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Poroshenko’s PR “road tour” – Investigation

10 stories about Presidential PR that might be of interest to law enforcement authorities.

Petro Poroshenko started a new political season with a grand PR-tour around the country. He cut ribbons in renovated schools and dormitories, opened a bridge, theater and a TV-tower.

All these events were conducted following the same scenario.

A crowd with flags wearing Ukrainian national clothes is gathered for Poroshenko, he delivers an equivocal speech telling about “victories” that became possible because of his direct involvement, gives a gift certificate, cuts a ribbon, holds a photo session.

Before a hard political autumn, the initiators of a PR-tour from the Presidential House wanted to create an image of a successful “master” – “he works”, decisive reforms bring results and it is only the populist critics and the “fifth column” that hinder development of Ukraine.

Instead, all these efforts may have a reverse effect.

Social networks are already outraged: it is not the level of the President to cut ribbons and in his efforts to get a good shot Poroshenko was compared to the deputy of the regional council taking care of “his” home school.  

While calling the politicians and state officials to avoid agitation in schools the head of the state was looking like a representative of old Soviet nomenclature with his high-profile speeches and gift certificates. And his statements about “transparency” and “combating corruption” do not withstand checking even by open sources.

Poroshenko’s “road tour” could be followed live on the “5 channel”. The PR-tour was accompanied by complimentary video reports on central and local TV-channels. The author found only one video story, in which a journalist mentioned “conflicting rumors about the construction process” of the school in Lviv region.

“Ukrainska Pravda” turned its attention also to other renovated or newly built objects that were solemnly opened during Poroshenko’s tour. Almost each of them has its own “conflicting story” that should be interesting to law enforcement authorities.

To your attention are 10 such stories that UP counted. We do not exclude that this list may not be exhaustive.

First story. A hospital worth 200 million

Poroshenko’s “Road tour” in the end of summer started from Kropivnitskiy.

On 21 August the President came to open a children hospital. Because of such an event “presidential security service asked to close stores”, one woman told to the local Internet-editorial “Bez Kupiur”.

Having a drawn doctor and a red ribbon at the background Poroshenko announced his 10-day tour and planned openings of schools, bridges, roads.

“You see that changes are underway”, – said the President as if explaining the aim of his tour.

And he has right away warned that Ukraine can be drawn back by a provoked by Russia active phase of war and “actions of populist politicians”. The latter were described by the President in more detail.

“…Actions of populist politicians who, while destabilizing the situation inside of the country, are able to annihilate all our efforts. They can ruin everything what people have been suffering for during the last years…I, on the contrary, do and will do everything depending on me in order not to let this scenario happen”, – Poroshenko described the disposition for the Fall – his own and that of his opponents.

Selfie-session with Poroshenko, 21 August, Kropivnitskiy, PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OF UKRAINE
Selfie-session with Poroshenko, 21 August, Kropivnitskiy, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

In total, 200 million UAH were spent on a hospital, said Poroshenko trying to impress listeners with a scale of the project. However, he did not mention that the cost of reconstruction works has considerably increased in the process.

In 2015 the overhaul of the hospital in Kirovograd (today Kropivnitskiy – edit.) was estimated at 35 million UAH. It was this amount that was written down in the contract, which was concluded as a result of a tender competition with Additional Liability Company “Interresurs” . This firm belongs to the former city mayor of Kirovograd Mykola Moskalenko. It had to renovate the first building of the hospital.

The contract has been amended twice during a year of construction works, as a result of which its cost increased by 48,3 million UAH.

This very firm was also granted a tender for reconstruction of the second building. The contract amount was 58 million UAH. It was, however, also being amended during the construction works.

“During the construction works on the object there was a need for additional works which could not have been foreseen by a previous project…the cost of construction of the object increased to 96,9 million UAH“, – says the justification to the application for negotiation procedure on the Prozorro website.

According to the information on the website “Zakupivli” , one can see that a similar scheme of construction was being used by the mentioned firm under the administration of Yanukovych.

In 2011 the Additional Liability Company “Interresurs” received a contract for the reconstruction of Kirovograd Academic Music and Drama Theater. The cost of works was estimated at 78,7 million UAH, during a year it increased by another 61 million.

