Ex-president Yushchenko: The oligarch should not be in power

Author : Olesia Batsman

Respondent : Viktor Yushchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Third president of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko in an interview with "Batsman" on key challenges of the Ukrainian economy, the importance of historical reconciliation with neighbors, and the mistakes of the post-Maidan authorities
14:31, 5 December 2017

Read the original text at

112 Agency

Good evening. You are often associated with everything. What does Ukrainian national idea mean for you, what is it?

Yushchenko: The national idea of any nation is the most important issue on the agenda. If we ask ourselves what is lacking today, I would say that national integrity and political sovereignty could be called national development. The struggle for Ukrainian national formation is really not just a calendar affair - August 24, 1991. We need that each of the 45 million realize that he is not just a population, but a citizen, and Ukraine begins from him personally, as taught by Vyacheslav Chornovil. Therefore, for me today, political sovereignty and real independence is the essence of the national idea.

Some sources claim that you will go to the next presidential election and you will be supported by the United States. It's true?


Why don’t you want to come and put things in order?

It does not depend on me. It depends on at least 10-15 million. Who do they need? Elections are a kind of thing, when very often those who do not have a plan, doctrine, who deal with other things, and do not worry about those things Ukrainian government should. It would be more convenient for me to ask why at a time when my country lost 7% of the territory when 60 thousand Ukrainians were killed, wounded, when we lost a third of the economy and to returned to the level of 2013, and we must live until 2032 at such economic pace, as today, so we are not together today? I mean, not at a round national table? We all understand that if we develop at such a rate, like now, then we will lose, because the economy is the second front, the muscles of the war. If you destroy the economy, you will lose everything. We are laughed at. We are the third in the world by the level of the illicit economy, the first in terms of corruption. 56% of the national economy is illicit. Do we really have a war? The budget deficit is 77-100 billion. Something fatal and pathological happens to us. We have 5-6 basic calls. Let us discuss each challenge.

Related: Inflation, unemployment, and deep crisis of Ukrainian economy

And did you offer Poroshenko to do something?

I had a meeting with him, long time ago. There was a meeting with the prime minister, many meetings in the national bank with the previous chairman. I am worried that we do not have a plan for the country, if we talk about the economy. In fact, today we have as many resources as there have never been in 26 years. The population has 120 billion dollars - about 3 thousand per person. 140 billion are kept abroad, including in the so-called offshores.  And last year, investments in Ukraine amounted to only 800 million!

Did they offer you to head an office after the Maidan?

No, all the offices were already “divided.” We often return to that great time, because in reality we had one step to return to the Moscow colony. Young and dedicated generation saved Ukraine during the night of November 13 - 14. This is the best generation. But when we talk about the political structure, after the Maidan, two things had to be done in order to filter out these talents and not let them into power: 1) a five percent barrier (of course, not a single political force takes 5% after the Maidan); 2) the party nominating its candidates to the parliament must have a registration of at least 12 months. The young wave created a unique political movement. But they could not formalize it in the party, because your party is worthless in terms of the elections.

When was the last time you were in Russia?

My last (or penultimate) meeting took place in May 2008.

Could you imagine then that in a few years Russia will begin a war against Ukraine?

No. The background of the relations that we had with the Russian president was specific. When I was prime minister, we had very good relations with the Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. We reformed the gas relations, gave up state debts, and carried out a great reform. From there, good relations began, acquaintance with the president of Russia. When there were elections, Putin "mistakenly" congratulated Yanukovych three times. My appearance in Moscow caused hostility. I remember every minute of that meeting.

Related: For the first time Ukraine is experiencing such a devastating crisis

After the elections, can Putin somehow change the rhetoric regarding Ukraine?

It is necessary to analyze his motives. If the world consolidates so much that not only Putin, not only the top officials, but the Russian nation would feel it, then we can expect a revision of positions. There are two things Putin fears as president: it is the reaction of his own people and the reaction of the world. We will not comment on the reaction of our own people, because it is very dependent internally, and propaganda works well. But it is difficult to build the external reaction. There is a certain consolidation (but far from what we would like to see) in Europe or in the countries that guarantee our territorial integrity. We have a lot of conferences going on in Europe, and when we come to the topic "Conflict in the East of Ukraine", I quote my colleagues, presidents from Eastern Europe, statistics: 82% of energy resources produced by Russia, it sells them to the EU. And if we take the energy balance, the EU fills up at the expense of Russia's resources only for 30% (the rest comes from Africa, the North Sea, etc.). Europe realizes that it is the largest creditor of Russian aggression in Donbas, in Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia - where the military bases are situated, the Russian military presence could be witnessed. And how does Russian politics survive? Russia is not an empire, it has an imperial spirit only. Question: where does this spirit come from? From Europe. So if we manage to get this part of the debate to Europe: we do not even ask for weapons from you, we do not ask you to put lives for our territory, just do not finance it! The Russian economy consists of two pipes (gas and oil) and a roundwood. That is the whole economy. And Europe is the main consumer of this economy.

