Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine
Social psychologist Svetlana Chunikhina remarks that during the disturbances in his office (now headed by Andriy Yermak instead of the dismissed Andriy Bogdan), President Zelensky replaced "the person who told him what to do, by the person who says that he does everything well "
Perhaps, from the point of view of psychology, everything looks that way. But from the point of view of geopolitics, situation is different. It is unlikely that Volodymyr Zelensky cared primarily about his own comfort. Yermak at the post of President’s Office head marks a definite change in the foreign policy.
This is the first thing our experts noted in the comments. The second is the redrawing of the existing outlines of political elites and influence groups. We don’t think that both points will benefit the president. But it seems that Zelensky took courage and decided to take a chance. Why now?
Never insult the president
“The resignation of Bogdan was agreed on March,” political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov tells, “but he was rude to the president and was dismissed today.”
And if you believe the political strategist Myikhailo Podolyak, then everything happened like that. “Andriy Bogdan fell out of the current agenda a couple of months ago. No, of course, he still decided, composed, whispered, demanded and sometimes threatened others. But without trust and guarantee. And after another ‘pleasant’ conversation, he wrote another statement about the resignation, having said in his circle the sacramental “now everyone stands for himself.” And received a wonderful parting word from Zelensky himself “goodbye, friend.” The first high-profile resignation did happen,” Podolyak wrote on social networks.
Bogdan was a fairly professional player in covert games, experts agree. “Despite all his shortcomings he knew how the system worked. He knew how to caress someone, and who to insult,” says political consultant Taras Zagorodnyi. His namesake Yermak does not know all this.
But lack of experience may not be that bad. The deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, Bogdan Petrenko, draws attention to the fact that Yermak, at least, does not have the loop of the “Kolomoisky man”. Perhaps, on the basis of this, it will be even easier for the new head of the presidential office to communicate with the faction "Servant of the People".
"Yermak was mainly engaged in domestic politics. It is not known how successfully he will manage the president’s office. Friendship with the president is his only real leverage so far. Perhaps this friendship will save him from the negative image that Andriy Bogdan had at one time. “And, perhaps, such an image will allow him to find a common language with the faction, because he will no longer be perceived as a Kolomoisky’s person, but as a continuation of Zelensky himself,” Petrenko suggests. However, this will not last long, he adds.
At the same time, Petrenko notes that “Andriy Bogdan, as chairman of the Office, was charismatic, with an image of “no brakes” type, and at the early stage there were jokes that Zelensky works as president in the office of Bogdan. But that’s what pulled aside part of the negative that was addressed to the president. Andriy Yermak is unlikely to cope with this lightning rod function. Therefore, the first thing to expect is the danger to Zelensky’s rating."
In any case, Andriy Bogdan, as the head of the Presidential Office, is already the past. But Yermak in the same position is the present. And we are also talking about the consequences of his accession at Bankova.
Good Russia, Good America
And the first consequence Petrenko formulates as follows: "The likely establishment of relations with the Russian Federation."
"Yermak has connections with the Kremlin. And in this regard, it is useful for Zelensky, and on the other, it is not known how ready he is to lobby for Ukrainian interest, and not his own or his own circle," Kyrylo Sazonov picks up the thought.
His colleague Yevgen Bulavka goes even further and states the following: “I had the idea that Zelensky could get out of Kolomoisky’s influence only by jumping into Putin’s arms. Yermak is a manifestation of this.”
However, is it fair to declare Yermak an agent of the Kremlin and open a new season of big “harassment”? It is a rather interesting phenomenon. If one calls Yermak a pro-Russian politician, one cannot ignore his other form: he is also a pro-American politician. Here is what the director of the Institute for Global Strategies Vadym Karasev says:
“Yermak can be attributed to both more pro-Russian and more pro-Trump politicians. It was he who contacted Giuliani - just when Giuliani and Trump demanded the resignation of Bogdan. Therefore, I think that this resignation is an echo of Trump's unsuccessful impeachment, from which he won. Now Zelensky’s task is to establish relations with the Trump administration, which is seriously aiming for a second term. And it is Yermak who can come in handy there. "
Bogdan Petrenko adheres to approximately the same opinion. He once again recalls two points: 1) in the USA, there is a rejection of Igor Kolomoisky and all the people referred to his pool; 2) Donald Trump won the impeachment case, and this circumstance cannot be ignored.
