Oleksander Zinchenko is the man who took the first steps that started the collapse. He was made the president’s chief of staff after successfully running Viktor Yushchenko’s election campaign. On Saturday he triggered the corruption scandal with his shock resignation. “Now corruption and bribe-taking are growing in force”, he said. “In many cases it surpasses its previous size, spreading into central and regional structures. The phenomenon is becoming systemic.”
Zinchenko’s allegations were all the more shocking because he specifically named Petro Poroshenko, one of the President’s closest allies. He accused him of using his position as secretary of the National Defence and Security Council to line his own pockets. It seems like an eternity since Ukraine put itself on the political map amid the triumphant scenes of the Orange Revolution last year. Yushchenko’s team only took office in February with a firm commitment to clean-up Ukranian business and politics. But to many insiders the cracks which have led to its collapse were apparent from day one. When Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Nikolai Tomenko, stepped down he said the country had two governments – one run by Yulia Tymoshenko and the other by Poroshenko. Even before she became Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Tymochenko never hid her ambitions to hold the top job, which is why some analysts say the President appointed Poroshenko to counter her increasing popularity and growing influence. On the question of her rivality with Yushenko she told EuroNews back in June she said: “in all families there’s a period of hard work. We have to understand each other’s style.” All that is clear for now is that Yushchenko has acted decisively to end a crisis that threatens his own credibility. The allegations of corruption hurt a government already tarnished by slowing economic growth, rising inflation and lack of consistency on key policy issues. The stage seems set for a show-down between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko in parliamentary elections set for next March.