On 22nd September Prosecutor General Lutsenko announced that he would be appealing to the Verkhovna Rada to strip Mykola Skoryk of his parliamentary immunity next week.
Mr Skoryk has featured fairly frequently over the years within the blog, naturally mostly during his tenure as Odessa Oblast Governor under the Yanukovych regime between November 2013 – March 2014.
His dismissal from post following the fleeing of Yanukovych however, did not dramatically lessen his appearance in the blog prose due to his actions and influence leading up to the tragedy of 2nd May 2014. The most recent here.
To be entirely blunt, the local constituency will not be concerned with the plight of Mr Skoryk (unless they are paid to demonstrate for the cameras and/or he turns out his “sportsmen” in an aggressive publicity stunt). For different reasons he is viewed dimly by both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian extremes, and being widely acknowledged as the Mr Firtash/Liovochkin man for the region, hardly scores highly within the domestic psyche.
Mr Skoryk is also a man that clearly expected to rise far beyond being Odessa Governor under the Yanukovych regime. He is a man with ambitions that stretch far beyond his rather average abilities. Those ambitions remain – as do the “old school” methods of achieving them despite the damage such methods cause to the local constituency and nation as a whole.
To be specific, the Prosecutor General seeks to remove Mr Skoryk’s immunity following investigations into an incident that occurred on 19th February 2014 outside the Oblast Administration when Mr Skoryk was Governor. About 20 journalists, national and local and from across all political biases were covering a small “EuroMaidan” protest outside when about 150 men in helmets carrying baseball bats set upon them. Naturally there were injuries and broken equipment belonging to the various media outlets.
The involvement of Messrs Skoryk, Orlov and Fuchedzhi (the latter being the Odessa police chief on duty on 2nd May 2014 and now on the run) in such incidents has long been known within the local constituency. There will be no shocking revelations. Connecting Mr Skoryk to such incidents should not prove difficult – particularly as it appears Mr Orlov may well play ball with the PGO and give testimony.
The question is not one of revelations, but whether there will be any surprises – such as Mr Skoryk remaining in Ukraine if he believes he will actually be convicted or will see the inside of a jail cell for more than a day or two before being released on bail.
Perhaps he believes there will be insufficient votes to remove his immunity? A reader should expect that such votes will be found even if Mr Skoryk doesn’t. (Indeed assuredly there will be more parliamentarians facing a vote to remove their immunity during this session of the Verkhovna Rada – at least two others coming from the Opposition Block.)
Of intrest will be who of the 16 parliamentarians from Odessa will vote for the removal of Mr Skoryk’s immunity in any Verkhovna Rada vote? Assuredly Alexie Goncharenko will as he has been responsible for petitioning the PGO to take action, but which others? It is not necessarily a question of ex-Regionaire loyalties, for party names mean little compared to vested interests that cross party lines.
How would it effect any Dmitry Firtash bid for Odessa Port Side if his man is under the cosh?
Does this noticeably strengthen the position of Mr Goncharenko (and his people) in the city and/or the oblast political machinery and/or local constituency perception? By extension how significantly does that strengthen the President’s party of which he is a part?
How will former allies turned enemies react? Mr Rabinovych (and NewsOne)?
Despite Mt Skoryk having been politically sidelined for the most part over the last 18 months – partially in a self-imposed sulk – to be blunt hardly even bothering to vote if he decides to grace the Verkhovna Rada with his presence at all – how will the removal of his immunity (and perhaps successful prosecution (even if ultimately in absentia)) change the political dynamics of Odessa within a political elite? Oppo Block does very little in Odessa without the approval of Mr Skoryk (who in turn does little of significance without the approval of Mr Liovochin/Firtash) yet Mr Skoryk can be replaced.
None of this matters compared to Mr Skoryk being rightly subject to due process for his actions – he is perhaps fortunate that investigative eyes currently focus only upon 19th February 2014 – but there will be political ramifications now this course of action has begun locally – and perhaps nationally when other Oppo Block (among others) parliamentarians become subject to investigations and immunity stripping, for clearly accusations of political persecution will be made.