Petrenko adds one more thing. “The West will now be very cautious in evaluating Bogdan’s resignation. Just like Yermak himself, who, having ties to the Russian political council, will behave much more moderately than Bogdan. Most likely, Yermak will take a constructive position that will not look like drastic change in the vector. "
The West as a whole will be guided by many (often opposite) people in Ukrainian politics, including ex-president Petro Poroshenko, Taras Zagorodniy notes.
But Kyrylo Sazonov indicates that there is no "collective West." There is Europe and there is America, and now they are opposing each other. "The West is not homogeneous. There is an EU position and there is a US position that does not coincide. If the EU is more inclined to cooperate with Russia, then the United States does not," Sazonov says.
And if so, then Yermak should be liked by both sides: in America - with his "trampism", and in Europe - with "Kremlinism". But what about Ukraine? What will he bring to our country?
Other consequences: personnel, land, Kolomoisky
Castling in the President’s Office will not be the only replacement on the playing field, says Kyrylo Sazonov. "At first, everyone thought that the matter would be limited to the resignation of Bogdan, but now there is already talks about the dismissal of a number of governors - in particular, those who were people of Bogdan," he says.
But, Sazonov adds, there is no talk of the Prime Minister’s resignation: "Honcharuk has not yet gathered all the negativity."
“Perhaps the replacement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to which Yermak does not have sympathy, is coming,” Vadym Karasev joins the conversation, “and, possibly, the Prime Minister as well. It’s because Bogdan saved Honcharuk from resignation, and Yermak can look at it differently”.
But if it happens that Honcharuk is swept away by a wave of resignations, his place is unlikely to go to the executive director of Naftogaz Yuri Vitrenko, as they say on the sidelines. “Vitrenko is unlikely to have this place because he is Kolomoisky’s man. Although given that he was the one who participated in the gas transit talks and even talked with Putin, he could be liked by Yermak, ”Karasev suggests.
Taras Zagorodniy does not agree with him: "After today's statements by Vitrenko that he has not been paid a bonus, there will be no vote for him in the Verkhovna Rada. He is too toxic."
Meanwhile, Karasev names people for whom Yermak can act as a kind of social elevator. “He worked for Klitschko and can have the personnel reserve from the Kyiv City State Administration. Look, Yermak started with Oleksiy Reznikov, and now Reznikov is being nominated to the ministers of the occupied territories,” the expert says.
But back to the consequences of replacing the President’s Office head. With the departure of Bogdan from power, “the story of the opening of the land market can be substantially stalled,” says Vadym Karasev. “Because it was Bogdan and his friend Solsky (Mykola Solsky - chairman of the parliamentary committee on agrarian and land policy) who were lobbyists for this reform. Perhaps now the authorities will have to add a little compromise to this idea."
The fact that now “it will be possible to collect votes for the land” is also doubtful. Therefore, the saga with the amendments to the bill on the free sale of land may end in nothing. Whether the Kolomoisky group likes it or not.
By the way, let’s talk about the famous Ukrainian oligarch. Zagorodniy believes that the dismissal of the “Kolomoisky man” will not affect his relationship with the president. Despite the fact that these relationships are already complicated. By the way, Zelensky does not at all seek to spoil them completely, Bogdan Petrenko believes. "It’s in Zelensky’s interests to demonstrate that Kolomoisky has no influence on him, but also not to lose support from the oligarch. Bogdan’s resignation is not a defeat for Kolomoisky. It is a kind of game - in order to reduce his negative influence," he says .
Plus, “Kolomoisky will have his own set of levers of influence, albeit not as direct as his ability to act through Bogdan,” Petrenko said.
And Kyrylo Sazonov adds: “Bogdan was Kolomoisky’s elephant, his horse, but by no means a queen. Kolomoisky’s struggle for his interests will continue - with or without Bogdan.”
“From a human point of view, Kolomoisky should feel relieved,” says Karasev. “Because recently Bogdan has not listened too much to Kolomoisky, and there have been public and non-public quarrels between them. But speaking of the political context, the resignation of Bogdan means the president’s trend towards his distance from Kolomoisky. "
We will know more about new trends soon. For the game for reformatting tidbits (that is, places in the immediate vicinity of Zelensky) has just begun.