Ukraine's first president: We have favorable prerequisites for obtaining autocephaly

Author : Pavlo Kuzheev

Respondent : Leonid Kravchuk

Source : 112 Ukraine

Leonid Kravchuk on labor migration, Ukraine's economic challenges, Yanukovych's case, land market, and Tomos
12:00, 10 September 2018

Focus (Oleksandr Chekmeniov)

Remember a Soviet joke, when the plumber said that "the system should be changed" and was imprisoned in a while. Perhaps, changing the Constitution would help us?

Leonid Kravchuk: When the society is not ready to accept the high political culture, high moral unity, no one should hope that some partial changes can change the whole situation. We, Ukraine, are standing on two banks: one is the bank of the past and the second is the bank of the present time. And not only the power but the people are standing on two banks. The political elite stands on two banks. We can change the Constitution, I believe that it needs to be changed, because over the years the Constitution has been trampled so many times that there is almost nothing left of it.

Related: Poroshenko to submit bill on constitutional Euro-Atlantic integration course

The joint project of VoxUkraine and reported that Ukraine's national debt as of June 18th was $ 76.3 billion. Of this amount, approximately 60% is external borrowing. And this equals 47.2 billion dollars. This is 2.6 times more than the current level of Ukraine's currency reserves. Is it impossible to stop living in debt?

When being a president, I came to Spain and I was told that Spain's foreign debt was almost $ 140 billion, I was surprised and the people who were present at this conversation told me that it matters how we use these loans. If we take $ 10, relatively speaking, we invest them into the real economy, into real life, and in a year we get $ 20, then we pay off debts, we give jobs to people, and the people’s life is better. If we take $ 10, steal $ 5, and $ 5 inefficiently use, then the debts grow poverty increases. Has Ukraine built something large-scale during the years of independence? Maybe we have built a large automotive plant or something very large that produces can compete in the free market? No. They took already existing facilities, someone modernized them, and someone even did not do it, and we try to work on those fixed assets that were earlier. The money that we take into debt will not bring effectiveness. Debt is a difficult matter for each country. Therefore, we must move from loans to the investments. In Soviet times, I first went to eastern Berlin. It was winter and Berlin was heated by coal; black smoke was coming out from all chimneys. I was told that Berlin does not use gas. In 20-25 years I was in Berlin again, it was very different. Entire quarters of brand new beautiful buildings. Did the Germans build it? No, the investors came: France, UK, Japan, etc. We walk within small investments that do not grow but remain either the same or decrease. We take loans. And our main lender is the IMF. This money does not go in the economy. This money maintains the stability of the currency. Unfortunately, hryvnia went down again. That is, it is not the debt, it is the government issue.

Related: The country needs Lytvyn: MP on elections 2019 and the end of Donbas war

Let us speak about the trial of Yanukovych. What do you find interesting in the lawsuit over Yanukovych?

For me, there is nothing interesting. I know almost everything and without trial. I know the scale of everything. And secondly, a trial without a person's presence is a conditional trial. You can make a decision, you can condemn in absentia, but this does not mean that you immediately would take Yanukovych from Russia to Ukraine and put him behind bars. The court should be based on arguments, irrefutable arguments. Everything must be proved by the real facts. And when this proof is shown, the witnesses confirm it, and the court makes a decision. I do not know any other way.

Related: Prosecutor's Office opens criminal proceeding against Yanukovych' lawyers

In an interview with "Strana.UA" you said: “Shortly before the well-known Maidan events, an anonymous man called me. He told me that the murder of Yanukovych was being prepared, and the so-called Ceausescu group had been created. They intend to do with Yanukovych what was done with the president of Romania Ceausescu.” Does this story have a continuation, investigation or something?

When this unknown man called me, he did not introduce himself, and I asked him to tell his name. I asked him: "Why me, and not someone else? I am not an official who has some management capabilities." He said: "We called Yanukovych himself and different officials, but we did not get an answer. They told us that you answer your phone calls yourself." It is true. And Klyuev (Ukrainian businessman and former politician – Ed.) confirmed this fact. When lawyers asked him questions, he said that such a conversation with Kravchuk really took place. Then he was the head of the President’s Administration. I first called Yanukovych when I found out this information. Frankly, I thought it was a fake. But I decided to take this burden off just in case. I decided to tell this Yanukovych himself, but he was no longer on the phone, so I called Klyuev. This story had no continuation.

