KRYNICA, Poland, September 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- During the 23rd Economic Forum taking place in Krynica Zdroj in Poland, Alexander Vilkul, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine (also in charge of the country's infrastructure) participated in one of the forum's plenary panels entitled 'Central Europe Scorecard 2030- Emerging or Emerged?' which focused on the ongoing economic crisis and the growth opportunity that lies in the Central European emerging markets.
In Ukraine, Vilkul has been commonly known to represent the interests of oligarch Rinat Ahmetov's corporation, System Capital Management, in the Ukrainian government (according to several estimates and ratings Ahmetov is one of the richest people in Europe). However, many Ukrainian observers and journalists perceive the deputy prime minister not only as a possible candidate for the post of prime minister in the coming months, but also as a potential candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for 2015.
It seems obvious that Vilkul's permanent presence in the Ukrainian mass media is a result of his well fuelled PR machine, thanks to which he has been portrayed as a "young, efficient manager of the new wave". According to Ukrainian experts, Vilkul's PR activities could be costing him somewhere between 0,5 - 1 million US dollars monthly. His appearance at Krynica was criticized, viewed as another exercise as such, utilizing the opportunity as a platform to gain popularity amongst the European public opinion - as is common for candidates aspiring to land on significant posts in Ukraine, which could be particularly helpful in times when President Viktor Yanukovich is looking for a candidate to replace Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
Vilkul's speech at the Economic Forum targeted European policy makers made reference to numerous declarations about Ukraine's choice of Europe, on the eve of signing of EU-Ukraine association treaty, as well as the DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement). However, it seems that Vilkul's endeavors may have been disrupted by a number of questions asked by Polish and Russian journalists who raised concerns about his alleged ties with System Capital Management and its influence on his decisions as a prominent government member.
In response to the lobbying accusations, the Deputy Prime Minister claimed that he maintained relationships with several companies including Ahmetov's however, did not divulge into specific details and seemed uncomfortable in answering.
Another concern raised by the media was one of his previous employment in companies with ties to the Russian market, to which he replied "this information is incorrect as these companies all belonged to the State."
During his speech, he also made reference to the changes in the electoral registration legislation, and reform of the law inforcement system- something that is being demanded by the European authorities and assured that the necessary changes were proposed by the government and sent to the Verhovna Rada which is expected to approve them in the upcoming fall session. However, the specific amendments were not referenced. Many journalists consider that this proves the fact that Ukraine is not yet ready for further EU integration.
It is generally known that not all European integration draft laws are being supported by the ruling majority. In particular they do not support the anti-discrimination law protecting the rights of sexual minoritites. Some memebers of the Party of Regions consider that the draft agrrement on the association with the EU is in contradiction to the Ukrainian constitution.
Alexander Vilkul's appearance at the Economic Forum cannot be called a success and furthermore, raised several doubts and questions regarding his political future in Ukrainian politics.