He tells how Bankova’s boundless appetite for construction projects of post-war reconstruction corrodes the system of state administration and turns Ukraine towards a rigid centralization of power. ZN
The plan to transfer Western financial assistance for restoration from the Ministry of Regional Development, which forms the state regional policy (and this is the EU condition!) to the project Ministry of Infrastructure, was implemented by Bankovaya swiftly and with force. Parallel:
- abolishing decentralizationwhich has reached the finish line, recognized by the G7 as “an irreversible reform that helped Ukraine to hold out in the first months of Russian aggression” and which “should become one of the key principles of the recovery process”;
- eliminating regional politicsenshrined in the law of Ukraine “On the principles of state regional policy” in July 2022 and aimed at developing the post-war potential of communities and regions (through the needs of people who remained / arrived as a result of migration), and not thoughtlessly multiplying bridges, roads and residential areas in destroyed cities;
- clearing everyonewho, apart from the clan that won the intraspecific struggle in the Office of the President of Ukraine (OPU), could claim to share the financial post-war pie.
As a result, three people remained at the table where the resources of international donors will be divided: the head of the OPU Andrey Yermak, the head of the SN party and the relevant parliamentary committee Elena Shulyak, the deputy prime minister, head of the united Ministry of Infrastructure Alexander Kubrakov (he is also a potential prime minister and the only who hypothetically can make adjustments to the menu).
In this situation, international partners can vainly send as many financial inspections to Ukraine as they like, and we can rejoice that abroad will help us. Will not help. If the public administration system itself legislatively and institutionally makes a sharp turn towards centralization, lining up for the interest of a specific group of people, not to mention direct corruption schemes to the detriment of the state. So you need to call the hotline right now.
How and by whom the calendar plan for the construction and food expansion was implemented
November 3, 2022
The first public signal about the preparation of a new menu by the authorities was given by the current Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, when, at the command of Bankova, he transferred the Minister of Regional Development Alexei Chernyshov to the head of the NAC. The ex-minister, who was once on the short list of casting for prime ministers, was ready for such, to put it mildly, low-fat personnel rotation. Since since the summer, after the loud presentation of the comprehensive restoration program in Lugano, Chernyshov (henchman of Timur Mendich, one of Kolomoisky’s closest partners and a close friend of the first assistant to the president, Sergei Shefir) failed to get to the president with his own recovery program.
According to our information, in three years, Minister Chernyshov managed to understand not only the essence of Elena Shulyak’s urban planning reform, but also the regional policy with decentralization. Therefore, I decided to share with the head of state the conclusions that post-war reconstruction is not only construction. More precisely – not a construction site at all. In addition to the main message that there is no money for global recovery in the budget (and donors do not give during the war), there was something to read in the folder of the ex-minister. We are talking about a recovery strategy, taking into account the division of regions into four types, in accordance with the aforementioned law on the basics of regional policy; an unpopular case in the government of renting housing for IDPs at the expense of the state; redemption by the state from developers of ready-made apartments for those whose housing was destroyed. At a price, if not fixed, then average for the region, since even before the war the market was oversaturated with unsold housing.
The doors of Bankova in front of Chernyshov were tightly closed by the deputy head of the OPU Kirill Timoshenko. The curator of regional policy, also dreaming of premiership, was playing his game. While the Great Construction project (which Timoshenko implemented jointly with Yuri Golik) acquired an even more persistent flavor of great corruption during the war, the Fast Recovery Plan for Ukraine could be a big stepping stone for the future.
Wherein, as ZN.UA already wrote, Tymoshenko entered into a clinch not only with Chernyshov, but also with the construction lobby, whose interests in power are represented by the head of the Servant of the People party, Elena Shulyak. All the fuss then flared up because of the quite understandable desire of Bankova, represented by Tymoshenko, to quickly get new housing for migrants who had lost their homes. And, as a result, the state proposal to buy ready-made meters from developers at a fixed price of 25-30 thousand hryvnia per square. But the developers resisted and did not give anything cheaply. Tymoshenko’s resources to put pressure on the hydra, which numerous Ukrainian authorities have been shaping throughout the 30 years of independence, turned out to be insufficient. Probably, the head of the OPU Yermak would have had enough resources, but he “plays” Shulyak.
