Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The former Ukrainian politician Oleg Tsarev spoke about the latest state of play in Ukrainian politics: what Gennadiy Kernes and Arsen Avakov agreed about, why Turchynov wants to head “People’s Front”, and what Yulia Tymoshenko and Paul Manafort discussed.
Yulia Tymoshenko, as is known, is already for a long time in America. What caused this?
“In the USA she looks for support. Nowadays she has a high rating. Tymoshenko is rated number one now in Ukraine. And she would like to convert this rating into votes, and if it’s not during early presidential elections, so then at least at early parliamentary elections. Despite her high rating, Tymoshenko understands that for today the high rating isn’t a guarantee that she will have an opportunity to actively and safely influence the political state of play in Ukraine, and she has no confidence that she will win in a confrontation with Petro Poroshenko. It order to withstand and win in the political Olympus, she needs something to lean on. And it is precisely what she looks for in America, trying to get support there. After which, as she probably considers, she will have no problems.
I know for sure that she met Paul Manafort, who perfectly knows the situation in Ukraine, because for a long time he advised Rinat Akhmetov, Party of Regions, and then the Oppositional bloc.”
How can Manafort help her?
“The point of view of Manafort is known: despite the fact that leaders of factions of the Oppositional bloc want to divide it, Manafort considers that the Oppositional bloc will lose from that. And Tymoshenko persuaded Manafort to speak with leaders of the Oppositional bloc Rinat Akhmetov, Boris Kolesnikov, Sergey Levochkin, Yury Boyko, Vadim Novinsky, and Dmitry Firtash, and to convince them to remain in one party. And Manafort talked. As a result, last week leaders of the Oppositional bloc stated that the disintegration of the party won’t happen. They remain together further. From the point of view of Manafort, the correct political step would be to attach to the Oppositional bloc the party of Rabinovich and Murayev “For Life”. Preliminary negotiations on this subject were already held, but Rabinovich insists on a quota of 50% in the joint party. It is quite possible that in the end they will agree on 30%. It is necessary to pay tribute to the fact that Vadim Rabinovich’s rating is extremely high. In the majority of opinion polls he is just behind Yulia Tymoshenko.”
Are the figures convincing?
“Yes, take a look. For example: in Kharkov the Oppobloc’s rating is 9.3%, and “For Life” (Rabinovich and Murayev’s political party) — 15.1%. In Odessa the Oppoblok has 11.7%, and “For Life” has 15.8%. In Nikolaev the Oppoblok has 6.7%, “For Life” — 13.1%. Figures of ratings are taken from a source — the Kiev Institute of Sociology, this is a poll of 2040 respondents, minus inhabitants of Crimea, the LPR, and the DPR. What is interesting: Vadim Rabinovich now conducts negotiations with everyone, refusing nobody. He conducts negotiations not only on casting himself personally as candidate for President, and on the inclusion of his party “For Life” in any unions, but also very actively works with regions where factions at district, regional, and city levels are created.
Sometimes rather freakish combinations are created.
For example, in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, the city faction cooperates with Boris Filatov, and at the regional level — with Aleksandr Vilkul, who furiously compete among themselves. Looking at all of this from outside, it is possible to note that, perhaps, this is the most successful political project from the point of view of capitalization and monetization.”
Why did Poroshenko oppose the blockade in the beginning, and then support it?
“Of course, Petro Poroshenko at first opposed the blockade. The consequences of the blockade for Ukraine would be catastrophic.”
So why didn’t he disperse it from the very beginning, whilst it still hadn’t expanded to such a size?
“I think that he underestimated the risks of the consequences of the blockade for himself, plus he didn’t think that the idea to blockade Donbass will find such support in society. By the way, organizers of the blockade also didn’t count on such success of their action.”
Who from the acting politicians was interested in a continuation of the blockade?
“This is an alliance of Saakashvili — Gritsenko — Sadovoy. The chairman of “Movement of New Forces” Mikheil Saakashvili, the Samopomich party leader Andrey Sadovoy, and the “Civic Position” party leader Anatoly Gritsenko met in Lvov and agreed about joint actions. It is necessary to say that in this association they have quite good chances. Gritsenko’s rating isn’t much lower than Sadovoy’s rating. Anatoly Gritsenko very seriously is engaged in his rating. His wife, the journalist Yulia Mostovaya, received a grant on carrying out reforms in the judicial and law-enforcement system. However, the money was spent not for reforms. The political activity of her husband Anatoly Gritsenko was paid with it. If the ratings of the alliance of Saakashvili — Gritsenko — Sadovoy were combined, so then it will be an ignitable mixture, they receive quite good chances in the event of holding early presidential and parliamentary elections. It is natural that this group did everything to destabilize the political and economic situation in Ukraine and actively supported the blockade.”
What will Poroshenko do further?
“Most likely, the new coalition will be created, in which the leader of the Radical Party Oleg Lyashko will be included. Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, “People’s Front”, and the Radical Party signed a declaration of unity. Poroshenko hopes that this coalition will be supported still secretly by a part of the Deputies in the Oppositional bloc.”
So, in such a way it is possible to draw the following conclusion: overthrowing the existing power was the ultimate aim of the blockade?
