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Yulia Tymoshenko: political woman in post-kommunist Ucraine

Exclusive interview to Yulia Tymoshenko.
by Emanuele G. - Thursday 2 March 2006 - 13725 letture

A couple of words about myself.

“Most important words are just few: I was able to build my own life, which began in poverty and constraints, and I shall be able to help Ukraine gain an understanding of problems that are tearing my country apart today. Power never was my ultimate goal; I am simply pursuing the politic that can revive my country.”

Politics and political oppression.

“I was very apolitical person years ago, though I think I always had some tendencies of non-formal leader. I was politicized only because politics chose to get concerned with myself.

As an entrepreneur in the post-communist Ukraine, I made use of the chances that were opened before young and well educated. However, now and again I confronted diverse obstacles that were constructed by the powerful clans, and in a couple of years they sent me to prison, to the completely dark cell, from which I was carried out on a stretcher after I had the vascular collapse. These circumstances forced me to reject from further attempts to make civilized business and to enter politics, in order to finally secure the independence of business from the power structures.

By the way, we made one interesting calculation: the cases which were brought up against me and were inspired by power count 28 different articles of the Criminal Code and can surely guarantee the imprisonment for 167 years, punishing all the offences imaginable. Only in November last year the Supreme Court of Ukraine dismissed all these cases in the absence of corpus delicti. In the passing years there were six General Prosecutors appointed, and every one of them had an imperative from the government to bring up yet another criminal case against my family, my colleagues or me. Otherwise, these officials could not count on the good attitude from ex-President Kuchma.

Furthermore, such practice now is well established as some kind of “good” tradition: every time I try to inform the society about real situation, new criminal cases are opened against me. I got used to these things and if they are not happening, I feel worried; it seems like something is not right. If some new cases will be opened against me after the recent “gas crisis”, it would mean somebody got worried again.

Speaking of my political biography, it is really full of rises and falls. But it seems to me I proved by all my work that I am thinking not about myself but about my native country. I am not seeking to avenge my awful experience; I only want Ukraine to stand steadily on the legal foundation.

Now, about less egoistic politics. They are certainly needed in Ukraine, and especially today, in the context of more strained relationships with Russia. In our country we have a number of differently charged political forces complete with their own ideologies, some of them forever quarreling with each other. I am saying that every worthy country, every worthy nation facing an external threat must find the ability to stop all the internal quarrels, get together to try and find the solution to a crisis, to protect the country’s interests.”

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The energy crisis.

“Indeed, Europe had already experienced the consequences of the Ukrainian-Russian agreement on the gas delivery to Ukraine at the “market” prices, which was signed on the 4th of January this year. The world press discussed it quite vigorously, and we know enough on the matter to get a clear understanding: this agreement was signed in order to satisfy the Russian interests at the expense of Ukrainian energy independence and the Europe’s stability.

First of all, I would like to underline one simple fact. This agreement is unlawful and it needs to be called off on the basis of simply formal reasons: the man who signed it on the Ukrainian part had not proper credentials to do so. It goes without saying that he is responsible to our people for failing their interests by this act.

How can we call the highest possible prices for Russian gas “maintaining of Ukraine’s best interests”? We are paying now more than France or Germany pays, and 230 US dollars noted in the agreement is merely the starting price! At the same time, we agreed to fix the prices for the Russian gas transit at some times lower than the market price! How can we understand our officials who call these conditions the Ukraine’s “victory”?

Moreover, the signed agreement, in fact, created the system of control over Ukraine for Russia, placing the native energy resources into the hands of the shadow company RosUkrEnergo that is connected with the international criminal structures. Thus, such an agreement can only plant the seeds of some future crisis, even more dangerous than the recent one. While the gas transit through the Ukraine’s territory is in hands of a company of questionable reputation, nobody can guarantee the fulfillment of the energetic needs of Ukraine and, accordingly, the regularity of the energy resources’ delivery to the European customers.

Taking into account unlawfulness of the agreement and all the threats it generated for Ukraine and Europe, I decided to challenge its legitimacy in court. It must be called off, and in such a case the previous agreements between Ukraine and Russia will prevail, which make provision for the acceptable gas prices for Ukraine right up to 2009 inclusive. There is no doubt that we must switch to the market prices, but this process is bound to be gradual and to deal not only with the gas deliveries but with the all other aspects of the our relations with Russia.”

Ukraine and Russia.

“During my work as Prime minister I got myself assured that approximately 70% of our relations problems with Russia emerge as an effect of corruption and stupidity of the Ukrainian officials. Russia would never behave like that if the Ukraine had taken its stand clear and well motivated, oriented to the country’s interests, for once in last 15 years. Russia plays a card game, hard and sometimes not quite understanding the consequences of its own moves, but it is Ukraine who deals cards, round after round.

