emelianenko, political commentator

One of the most important events for Ukraine in 2020 was, of course, the controversial decision of the CCU published in late October to abolish electronic declaration and thus remove from criminal liability officials for declaring inaccurate information.

By the way, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine “noted” it not for the first time. In 2018, the Grand Chamber of the CCU, for example, closed the constitutional proceedings on the withdrawal of the constitutional petition on the constitutionality of the provisions of part two of Article 26 of the Law. Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova addressed. And last year, the CCU made a very odious decision to terminate the powers of Parliament early.

The public reaction did not linger: the President’s Office responded very quickly to the CCU‘s decision, assuring that they would submit a new bill to control the declarations. In early December, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed bill 4460-d, restoring criminal liability for declaring inaccurate data and failing a declaration file.

However, this bill does not provide for imprisonment for persons who intentionally do not submit an e-declaration or indicate inaccurate information in it. The declarants’ forgetfulness will be punishable with a fine of up to UAH 51.000 or public works for 150 -240 hours, with deprivation of the right to hold specific positions or engage in certain activities for up to three years.

Unfortunately, the list of punishments specified in the bill is not only, according to the legal adviser of Transparency International Ukraine, “an enchantment for the IMF and all our international partners,” but also does not fully correspond to the corruption psychology. After all, public works usually have no deterrent effect, and the amount of the fine cannot be raised, because this crime will move to another rank and false declaration will be equated, for example, to premeditated murder.

Oleksandr Hmelevskij expertOleksander Khmelevsky, Candidate of Economic Sciences, Independent Expert

The most important event of 2020 was the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of quarantine restrictions. As a result, most of society is in a state of fear and depression, weakened social ties, and people closed themselves. Thus, the number of suicides, divorces and domestic violence has increased.

The epidemic and quarantine trigger an economic crisis. In Ukraine, many businesses went bankrupt, and hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and livelihoods. Welfare levels have plummeted, with millions of people living below the poverty line.

Tensions in society have increased significantly, people have become disillusioned with the government, and the number of protests has increased. In particular, the protests of private individuals against the introduction of cash registers, which continue today, should be noted.

Unfortunately, the new year 2021 will not bring positive changes. It is not necessary to expect to overcome a pandemic. New strains and mutations of the virus are already known. Vaccination in Ukraine will not cover more than 10% of the population. So, the incidence rate will remain high. That means that the authorities will periodically apply various quarantine restrictions, which continue to keep society in a state of depression. The economic situation will deteriorate. Production will fall, enterprises will go bankrupt, population welfare will decrease. The tariffs will increase. Protests will intensify. That can trigger public debt servicing issues. Thus, the default risk will increase. The hryvnia will be devalued. In 2021, the resignation of the Shmygal Government will take place. There is also a high probability of early elections to the Verkhovna Rada.

Natalia Tolub

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