The saga of impeachment is over, but Zelensky can’t breathe out yet

It seemed that Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky could breathe a sigh of relief, as the impeachment of Donald Trump ended with his acquittal by the Senate.

The phone call of the two presidents regarding military assistance gave Zelenskyy the main role in the saga. But the political newcomer – until last year, the most famous telecomic of his homeland – skillfully coped with the storm, mostly in silence.

The ensuing calm lasted only a month.

On the domestic front, the cabinet rebuilt the voters and sent foreign investors, already frightened by the coroner, feverishly leaving. Democratic President Joe Biden returned to the USA on Tuesday, hoping that Joe Biden would bring the Republicans back into the focus of attention to the relations of the former Vice President with Ukraine.

“The reshuffle was negative for the investment community as it threatened cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, but it also frustrated liberal voters seeking reform”, –  said Oleksandr Parashchy, head of research at Concorde Capital investment company in Kyiv. – “And now there is a risk that the Trump or Biden camps will try to put pressure on Zelensky to support their own political interests. The president must take a neutral position to avoid serious damage”.

In Kiev, Zelensky defends changes in government that are sweeping away young newcomers.

The replacement is experienced hands hired to revive the slowing economy and get a long-delayed $5.5 billion loan from the IMF.

The problem is that in one of Europe’s most corrupt countries, former administrations are tainted by allegations of abuse. One new miner even briefly worked under Viktor Yanukovich, the overthrown leader who was supported by the Kremlin and represents everything to the end by the elected Zelensky.

Zelensky, who took office in May last year, says that his personnel reshuffles were misinterpreted and have only one goal – to make things faster.

The departures of respected ministers and the Prosecutor General, supported by Western donors and local activists, are a cause for concern. Some fear that the newcomers will strengthen the power of Ukrainian billionaires, who have long been fascinated by the arrival of Denis Shmykhal, former manager of the energy company owned by Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in the country.

Zelensky, who has repeatedly rejected everything bad in his connections with controversial tycoon Igor Kolomoiskiy, denies that oligarchs have influence on his government.

Zelensky’s new team immediately moved on to the planned IMF program, and Shmygal and his finance minister will visit Washington in the coming weeks.

But it’s in the American capital that more trouble could break out. Now that Biden is a leader in the fight for the presidency, the Republicans are going through every little detail of his time in post-revolutionary Ukraine, as well as working there with his son Hunter.

This risks dragging Zelensky back into the hyperpartisan world of American politics, just as his attention is drawn to domestic priorities such as ending the Kremlin-backed war in his east and pushing him through crucial land reform laws. It may also overwhelm the agenda of his new chief prosecutor.

Zelensky’s chances of staying away from the struggle are slim: even Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator to have voted to convict Trump earlier this year, supported the investigation at the company where Hunter worked on Friday.

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