Behind the petty conflict between the two “servants” is a more serious competition for influence over Zelensky, and, as a result, for control over the Verkhovna Rada, writes DC
The conflicts around Volodymyr Zelensky are mostly hidden from the general public. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Some details of the internal political kitchen were highlighted by a public showdown between two influential people’s deputies from the “servants of the people” faction – Fedor Venislavsky and Maryana Bezugly.
“Servant” vs. “Servant”
Since June 2019, Venislavsky has been the presidential representative in the Constitutional Court, and since September 2022, he has been the presidential representative in the Verkhovna Rada. That is, he is now the official conductor of Bankova’s interests in parliament. Undoubtedly, only a person who enjoys the confidence of Andriy Yermak, the head of the OP, could take such a position.
Bezuglya is the deputy head of the parliamentary committee on national security, defense and intelligence (and also chairs the subcommittee on the implementation of NATO values and standards). In May 2021, she headed the Interim Rada Investigation Commission, which investigated, among other things, Wagnergate. It is clear that in order to carry out such a delicate mission, it was also necessary to have the trust of Yermak.
Both Venislavsky and Bezuglaya more than once showed influence, which could only be explained by the fact that Yermak was behind them. Sometimes they acted together. For example, in April 2022, Venislavsky and Bezuglaya came up with draft law No. 7267 (which, however, remained unaccepted) on counterintelligence support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Therefore, the sudden conflict between them that broke out on February 28, of course, caused bewilderment.
Venislavsky submitted to parliament a draft resolution on recalling Bezugly from the Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence. In an explanatory note, he stated that Bezuglaya’s further work in the committee “creates threats to the national security of Ukraine under martial law“.
But the most interesting thing is not even in this accusation, but in the fact that it concerns an ordinary episode at the committee meeting on February 16, which did not entail any legal consequences (that is, the committee did not make any decisions on this issue). Bezuglaya just said something at the meeting that Venislavsky did not like (and he is a member of the same committee). And now, after almost two weeks, he decided to take revenge on her – to expel her from the committee in disgrace, which automatically means the loss of the posts of deputy head of the committee and head of the subcommittee. What deserves such cruel revenge?
What does the (failed) resignation of Reznikov have to do with it
To answer this question, you need to rewind the tape of history a little back and return to February 5th. It was on that day that it became known that the “servants of the people” were going to remove Alexei Reznikov from the post of Minister of Defense. The newsmakers were Bezuglaya and the head of the “servants of the people” faction, David Arakhamia. And Bezuglaya was the first: on the morning of February 5, she announced the committee’s plans for the next week, and the first item there was the hearing of the new (!) Minister of Defense.
On the same day, a closed meeting of the faction was held, the results of which were first announced, again, by Bezuglaya: “Personnel rotations in the government. We release the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Strategic Industry.” An hour after it with the announcement spoke Arachamia: “Reznikov, within the framework of the government, is transferred to the post of Minister for Strategic Industries”, and the post of Minister of Defense will be taken by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, Major General Kirill Budanov.
It was logical to assume that this personnel reshuffling was conceived at Bankova, and Bezuglaya and Arakhamia only announced the decision of Zelensky and Yermak. But it soon became clear that this was not the case. For example, the “servant of the people” Oleg Dunda said on the air of the telethon, commenting on the meeting of the faction, that Reznikov’s resignation is “eit looks more like the personal position of Mr. Arakhamia and Mrs. Bezugly“.
Online media has formed a different version of events. Its essence is that Yermak, in view of the scandal around “17 hryvnia eggs”, wanted to replace Reznikov with his deputy in the OP Roman Mashovets, but Arakhamia offered Zelensky the option with Budanov and received consent, after which Bezuglaya began to urgently prepare a meeting of the committee, and Arakhamia gathered faction.
Perhaps this plan would have worked, it was not for nothing that Arakhamia and Bezuglaya were in a hurry. But even after they publicly announced it, smart people approached them and suggested that the law on the “National Security of Ukraine” states that the Minister of Defense is appointed “from among civilians.” Budanov did not want to leave military service, therefore, in order to appoint him as a minister, it was necessary to make changes to the law specifically for him. Meanwhile, February 14, the date of the next Ramstein, was approaching, and Zelensky decided to leave Reznikov in office (which he himself announced in Brussels). And this suited Yermak quite well, since Reznikov is his man, and the scandal with “eggs for 17 UAH” has already been eclipsed by new corruption scandals at customs.
In general, the venture with castling failed. Nevertheless, it had the result of an increase in internal tensions in the Zelensky team. If Arakhamia had been able to realize his plan, his influence would have increased due to the weakening of Yermak’s influence. In addition, Bezuglya has already revealed her alliance with Arakhamia, thus giving a signal to other “servants”.
