Many perceived this as a demonstrative punishment for violating the new rules for traveling abroad for high-ranking officials, which include parliamentarians, who, just on the eve of the scandal, were established by the president’s decree.
However, political circles are discussing a possible other underlying reason for this resonant story.
Unconfirmed business trip and expulsion of Tishchenko
People’s deputy from the SN Nikolai Tishchenko again loudly disgraced, however, this time – with quite serious consequences for himself.
January 26 Embassy of Ukraine in Thailand published an announcement inviting Ukrainian citizens living in the country to come on January 27 to a meeting with Tishchenko in one of the hotels in Bangkok.
Of course, the appearance of any people’s deputy in an exotic country in the midst of a war would not go unnoticed. But it was Nikolay Tishchenko, who had already been involved in scandals more than once, the loudest among which, until recently, were the secret work of his Kyiv restaurant Velur, despite the quarantine ban during the coronavirus epidemic, and the party he organized in the Kiev hotel, again during the lockdown, with fireworks in honor of his wife.
In both cases, Tishchenko got away with it, which some attributed to the fact that the people’s deputy is a close friend and godfather of the head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak and, in principle, not the last person in the political force of the president (he was the deputy head of her faction in the Rada, headed the election headquarters in capital in the local elections of 2020, at one time led the Transcarpathian regional organization of the CH).
And this, like the facts themselves, caused great harm to the image of the SN and the government team in general, which demanded that everyone comply with quarantine, but “their own”, it turns out, could pay little attention to it. So in the story with Thailand, many thought that Tishchenko again acted as he pleased, despite – this time – already at war.
But another factor played an even greater role. The fact is that a few days before the news about the Thai reception of Tishchenko by the National Security and Defense Council accepted a resonant decision to tighten the rules for officials traveling abroad, including parliamentarians. As Strana wrote, now it is allowed to do this solely for the purpose of a business trip.
I must say, Tishchenko, in an exculpatory post on his Facebook page (to which we will return later), claims that he has been in Southeast Asia for two weeks, having visited Thailand in Vietnam, with which he is a co-chair of the parliamentary friendship group.
That is, he left before the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, and the legality of his crossing the border confirmed in the State Border Service.
But few people paid attention to this, as well as to the justifications of the people’s deputy himself. And he wrote in a post that he went “on a business trip” in pursuance of the president’s instructions to strengthen friendship with the countries of Asia and Africa. And all the leaders are “in the know”, as allegedly the head of the faction David Arakhamia.
“I don’t hide my whereabouts, all my meetings are official and documented,” Tishchenko.
According to him, in Thailand he held a “meeting with partners”, “an important diplomatic agreement was reached to support Ukraine” (so in the post).
Despite the scandal, Tishchenko intends to continue his “business trip”.
“I will return with a positive result for the country“, – concluded Tishchenko.
The fact that the leadership of the faction and parliament is aware of his trip, Tishchenko also stressed in intra-faction correspondence, “leaked” to Telegram channels.
But this contradicted the official statement of speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk that the Rada did not send Tishchenko abroad.
And Arakhamia promptly initiated the removal of the people’s deputy from the post of deputy head of the faction with the simultaneous exclusion from it, as well as from the SN itself.
“I see that not everyone understands what people’s deputies should do during the war“, – said the head of the faction.
Criticized Tishchenko and colleagues in the faction.
“Tishchenko in Thailand? What about the president’s ban? So, hangs around there even earlier? Pozor,” MP Maryana Bezuglaia (SN), who has a difficult relationship with her colleague, wrote on her Facebook page.
Soon the chairman of the Council of Ministers and the deputy head of her faction, Elena Shulyak informed about the exclusion of Tishchenko from the party ranks. And the faction launched a poll-vote. At the same time, at first there were rumors that the necessary number of votes for the expulsion of Tishchenko was not being collected, but this was denied by the interlocutors of the “Strana” in the faction. The people’s deputy’s excuses in internal chats had no effect. On the morning of January 27, his expulsion was officially confirmed.
“There was no particular discussion whether to exclude him. According to my information, only 12 people did not support the decision on Tishchenko or remained silent about him. Some of them are his friends, whom, according to the concepts, they could not do this. The result, in principle, was already clear by the evening of the same day. But according to our rules, such a vote lasts 36 hours, so its results were made public so late”, says a source in the faction, who asked for anonymity.
According to him, the result on Tishchenko was predetermined, among other things, due to the fact that he “left few supporters” in the faction.
“In his intra-factional group of 15 people, 4 remained, including himself. And now he’s going to be a lonely freak“, says the source.
The former location of the OP Tishchenko, too, as the interlocutor insists, lost.
“Yermak has not answered the phone for two years when Tishchenko calls him. In the OP, his move has also been closed for a long time. If once there was a relationship, then for some time Tishchenko simply sold it in the absence of such“, – says the source.
Speed is everything
From the outside, everything looks as if Tishchenko was really “leaked” into the OP. They would not openly defend him, but they could give instructions to confine himself to “demoting” to ordinary deputies, which would blow off steam. Political strategist Andrei Zolotarev believes that the tough decision on Tishchenko was the result of a series of recent high-profile corruption scandals in the echelon of power.
“The context forced the authorities to do this with Tishchenko, which, perhaps, they did not want to do. Zelensky felt that it was better to sacrifice such a toxic figure than to endure new attacks, ”the expert comments to Strana.
But here’s what’s interesting: the Tishchenko scandal “interrupted” topics revelations corrupt officials and recent high-profile resignations. That is, the authorities could play this moment in their favor (although there is an opinion that all this was generally a performance played in order to divert public attention from both corruption with reshuffles and the difficult situation at the front).
The expulsion of Tishchenko: how it was
However, there is another version. Some drew attention to the speed with which Arakhamia launched the process of expelling Tishchenko from the SN structures. There is a suspicion that this is not an accident, but a consequence of allegedly tense relations between Arakhamia and Yermak. According to rumors, at the beginning of the war, Arakhamia increased his influence, which aroused the enmity of Yermak, who then made a lot of efforts to push the head of the faction into the shadows.
The expulsion of Tishchenko is a hairpin against Yermak, with whom Tishchenko is traditionally associated.
In principle, if the post about the need to expel Tishchenko from the faction and the Arakhamia party wrote on his own initiative, of course, Bankovaya could no longer win back without losing face.
The interlocutor in the faction recognizes the complexity of the current relationship between Arakhamia and Yermak, but this allegedly was not a decisive factor in the situation with the people’s deputy-scandal.
“Everyone got drunk on this shit back in the Velour case and decided to put an end to it this time“, – says the source.
There are also rumors that Tishchenko will be ordered to give up the mandate.
One of the people’s deputy’s close acquaintances told Strana that he would not resist if such an order was received.
“For Tishchenko, after being expelled from the faction, being a deputy will not be an opportunity to resolve issues, but an unnecessary burden. Declarations to hand over, constantly be under the gun of the public. He’s tired of all this“, says the source.
DOSSIER: Nikolay Tishchenko: from Kolya Obolonsky to “servant of the people”. Part 1