Journalist Vlaschenko: Today our guest is a political scientist, political analyst, and writer Taras Berezovets.
Taras, you are often perceived as the herald of the President’s Administration (AP), as a person who is lobbying the interests of AP and is associated with it. Often you occupy a very formal point of view. How can you comment on this?
Berezovets: I sincerely believe that Petro Poroshenko is the best president in the history of Ukrainian. The second president is Leonid Kuchma, oddly enough. I criticized him, but still. The election of Poroshenko in 2014, it was the right decision, and thank God that Ukrainian people did such a choice.
Please name five reasons to call him the best president.
Poroshenko began real anti-terrorist operation, he has actually stopped the front line and we returned 70% of the territories that have been lost by the time he became president. Under President Poroshenko in a real army and a real Security Service appeared in Ukraine.
Why our present army does not cleanse our territory from enemy troops? Why none of the saboteurs is brought to court, does not sit in the jail?
A lot of things are not public. Large parts of the Security Service and Intelligence Service were not reformed. There is still a large number of Russian agents. 950 million are allocated for the foreign intelligence service for the next year. On the territory of Kyiv, Russian subversive groups are periodically detained, but these people are considered as VIP-hostages to exchange for our people, who are being held in captivity.
This is a big communication problem. Communication between authorities and society, or external contractors is disgusting. As for the liberation of our territories, i.e. the Minsk agreement, and it is the only thing today that restrains the Russian aggression. Minsk agreement largely are effective. And I do not share the cries of those who say that we should go on the offensive, that the Minsk agreement - it is a betrayal. This is not true. This is the position of our Western partners, with whom I, in particular, communicate. I believe that it was a great achievement that these agreements have been concluded, even under such conditions.
Please tell us about a document called “The necessary measures for the ratification of the Minsk agreements”
I can neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of such documents. I do not know about the existence of these documents. I can only speak about what I know. In any case, we understand that Minsk agreement is the best possible instrument. Ukraine will not follow them in terms of the constitutional changes, will not give any special status. Ukraine has in its arsenal a lot of pressure on Western allies, we are sometimes talking and sometimes remain silent.
For example, a tool such as an all-Ukrainian referendum on the status of Donbas, which can pass. President Poroshenko, of course, is aggainst such a referendum, but on the other hand, he understands that there is no way to prevent it. Imagine that the question would be like: "Do you want to return to Donbas a) in the previous form, or b) in the form of special status?" I can say that 80% people would give negative answers to the first, and to the second question. This gives a huge opportunity of diplomatic pressure on Western allies. By the way, Merkel knows about this option, and this explains her nervous reaction to this initiative of Yatsenyuk. Our Western allies are afraid of the refugees flow from Ukraine, because this scenario is real. 2-3 million refugees from Ukraine, it is absolutely real. If they try to quit the Minsk process, this scenario to become true. Therefore, we can put our pressure on them.
In your opinion, what is the “basis” of the conflict between Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk?
The core of the conflict is not connected with Poroshenko Yatsenyuk. Incidentally, there is no conflict, there are no tensions, and the President takes this Prime Minister as he is. In principle, there has not been any large conflict. There are external forces that periodically try to inflame the conflict. Crisis lies in another plane. This is a crisis of the elites change. There is an old ruling class, people who represented us in power, and there is a young generation of politicians who would have come to replace them, but they are just imitation of the new elite. While the counter-elite has not come to power because it has not yet been formed, we can witness the process of aging.
Saakashvili, who is appointed by the governor, is not actually engaged in gubernatorial duties, he is just traveling to the cities. Why the president calmly looks atit?
I think that foreign experts, who arrived in Ukraine, including the Georgian troops, have largely paid off. It was a creative team of crisis managers. For example, Khatia Dekanoidze. The "National Police" is quite successful.
They say that the main locomotive is Avakov, right?
Avakov’s role is extremely important. And I believe Saakashvili is bright and charismatic politician who needs to destroy a monopoly of the populist politicians (such as Yulia Tymoshenko and Oleh Lyashko) and to show that populism can go to a completely different turn. In general, Saakashvili's project is absolutely populist, this is autocratic project. Perhaps he is like a vaccine for the Ukrainian society as the last nail in the Ukrainian populism. There are people who are going to trust Saakashvili in the parliamentary elections, and there might be a lot of voters who would support him. Ukraine’s populism is quite unique: there is no such phenomena in Europe.
