Archive for December 5th, 2017

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The Bankova gets its framing wrong – again

December 5, 2017

President Poroshenko must be positively seething.

Having tasked Arsen Avakov (with whom the President has a cold relationship anyway) and the Border Guard with preventing the return of Misha Saakashvili – they failed.

To be entirely fair to Arsen Avakov and in particular to the Border Guard, they did no more and no less than could be expected of them without instigating actions that unnecessarily threatened public safety at the time.

If there is one positive result from the events of 2014 and its aftermath, it is that the siloviki and its leadership is far more inclined to avoid staving in the heads of the public beyond what can be deemed as reasonable force in the circumstances.  At the very least there is now an awareness that due process may one day catch up with them.  There has been an overall visible improvement relating to how public (dis)order is dealt with.

However, there can be little doubt President Poroshenko will have considered Arsen Avakov and the Border Service to have severely bungled their instructions.

Nevertheless, Mr Saakashvili illegally entered Ukraine via force, despite not exhausting legal measures to gain entry lawfully.  (Whatever virtues a reader may think Mr Saakashvili posses, patience is surely not one of them.)  This illegal entry was duly recognised when he paid the administrative fine for doing so.  There are no other statutory provisions other than a fine for illegal entry into Ukraine.  That is not to say he could not be subsequently removed from Ukraine via legal mechanisms thereafter, but it appears a decision was made not to do so – yet.

The moral and legal decisions made for the removal of his Ukrainian citizenship that resulted in his illegal entry into Ukraine is debatable – and is, of course debated.

Nevertheless, the result of the Lviv circus brought with it a temporary PR boost for Mr Saakashvili – a boost that according to all opinion polls appeared to have no lasting voter benefit.  Thus, as is the way of populism, the next circus performance is dependent upon the next PR opportunity.

If the Lviv border incident was a PR opportunity delivered on a plate, then the events of 5th December in Kyiv would appear to be the Bankova deciding to deliver the entire dinner service – with waiter!

This despite an awareness that, credit where credit is due, Misha Saakashvili is particularly skilled at recognising PR opportunity the moment it appears and exploiting it to the fullest.

This time the task of publicly taking on Misha Saakashvili was given to the politically subservient Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko (who has already disgraced himself this week – no matter whether NABU or its covert people have broken the law and should face legal consequences, publicly outing covert agents is simply not acceptable) and the equally politically subservient Vasyl Hrytsak and the SBU he commands.

From a PR perspective, do not bungle your instructions as Mr Avaokov and the Border Service did, will have been the rule of the day.

Yet bungled it was – and spectacularly so.

From Misha on his apartment roof top, to supporters blocking the SBU vehicles, creating barricades, and eventually not only releasing him from the SBU van, but marching en masse to the Verkhvna Rada and his delivering a political call to arms – what could have possibly been bungled, was bungled.

A PR spectacular simply gift wrapped for Mr Saakashvili – which he naturally exploited.

The reason for the SBU and Prosecutor General going after Mr Saakashvili this time relates to alleged involvement with organised criminality – specifically his agreeing dodgy deals with Sergei Kurchenko (fugitive, significant player and friend of the Yanukovych clan).  In short finance for political favour.

Following the bungling of this attempted arrest, the Prosecutor General released SIGINT purporting to prove such collusion.

The big risk here, is not crowds of Saakashvili supporters/anti-Poroshenko supporters (not the same thing) but if the SIGINT is fabricated rather than genuine, it is that such a lie unravels very quickly – as would the Poroshenko presidency with it.

Naturally Misha Saakashvili is not above the law.  If there are formal and official questions to ask, then they should be asked – and answered should Mr Saakashvili decide to answer.

Thus it is a matter of formally asking the questions without providing Mr Saakashvili a PR circus event, yet in full accordance with the law and interview protocols required for evidence.

How to go about that without creating an unnecessary circus?  After all the SIGINT evidence will not disappear, so there is time to think about it.  Are there other ways to get Mr Saakashvili to attend an interview without an unnecessary PR Circus?

It is entirely unclear whether the Prosecutor General has asked Mr Saakashvili to attend for an interview prior to the events of 5th December.  Arrests occur to forcibly bring somebody to a place where further evidence can been obtained (normally by way of interview), but arrests are not a sign of guilt, nor are they even necessary if somebody should voluntarily attend.

