MP Lytvyn: Best law on language was adopted in the last years of Soviet rule

Author : Natalia Vlashchenko

Respondent : Volodymyr Lytvyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

Volodymyr Lytvyn on Ukraine's political situation in 90s, oligarchs, privatization, and historical perspectives of current political leaders
13:53, 6 February 2017

Read the original text at

Vlaschenko Today our guest is the People's Deputy of Ukraine Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Good evening, Mr. Lytvyn. What is the role of "Will of the people" group in the parliament? What are you doing in Parliament as part of the "Will of the people"?

Lytvyn: The election we held on a mixed system. 50% of deputies were elected on party lists, and 50% - directly in the majority districts. I was elected as MP by the second scheme. I think that such MPs, like me, they better feel the moods of the people, because we have to constantly been in the neighborhood, sharing the challenges and pain of the people. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada today works in such a way that if the MP (elected by majority system) is not included in the circle of elite’s friends, or is not attached to a political faction, he cannot work at all.

MPs elected by majority system were sent to VR not to open new schools or repair the roads, but to renovate the system in which it would be possible to build Ukraine. Many MPs elected by majority system admit that they vote for the money. It is a form of legalized bribery.

If a person wants to sell herself, she will find arguments to rationalize it. Look at the results of voting for key document - the state budget. I have never voted for this document, because I believe that it is impossible to take such decisions in such a way, and secondly, you cannot engage people in fraud under the guise that the country cannot live without a budget. In 2012, when elections were held, a number of young deputies went to the parliament. Some of them I knew and supported. Then some members of the then government perceived opposite arguments and opinion. An informal group of deputies has formed, which included the late Ivan Eremeev, and this group survived in the most difficult times.

Related: The history of Ukraine's language legislation

Different forces were trying to break us and get our votes. I was even suggested that I would be supported for the post of Verkhovna Rada Chairman, provided that these 10 people will drop to the then ruling parliamentary faction. I told them that I do not trade.

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And we survived the most difficult times, and when the February 20, 2014, in the morning, when all the parliament scattered, security, which has been around the government quarter, scattered, it were we, and your humble servant, who began calling publicly for the deputies to return to the Verkhovna Rada and take responsibility for the country. In fact, we played a key role for Verkhovna Rada resumed its work and took decisions that it took. Otherwise, the conflict in the country would have completely dominated. We would have faced a comprehensive civil war. Unfortunately, Eremeev has tragically died…

Who is now the formal leader of the group?

In fact, formally - me. Moskalenko.

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What the loss of Eremeev mean for Ukrainian politics? Could he become a representative of another configuration of Ukrainian politics, if he was still alive?

I am convinced that he had a political perspective. And I think it would be a big benefit for Ukraine. He was a man of intelligent compromise, extremely sensitive. But God always takes the best people first.

Kuchma and you replaced Kravchuk’s team. Today they say that Kuchma was the father of the oligarchic system, which, in principle, is now buried. I think that there is a definite pattern.

At one time, I worked under the command of L. Kravchuk. I can call myself a practicing historian. At first, I wrote several books about the political process, political arena of Ukraine, acting persons, and then I had the opportunity to participate in practical administrative and political work. I must say that our lives are different from other countries so that we are able to hang tags on certain people. L. Kuchma was named the father of the oligarchic system. I think people are a little versed in the history, versed in politics, confirm that any country passes a stage of primitive accumulation of capital. The countries of Europe have experienced it 200-300 years ago. Then all was perceived differently, people followed the principle: "Everything is from God." There was no such information capabilities. But Ukraine, unfortunately, experienced this stage in the late 20 - early 21 century.

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In Europe and America, people accumulated the initial capital with weapons and their own intellect. Here, the initial capital was accumulated through opportunity to steal from the state. And it is a significant difference.