Will the third factor - the dissatisfaction of the elites - make Putin back up and leave Ukraine?

American sanctions are something that will tease a few dozen Russian oligarchs. But it is necessary to note one feature of the Russian oligarchy, which ours does not have. The Russian oligarchy is national. It is not just a supplement to Putin's policy; it is one of the first and best implementers of Putin's economic and colonial policy in any part of the world. They carry out the directive of the Kremlin; they are a continuation of Putin's policy, like the Russian church.

Related: Investigations of 2013 Euromaidan crackdown: Pending verdicts in dozens of cases

Now Poland has given a second wind to the investigation of the tragedy near Smolensk. What do you think about the causes of this catastrophe in which your friend died, the President of Poland Kaczynski?

My opinion is subjective, although I communicate with those people who are involved in the investigation of this case. I have no doubt that Russia has dealt very successfully with the Polish right wing. The crash of the first board is not an accident. A new wave of investigations leads to what they have been talking about for several years. Such a rude treatment by the Russian side, when the remains of the plane have not yet been provided to the Polish investigation, say something. Or the new circumstances of a possible explosion inside the cabin? These circumstances have been discussed for many years, but studies were conducted several months ago. Three days before that, at the same airport Putin met the Prime Minister of Poland. Too many accidents. But when I was at the funeral of Lech and Maria Kaczynski, I was most surprised by the passive Polish reaction. I was very surprised by the Polish gratitude for the fact that the Russian side donated coffins, delivered bodies. This is precisely the inappropriate Russian humanism! It seemed to me that they should ask other questions. Keep emotions in a completely different plane. But it looked like a much humanized step, which should be properly assessed. In this flight the color of the Polish right movement, the church movement, the Sejm, the armed forces was lost.

Related: Luhansk militants celebrate anniversary of Dignity Revolution with their own "Maidan"

What meetings since the times of the Maidan you can recall? Which of them were very important or indicative?

Yanukovych invited three former presidents to his place in Mezhyhiria. It took place seven days before the Vilnius summit. I came last and was surprised: I did not know that we were on the air. Kravchuk began to tell me that Yanukovych had read that the economic agreement on the free trade zone had been written out incorrectly, with a great violation of Ukrainian national interests, and therefore he could not sign it. I say: when in October 2008 Sarkozy and I signed the association statement, on the liberalization of the visa regime and on the free economic zone, then this package was given to us as a prize, because all the countries of the 3rd and 4th branches had only a political association. If some economic calculations are wrong there, then let us sign a political association, and the rest cannot be signed. Although I am convinced that since our economic agreement was conducted by a sensible, competent Deputy Minister of Economy Pyatnitsky, superprofi, he would not have committed any violation. Yanukovych came in and I told him that if he had any suspicions that the Ministry of Economics did not work professionally, then postpone it, go to Vilnius and sign the item No. 1 - "Political Association". Viktor Yanukovych said: "We must think over it."

Did the Ukrainian oligarchs finance the Maidan?

I think yes. It was not some kind of a technocratic goal. Oligarchs are not indifferent to political movements.

Which Ukrainian oligarchs are cunning?

Personally, I cannot answer this question, because it will be untenable.

Related: Four years after Maidan: What happened to the Ukrainian economy

Who is the wisest among them?

They're not stupid. But everyone should be kept equidistant from power.

Do you have a formula, how can Ukraine use oligarchs to benefit from them?

Of course. Each country that moved from a planned to an oligarchic economy, and then implemented a market, open, competitive economy, went through 5 stages: 1) destruction of the illicit economy; 2) deoligarchization or demonopolization; 3) legitimization of capital (each capital that is exported must be returned to Ukraine. If we want to start a new life, we must use principles that work for everyone. One cannot allow selectivity, when one group of oligarchs is safely preserved, and the other is destroyed. I think that we should conduct deoligarchization of the television and the media. The oligarch should not be in power.

Who do you personally vote for in the presidential election?

Now we should not elect a person. We still have a year and a half before the elections. The whole world chooses the program. We have learned to vote, but have not yet learned how to choose. Choose not by age. Because when they say "I want a young face," this has nothing to do with politics. Candidates in the Chinese Politburo are older than 70, but they come with the concepts that move the country forward for at least ten years. We must choose the road, the plan for the country.

Related: Italian film on involvement of Georgians in Euromaidan is fake, - Prosecutor General’s Office

What are three mistakes of post-Maidan forces?

The global mistake is that they did not go into politics, did not create a political force that would come as a parliamentary force for the formation of that plan - economic, security, social. They had to integrate into Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, National Front, Fatherland. These small, fresh, beautiful forces seemed to be thrown into a barrel of salted cucumbers, and two days later they became the same monsters. This Maidan lost a political chance. And we finally came to a weak political system, which today cannot give an answer, how to win a war, what is the plan for victory, how to launch an economy or how to pursue a nationally conscious policy. We say that we live under a parliamentary system, but we do not have a single implemented program of the parliamentary majority on the table.

Related: Progress in Euromaidan cases, trial started


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