If necessary an individual voluntarily attending can be subsequently arrested during an interview should they decide to leave.

Was there evidence that was thought could be destroyed if forewarning be given by requesting his attendance rather than by producing him by force?  We will soon see, depending upon what is produced as evidence from the searches that occurred.

Ergo, in an attempt to avoid a PR fiasco, it is reasonable to ask whether Yuri Lutsenko formally asked Mr Saakashvili to attend a place of interview – for the potential for a PR disaster must surely have been recognised.

Suppose if he did ask, and what is Mr Saakashvili ignored it?  The PR circus is inevitable?

There are options.  It can be leaked to the media the request was made but there was no response.  If that draws a denial from Mr Saakashvili in the media, then a formal public request could be made to him.

What if that is ignored?  The PR circus is inevitable?

If it is ignored then a further public request might have been made, within the specific framing that there is no desire to have to come and forcibly take Mr Saakashvili.  That Mr Saakashvili is not above the law, there are formal questions to be asked and that his cooperation would be appreciated.

Such a request can be made several times publicly – thus framing any possible circus in advance – “We tried to avoid this and you are all aware that we did”.

Mr Saakashvili is PR savvy, he would then have to judge whether or not a circus scores or costs political points following such a measured request from the authorities.

If there is still no adherence to such a request, then arrest and forcibly bringing Mr Saakashvili for interview is at least framed as being the last resort the authorities were trying to avoid.  It matters not whether Mr Saakashvili says anything or not in the interview, for this is all about avoiding the pre and post PR circus if possible, and mitigating it if it is not possible.

If such public requests were made after some thought in avoiding another Misha circus, then the blog must have missed them.  It appears that this line was not pursued.

Whatever the case, a Misha circus occurred again – after instructions were clearly bungled again.

Any PR damage does not only affect Yuri Lutensko, the SBU and The Bankova/President Poroshenko perhaps Mr Saakashvili – it brings about national damage on the international stage  – whether it be an image of bungling and a weak grip on the rule of law, whether it be an image of persecution rather than legitimate investigation, or generally adding to an image of Ukraine may be heading backwards.

Domestically it may not give Mr Saakashvili much of a boost beyond any immediate blip.  He is somewhat reliant upon moving from PR opportunity to PR opportunity to remain relevant.  He/his party is struggling with longevity when it comes to relevancy in the polls.

A reader will naturally be wondering why it is that The Bankova seems hell-bent on providing him with PR opportunities.  As of the time of writing, the only explanation is that of vengeance by President Poroshenko upon a man who he considers to have betrayed him – though no doubt that feeling is mutual.

So what now?  There are still formal questions to be asked of Mr Saakashvili?  He is not above the law.

After such a spectacular bungling, proportionality and a reasonable yet determined response is necessary to project some sort of objective grip upon the rule of law.

“In 24 hours, the entire law enforcement system of Ukraine will do everything necessary to get the stateless Saakashvili to appear before investigators for raising suspicion, and then in court.  We will try not to take forcible measures with bloodshed, which the organizers of this coven have wanted for several months.” – Yuri Lutsenko.  (Spoken like a politician and not like an objective Prosecutor General.)

Indeed Misha Saakashvili is has now been placed on the national “Wanted” list at the instruction of Yuri Lutsenko.

From the Misha Saakashvili perspective, he has PR choices.

Another circus through his undoubtedly violent but inevitable arrest, or a lesser but more civilised circus by voluntarily presenting himself for interview with numerous cutting (possibly hollow) jibes about how, if asked, the entire fiasco could have been avoided.

There is then the matter of the PR that follows any interview – whether he be detained, bailed, or simply releaased.

What will be critical, considering the attention this latest, possibly avoidable, certainly mitigate-able circus has brought, is that the laws and procedures of Ukraine be followed impeccably.

In the meantime a reader is left to ponder just what the level of critical thinking is, and what advise if any, is being heard within The Bankova of late.  For Ukraine’s most PR savvy President ever, and its most politically savvy Prosecutor General ever, to be repeatedly bungling political framing to such a degree over the past months in particular, gives pause for thought.

They may yet become the authors of their own demise.

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