President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky answered questions from journalists in the open air at Mariinsky Park on May 20.
The press conference began at 10:40 and lasted until 13:38 Kyiv time. Here are the most important points of the press conference:
Additional payments to doctors
The promised 300% salaries raise to healthcare workers fighting with Covid-19 have already been paid in fifteen regions and continue to be allocated.
“As I promised, in all regions all medical workers who are fighting with Covid-19 will be provided with a salary with 300% of raise...In 15 regions of Ukraine, salaries were fully paid within the framework I reported and promised to our healthcare workers,” Zelensky said.
At the same time, the president emphasized that only those health workers who work with patients with Covid-19 will receive a 300% extra payment.
“We cannot provide a 300% raise for all the doctors in our country, unfortunately,” the president said.
Expansion of lending
Zelensky said that he intended to “push” the country's banking system at the technical level to provide loans to the population.
“As for business, the program “5-7-9% ” has started working.At a technical level, we will “push” the banking system of Ukraine, despite the fact that it is very independent. We will push it forward and banks will not be so wary in giving loans to our population, because the population needs help, especially now, when the crisis is not in Ukraine but in the world. This is a global crisis, but we must think about our country and our citizens,” the president said.
He assured that the authorities had been fighting for a year for Ukrainians to “have normal, working, human credits.”
President noted that the Cabinet of Ministers planned to resume city and suburban public transport from May 22, and kindergartens will reopen on May 25.
“The transport will work from May 22, kindergartens today will receive all instructions from the Ministry of Healthcare today on how the security should be in Covid-19, how kindergartens should be equipped with protective means. And from May 25, kindergartens will also work,” Zelensky said.
At the same time, according to the president, the government has not yet considered the possibility of resuming interregional public transport, since not all regions show a decline in the incidence of coronavirus.
Cooperation with the IMF
Zelensky said that in the near future he would sign a law on improving mechanisms for regulating banking activity and was waiting for the signing of a memorandum with the International Monetary Fund in May.
“I will sign the “banking law” - the last precondition for signing a memorandum between Ukraine and the IMF. We will sign this memorandum. I’m sure that we will sign it in May, we cannot delay. The banking law will be passed to me either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, perhaps even today, and the doors will be open for the IMF assistance, for which we fought very hard, you all saw it. We fought for it even in the Verkhovna Rada,” Zelensky said.
About the next Normandy summit and meeting with Putin
Zelensky announced the meeting of the Normandy Four could take place after the Covid-19 pandemic goes down.
Zelensky added that he had not even communicated with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a long time because of the current epidemiological situation in the world.
"I really did not have a meeting with him in any format, there were no calls. Now all countries, and it is true, are engaged, everyone is focusing on the situation with coronavirus in their country. We are still working on the issue of the return of our people, on the issue of return of our territories and illegally annexed Crimea," he said.
About Poroshenko’s verdict
Zelensky believes that the verdict for fifth president Petro Poroshenko is ahead, including in regards to published conversations with the ex-Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.
“Concerning the verdict for Mr. Poroshenko, I am sure in it and I am sure that it is ahead,” Zelensky stated.
Answer to accusations of bringing in his cronies
Zelensky said that he did not and would not appoint “a single crony or military friend” to state positions.
“I will not appoint a single crony or military friend. I have not ever appointed a crony or military friend. As for Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova, I did not even understand the question, because I promised that new people would come to power. And now, when you quote me and ask me why the Prosecutor General did not work at the General Prosecutor’s Office before. It's a difficult question, I do not even know how to answer you. Because it’s a new person,” Zelensky said.
About Prosecutor General Venedyktova
Zelensky noted that he knew Venedyktova only during the election campaign, and added that the Prosecutor General is an educated person, a practician, and she was an MP on the lists of the Servant of the People party.
“We proposed people who were clean, and who have not worked previously in the General Prosecutor’s Office, so she became the head of the General Prosecutor’s Office,” Zelensky said.
About the Head of Office of the President Andriy Yermak
The President noted that he trusted the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak and considered him fit for this position.
"Who is Yermak? Yermak does not have experience as a film producer. Yermak has always been an experienced lawyer, he has the education that the head of the Office of the President needs, as it seems to me. This is the area of International Relations, Law, International Law – such as Yermak’s education. Yermak is not is my crony, Yermak is my trustee, I trust him. I don’t understand what cronies you are talking about...” Zelensky said.