The reconstruction of a theater in the city was called a “monument to elections”. Members of Party of Regions were cutting a ribbon here before the parliamentary elections of 2012. This theater is remembered by attentive citizens by one of the live videos with Yanukovich where he was for several minutes “receiving gratitude”. Let us remind you of this video:

Now the theater raises interest only due to the “quality” of works conducted by the firm “Interresurs”. The newly constructed building already needed major repairs. The price – another million from the budget. The result  – police initiated criminal proceedings.

Therefore, it looked at least strange when Poroshenko was boasting about 200 budget million UAH that were spent because the contractor poorly conducted construction works in the theater and significantly increased the budget of construction of the hospital.

Stories 2 and 3. “Party of Weapons” and “500 non-declared million”

On the same day in Kropivnitskiy Poroshenko visited the third regiment of Special Forces of the Ukrainian Military Forces.

This meeting could have ended quite officially. If it wasn’t for the talkative counselor to the President.

On his Facebook page Yuriy Biriukov informed about the benefactor who spends hundreds of millions on army and never demonstrates provided property. Biriukov also wrote that this benefactor provided the special forces with 100 sniper rifles.

In his post Biriukov mentioned Poroshenko. Later the pro-presidential “leaders of opinions” started sharing the information that in total Poroshenko spent 500 million of his own UAHs  to help the Ukrainian Military Forces. The information was taken up by the mass media.

And it was already the press-secretary of the Special Armed Forces Oleksii Nikiforov shared the information on Facebook.

Wanting to boast Biriukov actually harmed Poroshenko and gave some work to law enforcement officers. Since the latter should check the legality of President’s actions.

First of all, it is quite hard to buy 100 sniper rifles. Secondly, according to electronic declarations of Petro Poroshenko there were no personal expenses in the amount of half a billion of UAH.

People’s Deputy from Petro Poroshenko Block Volodymir Aryev explained that money “from the President” for Military Forces of Ukraine go either from the company or from the foundation of Poroshenko.

Instead the Poroshenko Foundation reported on expenses for the amount of 700 million UAH during 2014-2016. UP sent a request to the press-service of the President, however, has not received any response by now.

Stories 4 and 5. “Roads worth 10 million” and obstruction of journalist’s activity

“Trenches separate people, and bridges – unite”, – Poroshenko was saying on 22 August having a reconstructed bridge at the background in Izum of Kharkiv region.

This road leads to Sloviansk, which in 2014 was used to enter the anti-terrorist operation zone. Before the reconstruction the road looked more like a dug field. That is why having the reconstructed bridge and an automobile road at the background Poroshenko used this opportunity to boast about how successful “his experiment” is.

“I initiated the customs experiment. Customs Office receive a plan. 50% of overfulfilment of the plan goes to the state budget, and 50% stays in the region for road construction”, – said Poroshenko.

Poroshenko has several times mentioned this “his” experiment during his tour. And he has not said a word that its іnitiator was Mikheil Saakashvili. However, the relevant draft law that was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was signed by the President.

In front of the reconstructed bridge. 22 August, Izium of Kharkiv region, PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OF UKRAINE
In front of the reconstructed bridge. 22 August, Izium of Kharkiv region, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

At some places roads cost 5,5-6 and event 7 million UAH (for 1 km – UP), and in Kharkiv region – 4,5 – Poroshenko continued. – Correct tenders, Prozorro system. And now places where it costs 7 will be investigated by law enforcement authorities regarding the effectiveness of using budget money”.

The President did not even suspect at that moment that after such statements law enforcement authorities have to “examine” the very Kharkiv officials.

Here is a tender for repair of 108 kilometers of road Chuguiv – Milove. The winner offered the price of 1 billion 126,6 million UAH. Meaning the price for 1 km was 10 million.

Here is another tender for repair of 81 km of road P-46 “Kharkiv-Okhtyrka” . The winner also offered a price of 841 million UAH – price for 1 km also exceeds 10 million UAH.

It has become a tradition that political consultants and security guards help the commander-in-chief avoid conversations with unprepared journalists. It was the case during this PR-tour. However, on the bridge in Izum one of the journalists did manage to get to Poroshenko. It came to an incident: a journalist felt on herself the strong hand of the very President.

Story 6. Theater for 57 million

On 22 August the blue ribbon was cut by the President in Severodonetsk. For 15 years the non-residential building has been in the emergency state after the fire. After the reconstruction it hosts the displaced Luhansk Regional Academic Theater.

