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Olesia Batsman: "The country needs Lytvyn" was your political motto of the previous years. Is it still actual?
Lytvyn: I think so. If I had an opportunity to influence the situation in 2013-2014 (I mean to organize the work of the Verkhovna Rada), there would have been no victims and bloody events in Ukraine. I felt it in 2004, I saw how people’s moods were changing then, how people were radicalized, and I realized that we had to take the responsibility. Although I realized that for me personally, it could be a one-way road, that later they would remember and use it.
Do you still have the presidential ambitions or not?
I think we need to understand the obvious things. Three conditions are needed to participate in the presidential election: 1) money, 2) big money, 3) very big money. And access to the media. To my great regret, I owe none of these components.
What’s the name of Ukraine’s president, who would bring the war to an end?
The problem is not in his or her name. The problem, most likely, is that this person needs to realize that ensuring domination by intimidating people and keeping them in a state of war is absolutely against the nature of our society, it is wicked, politically irresponsible, and criminal step.
Elections are just around the corner. Currently, Yulia Tymoshenko is leading, according to the polls. Will she be able to end the war?
I would like (perhaps I demonstrate my wishful thinking) Tymoshenko to change, re-evaluate many issues. I wish Tymoshenko was different, not like she used to be until 2010. Obviously, if she gets support, people intuitively feel that, perhaps, she would decide to direct everything to the establishment of peace in Ukraine. Although this is very difficult to do since the war party is very strong. Sometimes I feel regret, I feel disappointed that Yulia Tymoshenko wants to keep this range of political sentiments in the orbit of her influence, demonstrating a certain omnivorousness, so that everyone will like this plan. And today an aggressive group of radical people sets the political tone. And Ukrainian politicians try to be even more radical in order to lead all these processes. Pay attention that the activists began Donbas blockade. The authorities pathetically and angrily were declaring that the Ukrainian budget was suffering from losses: even the figures were voiced – one or two percent of GDP. And then they declared the blockade of Crimea. It was not so much an economic blockade but rather a blockade of those people who live in Crimea and whom they consider citizens of Ukraine. To my great regret, there are some business interests in it, this is the old Stalinist Bolshevik habit of fighting for territory, not for people.
Anatoliy Hrytsenko is number two, according to the opinion polls. Would he be able to end the war?
I think he could actively start it. He demonstrates with all his actions and his statements that he would ensure the integrity of Ukraine by the military actions.
And what should Petro Poroshenko do to become president again?
First, he should form a team of allies, not the subordinates. People who have their own position and would stand up for it. There should be a voice of reason, not the voice of one person. I think that this is the main thing. But, at the same time, it will be difficult to do it because when the ratings roll down, it is almost impossible to stop them.
Would Poroshenko be able to end the war?
Taking into consideration that the US has transferred new weapons (although they ordered it to be kept in warehouses under the protection or under the control of US servicemen), this is a signal that they will try to tame Russia (more precisely, Russian President Putin) with the help of Ukraine.
Is it true that you do not get along with Poroshenko? You have had a close relationship until recently.
I must say that there is no relationship between the president and the people's deputy.
And between Poroshenko and Lytvyn?
The same. I am not trying to impose my advice to the president. When the Minsk process began, I have outlined my vision on ending the war. Today I am convinced that neither intermediaries nor “formats” of the four presidents are not able to solve the problem until direct discussions begin, a dialogue between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. Public dialogue.
I want to ask you about the provocations during the Maidan, about executions. What do you think, who stands behind these provocations?
I cannot be guided by simple guesses. But I think that only in some time, we will learn the whole truth. Especially today they are trying to establish "truth" unilaterally, in order to close this topic as soon as possible. I think that everything was not so simple there. If we carefully read and analyze information that is publicly available, I do not exclude, like many others, that there might be a cynical process of stimulating people on the Maidan in order to achieve the desired result. I mean getting to power via the bloody way. Remember, there were protests in Armenia? The whole country said that it does not share the positions of the ruling party and the authorities. But everything happened peacefully. And in our situation, they did not want to wait, because they felt that the power was very close, so they just could not miss the chance. Obviously, it was necessary to increase public outrage and increase pressure from the international community. Because I cannot understand the joy demonstrated today, including by Ukrainian politicians, about the death of law enforcement officers. How can you expect that these law enforcers will ensure order in the country tomorrow if they remember well what happened to their colleagues?