Zelensky stated there was a certain degree of staff hunger in the country and he could not find ministers.
"We have staff hunger in the country. I can't find decent Minister of Culture now. We're searching for one, together with Prime Minister. We turned to our culture society, and we turned to many people, asking them to find one", Zelensky said.
About presidency plans
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky supposed he might run for re-election.
“I will think about it…I am here for one term as I said. I see that the work is difficult, nobody will thank you for it. But if I have the great support of the people of Ukraine, I would be able to think about it....” he said.
The president added that everything depends on the choice of the Ukrainian people. According to him, any candidate, who had 10, 15 or 16% support, has no right to run for the presidency because it means that the society does not support him/her.
Zelensky assured that in the near future the President’s Office will submit a bill to the Parliament on the “investment nanny,” which is one of the laws in the package of initiatives to improve the investment climate in Ukraine.
He explained the delay by the fact that the President’s Office was expecting the resumption of parliament’s work in normal mode after quarantine.
“Now all investment laws aimed at improving the investment climate in Ukraine will be registered in the parliament, and I’m sure that they will be voted for. They are ready, readout, I already gave them the green light,” the president emphasized.
He also said that some changes were made to the previously announced project of “investment nanny.”
About freedom of speech in Ukraine
Commenting on the situation with freedom of speech in the country, Zelensky emphasized that some journalists upset the balance with the authorities.
Issue of Crimea
Zelensky admitted that the issue of annexed Crimea is not mentioned enough in the information space, but assured that he was constantly discussing it with world leaders.
“The issue of Crimea, perhaps too little of it in the information space, but certainly not too little in state affairs ...” the president said.
President stated that he was discussing this issue with all the Europeans he met.
About in Donbas war
Zelensky said why the militants in Donbas could not “just stop shooting.”
“It’s very easy for them to just stop shooting. They don’t know what kind of world they are in, they have no way out,” the president believes.
As you know, one of the scenarios for ending the war voiced by Zelensky was the proposal to “just stop shooting.”
Leonid Kuchma and Minsk process
According to Zelensky, former Ukrainian leader Leonid Kuchma, who represents the country in the Trilateral Contact Group, wanted to leave the TCG and transfer his authority to Vice Prime Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.
President asked him not to leave the group until the composition of the Russian subgroup was renewed:
“It’s true, I asked him that on the Russian side there should be a renewed composition of their subgroup as well.”
On possible disbandment of parliament
Zelensky said there are certain conditions under which he would disband the Parliament. He said that as long as Servant of the People (pro-presidential political party, - 112 International) votes for all laws that are pivotal for the country he would support their decisions.
"Not just Servant of the People... I'll support the composition of the party - the single-party majority, I should say - because they do their job. As soon as they stop voting, or say they don't want to, or promote the interests of any commercial influence group in Ukraine's political environment - I will instantly disband the Parliament, not even considering any options", Zelensky said.
About coronavirus in occupied Donbas
According to Zelensky, Ukraine offered humanitarian aid to fight against Covid-19 to occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but the “local authorities” refused from it.
“We offered them humanitarian aid, common people. They do not get it hiding behind the fact that they have everything to fight Covid-19. There is nothing. There are no infectious hospitals, sufficient beds or protective means,” the president said.
He stated he succeeded to agree on the entry permit for the humanitarian freight through Red Cross.
On the end of the era of poverty in Ukraine
Zelensky noted that in Ukraine the era of poverty did not end for all 100%.
“It cannot come when there is a crisis in the world. When you have got a poor country, you have to take steps, you have to change it, and it will be so. We are fighting for it. We just don’t have such money, they don’t fall from the sky,” the president said.
Currently, the government is preparing programs to help reduce the number of poor people.
According to Zelensky, the Prime Minister’s task is to increase the minimum wages, because the cost of living and the average wage in Ukraine are much lower than in European countries.
About the impeachment law
Zelensky noted that if people did not like his policy, there is no need for “coups in the country, there is a law on impeachment for this.”
“If people don’t like authorities and what I and my policy do – please. I passed the law on impeachment for this, and I wanted it to be adopted, so that we become a civilized country, so that we change our authorities in the peaceful process, so that people don’t die, that they don’t kill different people on the squares of our country, "the president said.
He added that he was confident in his every step, even if he sometimes makes mistakes.