Show must go on

Poroshenko debates will erase Zelensky to dust

On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian president Peter Poroshenko and his retinue came to the main Kiev stadium, Olympic Stadium, to inspect the future “battlefield”. It was here that a competitor for the second round of elections, the actor Vladimir Zelensky, invited him to the debate. In Poroshenko’s team, they desperately cheer up and say that “the president will show this comedian who is the boss in the country.” But political scientists are sure: despite the bravado, the guarantor will go to the stadium as if it were a slaughter. In fact, the discussion of any sphere from the life of Ukraine in the last five years is a “blow to the liver” to the president.


Real political debates, on the principle of “head-on” or “wall to wall”, as in America – is infrequent case in the post-Soviet space. The leaders of the former USSR countries prefer to carefully “clear a hill” in advance, to approach the elections “on a white horse” and not to be asked unpleasant questions. To enter into debate with competitors, even the weakest and most useless, they have no need. Russians know this better than anyone else …


In Ukraine, before the second round, a bout is brewing, and a tough and uncompromising one. Moreover, it will be as public as possible. The tribunes of the Olympiyskiy sports complex accommodate 65,000 spectators, but there can be even more of them at the debates. After all, this is not a football match, and at least 20 thousand spectators can be placed on the arena itself. The rest of Ukraine, no doubt, at eight o’clock in the evening on April 19, will gather at the TV screens in full force.


What they say on the streets and cuisines of the capital of Ukraine in the first round of presidential elections.

Poroshenko’s administration is sure: “Peter Alekseevich is an outstanding orator,” and he also has excellent knowledge of the material (figures, facts, economic calculations, etc.) Moreover, they believe in Bankova, the entire course of the current elections shows that the guarantor “keeps in the hands of the agenda “(the notorious “Army, language, faith”). Moreover, he is able to impose it on other candidates, including Zelensky. That is, to force the “comedian” to play in his field, showing his weakness and lack of awareness in public affairs.


In the end, organized by the secret services “leaks” of technical records from the Zelensky headquarters show his tongue-tiedness, as well as a really poor acquaintance with the economy, social sphere and the life of the country in general. Therefore, a tricky plan emerged at Poroshenko’s headquarters, how to beat Zelensky – to call him for a debate, and then arrange a public “beating up of babies”, erasing the opponent’s rating into fine dust …


However, many Ukrainian analysts and psychologists say that, getting involved in an open debate with Zelensky, Poroshenko becomes extremely vulnerable. And this is largely true. Yes, the president of Ukraine has good statistics and a position in the country. But speeches at meetings with voters are radically different from debates – here we must not broadcast, but fight with all our might.


Moreover, some meetings with voters were held for Poroshenko with scandals. Unable to restrain himself in critical situations, he tweaked the objectionable by the noses, slapped them on the cheek and tore off their hats. What will happen if the experienced comedy club and KVN resident and showman Zelensky manage to get Peter Alekseevich off balance – it is terrible to think.


But this will not be as difficult as it seems. It is enough to ask the arrogant Poroshenko the simplest questions about Ukrainian life. For example, such: “Mister President, why in five years you did not end the war in the Donbass, as you promised to the people?” It seems that Poroshenko will not be able to give a convincing answer even to such a simple question. “Kremlin stubbornness”, “insufficient help from the West”, “lack of strength for victory” – all this has been heard by Ukrainians a hundred times, and it will not be a ride.


No less obvious is the question: “Why do Ukrainians pay a third more for gas today than Europeans?” What can the guarantor say to this? “The intrigues of the Naftogaz management,” “objective prices for fuel,” “lack of supplies from Russia,” “pressure from the IMF,” have also been chewed a thousand times. And everyone in Ukraine knows that this is a lie and excuse.


Finally, the logical question about the fight against corruption – Poroshenko, too, will find it extremely difficult to answer adequately.


After all, literally on the eve of elections in the country, a criminal article was canceled for civil servants, whose expenses sharply exceeded official revenues (in other words, for corrupt officials). Dozens of criminal cases on Poroshenko’s henchmen, who for months scrupulously prepared the special services, were closed.