Somewhere in this triangle of intraspecific relations, the most important bill has been lost No. 7198 on compensation, adopted in the first reading back in April, immediately after the de-occupation of Bucha and Irpin. Failed and a program of maintenance and overhaul of housing damaged by Russian aggression. The Cabinet of Ministers threw pennies to the regions, the ministry and the regional CAA shackled the local authorities with a regulated mechanism for approvals for each window, and as a result, the affected residents of Bucha and Irpin received help only by November. And that’s not all.
And while Chernyshov, Tymoshenko and Shulyak kept silent in response to critical publications in the media, Minister of Infrastructure Alexander Kubrakov reported to the President on the actual completion of successful restoration projects: a record-breaking railway bridge across the Irpen River, prompt repairs of damaged railway lines, kilometers put into operation destroyed roads along which weapons and reinforcements traveled to the front. And it was worth it. Both for the country and for the president.
Ministry of Regional Development – for breakfast: November 8
ZN.UA published materials from a secret meeting with the participation of the head of state and the prime minister, where the new government structure was presented: instead of 20 existing ministries, the authorities announced 14. The first on the list was the monster ministry, under whose roof it was planned to unite the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Reintegration. Several more ministries were supposed to grow together, now it doesn’t matter which ones, because it’s already clear that the main goal was the Ministry of Regional Development.
Then the authorities promptly received a large portion critics from the experts:It is unacceptable to merge the Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Infrastructure!“. “Ministry of Regional Development and Ministry of Reintegration – yes! Since this is about people and the formation of regional policy in the complex, taking into account the consequences of the war“. “Strengthen the Ministry of Infrastructure with construction – yes! Since it is infrastructure, projects and pure management“. However, a month was enough for the authorities to bring down the negative information wave and forget about the experts’ warnings.
The decapitated Ministry of Regional Development, by order of the government, is merged into the Ministry of Infrastructure under the leadership of a successful manager Alexander Kubrakov, whose team really pulls all the logistics, including the military one. Kubrakov automatically receives the status of Deputy Prime Minister. Somewhere along the way, however, losing the Ministry of Reintegration. But here, probably, infrastructure managers have decided that it is not worth being distracted by the problems of millions of migrants. Forgetting that this is a natural function of the Ministry of Regional Development, which has also become their sphere of competence. On this, in fact, the entire announced reform of the Cabinet of Ministers ended. By launching a new state policy of building expansion.
Ministry of Regional Development – for breakfast, committee – for lunch: December 13
The head of the parliamentary committee on the organization of state power, local self-government, regional policy and construction, instead of Andrei Klochko, is the main lobbyist from developers – Elena Shulyak. Although in the context of the importance of completing decentralization (the state supervision of local self-government bodies has yet to be included) and the implementation of the foundations of the post-war regional policy, written out by law and supported by the EU and the G7, which will finance the restoration! – the deputies not without reason predicted the portfolio to the head of the profile subcommittee Vitaly Bezgin. However, Bankova’s stars have long prophesied otherwise: the newly-minted head of the committee, Elena Shulyak, was on the verge of one of the most important days of her political career. To which she went, as they say, both “over the heads and over the corpses.”
Under the colossal pressure of the construction lobby and personally Elena Shulyak on the deputies of the ruling party, in contrast to those outraged by the corruption risks of the law expert communityNNational Union of Architects of Ukraine (NSAU), as well as Association of cities of Ukraine and local authorities, “servants of the people”, taking into account the votes of “working constructively in parliament” HLE pushed through scandalous draft law No. 5655.
The curator of the OMS, Kirill Tymoshenko, having soaked his tail in NABU investigations, prudently kept quiet. But the newly minted Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov (just like Shulyak and Bezgin, a native of BRDO) publicly supported “reform” of the urban sphere, imposed on the country by Shulyak. Despite the fact that on Election Day, a public petition demanding the President to veto Bill 5655 received three times as many votes as it needed to be considered. The united ministry almost immediately became platform implementation of the law not yet signed by the head of state. Well, what else was it created for?
The Cabinet of Ministers approved a new Regulation on the Ministry of Infrastructure, which, in accordance with a government decree, should be called the Ministry of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure. However, from the position diligently written out by Kubrakov’s lawyers, literally according to Freud fell out function of regional policy. Experts noticed, lawyers corrected. However, this did not change the essence of what was happening.
