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You have been a member of the Communist Party for 31 year. Have you believed in the ideals of communism for a while?
Drach: Of course I have believed. I was such an ardent pioneer, a Komsomol member.
Do you realize today, that you were stupid, pardonne-moi?
You can say that again! Super-stupid and naive. But this is our generation. We were brought up like this. We cried when Stalin died.
Did you have to be a conformist in the 70-80s?
If I were not a conformist, what kind of communist would I be then?! We were conformists. But slowly we departed from conformism and became on some new rails. It was very difficult though. Very slowly, I began to comprehend.
You were the first chairperson of the People's Movement of Ukraine (Narodny Rukh of Ukraine - NRU). How did the Communists and the NRU manage to come together in 1991 and proclaim independence, cherished by the NRU members?
We tried to persuade everyone to believe that it was the main thing. When we had a human chain from Kyiv to Lviv, Kravchuk went to see that we organized it. Kravchuk arrived there as a head of the ideological department, and returned already as a future president of Ukraine. He is smart and cunning.
You were taken to the KDB. Did they bit you there?
They have never beaten me, only intimidated. With prison, Siberia. Since then, I began to understand something about our security forces.
Do you like Nazarbayev as president?
He is very interesting to me. He has introduced Latin alphabet. I am personally acquainted with Nursultan Abishevich since ancient times. When he was still prime minister, he came to a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The meeting was conducted in Russian, and he spoke in Ukrainian. I have many friends and acquaintances in Kazakhstan. And I respect these people. He is very interesting, mobile, dynamic, and he was in luck with the leadership. I would give all our five presidents for one Nazarbayev.
What did you feel when Russia “chopped off” Crimea?
I felt all the idiocy of our power and our leadership headed by Turchynov. I have been serving in the army for three years. I know what is it. I know that when someone is coming, you say "Stop, who's there? Stop or I'll shoot!" You make a cautionary blast and then shoot at the chest. If 100 or even 1000 of our people were killed in the Crimea, there could have been no horror in Donbas, we could omit those hundreds of thousands of deaths. It was a huge mistake of our state then.
Do you personally want to return Crimea to Ukraine?
And as for Crimea, the wisest solution would be to create a separate state structure with Crimean Tatars, created under the auspices of the United States, Europe, Ukraine, and Russia.
What kind of person is Putin?
It seems to me that he is underestimated. You cannot say that he is only a tactician. He thinks very strategically, understands very much. He has undertook one thing - preserving imperial Russia, continuing the work of the tsars, Lenin, and Stalin. And the people support him. The people of Russia are largely aggressive. They are so used to it. Our people were engaged in agriculture, and for the most part these are good people. Those who are in anger, become Haidamaks, Banderits, and so on. But, in general, Ukrainian must be very excited, so that he would take such a role. Our philosophy is also to blame for this. Skovoroda with his kindness is to blame.
Is there a difference between patriotism and nationalism?
When you do something good for your people, then how you call it would determine this whole thing. Vernadsky said that when he looks at his actions, he does not look for anyone's evaluation. When we start talking and doing things that can irritate someone, such as naming bridge or avenue after Bandera or Shukhevych, it might be better to call this bridge after Vernadsky. Or maybe some other tolerant things. We are very clueless, careless ... Without a tact and education.
Are Bandera and Shukhevych heroes for you?
For me, these are heroes, because they fought for an independent Ukraine. Another matter is how they fought, what methods they used. These aspects must be separated.