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The Team Of Happiness? Fact Check Of The Ukrainian Politicians’ Statements At YES-2019

Photo: YES © 2019. Фотографи: Сергій Іллін, Олександр Індичий та Олександр Пілюгін
30 September 2019
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16th Annual Meeting of the Yalta European Strategy (YES) took place on September 12-14. The topic for the YES-2019 was happiness — what makes people all over the world happy, and what kind of policy can make Ukrainians happier.

The political majority was represented by the President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmytro Razumkov, members of the new Cabinet of Ministers and MPs. The minister of digital transformation Mykhaylo Fedorov named them «the team of happiness». There were also other MPs present — for instance, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk and Ivan Krulko. 

VoxCheck followed the statements of all the politicians, however, the facts were scarce.Everything we could find and check read below in the article.

False

“Young growing generation… For them, happiness means studying in some other country, even though everybody says that the level of education in our universities is as good as in the foreign ones. It means that people want to go there not to study, but to stay.”

Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Ukrainian universities, 13/09/2019 (59:26 – 59:54)

Ukrainian universities are ranked at 800th positions in THE World University Rankings. To compare, Polish universities (the most popular direction in 2016-2017) are ranked at 600th positions, Russian ones (second most popular) – at the late 100th, German (third most popular) got into the top 100

According to QS World University Rankings, Ukrainian universities are ranked at the late 400th positions, Polish – at the middle 300th, Russian and German ones are in the top 100.

VoxCheck does not analyze the causal relationship established by the speaker, but the position of the Ukrainian higher education institutions is not the same in comparison with the foreign ones, so the verdict is false.

Exaggeration

“Yesterday we passed the law on film industry support and promotion, on rebate. We invite everyone to make sure that filming here is no worse than in Budapest or Poland.”

Volodymyr Zelenskiy on investments into the film industry, 13/09/2019 (1:10:15 – 1:10:25)

Draft law 1058 has passed the first reading on September 12 — so, at the moment of the statement, it has not become a law yet. Therefore, our verdict is exaggeration. 

The verdict does not consider the possible influence the law might have on local and international subjects of the film industry. The statement implies that the proposed stimuli apply exclusively to the foreign subjects.

True

“Budget of our Ministry is UAH 12 billion at the moment.”

Volodymyr Borodyansky on ministry budget, 14/09/2019(2:07:47 – 2:07:53)

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine was created as a result of “a unification” of the Ministry of Information Policy, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The 2019 budget includes 545,639 million, 6,989 billion and 3,626 billion for these ministries, accordingly. In total, that is UAH 11,16 billion. 

According to the 2020 draft budget, this ministry is supposed to receive UAH 11,7 billion.

True

“If we look at the most successful countries in the world, for example, according to PISA study, the most successful in the sphere of education, you will see China, Hong Kong (it participates separately), Japan, South Korea, Singapore. They have the highest grades in Math, Physics, Sciences. However, when we look at the happiest countries, yes, look at the World Happiness Report, you will see Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden among the leaders.”

Hanna Novosad on education and happiness, 14/09/2019 (1:49:28-1:50:04)

In the 2015 PISA study, the leaders in natural and mathematical sciences are China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. Sweden, Finland, and Norway, by the way, have high grades too. Ukraine does not take part in this study.

According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden got into top 7 happiest countries in the world. Singapore was ranked 34th, South Korea — 54th, Japan — 58th, China — 93rd. Hong Kong does not participate separately in this study. Ukraine was at the 133rd out of 156 places.

True

“For the first time in history, a ministry responsible for the digital transformation was created (the Ministry of Digital Transformation — editor’s note). It is extremely important because there is finally an institution forming policy in this direction. For the first time in the history of Ukraine, there is a fully-fledged committee responsible for the digital transformation in the Verkhovna Rada. Not IT, not innovation, because those, in my opinion, are for entrepreneurs to develop, but the committee overseeing digital transformation.”

Mykhaylo Fedorov on digital transformation, 14/09/2019 (1:58:03-1:58:32)

The Ministry of Digital Transformation was created on September 2, 2019. The Committee on digital transformation was created on August 28, 2019. 

True

“The average age of MPs of the current Verkhovna Rada is 41 years old, it used to be 48. There are 21% of females in this Verkhovna Rada, it used to be only 12%.”According to the civil network OPORA, this is true.

Halyna Yanchenko on the “portrait” of MP, 14/09/2019 (3:34:36 – 3:34:50)

True

“Yesterday, there was famous, or infamous, voting to change the Central Electoral Commission in Ukraine. This Electoral Commission was elected just a year ago. And for seven year old term, for seven year term. It takes 300 votes of constitutional majority to replace it.”

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk on the change in the Central Election Commission of Ukraine, 14/09/2019 (3:41:01-3:41:25)

A year ago, 14 out of 17 members of the Central Election Commission were appointed

The CEC term of office is seven years, and the decision to terminate the powers of the entire composition of the Commission has to be supported by at least two-thirds of MPs.

True

“I remember, how during the previous convocation, we all wanted to return to the Regulations all the norms on the opposition thrown out during Yanukovych times. In five years, not a single one out of eight draft laws submitted to the parliament was considered.”

Ivan Krulko, 14/09/2019 (2:57:54-2:58:15)

Chapters 12 and 13, regulating coalition and opposition activities, were excluded from the Verkhovna Rada Regulations on October 8, 2010. Yanukovych signed this law. Initiators were Volodymyr Lytvyn and Adam Martynyuk.

There were seven draft laws registered in the Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation, which dealt with the issue of parliamentary opposition. All of them (1066, 1066-1, 3061, 3061-1, 3061-2, 5284), except 0948, were withdrawn even before the first reading.

Draft law 0948 passed the first reading in the 7th convocation and was moved to the 8th convocation when the deputies decided not to consider it since the activity of the opposition should be regulated by the Verkhovna RadaRegulations. In fact, none of these draft laws were considered in the session hall, so the verdict is true.

Manipulation

“For 22 years they promised to remove parliamentary immunity, always finding an argument why it could not be done. This convocation withdrew parliamentary immunity in two days. Two days.”

Dmytro Razumkov, 14/09/2019 (3:02:55-3:03:07)

The draft law on amendments to Article 80 of the Constitution of Ukraine (on the immunity of the Ukrainian MPs) was introduced in the Verkhovna Rada in October 2017 on the initiative of Petro Poroshenko. The draft law was later referred by the VRU to the Constitutional Court, which delivered its conclusions on June 19, 2019.

Given that the new parliament only voted for the law and did not carry out all the necessary procedures before it was put to the vote, this is a manipulation.

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