No less painful question for Poroshenko – why are still his good friends who sold military spare parts from Russia, at exorbitant prices “driving” Ukroboronprom structures to freedom? A loud scandal on this issue accompanied the guarantor the whole of March, but not one of the participants in the “scheme” was even detained. Only on these three points Zelensky – with appropriate preparation – can publicly “bang” Poroshenko, not allowing him to raise his head.


In fact, Ukrainians have a lot more of such critical questions for Poroshenko. There are intentional “funerals” with the power of hundreds of industries, and vassal dependence on America (which infuriates citizens wildly), total Ukrainization, restriction of civil liberties, attacks on journalists, etc., etc. Roughly speaking, if you ask Poroshenko severely only on the most urgent problems, it will take at least a couple of hours. Sorry, the debate will last only an hour.


By the way, during the last polls, the Ukrainians themselves identified five main topics, which, in their opinion, Zelensky and Poroshenko should be discussed in the course of a verbal duel. Among them are “peace in the Donbass and return of DNR to the orbit of Ukraine”, “real fight against corruption”, “solving the main economic problems of the country”, “a clear program of Ukraine’s development during the whole presidency” and “top-priority problems that the new president “.


There are a number of arguments that do not play in favor of Poroshenko. For example, experts strongly doubt that Zelensky is so bad in the debate. In the end, he is an actor accustomed to public speaking, as well as having vast experience in discussion genres, where the main thing is invention and speed of reaction. With the last two elements of Peter Alekseevich problems.


Yes, the president really knows how to “impose his agenda”, but as it turned out, ordinary Ukrainians are not very interested in it. “The Army” is interesting mainly to the military, “faith” is closely associated among millions of citizens with the expulsion of believers from the churches of the Ukraine church of Moscow Patriarchate. What s about language? Recently, there have become so much this language in the public field against Russian that many Ukrainians are already nauseated from it.


Also, political analysts say – Poroshenko after the first round of elections was in the role of “catching up”, and it seems to be trying to play his backlog. But the real initiative now clearly seized Zelensky and his team. It was he who advanced a whole range of requirements to Poroshenko – including the requirement to “pass tests”, clearly hinting at Poroshenko’s latent alcoholism. Even on TV it can be seen that the guarantor is in much worse physical shape than Zelensky.


The showman so quickly soared to the political Olympus that not everyone understood who he really was.

Finally, Zelensky proposed the role of an independent judge in the debates of the ex-main presidential candidate who failed the campaign — to Yulia Tymoshenko. That, of course, took time to think, but, according to experts, it is unlikely to be able to refuse such temptation. Within five months, elections to the Verkhovna Rada will be held, and the whole country will be watching the debate in the Olimpiysky Sports Complex. At the same time, the “iron Julia” will obviously not play along with Poroshenko, the relations with him, to put it mildly, are from perfect.


Finally, analysts say, before the second round, Poroshenko also lost one of the few trump cards he had in his hands. Acting indirectly, without any debate, he could oppose himself – the real president of the country at war – to the actor-comedian Zelensky, “Kolomoysky puppet”. By agreeing to open and equal debates, he himself turned the “comedian” into an equal political figure. And Poroshenko’s team cannot fix this strategic mistake – even if for some reason the debate does not take place.


However, the chances that they will be canceled are few. The last sociological research of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation showed that 74% of Ukrainians want to see this show with their own eyes – the debate between the finalists of the elections Poroshenko and Zelensky. In such a situation, politicians tend not only to listen to the voter’s opinion – they are forced to obey him.


Ukrainian political scientists say that Poroshenko’s gain from the debate can only be in one. If in the second round, the authorities are actually preparing large-scale frauds and “stuffing” in his favor, then an unexpected election result can be justified by a “convincing victory in the debates”. However, I would like to hope that during the clinch in the “Olympic”, Zelensky simply will not give him such a chance.