Ukrainian president ‘will not be authoritarian’, claims advisor

Andrey Gerus, the representative of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in the country’s cabinet, has dismissed claims suggesting that the president is on the way to become an authoritarian leader now that he will have a majority in the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament.

Speaking in an interview with RBC Ukraine, Mr Gerus said it would be normal if the president came to the MPs of his Servant of the People party and made suggestions on legislation and other issues, but “this will not turn [Ukraine] into a dictatorship”, as the party’s experts will generate their own ideas, defend them and propose alternatives. “In general, he [Mr Zelensky] is a modern person with a democratic mindset,” the presidential advisor said, adding that a coalition with the Holos (Voice) party of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk is still not entirely ruled out.

Discussing economic reforms, Mr Gerus stressed that the successful privatisation of several state enterprises, including that of electric equipment manufacturer Electrotyazhmash and electricity provider Centrenergo, would send a positive signal to the world and result in decreased utility prices and increasing investments.

Asked about possible steps the president might take to fight corruption, Mr Gerus said that the best way to reduce the impact of oligarchs on government decisions is competition. “If we have more foreign players in the energy, chemistry, as well as other markets, the role of our oligarchs will fall. Fair and equal rules of the game will enable small and medium businesses to develop, so that there are no special preferences for large businesses,” he told RBC Ukraine.

The president’s envoy noted that the administration is preparing for a complete halt of Russian gas transit to Europe through Ukraine, but added that negotiations will be restarted in the near future.