From the post of Deputy Kirill Tymoshenko, who has become too toxic for the president, has been fired as the head of the OPU for regional policy.
However, the resignation of Tymoshenko, who dragged the entire Dnepropetrovsk clan and four governors with him, pleased not only anti-corruption officials, but also the author of the aforementioned bill No. 7198 on compensation, Elena Shulyak. There was a chance to unblock the law in the Rada, which would further strengthen the position of the united ministry. And while the president thinks what to do with political responsibility for her scandalous law No. 5655, Shulyak promises quick compensation to people for repairs and destroyed apartments.
Here it is worth fixing the degree of cynicism of these promises. “In the current version of the law on compensation – this is money in the pockets of private developers, – explains urban planning expert Georgy Mogilny. – Here it is important to separate the construction industry (ie directly construction companies and manufacturers of materials) and developers (essentially – intermediaries). All the real gigantic profits with a margin from housing construction go to developers, and the profits of construction companies are very low.
The first version of the bill No. 7198 for the most part provided, rather, the construction of apartments by local and state authorities as customers instead of the destroyed ones (compensation in square meters). The apartments were supposed to be practically at cost, with little income for construction companies, and developers were practically left out. The new version already provides for compensation by financing the purchase of an apartment (with money through a Certificate, not square meters) – i.e. developers start earning as intermediaries“, the expert concluded.
It is important to clarify that in our usual understanding, developers are developers. For example, Kievmiskstroy does not build anything itself: it hires construction companies for a contract, and sells apartments from its own brand. And this happens with virtually all major brands – the developer sells, which usually does not appear in the construction documents. One reason is tax minimization. Construction companies directly earn normally only on budget projects.
As for compensation for repairs of damaged housing, in the latest version of the law, deputies removed the possibility of obtaining such financial compensation. That is, those who, in preparation for the winter, borrowed or invested the last money in repairs, collecting checks in the expectation of compensation for expenses, receive nothing. And those who have not yet repaired must wait (perhaps for years) until they come to repair the roof or hand over materials for repair. In advertising infographics Shulyak for the people, of course, such nuances are not displayed.
On the same day – January 24 – NABU for a bribe of 400 thousand dollars detained one of Kubrakov’s two deputies – Vasily Lozinsky, taken by the Deputy Prime Minister to the team from the old Ministry of Regional Development. Lozinsky is called the man of the prime minister, who was actually hit (given the dismissal of Lozinsky an hour before the arrest, many call this act as planned by Bankova, who simply directed NABU correctly). Denys Shmyhal has not commented on Lozinsky’s arrest for a week now, obviously realizing that he has little time left as prime minister.
However, after the arrest of Lozinsky, representatives of the old Ministry of Regional Development did not have it at all. Profile deputies of the Minister of Regional Development Ivan Lukerya (regional policy) and Vyacheslav Negoda (decentralization) are the key stakeholders of the reform within the Ministry of Regional Development! – automatically “became toxic” for Kubrakov. Lukerya himself wrote a statement, Negoda, one of the authors of decentralization, who gave the reform more than ten years of work, was fired without explanation.
According to our information, Ivan Lukerya could remain in the new ministry to oversee regional policy, however, on one condition: if his lobbyists are precisely the deputies of the “servants of the people” who are involved in decentralization and regional politics and who tried to maintain a professional backbone in the new ministry, – they will vote for the scandalous bill No. 5655. And they voted.
However, after civil society has intervened, the president may veto a law that is toxic to his rating. That is why Kubrakov and his chief consultant Shulyak have no obligations either to the keepers of institutional memory – Negoda and Lukerey, or to the country. That is why the former successful PR manager of Ukravtodor Pani Alexandra Azarkhin.
“In the Ministry of Regional Development before the merger, 380 people worked in the state, in the Ministry of Infrastructure – 309, says a ministry official. — They leave almost all of their own – they just do not fill vacancies, and this is nominally just 15% of the planned reduction. We have more than 50% under reduction. However, there are still no official documents and a new staffing table. No one was given any notice of possible dismissal“.
People, according to our interlocutor, are demotivated. A lot of projects of international donors, which were carried out for communities, have been stopped. “Sometimes we get calls and ask questions that just make you want to go and drown yourself,” he adds. – The secretary of state of the ministry quit a long time ago, and the director of the financial department performs the duties of secretary of state. What institutional memory can it convey? Yes, none! Everything collapsed, including the civil service. A project-thinking team is not interested in regional politics. And this is exactly what you cannot touch with your hands, but what constitutes the rules for the functioning and development of communities, territories, regions, and the state as a whole.”
