Their first time. VoxCheck of the first session of the IXth Verkhovna Rada convocation

Despite the 16-hour session being one of the longest in the history of Ukraine, MP’s statements contained surprisingly little facts.

depositphotos / palinchak

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On August, 29th, the MPs of the ninth convocation of the Verkhovna Rada took their oath and officially started working. On the same day VoxUkraine held a preventive rally under the walls of the parliament and promised to monitor the actions of MPs, and stayed true to its word.  

The first session of the new parliament stretched on and became nearly the longest in Ukraine’s history: the end of session was announced at 02:10 A. M. on the 30th of August, so the MPs had worked for 16 hours straight.

VoxCheck watched the session recording and checked all the speeches of the politicians. And even though there were surprisingly little facts, we managed to get a hold of several quite interesting statements. 

False

“Unfortunately, for many years we have watched trust deteriorate more and more. And almost at the end of the cadency of the previous parliament it reached a catastrophically low point. It was a 1% of full and only 3% of partial trust.”

Dmytro Razumkov, Servant of the People party, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, 1:40:45 – 1:41:05

Even in the last year of the VIII convocation more people trusted it than Razumkov offers. See the table below:  

Time of survey Fully trust, % Partially trust, % Total, %
June 1-6 2018 0,9 9,4 10,3
February 7-14 2019 1,1 11,6 12,7
March 21-26 2019 1,3 11,2 12,4

True

“We must not allow Ukrainian Law in 2019 to still recognize the Housing Code of the Ukrainian SSR, with its preface stating “upholding the ideas of Lenin’s communism”.”

Ruslan Stefanchuk, Servant of the People party, First Deputy Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, 2:31:05 – 2:31:25

True, the Housing Code in 2019 still contains the preface “In order to implement Lenin’s ideas of building a communist society and to raise the material and cultural level of life of the people, the Soviet state is consistently implementing the housing program developed by the Communist party.”  

True

“During the times of Yanukovych whole chapters were thrown out of the Regulations, namely the chapter which managed the issue of parliament minority.”

Ivan Krulko, Batkivshchyna party, First Deputy Chairman of the Budget Committee, 2:55:15 -2:55:25

Verkhovna Rada excluded the sections governing coalition and opposition activities from the Regulations on the 8th of October, 2010. Yanukovych had signed the bill, proposed by Volodymyr Lytvyn and Adam Martynyuk. 

Manipulation

“Victor Fedorovych didn’t throw it out, do your research. We had a Constitution of a semi-presidential state. The parliament was organized accordingly”.

Mykhaylo Papiyev, “Opposition Platform – For Life” party, Secretary of the Committee on Regulation, Parliamentary Ethics and Organization of the Verkhovna Rada, 2:56:00 – 2:56:12

Rollback to the semi-presidential version of the Constitution took place 8 days before excluding the sections governing coalition and opposition activities from the Regulations – on September 30th, 2010. However, it would be wrong to say Victor Yanukovych had nothing to do with it. Yanukovych had signed the bill with changes to the Regulations, and nearly all Party of Regions fraction voted in favor.  

False

“In 2014 no one gave speeches, there was no discussion, they voted for 3 minutes. For everyone.”

Andriy Kozhemiakin Кожем’якін, Batkivshchyna party, Head of the Committee on Youth and Sport, 3:07:52 – 3:08:01

At the Verkhovna Rada session on February 27th, 2014 Oleksandr Turchynov, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada at the time, stated at around 10:20 A. M.: 

“Dear colleagues, in order to allow us to work effectively, heads of the fractions are currently finalizing their discussions. I hope they will soon inform us about the creation of a new parliament majority and will submit their propositions for the Prime Minister and the members of the government.”

Around 13:20 Serhiy Sobolev had nominated the chairman of the Batkivshchyna  parliamentary fraction Arseniy Yatsenyuk for the post of Prime Minister.

After the discussion finished and Yatsenyuk’s candidacy was approved, at 14:56 a Party of Regions member Nestor Shufrych stated: “We heard the surnames of the candidates for the important positions only now. We ask for a time so our fraction can discuss the candidacies, at least 15-20 minutes, so we can take part in the vote”. In other words, the candidates were nominated by the coalition on the same day, after the discussion. 

Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced the list of candidates for the new Cabinet of Ministers at around 15:00. At 15:11 331 MPs voted in favor. 

It means that after the coalition discussed the candidate for the Prime Minister and the candidates for the Cabinet of Ministers, the list was given for approval, and it happened within a day, not “in three minutes”, without speeches or discussion. 

Manipulation

“We are the second largest fraction in the parliament, representing 2 million of Ukrainian citizens. We are the biggest and the only true opposition in our parliament.”

Natalia Korolevska, Opposition Platform – For Life Party, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Social Policy and Veterans’ Rights 3:33:01 – 3:33:09

According to the elections results, 13,05% or 1,9 million of Ukrainians voted for Opposition Platform – For Life party. With 43 MPs  it is indeed second largest parliamentary fraction. However, neither the number of votes nor the word “Opposition” in the name makes it “the only true opposition”. First, there is no formal definition of opposition in the current Ukrainian legislation. Second, for instance, European Solidarity also announced it will be in the opposition to the ruling party. 

True

“Next year every third hryvnia will go to the debt service.”

Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, 3:51:30 – 3:52:40

According to the preliminary data, budget costs in 2020 might reach nearly UAH 1,185 trillion, with external debt service payments at UAH 335,8 billion. Meaning that 28,3% of all the budget costs, or nearly every third hryvnia, will go to the debt service.   

True

“We have more than 10 million people living below the poverty line”

Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, 3:52:05 – 3:52:10

According to the latest open data (9 months of 2018), 11.3 million of Ukrainians live below the poverty line, defined as an actual living wage. We need to add, that there were14.8 million of such people for the same period of 2017.  And in 2016   (chart VIII-1) – 65% of all Ukrainians. So the number of people living below the poverty line has been decreasing for several years straight. 

Manipulation

“Which 7% growth you are talking about if current restructuring terms will eat anything above 4%?

Serhiy Sobolyev, Batkivshchyna party, member of the Committee on Legal Policy, 4:02:33 – 4:02:40

Sobolyev is talking about the August 2015 partial restructuring of the external debt, which included the write-off of 20% of debt or $3,8 billion, and weighted average coupon rate was raised from 7,22% to 7,75% per year. The repayment of government bonds was postponed for four years – from 2015-2023 to 2019-2027.

It allowed Ukraine to avoid default in 2015-2016. The creditors, in turn, have received GDP warrants (VRIs) – securities, payments on which depend on Ukraine’s GDP growth.

However, “current restructuring terms eating anything above 4%” is no true. Real terms were as follows: 

  • zero payment if GPD growth is under 3% a year;
  • 3% to 4% growth – 15% from every GDP growth percent above 3%, 
  • more than 4% – 40% of each additional percent. 

Besides, GDP warrant payments in 2021–2025 cannot exceed 1% of GDP.

Manipulation

“The ill-advised medical reform causes health posts and dispensaries in the country to shut down. Village schools are starting to shut down, too.”

Dmytro Lubinets, non-affiliated, member of the parliamentary deputy group “For the Future”, 4:20:54 – 4:21:11

At some places health posts will indeed shut down, in some – the new ones will be created. Basically, we are talking about changing the role of the paramedics. As part of this reform (the creation of hospital districts), some hospitals will be repurposed, some closed, some – rebuilt (that’s for the local authorities to decide). This is necessary because the current system of medical facilities was created in the Soviet times under the Semashko system – when the state budget financed the number of beds and square meters of medical infrastructure, not the quality and quantity of services provided. In today’s Ukraine, this system does not meet the needs of the population and therefore is inefficient. 

Concerning the number of schools, it started decreasing back in 1995 (except for some years). Besides, the quality of education does not depend on the number of schools. 

In Europe, there are 15 to 17 students per teacher, in Ukraine – 8.9. In other words, it is necessary to improve the quality of teaching, including the development of new forms of learning, such as distance learning, and it makes no sense to open new schools if there are not enough students in the village. Currently small-school students in Ukraine are being transferred to the so-called support schools, where the cost of teaching one student is 2-3 times lower than in a small school, and the quality of education is higher.

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