Savchenko: Post-Maidan authorities lost the grip on power
Ukraine’s MP Nadia Savchenko on fistfights in Ukraine’s parliament, release of the hostages, and lost opportunities of Ukraine’s territorial cohesion
Read the original text at 112.ua.
Ukraine’s MP Nadia Savchenko is our guest today. Good evening, Nadia. Why do you never take part in parliamentary fistfights?
Savchenko: I would like our parliament to be an exemplary institution for the whole society. Definitely, parliament is not a place for fighting.
In 2015, you were in Russian captivity, in a Russian prison, and your hunger strike lasted for 74 days. Then Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemilev has publicly asked you to stop your hunger strike. Russian academician Andrei Sakharov once saved Dzhemilev from a hunger strike in the same way. Our journalists then asked your sister Vera to tell you this message. But Vera told us that you should not give up in the face of Putin.
Perhaps, we are brought up in the spirit of war, because we have old parents, and in our childhood we have heard a lot of stories about famine and the war, about how people suffered. We were always tempered not to be weak, that is, "anything that does not kill you will make you stronger." My sister and I have the same spirit - and that is the power. My sister showed the world, and the world supported her: they saw what kindred ties mean. That words of my sister did not mean that she did not worry about me. This meant that we would never show that we are weak. When there was a risk that Russia could arrest my sister to force me to stop my hunger strike, I immediately told her (through lawyers): as soon as my sister is arrested, she must start a hunger strike, and I will start a hunger strike to, as soon as I will know it. I am grateful to Mustafa Dzhemilev, Liya Akhedzhakova, to many people who gave our world much wisdom. Mustafa Dzhemilev did a lot for his people, and I also do incredible things for my people.
A year after your return, Dzhemilev said: "…Such statements, especially with regard to Crimea, simply shock me. I do not believe that she was recruited. I am convinced that she does not fully realize what she is doing.” As you might understand, this was his reaction to your words about the fact that Donbas can be peacefully liberated only if we renunciate of Crimea for a while.
I did not say that. There is one thing that could be avoided in 2014 - the loss of Crimea, which for me is very painful. I was an officer, and it was my duty to protect Ukrainian land, namely Crimea. But my commanders did not let me do this - they did not give me the order. Including Turchynov (the then acting President of Ukraine – Ed.), who took the decision of the National Security and Defense Council. They did not give the order, which was the passion of the whole army. This is our work. So I went to fight in Donbas. And they did not give the order, because they sold it. Crimea was sold twice: the first time –Putin bought it from Yanukovych, the second time – from the current authorities.
Post-Maidan power lost its grip on power. It is easier to take the power than to keep it. They would not hold power if they began to defend Crimea. Russia would not allow them to do this. At that time, Ukraine was ruled by Russia through Yanukovych. And not only through Yanukovych. We see people in the parliament – they have not changed. And this is not only the "Opposition block" or the Party of Regions (Yanukovych’s party – Ed.). These are the same people who are dependent on those or other oligarchs. And the oligarchs have their business with Russia. History will someday dot the "i" and answer all the questions., I have just voiced one version regarding Crimea, which was already voiced before. But I did not say that I accept this version. I choose a different path. I do not remember what exactly interview it was, but the journalists have cut off my words and discarded my further thoughts.
Do not let me be lost to all sense of honor," you said when you came back from Russia. 1,5 years have passed since then. Did they let you be lost to all sense of honor?
They will not let me do it, and that is for sure. They began throwing stones at me earlier than expected. But I realized that I cannot be sold out. The first sensations, when I went to the Verkhovna Rada, were feelings of stiffness and disgust. And most importantly, that in 1.5 years these feelings did not disapear. I am only now starting to somehow feel myself in the Rada. Because earlier I just could not feel myself there. I went to Verkhovna Rada, and I thought that a dry rotten stump was nailed to me, which hanged on by the eyelids. And today I come and feel that there is more room for me. That is, I freed this space for myself.
You were sitting at the negotiating table with Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky (self-proclaimed leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics) to free the hostages. Are you ready to negotiate with Putin?
When my season comes, I will do that.
What would you say to him and in which manner?
Firstly, I am not a president, so I have nothing to fear. Secondly, I never think ahead of what could have been until it happens. I usually have enough patience to be sure that the response to the situation is fast and adequate. Therefore, I do not even think about it.
You do not hide that you will stand in elections. Who will give you the money? According to Brodsky, the US experts claim that a person needs $ 250 million for the presidential campaign in Ukraine.
It seems that the official registration costs 2.5-4 million UAH. You open the fund and declare that you are running the president. If I collect those 2.5 million - I will think whether I should stand in poll or not. I would not be surprised if get those 2 million from my enemies, because politics is like mathematics, a peculiar kind of mathematics.
According to public opinion polls, when you returned from captivity, your presidential ratings were more than twice as high as now. Do you understand why they fell?
I do. When I was in prison, people did not know me. In fact, no so many people know me personally. People have created a symbol and an image of me. This was created by all TV channels. It was a powerful propaganda. People did not know me, but they saw a symbol of me. A living person cannot be a symbol, an image. If I were dead, then I could really be a hero, I would be an example. People would never known me, they would stay in their memory as a symbol. They would be satisfied with this picture. Of course, some people fail to understand me, become disappointed and even angry. I did not have those presidential ratings when I was released. These were not my ratings. In order to get the ratings and feel your strength, you must first burn all those points that people gave you ahead of time. Then you earn your honest points. Otherwise it is impossible to go the way truthfully.
You said that the issue of hostages will always be a priority for you. How much prisoners did you manage to return back during this period?
After the meeting in Minsk with Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky, two women were returned. In the same period, Taras Kolodiy was returned. The priests returned it. They were holding talks in parallel. After that, Poroshenko released 15 people to that territory, saying that this is a voluntary gesture. In fact, it was an exchange - 1 to 5. This is the working formula. At that time, this formula was in the Minsk process. Now this formula has changed. I cannot say that I did not manage to do what I wanted. At the same time I have not stopped work on it. Every day there is a constant connection to speed up this process. You do not even imagine how many points you have to press at the same time, to make this miracle happen. You saw that for two years the whole world was trying to get me back from the captivity. But I still believe that all our guys will be brought back home. We just need to find the right method.
Work on the release of political prisoners must be held in a political dimension. But every time you need to find a new method. There was a list of Savchenko, there was a list of Sentsov. Regarding Sentsov, this scheme did not work, and Sentsov's list was created earlier than Savchenko's list. You can write a lot of lists, but the same trick does not work twice. That is why we need to find new ways.