“I beg your pardon, I couldn’t check the Wardrobe in such a heat, – Poroshenko joked from the stage. – However, I’m sure that the hanger that the theater starts with is also in good shape”.

In which state is the tender documentation for the reconstruction, the President could have checked even in his Kyiv office.

The website “Nashy Groshy” turned the attention to the fact, that the winner in the tender for reconstruction of this building, “Shakhtoburinnya” LLC, and its competitor indicated similar telephone number.

A year ago the cost of work was estimated at 45 million UAH. In July of this year the price grew by 14,3 million. “There was a need for additional construction works”, – says the report published on the website Prozorro. Additional tender for these “additional works” was not conducted.

Theatrical performance of Poroshenko. 22 August, Severodonetsk of Luhansk region, Presidential Administration of Ukraine
Theatrical performance of Poroshenko. 22 August, Severodonetsk of Luhansk region, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

“It is important that the word “devil” sounds very often in this hall”, – Poroshenko was finishing his theatrical speech.

“Devil” was mentioned for “Shakhtoburinnya” LLC. Since besides the reconstruction of the theater, the firm also built the TV-tower that on the same day was opened by Poroshenko in Luhansk region.

“Shakhtoburinnya” was awarded with 12,1 million during a tender competition with Kharkiv “Ocean – Steel Construction” LLC, specializing on mounting steel constructions and that was ready to take the job for 50 thousand UAH less. The third participant of the tender – the same affiliated with the winner company that “competed” for reconstruction of the theater.  

Story 7. Pivotal schools worth tens of millions

During one day on 28 August Petro Poroshenko opened three pivotal schools in Donetsk region. At least so according to official information.

In reality the President visited only Pokrovsk. In Bakhmut and Chasoviy Yar he was seen only on TV screen – pupils watched their President live.

On that hot day the President was getting very late. Children had to wait for him for an hour and a half.

Poroshenko opens three schools at the same time. 28 August, Pokrovsk, Presidential Administration of Ukraine
Poroshenko opens three schools at the same time. 28 August, Pokrovsk, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

“Congratulate you with the next victory in recovery of Donbas!” – Poroshenko greeted people.

His speech was not very interesting for children. Some were sighing, some were rubbing their eyes, some were talking about their own business.

“Particularly I would like to greet the sambists and judoists, as a person who understands this (Poroshenko is a master of sports in Judo – UP)”, – on these words the “5 channel” showed kids in sport uniforms.

In general Poroshenko could have opened not only three schools in Donetsk region, but twenty-one. At least this many Pavlo Zhebrivskiy promised to have until the beginning of school year. But something went wrong.

On 20 August the TSN showed a video report on possible fraud operations connected with reconstruction of pivotal schools: from 30 pivotal schools in Donetsk region there was only one ready.

“After a video report, in order to make it in time, in Druzhkivka people worked till 2-3 at night, – says a civil activist Denys Myronov, and adds, that according to the plan, Poroshenko had to come exactly to this town. – People worked in advance. The tender for development of the territory had not yet been closed, the contractor had not been chosen, but the works were already being done”.

The story with the school №9 in Pokrovsk opened by Poroshenko is like this.

Last year tender was awarded to the firm MPP “BMD & CO”. Cost of works was 55,5 million UAH. A competitor offered a price that was 1,7 million less but due to formal criteria this application was denied.

In June this year the cost increased by 9,3 million UAH for “additional works”. Tender for these additional works was not conducted, an additional agreement was concluded with a contractor.

“This is a standard scheme for reconstruction of Donbas, – one of the former members of local office of the Petro Poroshenko Block assures UP. – Curators of the objects are the people’s deputies. Above them are Gerasimov (Artur Gerasimov, head of the Petro Poroshenko Block faction in the parliament, head of regional center of Petro Poroshenko Block – UP) and Zhebrivskiy”.

A ribbon in Pokrovsk school Poroshenko was cutting with the governor and the head of his faction.

Zhebrivskiy, Poroshenko and Gerasimov are cutting the ribbon in Pokrovsk
Zhebrivskiy, Poroshenko and Gerasimov are cutting the ribbon in Pokrovsk, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

Story 8. Dormitory for 19 million

For his next speech Poroshenko was late for 4 hours.

