May 20, President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a press conference on the occasion of the second anniversary of being in office. Despite Ukraine marks Vyshyvanka Day today, the head of state wore a classic suit.
The conversation with the media representatives took place in a hangar on the territory of the Antonov aircraft plant and lasted for three hours (instead of the promised two and a half).
We have gathered the main points of Zelensky’s press conference.
Russian passports of uncontrolled territories citizens
Russian passportization of residents of the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is the first step towards the annexation of the territories.
"This is definitely the first step since the same thing happened in Crimea. Crimeans were given Russian passports. This is a big challenge."
Earlier, Ukrainian ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova stated that the Russian Federation has accelerated the certification in occupied Donbas. So, as of early May, almost 600,000 Ukrainian citizens received Russian passports in a simplified manner.
Fight against oligarchs
The President assured that the main priority for the authorities is a country without oligarchs.
"We are building a country without oligarchs... I think you already feel our first steps, for which I have been preparing for a long time, and now you see the result. A country for forty million citizens, not for hundreds of Forbes. And where the state should really help business and not big business should live at the expense of the state budget."
The bill on the status of oligarchs is almost ready, the text of this document will appear next week.
Zelensky assured that the end of the era of oligarchs has begun, but with the era of poverty, it is more difficult. He says not everything depends on him.
Celebration of the 30th anniversary of independence
The celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence would last for several days.
On August 22, Ukraine will honor the great Ukrainians: "These will be legends that glorify Ukraine both in Ukraine and abroad throughout the world. There will be an award ceremony, there will be a big concert. In parallel, there will be very important bilateral meetings with leaders of other states."
On August 23, large flags will be raised in all regions of the country, which will remain in place after the celebrations.
Also on this day, the first summit on the de-occupation of the Crimean Peninsula ("Crimean Platform") would take place.
"There will be many representatives of many countries, important documents will be signed on this platform. Presidents, prime ministers, heads of churches of other countries have been invited, speakers and foreign ministers have also been invited," Zelensky said.
Also on August 23 at the Opera House "a big concert of great Ukrainians, legends of opera and ballet" will take place.
On August 24, a large military parade will take place on the water - in Odesa and on land - in Kyiv. A concert of Ukrainian stars at the Olimpiysky National Sports Complex is scheduled for the evening.
Also, on the occasion of Independence Day, the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk would be brought to Ukraine. According to Zelensky, as part of the celebrations on one of the days of August, everyone will have the opportunity to see her.
End of the hostilities and de-occupation
Zelensky said that resolving the issue of war and de-occupation of the territories of Ukraine remains a priority for the authorities.
The President recalled yesterday's meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, at which the parties confirmed security guarantees for the opening of the checkpoint in Donbas. This, according to Zelensky, is "a very important step."
Commenting on the settlement of the situation in Donbas, the President stated that due to the coronavirus, the situation with the organization of the meeting of the Normandy Four has become more complicated. Therefore, on this issue, "there is no progress."
Moreover, Zelensky said that within the framework of the Normandy format, France and Germany have recently been weakening their positions in relation to Russia.
"This is connected, on the one hand, with the economic situation, with the pressure within their countries and sanctions. It is a very difficult choice, but so far I know that they support Ukraine."
He recalled that he invited the President of the Russian Federation to meet in Donbas, and in response, Vladimir Putin invited him to Moscow.
"But traditionally, in such situations, the parties to the conflict meet either in one of the places of conflict or on neutral territory. A conversation began, frankly, between the Office of the President of Ukraine and the Russian Federation," Zelensky added.
On the eve, press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov confirmed contacts on the preparation of a hypothetical meeting of Zelensky and Putin.
The president assures that at the end of the second year of his rule "he feels very good, understands what he is doing, where he is going and with whom he will end up."
Zelenskiy said: "My desire to run for a second term will coincide with the desire of the society."
According to the president, there is no evidence of the guilt of Andriy Antonenko, Yana Dugar, and Yulia Kuzmenko, suspected of murdering journalist Pavlo Sheremet.
"I do not interfere with the activities of the law enforcement agencies and the court. But I would like to tell you frankly, I do know in detail what is happening. I do not care. If these people were illegally convicted and the fact that they were behind bars, I do care. There is no 100% guarantee that they are innocent or guilty."
He also shared that he was corresponding with Yana Dugar, after which he showed the correspondence to the journalist.
July 20, 2016 journalist Pavlo Sheremet died as a result of a car explosion in the center of Kyiv. On December 12, 2019, the National Police announced that Donbas veteran Andriy Antonenko, doctor Yulia Kuzmenko, and military nurse Yana Dugar were suspected of involvement in the murder.
Change of Naftogaz leadership
Zelensky recalled that despite the corporate reform, the national joint-stock company Naftogaz has a leader represented by the Ukrainian government and must fill the budget "in accordance with promises and work plans."
"The government, being the main shareholder of Naftogaz, has decided to dismiss the management. And today I am sure that we will see this, that there would be no losses of 11 billion," Zelensky assured.
