An episode of the popular Kvartal comic show featuring a song about the burnt house of former National Bank governor Valeriya Hontareva has caused a storm in social networks. The song ridiculing Hontareva was performed by Yevhen Koshevoy, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's friend and fellow actor, and the Veryovka National Choir, best known for its performances at top-level government events.
The controversial performance has also prompted some government and parliament members to express their opinion.
Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has said that one should not associate the shows of the Kvartal 97 comic studio with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who used to be its producer and main actor.
"I have seen on more than one occasion the president’s true reaction to the story of the fire at Mrs. Hontareva’s house. This reaction was correct and human: no-one can rejoice when a person's house is on fire. President Zelenskyy did not laugh at that for sure. Moreover, as the head of state he is taking all possible measures together with law-enforcement agencies to investigate how this house caught fire. Therefore, I would definitely not associate this humour, no matter how successful or unsuccessful it seems to someone, with this position. This association seems very dangerous to me," Honcharuk said.
He added that he did see the show but added that in a democratic state everyone has the right to crack jokes as they like.
Veryovka Choir director
The director-general of the Hryhoriy Veryovka National Academic Ukrainian People's Choir, Zenoviy Korynets, has apologized to Hontareva, according to Censor.net.
He said that it was his voluntary decision that the choir would take part in the performance.
"We had arguments. Maybe, we should not have [done this] because the text was rather unpleasant. I understood this. […] But I think I made a not really moral decision and perhaps, I must personally apologise to Valeriya Oleksiyivna [Hontareva]," he said.
Economic development minister
Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture Tymofiy Mylovanov said that the jokes like the song about Hontareva adversely affect the investment climate of Ukraine and will be perceived as a confirmation of connections between oligarchs and the authorities.
"They look very bad to foreign investors," he said, recalling that many in the West see Hontareva as an "outstanding reformer".
Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Volodymyr Borodyanskyy apologized to Hontareva on Facebook and that he was "sorry for the Hryhoriy Veryovka National Decorated Academic Ukrainian People's Choir of Ukraine".
Tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskyy, an ardent opponent of Hontareva, under whose lead his PrivatBank was nationalised by the state, has told Radio Liberty that he quite liked some of the lines of the song and that he does not consider it to be humiliating. He also denied any influence on Kvartal 95.
Voice party leader Svyatoslav Vakarchuk said: "The story with Kvartal and the choir is the bottom. That is it."