Ministry of Regional Development – for breakfast, committee – for lunch, country – for dinner: January 27
The Cabinet of Ministers appoints ex-Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Mustafa Nayem as the head of the rapidly created State Restoration Agency. Through the structure, which is directly subordinate to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov, the entire financial and semantic process of restoration will go. The circuit is closed. People’s deputies of the ruling party have already prepared bill, providing for the transfer to the State Agency for the restoration of managers and budget programs of the Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Finance. Plus, the Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression in the amount of UAH 52 billion.
What can such expansion lead to and how can it be countered?
Thus, it can be stated that a state monopoly is being created right now on the basis of the united ministry, which will pull under itself not only all the main financial resources of donors and the budget, but also draconian powers, biting off some of them from local authorities. The monster ministry is based on Law No. 5655, with obvious corruption risks, which gives the ministry the planning, implementation and control of the restoration. The anti-corruption office at the National Agency, which was loudly announced by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov on the day Mustafa Nayem was appointed, looks, to put it mildly, not serious against the backdrop of the adjusted system.
But even if we put aside the risks of corruption (along with the detrimental impact on the situation of the construction lobby led by Shulyak) and hypothetically assume that Mustafa Nayem, together with his leader Alexander Kubrakov, became an instrument in the hands of the victorious clan (while they themselves pursue exclusively state goals and will do everything to ensure that funds at the level of the State Agency / Ministry of Infrastructure are distributed and spent transparently), there is a problem: a complete misunderstanding of the essence and policies of the area for which they are now responsible and to which international donors will pay paramount attention. And this is definitely not about automatic restoration of infrastructure. Which, in fact, was officially recorded by the group of G7 ambassadors to support reforms in Ukraine as a priority for 2023.
Therefore, no matter how much Mustafa Nayem tells behind closed doors (there is no public communication on this matter) that Kubrakov’s team is honest and will do everything right, as “it did in Ukrzaliznytsia and Ukravtodor, centralizing all processes and removing everyone who gets in the way”, this is unprofessional and unpromising. It is impossible to compare the state company and the state system, in which, according to the constitution, different types of authorities function – and local self-government with united communities is one of them.
Therefore, everything that is planned within the framework of the state strategy for regional development and restoration of the Ministry of Regional Development / National Agency must comply with the strategies for the development of communities. Which, in turn, are part of the strategy of the regions. Moving from the bottom up is the essence of decentralization and the essence of recovery. Cities are for people, not people for cities. This is how the EU thinks and lives, to which we are now candidates.
If you adhere to this principle, it becomes irrelevant who is responsible for finances. How the eternal dispute about (and warring Ukraine is still among the world leaders in the Corruption Tolerance Index-2022), who is more of a thief – the central government or the local. It is important, having included all possible anti-corruption mechanisms, to observe the principle of distribution of powers. Which today is openly and cynically violated both at the institutional and legislative levels.
Thus, there is still no legislative basis for creating an understandable system of planning documents for the restoration of Ukraine. But in addition to the promulgated, but not approved Plan for the restoration of Ukraine (designed for ten years with expected funding in the amount of more than $ 750 billion.) there are already two types of competing planning documents at the regional and local levels. This again confirms the state’s lack of a common regional strategy and coordinated actions of all branches of government, including local self-government.
“The unnatural inclusion in Law No. 5655 “On the Regulation of Urban Development” of documents outside the subject of legal regulation by this law introduced competition at the level of strategic planning of territorial communities”, — experts write. – “Thus, the law “On the principles of state regional policy” determines that territorial communities develop a “strategy for the development of territorial communities“. At the same time, the lawOn the regulation of urban planning activities “operates with the concept of” the concept of integrated development of the territory of the territorial community”, which is defined by the “strategic planning document”.
It should be clarified that such an intrusion of builders into the territory of regional politics occurred even before the adoption of bill No. 5655. Old, but proven Shulyak deputy. Natalya Kozlovskaya under Chernyshov and now in Kubrakov’s team led the direction of restoration plans, under which all urban planning documentation went. And these plans completely contradict the law on the principles of regional policy and all previously adopted strategies. But there is simply no one in the ministry to object to this.
