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Corruption in Ukraine was, is, and will probably remain

Author : News Agency 112.ua

Respondent : Roman Nasirov

Find out an exclusive interview with Roman Nasirov, ex-head of Ukraine's Fiscal Service, investigated for embezzlement of $75 million
13:00, 12 February 2019

112 Agency

Why do you run as a president?

I want to change this country. You know, when working in the business for a long time, you live in this atmosphere, in this climate. And often you realize that it should be slightly different. Ten years ago we have proposed such changes, being simple market participants in a particular area, but this was definitely not enough. Then we began to take part in public organizations more systematically, participate in various movements, associations, but this was not enough either. And only now, after I have managed to get to the parliament, head the committee, work in high-ranking state service, I have learned how to change the country. It is impossible to stand aside if you want the country to change; you need to take an active part in this.

Related: Ukrainian anti-corruption authority asks court to freeze Nasirov's assets in UK

Central Election Commission (CEC) has registered you on January 21. Since that time, we have not seen any of your boards and advertisements on TV. It looks like you have a few chances to win.

To our great regret, the voters always have quite a traditional approach. Billboards are just advertising. What do we see on them? These are just political slogans, not real proposals, not achievements, and not concrete actions of candidates.

In addition to boards and media, we also need people (observers, members of commissions), and these are tens of thousands of people.

Tens of thousands of people, you are right. We have these people, and they are happy to take part in the electoral process.

Would you be offended if someone calls you a technical candidate?

I am by no means a technical candidate. I think no one can ever say that about me.

You have got to the parliament on the list of Bloc of Petro Poroshenko. Why are you running as an independent candidate now?

I was invited there to go to Verkhovna Rada as a specialist, as an expert and professional in the field of economics and finance. I have done my job quite well and demonstrated much better results than expected. Today I go independently, with my own political program.

Related: Nasirov takes up office as Head of State Fiscal Service

Is your union with Petro Poroshenko possible?

It is quite early to talk about this, but on the other hand, I think each of us is following his own way.

Where did you get the money for the contribution to the CEC and the election campaign?

My declaration and the sources of my income were repeatedly discussed (In 2017, Nasirov declared income of 6 UAH (20 cents), – ed.). I have been involved in the business until 2014.

Related: In March 2017, National Anti-Corrupt Bureau (NABU) detectives detained Nasirov as part of the Ukrgasdobuvannia case. He was accused of actions that caused damage to the state for 71,56 million USD! 

How expensive is your election campaign?

I think it will be millions of hryvnias, not even millions of dollars.

What specific steps need to be taken for the de-occupation of Donbas and the return of Crimea?

Firstly, Ukraine does not live by itself, we have neighbors. Secondly, there is the international community, which also participates in this process. There were Minsk agreements, and I think it’s time to admit that they don’t work. There was a Budapest Memorandum, there were countries that guaranteed sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today, this process must be returned to a constructive direction. If this does not work, then Ukraine, as a sovereign state, will have no other option than to consider the possibility of becoming a nuclear power again... At the same time, Ukraine needs to ensure that the country is economically self-sufficient.

Related: Ukraine's SAP office to file for Nasirov’s removal from post of State Fiscal Service head

Do we need to negotiate with Putin?

Initially, we need to sit at the negotiating table, we live in a civilized world. And it is necessary to force Russia, the leadership of Russia, to provide everything necessary for the de-occupation of these territories in the shortest possible time.

How soon is it possible to resolve the issues of Crimea and Donbas?

This issue could be resolved during the year. We cannot divide the issue of Donbas and Crimea. From a legal point of view, these are different problems, but from a practical point of view, this is one problem.

In your election program, you wrote that you plan to establish "good neighborly relations with all countries following the national interest of Ukraine." Does this mean that Ukraine can make some concessions — give away part of the territory, for example?

No, no way. When we talk about good-neighborly relations, it is about the economic and national interests. I will give a few examples: Poland, Hungary, and Romania. Here the processes are less obvious than with Russia, but they are even more critical. Neighboring countries are beginning to distribute their passports to citizens of Ukraine (like Romania or Hungary). Poland is actually trying to steal our workforce: it distributes Polish cards to all Ukrainians who want it and gives permission to work. This does not exactly coincide with the Ukraine’s national interests.

Related: Who is corruptionist Nasirov, reinstated as Ukraine's State Fiscal Service chief?

Another point of your program is that the international partners should provide Ukraine with weapons. What kind of weapon are you talking about and which partners should do it?

As we might see from the world practice, including during World War II, the US helped the Soviet Union by providing weapons and military equipment. Today, such programs can be negotiated with the countries of the European Union, with the United States of America, with the Arab countries; this issue can be solved together with Asian countries. In order to protect the territory of Ukraine.

Would we manage to convince countries to sell us weapons?

I think the whole world is aware of the situation in Ukraine today. And here we do not need to convince anyone, we need to address, just like in the future they would address us. Today we have partially rebuilt the army; it is much stronger than it was some five years ago... It is necessary to talk with international partners, to build a dialogue.

One more Ukraine’s problem is corruption. How to deal with it?

Corruption in our country was, is, and will probably remain for some time ... The problem with corruption in Ukraine has not changed for the last 4 years, they are not fighting it. Corruption is like a disease: you need to fight not with the symptoms, but with the source of this problem. Corruption begins from the parliament in our country. Before coming to the parliament in 2014, I have never served as a civil servant, I worked in the commercial companies, I honestly received a big salary. Remember 2014: the MP’s monthly salary was 4,500 UAH – it was some 150-200 USD. Can a deputy live on 200 USD? No. Since then, the situation has changed a bit, probably, the MP’s salary is 20,000 USD (700 USD). But again, I will tell you, the MPs cannot survive on 700 USD.

Related: Creation of Anti-corruption Court of Ukraine to end in February, - Poroshenko

How high should be MP’s salary?

7,000-10,000 USD. In addition, they should have more strict liability for their actions.

Often corruption is the interaction of power with big business. How to deal with the oligarchs?

Can we expect that oligarchs are not involved in corruption if a large part of the country participates in this process? We need to finally cut off the possibility of businessmen to influence the state or the processes, lobbying their own interests. This might be achieved only by real democracy. The Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office were created, currently, the Anti-Corruption Court is now being created... It seems that we are moving in the right direction, but there is no fight against corruption.

If you become Ukraine’s president, will the country continue to cooperate with the IMF?

Of course. Cooperation with the IMF should be built on the basis of other relations. I am very surprised and frustrated when our government goes to the IMF to borrow another one or two or three billions to pay back the old debts. We should cooperate with the IMF in a different direction. Ukraine needs not to ask for money to pay part of the previous debt, but to offer a development program and raise money from the IMF for the development of the economy. After that, we can easily pay back the debts that already exist.

Related: President dissatisfied with level of fight against corruption in Ukraine

Do you believe that you would become the president?

Roman Nasirov will become a president.

Voice first five steps that you would take after coming to the office?

I would say that these are not five steps, but 250. The issue of prioritizing can sometimes be manipulated. I could talk about the first five, ten or 50 steps, but each of them is critically important. My key tasks as Ukraine’s president would be beginning of big changes, of real reforms. It is often said that the president has specific functionality, all the rest is the function of the government. But the president cannot just sit on the sidelines, he has a legislative initiative.

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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