If this was her only sin, then, probably, he would not yet become a reason for revenge. But the story didn’t end there.
Venislavsky vs. Bezugly. The game of independence Rada
The greatest fury at Bankova was caused by the fact that the parliament suddenly found itself in the role of an independent player. After all, after the statements of Bezuglya and Arakhamia, the public could get the impression that people’s deputies were going to fire the Minister of Defense for corruption. By the way, Cornerless added fuel to the fire. On February 6, explaining why Reznikov retained his seat, she stated that “the situation with Reznikov demonstrated the de facto tolerance of Ukrainian society to corruption.”
Venislavsky became the conductor of Bankova’s anger. “The post of Minister of Defense is a quota initiated by the President in front of Parliament. Accordingly, Parliament appoints and dismisses on the proposal of the President. Therefore, we cannot talk about any legal procedures that could have begun. Because representation there was no president about the dismissal of Reznikov”, he said on the air of the telethon on the morning of February 7.
It is hard to believe that the lawyer who represented the President in the Constitutional Court did not read the Constitution, which states that Parliament has the right to dismiss any member of the Cabinet, including the Minister of Defense. And no presentation of the president is required for this. The same is written in the law on the Cabinet of Ministers: a member of the Cabinet of Ministers can be dismissed from office by the Verkhovna Rada “on their own initiative.”
It would seem that there is nothing wrong with the fact that the parliament will take the initiative and dismiss the minister with a tarnished reputation. But for Bankova, as we see, it turned out to be unacceptable to simply discuss such a possibility. The deputies should not even think about it, and the people should not have any expectations that the parliament can show independence. So Venislavsky had to misinform the people on television with fairy tales that for the resignation of the Minister of Defense, the presentation of the President is necessary.
Venislavsky vs. Bezugly. “Yake їhalo, such zdibalo”
However, Bezuglyaya did not heed this subtle hint and continued her activity, which was not authorized in the OP. On February 11, she announced a trick she had invented: to legitimize the military minister of defense by amending bill No. February 2022 (a week before the start of the big war). If the committee had made this amendment when preparing the draft for the second reading, and if the Rada had voted for this law, this would have created the opportunity to replace Reznikov with Budanov or another general.
We emphasize that this is a bad plan, because it contradicts NATO standards. And Bezuglaya, as the head of the subcommittee on the implementation of NATO values and standards, cannot be unaware of this. But for the initiators of this plan, it seems that relations with NATO are small details compared to the struggle for control over the Ministry of Defense and its financial flows.
In any case, this plan failed: there were no votes in the committee for its implementation. And in the Parliament itself, this idea was unpopular. But on Bankovaya they decided to take revenge on Bezuglya – and it turned out to be a classic zashkvar.
Explaining why he wants to expel Bezugluya from the committee, Venislavsky claims that on February 16, at a meeting of the committee, she told the members of the committee “deliberately false information about the preliminary approval by her of the wording of the draft law No. 4210 prepared for the second reading” with the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Moscow Region. Where did Venislavsky get the idea that Bezugly’s information on February 16 was “obviously unreliable”? It turns out that on February 22, Budanov sent a letter to the committee that the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Moscow Region does not support bill No. 4210. Contrary to logic, Venislavsky dismisses the possibility that Budanov’s opinion could have changed to the opposite between February 16 and 22 (under the influence, for example, of calls from Bankova) .
And Venislavsky completely forgot about the waywardness of Bezugloy in vain. She did not wait for the vote in the Rada and quickly raised a scandal that he wants to expel her from the committee. Well, for its part, it sent a wave of negativity towards him.
It was February 28, and the very next morning she announced that the draft resolution submitted by Venislavsky would not be considered at the procedural committee, and even more so at the meeting of parliament. “Now this document will settle in the archive as a historical reminder of the episode. We drove”, she said.
Probably, Bankova did not like the speed with which the scandal is inflated, which adds negativity to the entire Zelensky team. However, as of the evening of March 1, this project still does not have a note that it has been withdrawn. So the scandal is not over yet. At the same time, rumors have already appeared that one of these days a big stuffing of compromising evidence on Arakhamia is expected. It seems that behind the petty conflict between Bezugla and Venislavsky there is a more serious competition between Yermak and Arakhamia. This is competition for influence on Zelensky, and, as a result, for control over the Rada. It is hard to argue with the fact that Yermak would like to see exactly zero people entering Zelensky directly around him. And the scandal between Bezugla and Venislavsky, which got out into the public space, only shed a little light on how difficult it is for the “servants” in the showdown for access to body No. 1.
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