Tell us about the KamAZ trucks that were carrying cash from Mezhyhiria.

I did not see them. When I hear that Poroshenko has offshore and palaces somewhere, I say: "I have not seen them. I will not discuss it."

Related: Prosecution asks court to sentence Yanukovych to 15 years of imprisonment

The next president of Ukraine, whoever this is, will be forced to open a market of agricultural land. So the moratorium is unlikely to continue, right?

The market is not something very complicated or terrible by itself. Terms of land sale can be so accurate that the random people will not get the land. Today we do not sell land. Formally. How much land some of our officials have today? And not only the officials. While we are solving the issues of legal use of land, there will be no land for sale.

Is the agrarian sector really capable of becoming a locomotive of the domestic economy?

One of the locomotives. We have a lot of other sectors. We have very talented scientists, young people. The trouble is that these people are leaving Ukraine. When I was a president, there were 51 million Ukrainians. Now they call terrible figures - 7-8 million people have left Ukraine. We are losing intellectual strength, energy. Those labor migrants are courageous people, with huge scientific training. There is a hospital in the Kyiv region; not a single doctor or a nurse work there – all of them went to Poland. We do not even realize the scale of this tragedy for Ukraine. Everything can be restored, but how to restore the human potential, how to return people to Ukraine...

The occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine, the war in the east, the annexation of Crimea, accelerated many processes, I mean, the revival of the army, the rise of the patriotic spirit. Will those events also catalyze the receipt of Tomos about autocephaly?

I do not think that events that occur in Donbas should be connected with Tomos. I can say that now we have favorable prerequisites for obtaining autocephaly by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. More favorable than before. I ask everyone not to say that now the government has started acting so that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church receives autocephaly. In 1990, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – there was still no division into the Moscow Patriarchate, the Kyiv Patriarchate, autocephalous, - held the All-Ukrainian Council, the supreme organ of the canonical church, and at this Council appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch to provide the Ukrainian church with autocephaly. In parallel with the struggle for independence, there was also a struggle for autocephaly. Now I watch a lot of our TV channels. They often say that our independence is kind of wrong, not real, and now we have a real one. Or that only now they have begun to fight for autocephaly, not then. This is our Ukrainian historical tragedy - every power comes and blames the predecessors.

Related: Tomos for Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Why, how and what happens next

Results of the survey of the "Rating" sociological group: 82% of Ukrainians consider themselves patriots of their country. The total number of patriotic citizens exceeds 75%. 85% in the west, 84% in the center, 79% in the south, and 76% in the east. These days, sociologists record the largest number of those who supported the proclamation of Ukraine's independence for all the years of independence.

I am very pleased with this. Then we also had 91% in the all-Ukrainian referendum. Then this figure fell rapidly. And it was very low. But now the number of those who support the European choice, the accession to NATO, and those who support independence - has enormously increased. For me, one thing is clear: a nation will live and develop when it has its own state. When there is no state, the people are slaves. And all the generations absorb slavish psychology. It is not by chance that the biblical Moses led the people in the wilderness for forty years so that those who bear the memory of slavery would die. And now people understood: the war, the Holodomor, repression, all this became possible only because Ukraine was not an independent state. Yes, we have made some mistakes, miscalculations. I can list them but this does not mean that I am against the Ukrainian state. I am against the fools in the Ukrainian state - these are different things. None of them can have claimed to represent the whole of Ukraine. This is too much responsibility. I cannot say that I have an absolutely pure consciousness from the past that I am warm and fuzzy. If you have some flaws, then you should not tell about the disadvantages of your successor or even your friend. This is a bad philosophy. Together we need to overcome these shortcomings. We should say the authorities what it can do, but the authorities are not the main thing here. The main object of life, history, and the future is the Ukrainian people.

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