Victor Galasyuk: How to Steam Everyone Up and Understand Nothing

One of the funniest PR cases of the winter season 2017-2018 is Oleh Lyashko’s Radical party (RPL), its deputy Viktor Galasyuk and the draft of a bill “Buy Ukrainian”.

Rumour has it that the RPL exchanged its votes for the budget-2018 for votes for its bill 7206. The bill 7206 is completely insane, it means that participation in tenders will no longer be equal for all participants, and licensed Ukrainian producers will receive non-market preferences. More specifically, the licensed manufacturer will win the tender even if the price offered by it is 30% higher than one offered by other tender participants. To become a licensed Ukrainian manufacturer one will have to provide 23 references and certificates. The interest of the RPL is obvious – he who will draw 23 references will determine who will rule tenders and throw out all competitors from tendering.

Ukrainian society is as heterogeneous as possible and its various groups treat extremely negatively towards each other. But Victor Galasyuk managed to rally Ukrainians among themselves in a single fling of hatred of the RPL and of himself.

The formula is simple. First, trying to hide the idiotic essence of the bill, Galasyuk called it “Buy Ukrainian”. He tried to chip at patriotic emotions. It did not work, because the Ministry of Economic Development and actually Deputy Minister Maxim Nefyodov (much more authority figure in Ukrainian society versus Galasyuk) instantaneously opposed the bill. And he was supported by a wide pool of Ukrainian and foreign economists. That didn’t work.

Second, Victor Galasyuk aggressively rejected all attempts to discuss his initiative overtly. Kiev School of Economics invited Galasyuk to debates, Galasyuk refused by thousand various means. Since the KSE is an extremely popular source of economic expertise, the fact that Galasyuk deviated from the discussion was widely discussed and regarded by the public as an attempt to hide the corruption and lack of work at the bill. Big mistake.

Third, realizing that in such a war one needs allies, the RPL chose them extremely unwisely. The bill was supported by the Ukrainian oligarch Firtash (represented by his Federation of Employers of Ukraine), and the pool of odious former state officials associated by Ukrainians only with post-Soviet corruption. Thus, it made clear that the law lobbies interests of not all Ukrainians, but only oligarchs (who now are under the international investigation). Huge mistake.

Fourth, after all the mistakes done, instead of the fight for the bill, Galasyuk and the RPL switched to the fight with the Ministry of Economic Development and personally Max Nefyodov, branding him the killer of the Ukrainian economy. Max Nefodyov (in Ukrainian and international society) is considered to be one of the key beacons of Ukrainian economic reforms. The Prozorro system, lobbied by him, is one of the essential marks of pride of Ukraine. In these conditions, after all the mistakes, the crew of odious hated oligarchs set off a war with one of the few favorites of the Ukrainian society. Max did not even respond to the attacks of the RPL. People did everything for him. Galasyuk found himself in the lava hot seat.

From the point of view of PR, we see a simple fiasco. Galasyuk refused to cover his initiative and let his opponents to do it for him. He put a team of obviously negative characters together. He entered an information war with a known positive person. Courage of this step competes only with its stupidity. And the result was not long in coming.