“This is no longer a series of incidents, it is TERROR.” Those strong words come from the official Twitter account of the National Bank of Ukraine, condemning the recent attacks on former National Bank head Valeria Gontareva. In recent weeks, Gontareva has been subject to what some call a campaign of intimidation and harassment that’s seen her put in hospital following a hit-and-run in London, arson attacks on her home in the Kyiv suburbs and her daughter-in-law’s car, and raids of her Kyiv apartment.
These attacks, on someone considered a ‘top reformer’ are tarnishing Ukraine’s image abroad according to Ukrainian journalist Ivan Verstyuk: “Ukraine gains the image of being a highly violent and politically unstable country.”
Dragon Capital’s Sergey Fursa, a frequent Ukraine commentator, agreed, pointing out that the attack on Gontareva is less about the domestic implications than the views of Ukraine’s creditors and partners: “When we see an attack on Gontareva...how the IMF sees it is not just an attack on some retired official, they see it as an attack on the independence of the national bank.”
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Both Verstyuk and Fursa added that the attacks on Gontareva, if not properly investigated, сould serve as a deterrent to other would-be reformers, as their safety would not be guaranteed. But not everyone in Ukraine is on the same page. During a recent airing of the Sunday Show, Servant of the People MP Dmytro Natalukha said that his party lacks a unified position on the attack.
“The Servant of the People, as a party, is not very homogenous...The state interest and the image of Ukraine, which might be damaged by this case is, of course, of great importance. This kind of damage is also influenced by the personality of Mrs. Gontareva and by the results of her reforms, and I’m not sure we might find a unified position within the party,” said MP Natalukha.
The founder of the Servant of the People party, President Zelenskyy, called Gontareva immediately following news of the arson attack, and has directed law enforcement bodies to investigate the case. So far, neither the London police investigating the hit-and-run against Gontareva, nor the Ukrainian authorities investigating the attacks in Kyiv, have revealed any additional information concerning the suspects of these attacks.
/Interview by Nataliya Gumenyuk
/Text by Romeo Kokriatski