“This situation is unacceptable, the experts continue. — The system of planning documents for restoration should be unified, understandable, not allowing fragmentation and ensuring the restoration and development of territories. Everything must be done so that people do not get lost behind square meters, tons and kilometers. To do this, it is necessary to quickly revise and harmonize with each other two laws – “On the regulation of urban planning” and “On the principles of state regional policy”, the norms of which cannot compete, but only complement each other“.
“People determine the needs for restoration, the restored infrastructure should be aimed at people, – the authors of the law “On the principles of state regional policy” are convinced. – According to various estimates, by 2030, 30 to 35 million people will live in Ukraine. This is much less than at the time when the bulk of infrastructure facilities were built. Therefore, there is definitely no point in restoring something that will not be used. No less difficult is the situation with the restoration of individual settlements, especially those completely destroyed.“.
That is, the path that Ukraine chooses today is very different from what experts call for, which has long been agreed with international institutions, and what the Ukrainian state itself has been declaring all these years, striving for the EU.
Today, the complex conceptual European approach to the system of public administration, which includes the formation of policies, is being replaced by the forces of the victorious political clan within the government with a more applied and utilitarian one, characteristic of project management, rather than strategic management. From now on, the building concept prevails over the concept of regional development and decentralization. And this is a very serious reversal.
Will it allow post-war Ukraine to rise quickly? Examples of post-war rebuilding of West Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Japan say no. There projects were strung on a strategy. However, there are many third world countries that somehow live within the framework of the utilitarian approach. Somalia, Syria, Haiti. Why did we, who are also fighting for the European future, find ourselves on the way with them?
Probably because it is always difficult for people with a good financial appetite, absent state thinking and false values to eat. And always hungry – the simpler the better.
The only thing that can greatly spoil the appetite of the “troika” at the table is the president’s veto on law No. 5655. The position of civil society can become a trigger for completely new social processes in terms of quality. First of all, in the professional architectural and expert communities, which turned out to be able not only to organize petition to the president by transferring law No. 5655 to Zelensky’s area of political responsibility, but also line up a further strategy, including the creation of an Urban Planning Code. And here civil institutions have a serious support: local self-government. Which also not only self-organized, but also withstood pressure from the authorities, who showered Shulyak with “temniki” on the need to support project No. 5655. However, locals are happy synchronously adopted appeals to the president, demanding a veto. Likewise, at some point, LBOs will formally tell donors that the recovery process is centralized, bypassing local authorities.
Of course, if Bankovaya does not hear direct signals from civil society, communities and international partners, the risks are high, and after the veto, nominal amendments and another round of pushing through a new version of the old law may await us. Combined with tough attempts to neutralize any opposition. So, the SBU is already working with the National Union of Architects (a criminal case has been opened against the head of the NSAU Alexander Chizhevsky), experts are being fought in court – Elena Shulyak filed a lawsuit against our author Georgy Mogilny, local self-government is also being framed: we are talking about a shameful court decision in regarding the mayor of Chernihiv Vladislav Atroshenko, whom the court illegally removed from office.
Ministry of Regional Development – for breakfast, committee – for lunch, country – for dinner
There is another tool on the agenda that can help the authorities and the president tighten the screws – the introduction of the institution of prefects. Bill No. 4298 on local state administrations, which will be subject to state supervision of CHI, has been completely rewritten for the second reading in favor of Bankovaya. However, in this area there is also a very strong professional and expert lobby, which is already maximally mobilized.
A brutal appetite may well lead to indigestion. However, there is hope that one of the “troika”, sitting at the main resource table of the country, who, in fact, will bear all executive responsibility for the country, will decide to take care of the health of his own stomach, the reputation of the president and the future of the state. Trying to see him not through the eyes of his longtime BRDO colleague Shulyak or the head of Yermak’s presidential office, but through the eyes of ordinary Ukrainians who give their lives for him. This is the future of Kubrakov’s ministry/government and will need to be rebuilt and restored.
PS On February 7, a meeting of the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada will be held, where the Deputy Prime Minister for the Reconstruction of Ukraine – Minister for the Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov will report on the strategy of the ministry entrusted to him. We hope that for the second time the announced presentation of the policy of the joint ministry will take place, and it will take into account the risks outlined in this article.