When Ukraine was proclaimed as an independent state, we immediately put on the agenda the question: "What to do with the state property?" Fairly distribute everything that has been accumulated by many generations. The idea of the voucher privatization was proposed. And then clever people bought these vouchers thus obtaining a controlling stake. The state originally, I think, is responsible for the fact that in this way the state ownership very quickly turned into a group of people, which later became known as "oligarchs." These people felt the taste and having access to the ruling positions, and they wanted to take over even more. And for this they need to be able to influence political processes, on political power. And they came in those rooms, where a question of ownership was decided.

Do we have a historical perspective to close the cases of Gongadze, Kyrpa, Kravchenko, Sheremet? It seems to me that as long as these questions remain opened, we never get back the legal state.

Indeed, we cannot be called a civilized country until we do not have the truth established. However, as soon as the country starts to get on its feet, those rich people, influencing the political decisions, were tried to supplant to the margins of political life in Ukraine. That is why this struggle leaded to the tragic moments which essentially returned us backwards. In 1999, after the second presidential election, a resonant phrase was said during the inaugural speech of President of Ukraine: "You will see a new president." I think that those first steps have led to the emergence of the cassette scandal.

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What do you think, what historical perspectives today has Poroshenko? Can he become the statesman, who would build a new Ukraine?

I have a feeling that I did not know Mr. Poroshenko before, so it is difficult to predict, given the different moments. I read some predictions, evaluations, they mainly have pessimistic character. And I must say that I am trying to view the main foreign publications, political assessments and predictions about Ukraine in this ill-changing world. I must tell you that the analyses of these processes in Ukraine are quite pessimistic, especially after the US presidential election.

When did you last talk to Poroshenko personally?

Not less than one year ago.

In 2014, people who hate Ukraine took advantage of the language issue. Today MPs introduced a new language law. Is it relevant?

I believe that the best law on the language was adopted in the last years of Soviet rule. That is, when talking about the sovereignty of Ukraine. In my opinion, this law is consistent with all standards. It only needs to be updated. No one should interfere into the issues of inter-ethnic relations, religion and language policies. Why now reappeared appropriate legislative initiatives? In my opinion, this is due to the expectation of early elections. The bet is to grab this reactive part of the society that supports the approach laid down in this legislative initiative.

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Would the early elections be held soon?

In my opinion, it is only a matter of time.

You have spent the whole life being a politician. And your e-declaration says that you are quite a rich man. You are engaged in business, or maybe your family members?

When I was 20 years old and I held portraits of members of the Politburo at the demonstrations, I just thought of them as young journalists today think of me. For some reasons, people never ask me how I managed to survive before 1994, as a candidate of sciences, associate professor, and during my doctorate I was forced to work on the side. Since 1974, I did not sleep on the couch, did not drink beer, I did not read the newspaper, and did not tell that everything is very bad. I knew that it is necessary to feed my family. The first money I have earned in student construction brigades, in 1974 - it was 950 rubles. And I did it until 1994. As an assistant professor, I worked as a guard, as a teacher. I worked as a bricklayer, plasterer, I was constantly working. I have not earned a state of course. In addition, in the early nineties I got fees for publication. You just have to live and work.

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All your life you are reading. What book has made the greatest impression on you during the last year?

This is the book I am reading at the moment. This is a book of Molotov’s grandson Nikonov, who has written two volumes about his grandfather. I try to analyze, learn something for myself, including in terms of critical appraisal. When I read the last work of Khrushchev's son about his father, I mean "Reformer", I do not much like it, but as a historian I should know it. Grandchildren are more critical about their grandparents, because they have moved away from their ideology. Sons are closer, and they are 100% apologists for their parents.

What would the history books write about your team, the team of Kuchma, team of Kuchma, Tabachnyk, etc.?

If you want the history to be written correctly, it is necessary to write a history book by yourself. And I must tell you that my textbook on the history of Ukraine for students and history teachers has been published for eight times.

Thank you, Mr. Lytvyn.


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