If you were a president, would you fire Saakashvili?
Taking into account the duties which are in the Odesa region, and what has been done, of course, he would be fired. He would have to deal with the development of his political project. I believe that a person should be given such opportunities.
If Yatsenyuk goes away today, who can actually gain votes in Verkhovna Rada?
There are three candidates, who can gain votes today. But to have votes and to have majority – these are completely different things. MPs might vote for Yaresko, Turchynov, or Groisman. Turchynov might get most of the votes, it will be an absolute majority. Groisman and Turchynov are able to form constant majority. Yaresko has not this opportunity today. She cannot rely on a constant majority. It is like artificial respiration. If President Poroshenko is involved in this process, she will get the necessary votes. But this is impossible.
How do you assess Turchynov as Prime Minister of Ukraine?
I believe that a man like Turchynov has saved the country from a significant loss of Ukraine, and in fact from sliding into full-scale conflict with Russia. Hypothetically, in the role of prime minister, he could take place. He is not a good reformer. This is a good prime regulator.
We have nothing to stabilize…
Prime Minister is not a key position. Key positions are in the government - Minister of Finance, Minister of Economic Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration. Prime Minister is more like a speaker: he has to bring together different teams, to resolve conflicts. Turchynov had just never had serious conflict in the parliament. Wherever he was in office, he was able to find a common language and to balance all the interests.
You say that Europeans are annoyed that because of the war in Ukraine they cannot lift the sanctions from Russia and start making money. Postponing visa-free regime with Ukraine has a very different reason than the electronic declaration.
Americans feel and understand perfectly rotten nature of some European politicians. A desire to earn money with the help of the Russian economy has always been present in Europe. In Germany, 160 thousand people worked for the Russian economy, most of whom lost their jobs. In Italian economy – 120 thousand, in the French economy - 90 thousand. That is, for them it is a question of making money and creating jobs. Here we must thank Angela Merkel for the fact that she actually stepped on the throat of her own song, sent a huge German industrial lobby and went to a huge loss. Tens of billions. Europeans are now trying to solve their problems at the expense of us, it's true. These arguments, of course, you never hear publicly. The formal denial of visa regime is electronic declaration, but, unfortunately, at the heart of issues of Ukraine and EU are very different, cynical attitudes. Today, we lose the Dutch referendum - the situation is not in our favor. This is very specific nation, they cannot tolerate any pressure. If now they stop the whole process, they actually make a huge problem for Merkel.
Bureau of Anti-hybrid war, what are the functions of this institution?
Bureau receives assistance from our Western allies, including NATO. Within two years, we have carefully studied all the cases related to Crimea, Donbas, Russian media aggression in the Baltics states and Eastern Europe. This information has been prepared by specialists, including from the point of view of military strategy that Russia used in Crimea. We organize seminars, strategic games. We started with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; we are following the General Staff and the newly created Office of Special Operations Forces. They asked us for this help, because they needed expert support.
You called Stolyarova, who worked for "Inter", informational saboteur, and said that Security Service investigates this case. Why wasn’t she deported?
Stolyarova is just a part of a huge system of recruitment. This is a great plan. "Bureau of hybrid war" helped this process. Thanks to us a deputy inquiry was served and the Security Service has made a decision. Actually, they could not find anything criminal in her actions, therefore they have sent her back. Hybrid warfare requires hybrid instruments.
What saboteurs do you know?
As a minimum, it is Ihor Shuvalov, an extremely dangerous person and a person close to Lyovochkin.
And Lyovochkin is also a saboteur?
He is not a saboteur, he is too big figure. Nevertheless, it is a major player, who is not playing in the interests of the Russian Federation, and plays to his own advantage. His actions led to the fall of the regime of Yanukovych, because all of the events - the attack against the students, corresponding “stuffing” through the so-called civil society -. Lyovochkin acted through his agents. His actions quite systematically led to the fall of the regime of Yanukovych, and Yanukovych has realized it, but it was too late. Lyovochkin deliberately merged his then-boss.
Today you are working not as a political scientist, but as a person that provides the informational security of Ukraine. Do you think the humanitarian policy of the Ministry of Culture is effective?
Absolutely not. Moreover, I believe the Ministry of Culture is an anachronism of the Soviet period, and I think that this ministry should be destroyed. It must be eliminated.