November 19, 2015 I was elected the first deputy chairman of the Lviv Regional Council. During the year there have been many thoughts that have become an axiom for me, “politics is a dirty business, especially in Ukraine, especially now”, “do not trust anyone, only yourself and God”, “the greatest happiness is to be independent”. Every day, entering the building of the Regional Council, preparing for the sessions, participating in fierce debates at the commissions’ meetings, heading for villages and districts to meet people, listening to their troubles and sorrows, I have realized the most important thing – we need to do as much as we can….
I won’t resort to the language of numbers, presentations and visualizations now. I’d like to think and speak in the language of values. From this year I remember the things that were the most critical for me and our faction. What struck me was the huge number of people who helped us achieve all this!
- We refused to put up with carving up of the funds from the State Fund for Regional Development (these are 220 million hryvnias). Being a co-chairperson of the commission I did not sign the protocol with a list of objects, which was submitted to the Ministry of Regional Construction. I shall remind that then such cities as Sokal (pool for children with disabilities), Boryslav (water supply), Novyi Rozdil (industrial park), Mykolaiv received nothing, while half of the amount of the public funds was allocated for four districts out of the twenty in the Lviv region.
We got the support of the Chairman of the Samopomich Union faction in the Verkhovna Rada, Oleh Bereziuk, MP Liubomyr Zubach, principal deputies of the Regional Council (there aren’t many of them, but there are still some). The councils of cities and districts managed to express their resentment and to hold an extraordinary session with the requirement to distribute the money fairly, rather than in accordance with the interests of oligarchs.
As a result now there is a different composition of the commission which will select the objects. In addition to regional deputies and officials of the Regional State Administration, these will be representatives of public organizations that will constitute one third of the entire commission. I hope they will select the objects for funding from the State Fund for Regional Development without listening to somebody’s orders.
- An article-by-article drafting of regional programs was introduced. At first the programs’ executives were shocked when I as the first deputy, and the Samopomich faction asked to explain their budget requests, and on what every single hryvnia would be spent. Those who complied with the demand had their programs voted quickly. For some budget holders it took time till spring. We were adamant…
- We prevented a total sale of the property owned by the community. The chairperson of our faction, Inna Svystun, the chairman of the commission on anti-corruption, Roman Kizima, and I visited all the objects offered for privatization, took photos and videos. We found that the majority of the objects are a honeypot that can be sold at auction, thus fill the development budget.
The struggle in the session hall was tough. Due to a couple of deputies of principle from other factions (and there are such deputies!) we managed to keep some objects, for example premises on Vynnychenka Street, in the property of the Regional Council.
- Ill-conceived solutions were prevented. When it comes to optimization of an industry, the reduction of workers or vacation of premises, I demand that the draft decisions have a detailed information on what is going to happen with the people who worked there (mostly teachers and doctors), for whom the vacated premises will be assigned. If the buildings remain in the education or health sectors, we need to know – for what purposes? If they are sold, this can only be done at an auction! Presently, unfortunately, I do not have such documents on optimization of pulmonology services, of dermatovenerologic clinics. Therefore, Samopomich did not vote for this at the session.
- A program of micro-projects was implemented. This program let us demonstrate how contests look like and how powerful our people are. Some deputies, who have always got things done by a number of phone calls ignoring any rules, wanted to offset the competition altogether, divide people into “us” and “them”. I am grateful to the experts and the competition board, a deputy of the Regional Council, Ivan Sobko, and an officeholder, Olena Hvozduk, for their integrity.
Today, this is the only program that is 99% executed; there is only one project (medical and obstetrical station in Pustomyty district) that won’t be implemented. Still we have about 700 objects – renovated schools, kindergartens, street lighting in villages, comfortable and equipped medical and obstetrical stations, and renewed community halls.
- The remainders of free medicines were revealed. During the year there have been bureaucratic hurdles and the discussion whether patients need to know what medicines they can get for free. As for me, it’s obvious – after all, we allocate money from the budget for these medicines, why do people have to buy them in hospitals?!
It took a lot of effort, but we have the first victory! There is an order of the Department of Lviv State Regional Administration: from now on in every department a list of medicines and consumables which should be provided for patients free of charge will be published on a daily basis. Acting Health Minister, Uliana Suprun, supported such our steps.
- Sports facilities on school grounds were established, and the money was not just blown. I voiced such a requirement when we allocated 16 million hryvnias for the construction of such facilities. Because prior to this they had been placed on the outskirts of villages, where cows graze off. And in the school yards there are children, and teachers with parents who can keep an eye on the play grounds.
No matter how much the developers and executors of the program resisted, the play grounds are in school yards. This year I’m going to demand the same.
- We honored the memory of those who died for the statehood of Ukraine. However much we do for the guys fighting the war for us, this will never be enough. Together with the Department of Capital Construction, Lviv Regional State Administration will have put 43 memorial crosses on Lychakiv Cemetery to honour the fighters who died in the east by 6 December.
At the initiative of the chairperson of the Regional Council, I headed the committee for the recognition of ATO volunteers. It’s a difficult mission, the fates of many soldiers who submit their documents are very complicated. There are about 200 applications, there is a lot of work. Thanks to the volunteer battalions, which help us and the regional department of social protection.
- International projects were supported. As a co-chair of the international technical assistance commission I approve projects of international technical assistance, and many areas of Lviv region have already benefited from the program. A very pleasant fact is that every hryvnia allocated in this program generates from 10 to 15 hryvnias of additional funds, which come from international donors.
Obviously, there is still much work to be done. I dream of the time when article-by-article budgets and regional programs will become a tradition, when we won’t have to demand a report on every hryvnia spent for months, when there will be no oligarchs’ lobbying in the session hall, when clear criteria, competition guidelines and clear rules will be introduced . When the cooperation between the factions will mean a truly professional discussion of mature people, not a game of “give and take”.
I hope that in the future we will not vote in accordance with the promises, but in accordance with our convictions. I believe that in next year of our cadence all without exception deputies will read the draft decisions and delve into their essence and perspective. I hope that each of us will vote taking into consideration the interests of the region, rather than our own ones. It is difficult to get rid of those post-Soviet syndromes, this oppressive system, but we need to do it step by step. After all, Lviv and Lviv region have always shown a different path of development.