#Official Commentary of Marina Zheynova on impending public-utility revolution in Ukraine

The next rise in utility tariffs in July compelled the Ukrainians to take to the streets. “We`ll have to give our whole wages to pay for utilities. And how shall we live on?” protesters wondered. “But if the government speaks of European prices, then let it give European wages as well!” people demanded.

Naturally, taking the opportunity, the so-called Ukrainian opposition heard citizens` requests and demanded to revise gas, water and heat tariffs. The “oppositionists” have long been speaking on television about corruptive nature of the current authorities, claiming that Ukrainian gas is not enough for the country itself, and there is no need to import it. (By the way, I have written about it previously, analyzing figures and schemes). But apart from populism, in fact, no real steps towards reduction of tariffs have been taken so far. On the contrary, there`s already talk of a new rise in tariffs in the autumn.

The government even began to speak of a reform of the payroll system, but they forgot to say how to reform it, when the budget bursts at the seams…

Of course, ordinary people are dissatisfied with avalanche-like increase in tariffs, gas tariffs rising 8.2 times more and heat ones – 4.6 times more. And after the last rise in tariffs in July, two-thirds of Ukraine`s population will begin to qualify for subsidies, though such sums have not been allocated in the state budget. Once again, officials will go to houses to count not only income but also expenses of the population to find any excuse to deny subsidy. For example, living in a one-room apartment, one will have to pay more than the subsistence minimum for public utilities!

Maybe before raising tariffs, it is necessary to raise income level of the population, isn`t it? So, instead of creating new jobs, developing economy, improving the investment climate (However, what I’m talking about?), Ukrainian people in power, on the contrary, force the population into poverty and give handouts in the form of subsidies, reasoning it with economic calculations and setting Europe up as an example. I wonder if light at the end of the tunnel will glimmer at all one day? Тhe answer is obvious.

Well, that’s a vicious circle. The population don`t have enough money to pay such exorbitant utility tariffs and, consequently, such avalanche number of non-payments will lead to lack of funds for maintenance of housing and public utilities system and preparation for the next heating season, that could result in the collapse of public services in general. That`s on the one hand, and on the other hand, “Naftogaz” will have no money to pay companies which provide it with resources. Herewith, reformation of “Naftogaz” itself is one of the IMF`s requirements. Don`t forget about electricity blackouts, allegedly provoked by hot summer weather. In my opinion, all of this is the first signs of systemic energy crisis, which is already not far off.

As a result, everything is as usual: what they fought for has been their undoing. Something tells me that today’s protests against groundless tariffs are just the tip of the iceberg. Winter will come, and no cookies – oh, no subsidies! – will stop people’s anger. More and more often, one can hear calls for the third maidan.

According to experts, tariff crisis may lead to a full-scale crisis of power, since the sitting Ukrainian president has to bear full responsibility for the results of all his so-called reforms. Thus, former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Sergey Arbuzov considers that “the president`s party no longer has a buffer in the person of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, so he and his prime minister (Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Groisman – author`s note) will have to meet all the negative, accumulated over the past two years and a half, to answer not only for tariffs, but also for the countless broken promises, for the war, corruption and lack of reforms… March of the empty pots does not bode well for Ukraine in conditions of very unpopular and weak power”.

Forecasts about the change of the ruling regime in Ukraine do not seem so unreasonable in this regard. Winter in Ukraine, as usual, comes unexpectedly. And temperature changes will bring about the deterioration of political forecast for the remaining part of Ukraine…

Marina Zheynova, DPR People`s Council deputy

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