In Bakhmut during the opening of a dormitory of the displaced Gorlivka Institute of Foreign Languages the President repeated in short his speech in Pokrovsk. But during the speech he stopped when it came to combating corruption.

“Decisive measures on combating corruption, this cancer that we…- after a quite intensive start Poroshenko paused for the whole 7 seconds. We do not know what the President was thinking about at that moment, but he ended with a kind of sadness: – We have to overcome. I believe that jointly we will do everything right”.  

Poroshenko during his speech trying to find the right words. Bakhmut, 28 August, Presidential Administration of Ukraine
Poroshenko during his speech trying to find the right words. Bakhmut, 28 August, Presidential Administration of Ukraine

 

During the reconstruction of this object there was an increase of cost. In 2015 the works were estimated at nearly a 14 million UAH. However, in the end of 2016 they concluded an additional agreement for 4,7 million. Along with this, terms for finishing the works in this building were several times postponed.

Reasons for this should have become the subject of inspection by law enforcement officers.

Story №9. A long constructed school for 41 million

A day before Poroshenko came to Lviv region, active preparing was underway.

“In half a day they asphalted the roads, cleaned everything, put up traffic lights, surveillance cameras, polished the road”, – read comments to the video on 29 August.

“Why today it is here that the Ukrainian president needs to be? – asked Poroshenko during the opening of a school in Navaria in Lviv region. He, probably, already knew that in social networks people get outraged about his PR-tour. – Some will think: opening of a school is an ordinary event. No. This is a demonstration of priorities. Education is a priority for the country”.

People’s deputies from Petro Poroshenko Block Yaroslav and Bogdan Dubnevych were carefully listening to their leader. It is the firm affiliated with them that managed to finish the school from the third try. 

In 2015 the cost of work and equipment for school was estimated at 30 million UAH. In 2016 the cost was corrected – added another 7 million. Because of the significant inflation the contractor offered to cancel a contract. And in July of this year they concluded a new one – for finishing a construction. The new price was almost 41 million UAH. “Money was going somewhere each time”, – local ladies told the journalists.

On the background of finally finished building, which should be examined by law enforcement officers, Poroshenko announced incredible achievements, having counted 144 finished reforms.

Story №10. “The best” school for 86 million

On 1 September the Association Agreement with EU came into force. Instead of celebrating this meaningful event, the President of the country chose another one – finish his “road tour” with opening a school near Kharkiv.

“A school that claims to be “the best”, is opened not in Kyiv and even not in Kharkiv but here”, – Poroshenko was trying to convince the visitors.

Poroshenko opens a school. 1 September, Pysochyn of Kharkiv region.
Poroshenko opens a school. 1 September, Pysochyn of Kharkiv region.

 

In his speech he was once again reiterating his successes. “We provided for economic growth”, – he was telling the kids.

However, some numbers can be checked even by pupils.

“78 million were planned for construction of this beauty, – Poroshenko started to count indicating on the school building. – Usually we are used to the fact that the budget always increases. The school is ready and it is only 74 million that were spent, we saved 4 million thanks to electronic procedures, because of transparency, due to combating corruption. This is the way that we will follow further”.

Poroshenko provided inaccurate information.

In the end of 2016 there was only one company that took part in a tender – ”Steelconstruction” LLC. It was awarded a contract for the amount of 60 million UAH. And in July 2017 according to the additional agreement the price increased by 26 million.

Following Yanukovych

Having returned from the “road tour” Poroshenko should have been followed by law enforcement officers.

All these stories have to become the subject for a detailed examination.

Because at the example of this PR-tour, officials all-over the country can stimulate similar PR-campaigns with large corrections to budgets.

They will be covering up stealing of budget money with the name of the President. Exactly how it was done several years ago. What a great example was the so-called “Yanukovich’s helicopter platform”, that was constructed on Pechersk hills.

Who does Poroshenko want to look like? 1 September, Kharkiv
Who does Poroshenko want to look like? 1 September, Kharkiv

 

If a “Yanukovich syndrome” can still be cured by sentences in criminal cases, it is unclear what to do with habits of the very Poroshenko.

Solemn ribbons, photos with boys, crowds of budget sphere workers, students with flags, pool of “personal” journalists…This is the very same set of attributes of soviet/Russian empire which Poroshenko has many times said goodbye to – but, however, neither he nor Ukraine can do it for good.

by Oleksii Bratuschak, pravda.com.ua