Centuries of Ukraine’s residency in the Russian and Soviet empires formed the way of how its citizens view their own country and its interests. One of the consequences is the state of indecision that the Ukrainians are demonstrating now and again, when trying to openly defend the Ukraine’s national interests. The “gas agreement” of January 4th is a good example. It formed a threat not only for the energy safety of Ukraine’s but also for the Europe’s energetic stability.

I think Ukraine is an absolutely normal country but its history cannot be called “normal”. Indeed, the Ukrainians have the right to consider themselves as citizens of average independent country, and they are rightly anxious to be regarded accordingly by the others. But it does not mean they want to bury their own history or their country’s historic connections, including its relationships with Russia.”

Ukraine and Italy, Ukraine and EU.

“To build the productive relations with Italy is certainly an actual goal in the context of the Ukraine’s aspiration to establish the full-fledged relations with European countries. While working as Prime minister, I began to establish such relations; we planned a number of the big economical projects together with some EU countries, which should provide the economic base for the Ukraine’s integration in European Union.

Our goal is the democratic Ukraine surrounded by the prosperous associate countries in the West as well as in the East.

Of course, we are ready to admit that only a few of even the most active supporters of the Ukraine’s integration would willingly help Ukraine to become a member of EU as soon as possible. But, as a treat to the gas delivery to Europe demonstrates, our economic destinies are interconnected. Europe must play its role in the process of re-comprehension by Ukraine of its historical connections with Russia.”

Democracy in Ukraine.

“Certainly, Ukraine made an enormous step on its way to the democratic state owing to the “Orange revolution”. For the first time in history, those who would never dare to communicate with people using the same terms that were used by the old power structures during all these years, gained power. For a pity, I must admit that some representatives of old power and of its friendly clans are still keeping their influence, but the Parliamentary elections of 2004 has initiated the mighty process of purification of power, and the Parliamentary elections of 2006 will be the next step in this way.

First of all, I want Ukraine to become potent and strong. With all my heart I hope that my country will have the competent government someday, and these people would be able to create different Ukraine, equal among equals. This is only way for us to become really strong, to successfully defend our national interests and to bring order to the country.

From elections to elections, we become smarter. Right after gaining the independence only the Western parts of Ukraine were active politically, but now I see people trying to understand politics, to obtain further insight into its mechanics, and to take adequate decisions. Everywhere. And I think we are moving towards the acquiring the knowledge about our nation, our country affairs, and democracy. We will make the right choice.

Ukraine has all that is necessary to declare its quest for the new standards, new qualities of living, for the new horizons. And I believe that Ukraine is capable to complete this quest. The whole world is waiting for us to succeed - and our own people, in the first place.

At the same time, every society, including our own, has its own weak points. Anyway, democracy would not come to Ukraine out of the empty sky, would it? No, it never comes that way. We are here to build the new society, just and fair. And only those who (besides power) have honor, conscience and morality, are capable to establish such a society.”

About the future.

“My own future is inseparably connected with the future of Ukraine.

Ukraine is, practically, the country with the greatest freedom, the most open economics, the best functioning multi-party system, the widest social pluralism of all the post-Soviet countries. I would like my daughter (who married the English citizen recently) to live in free Ukraine of the future.

Now we have new Constitution, and our people got the ability to elect new Prime minister on the next elections in the same way as the Germans elect their Chancellor or the English - their Prime minister. It is the most important to bring the right person to rule our country for the next five years. Besides, the next elections are not only determinant, they are dangerous, too. Now, as never before, there are chances for the criminal financial clans (which ruled our country for the last ten years and were forced to abandon the power during the “Orange revolution”) to return. Therefore, the victory is very important for us, in order to prevent Ukraine from recoiling, to ensure its further democratic development.

On the mass-meetings of the past, I used to urge the people to vote for Viktor Yuschenko’s “Our Ukraine” bloc and for my own party with the equal persuasion. Thinking of my country, I was the only one of all Ukrainian politics who abandoned the struggle for presidency in 2004 and gave my support to Yuschenko as one candidate of the opposition. Two times in a row Viktor Yuschenko was victorious owing to our support, in particular. And this victory was flushed down... you know. And I am not one of those who would willingly step on a rake for the third time. This time, I am not going to commit such delicate and crucial task as the Ukraine’s development to anybody else.”

Private Life.

“Every person defines meaning of his (or her) life individually. Nobody can do this for us. There are women who find it in the maintaining of the family center, raising their children. And I respect them highly. But for me the most interesting work is politics, the construction of my own country, no matter what. And my family supports my every move. When my husband was in jail, he sent me these words: “Hold on, stand firm. Here are many innocent people who are suffering. We all are believing you.” My daughter told me her fellow students were supporting me, too.

I will say it again: I dream of my country renewed with new standards of living. And I am perfectly honest, saying this. Otherwise I would take all my belongings, make a treaty with the power (there are no problems with that, after the price is set) and simply leave. But I would not do so, because this contradicts with my understanding of life. I can do nothing about that. And I will not betray my dream.”

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Sito ufficiale di Yulia Tymoshenko


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