What kind of significant conversations or meetings do you remember during the Maidan?
For me, the most important moment was when after the dispersal of the youth on the Independence Square the Verkhovna Rada met a few days later and I managed to speak at this meeting:" If you, both the government and the opposition, expect that these events would dissolve by themselves, you are deeply mistaken. You need to take a comprehensive decision, evaluate the government forces. You should prepare this decision and ask the government why it happened." I applied to the leaders of all factions. Some laughed and mocked, others expressed their discontent, but I was right. Then, from the very beginning, it would be possible to stop the likely (and it became a real) negative scenario for Ukraine. And the second crucial point was when Verkhovna Rada dispersed. The impression was so terrible when I walked to Arsenalna metro station, the servicemen were along the street, and the wind was carrying garbage. It reminded me of the picture when the Soviet troops retreated, and the Germans had not entered yet, and it was a short period of inter-power, and people were robbing. I remember when servicemen, including internal troops, approached their buses, and young guys ran behind them, beat them, took their shields – it was a terrible picture. I came home then and thought about what to do. Leonid Kuchma called me on the phone I asked: "Why did you run away? Why did you leave the country to the mercy of fate? You took responsibility in 2004, right? Why is everyone hiding now? Take a decision, otherwise, the country will die." I have realized that he had no one to appeal to – there was no power in Ukraine. Then I wrote a statement urging that the Verkhovna Rada returns to the session hall and that the deputies take responsibility in their own hands. This statement was broadcast every 15 minutes. I started calling up deputies. First of all, they were non-factional deputies, including Igor Yeremeiev. Some were even afraid to go to the Verkhovna Rada, there was an idea to gather in the Mykhailivsky Cathedral and to begin the work of the Verkhovna Rada there. I replied that decisions, adopted in the Mykhailivsky Cathedral would not have legitimacy, they would be questioned. So there was an agreement to get together near Arsenalna metro station and start the work of the Verkhovna Rada there. I did not support this idea, I came to the Verkhovna Rada, and there no one was there. Then Maria Matios came into the office, we talked with her, deputies began to gather too. We began to count the deputies, to draw up a list of 226 deputies (majority), but there was not even half of them. There was no one to write at least some draft resolution, and I was forced to do it myself. All these moments are memorable for me.
Did you talk to Olexandr Turchynov then?
I did not talk to him, because when he became the Verkhovna Rada chairman of the and acting president, he had his own team there, his own headquarters. The Committee on Security and National Defense adopted the decisions that were to be taken, and I presented the first decisions.
So you advised Yanukovych to fire Azarov and Zakharchenko?
I did not advise Yanukovych anything. I spoke to Mykola Azarov, I said to him that it would be good if he resigned. After that, he did not talk to me. I said this to Andriy Klyuev.
So they did not agree, right?
They have made that decision when it was too late.
Why did you vote for the so-called “dictator laws” of January 16, 2014?
I did not vote for them. You could easily check it.
Under your chairmanship, the Verkhovna Rada has voted for the ratification of the so-called “Kharkiv Pact.” It seems to me that for the first time eggs were thrown in the Verkhovna Rada. Which of the deputies threw these eggs then?
All these people who run the Verkhovna Rada today. All these people who then destroyed the fence around the Verkhovna Rada, and today they build these fences. Then they were implementing the other scenarios. For example, they pour paint before the Verkhovna Rada entrance. The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Oleh Bilorus reported the regulations were fully adopted. But, in my deep conviction, we have postponed any territorial claims to Ukraine. And I think that at that time the only right decision was made. I am not talking about the economic aspect of the problem, because it was completely impossible to elaborate a budget plan in terms of that gas price policy. It was April 2010, and the country did not have a state budget. If there was a calm and balanced discussion in the Verkhovna Rada, the deputies would have voted in the other way.
Being a historian, do you like the Ukrainian Institute National Memory director, Volodymyr Viatrovych?
Why should I like him? This is a person who works for strife in Ukraine, who simply stupidly imposes his worldview on Ukraine and makes the authorities blindly follow him. Pay attention to how actively he split on Ukraine and Poland. And Ukrainian officials follow him, like a stool pigeon.