As reported, on April 28, the Cabinet of Ministers officially announced the dismissal of Andriy Kobolev from the post of head of the board of Naftogaz. The next day, April 29, the company was headed by Yuriy Vitrenko.
Answering whether the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) was going to impose sanctions on businessmen Ihor Kolomoysky and Dmytro Firtash, Zelensky said:
"You will see a lot more. Watch us. A colleague advertised his program, and I tell you ours. Watch us every Friday," he said, referring to the meetings of the National Security and Defense Council held on Fridays.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made it clear to foreign journalists that Zelensky's efforts to fight the oligarchs did not make exceptions, including businessman Ihor Kolomoysky.
About new appointments in the Cabinet of Ministers
Commenting on the latest staff changes in the Cabinet of Ministers, Zelensky said that the dismissed Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov had a conflict with Prime Minister Denys Shmygal.
President said that he knew the reason for the "complication of relations" between Stepanov and Shmygal, and admitted that he was on the side of the Prime Minister.
Zelensky also said that the dismissed Minister of Infrastructure Vladyslav Krykliy "remains in the team" and Ukrainians will soon see him in a new position.
Earlier, Viktor Lyashko took Stepanov's place as the Health Minister, and Oleksandr Kubrakov is to head Ministry of Infrastructure instead of Krykliy.
About celebration of his birthday
Zelensky told about the celebration of his birthday, which, according to media reports, took place amid quarantine in the apartment of co-owner of Kvartal 95 studio Tymur Mindych.
President clarified that he first celebrated birthday in his apartment on 9a Hrushevskoho Street and Mindych 's apartment is located in the same building.
"Kvartal 95 studio and Mr. Mindych, knowing that I would be home in my apartment on my birthday made me a surprise and invited me to this apartment. I went up a few floors higher and entered. It was a cool surprise. They brought musical instruments, there were no stars, no, there was only Kvartal 95 studio, which invited me. They played some songs to me with which we went a long way from KVN, from Kvartal 95, all these songs are connected with me. I wrote many of them. These are songs of our collective, we sang together," the president said.
He added that there were about 30 people at the celebration: "There was the whole team. They were with their wives. That's what was happening. I do not understand why is that a big state secret."
About the subject of all-Ukrainian referendum
Zelensky stated that initiatives to end the war in Donbas and return the temporarily occupied territories could be brought out for an all-Ukrainian referendum.
According to him, the authorities have several plans to end the war in Donbas. A referendum could be one of these plans if others do not work.
"Concerning the state referendum. I believe that it should be the main question which we have today. I consider that it is a situation in Donbas. And I am sure that in some time (because we have several plans, A, B, C, we talked about this, about the cessation of the war and the return of our temporarily occupied territories and people) we will present to the public a referendum on this topic. This may be one of the plans, if others do not work," Zelensky said.
Earlier, the First Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk admitted that the procedure for holding elections in some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions could be put to a referendum.
About Kyiv Mayor Klitschko
President commented on the searches that security forces have been holding in Kyiv State Administration over the past week and said that the capital's Mayor, Vitali Klitschko, was constantly "writing to him, calling, making an appointment."
Klitschko later replied that it was not it was not in his rules to "pound the pavement going around the cabinets."
"As the Mayor of the capital, as the Chairman of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, I called the reception, wrote to the president in order to meet on working issues. And we have a lot of issues to discuss - gas, tariffs, urgent issues of the capital, local government - all AUC members," he wrote on his Telegram-channel.
About Servant of the People MP Tyshchenko
Zelensky said that he was ashamed of some actions of the MP from Servant of the People Mykola Tyshchenko. The latter, we will remind you, had a party during the lockdown. However, the parliamentarian, according to the president, "has other sides, and he cares about many things in Ukraine."
"I'm indeed ashamed of some of his steps. He was wrong. I think he should understand that. He's an adult, in fact, and he should be responsible for what happens. The party considered his issues at the meeting. They gave Mykola a chance because I know that he has other sides, and he cares about many things in Ukraine. I think so. That's why I think the party did the right thing by giving him another chance," Zelensky said.
On April 18 despite a strict lockdown in the capital Tyshchenko arranged a closed party in Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv on his wife’s birthday.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated that he had become a verdict for the fifth President Petro Poroshenko. The latter just “does not want to admit that it happened.”
"Poroshenko, I think, did a lot of very serious, very bad things when he was president of Ukraine. We see only on the surface everything that was done, for what and for whom. It happened every day. It's a horror. I don't want to talk about it. That's why I'm a real verdict for him when I ran for the president, that's all," he said.
Zelensky said that he would be a verdict for Poroshenko during a debate at the NSC Olympiyskiy in 2019. At the time, Zelensky told Poroshenko that he was not his opponent, but rather a verdict to his presidency since 2014.
About meeting of Biden and Putin
"What risks do I see? First, I think this meeting is necessary. They are to decide this, but still. Second, President Biden knows my position. We discussed it with the U.S. Secretary of State that they will discuss Ukrainian issues only in the space and in the agenda that will be agreed with us before that, "Zelensky said.
The big risk, according to the president, is that the United States may lift sanctions, including sanctions imposed for Nord Stream 2.