“Yes, it is. But it is necessary to say that despite the worsening situation in the country, the President Petro Poroshenko makes plans for a second term. For him in the developing situation the principal things are either to vote, or the decision of the constitutional court to start the market of the sale of agricultural lands in Ukraine. Ukraine has more than forty million hectares of arable land, which is very interesting in regards to products. Germans are very interested in purchasing Ukrainian land.
Chernozem that wasn’t completely taken away to Germany by rail during the Great Patriotic War now can be quite legally bought. Moreover, to buy it costs a ridiculous price … Germany has land resources — only 30% of the volume of land in Ukraine, but nevertheless, in Ukraine the price of land costs from 200 to 500 dollars per hectare. While in Germany the land value is 50,000 euros per hectare. In this situation it is impossible not to remember a quote from Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”: “Provide to the capital 10% of profit, and the capital agrees to any application, with 20% it becomes animated, with 50% it is positively ready to go head over heels, with 100% it trample all human laws, with 300% there is no such crime that it wouldn’t risk to go, even under the fear of the gallows”. While here it’s not 300% of profit, but many times more! And it means that we shouldn’t be surprised by what our politician-capitalists are ready to go for. Marx, probably, even couldn’t imagine the percent of profit that it is possible to earn by manipulations on the sale of land in Ukraine.”
Petro Poroshenko will at any cost go for a second term in order “to resolve the land issue”?
“Poroshenko connects his second term with the sale of land from which money will come and it will allow him to temporarily recover the situation with the economy. Further — a catastrophe, but… for the current authorities, alas, the principle “after us the deluge” is rather a guide to action. While in history there are bitter lessons from such actions. Like, for example, in Argentina, when in a granary of Latin America people died of hunger when their land was bought up…”
The land is the main value of the country? Or Ukraine is interesting for the West not only because of its land resources?
“Germans show an interest not only in the Ukrainian land but also in metallurgy. If they manage to buy metallurgy in Ukraine, then Germany will take second or third place in the world in the production of metal. Now in Ukraine a whole group of experts and businessmen from Germany works, German experts ventured to all regions of the country. Their task — monitoring the market of the land. Just in the Kherson region — their are 7 people. Aleksandr Turchynov and Petro Poroshenko actively help them in it.”
Who else, except Germany, is interested in the natural and economic resources of Ukraine?
“In connected with a certain political pause, created as a result of Obama’s office resigning, and Trump still didn’t actively start to find a solution to the issue connected with Ukraine, a more active role began to be played not only by Germany, but also Great Britain. The ambassador of Great Britain holds individual meetings with heads of factions, parties, and other significant and influential people in Ukraine. The former ambassador of the US in Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt at the time carried out the same work. Germany built relations with Turchynov today. Turchynov closely cooperates with the Chancellery of Mrs. Merkel. Special men in the Embassy of Germany were attached to him, who Aleksandr Turchynov regularly, weekly meets. Turchynov hopes for the assistance of Germans to lead “People’s Front”. At the same time he convinces Arsen Avakov and Arseniy Yatsenyuk that these actions will be able to give an impetus for “People’s Front”. Currently the rating of “People’s Front” is on the verge of statistical error — about 0.4%.”
Really, the events behind the political scenes of Ukraine are reminiscent of a game of chess. What else occurs or has occurred in Ukraine lately?
“As always, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko distinguished himself. He plays an interesting political multi-move game. On the one hand, Nalyvaichenko actively helps the work of the HQ of Yulia Tymoshenko, but at the same time shortly before March 8th he met with Petro Poroshenko and promised to inform him on all agreements of those who now are engaged in the blockade.
Nalyvaichenko closely contacts everyone, and the right-wing forces are not an exception. At the time, he, it’s possible to say, created as political figures both Biletsky and Yarosh, and many others.”
During the difficult political periods both the separation of forces and their association are peculiar. What is observed in Ukraine?
“Yes, in the developing situation many understand that it is necessary to draw a line underneath it. Taking into account further political uncertainty, it is time to stop the conflicts. On March 1st, 2017, Gennadiy Kernes agreed with Arsen Avakov “to dig up the war axe”. At the next meeting they agreed that Kernes won’t ballot at the next convocation for the mayor’s position, and he will resign with a bonus — the right to leave behind a successor, his first Deputy Igor Terekhov.
Also an agreement was reached whereby Kernes and Avakov will jointly advance to this position the candidacy of Terekhov, who for a long time has worked with Avakov, now — with Kernes. After his election as mayor, Terekhov will survey the interests of Avakov and Kernes to ensure that they are not infringed upon. High contracting parties came to such an opinion: Avakov will stop the criminal prosecution of Kernes, and Kernes won’t seek revenge for an unsuccessful assassination attempt. Biletsky was the intermediary in their meeting.”
But Kernes and Biletsky — as it was said before — are on different sides of the barricades? It is difficult to call them colleagues?
“Nevertheless, they cooperate, since 2010. And there is proof of it. Moreover, broadcasting company “Tonis”, belonging to Gennadiy Kernes, showed the “Azov” battalion in a favourable light. In the recent sensational conflict between “Azov” and the union of veterans of anti-terrorist operation, with shooting, despite the fact that real events obviously weren’t favourable to “Azov”, in a programme on a TV channel everything was shown differently. They made the fighters of “Azov” look like “heroes”. It is such events that occur now in Ukraine.”
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