Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
November 21st marked the fourth anniversary since the start of the coup in Ukraine, which ended in the illegal removal of President Viktor Yanukovych from power, economic collapse, ruin, and civil war in the country. Now it isn’t a secret for anybody that the change of power in Ukraine was being prepared long before the moment when the first crowd of activists filled the center of Kiev.
The day before the start of the so-called Euromaidan, November 20th, 2013, in the Verkhovna Rada the resonant speech of the people’s deputy of Ukraine Oleg Tsarev took place, who announced the preparation in the country of a coup with the support and direct participation of the Embassy of the United States of America. In an interview the politician described previously unknown details of the events.
On November 20th, 2013, the day before the start of Euromaidan, you spoke in the Verkhovna Rada, where you warned about the preparing of the coup in Ukraine with the direct participation of the US Embassy. Was there any reaction to your appeal from the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine?
“No reaction from law enforcement bodies followed. And for rather a long time they didn’t take what is happening in Ukraine seriously.”
How long was the coup in Ukraine being prepared for?
“Back then Vladimir Putin once said that a coup was being prepared, but not on this timeframe. It was indeed like that. Maidan was being prepared for the next presidential elections, which were supposed to happen about a year later, at the end of 2014. ‘Gromadske TV’, ‘Espresso TV’, and various NGOs were actively preparing themselves, diesel generators were imported, they conducted the training of people. But all of this was supposed to be implemented by the next presidential elections, which had to be held against the background of Maidan and end with the defeat of Yanukovych.
But when Yanukovych didn’t sign the association agreement with the European Union, it became clear that, due to cooperation between Ukraine and Russia, and due to the loan of $15 billion, such results will be reached that in one year it won’t be possible anymore to defeat Yanukovych to remove him from office. And then Maidan started prematurely. That’s why at first it still wasn’t prepared enough. However step by step it became stronger and stronger.”
Did the opportunity exist to prevent Maidan? When Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement on association?
“Maidan could have been prevented many times. Unfortunately, all of these opportunities were missed by Yanukovych”.
Speaking on 20th November, 2013, in Verkhovna Rada, you spoke about the fact that the preparation for a coup d’etat is being carried out by the US Embassy. And did the Russian Embassy in Kiev conduct any work with Ukrainian political forces to exclude the development of such a scenario?
“I was one of the most pro-Russian deputies in the Verkhovna Rada. I knew the Ambassador personally, but not due to the fact that the Ambassador undertook some effort in order for us to become acquainted. I’ve never been in the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Neither me nor my colleagues have received any grants from Russia.
This was the striking difference between the embassies of the Russian Federation and the United States of America in Ukraine. The US Ambassador in Kiev was not just a diplomat. It was a bright public figure who constantly commented on everything that happened in Ukraine. All the people of Ukraine have always known about how the US Ambassador relates to these or those decisions of the President or the Verkhovna Rada. The United States Embassy had its position on every bill or order adopted in Ukraine. And this was not just a diplomatic position. It had a great influence on all events and the political situation in the country. And during Maidan the contrast with the activities of the Embassy of Russia became even more pronounced. If the Embassy of the United States, of Germany, of Poland became the de facto centers and headquarters for the preparation of the coup, the Embassy of the Russian Federation was absolutely passive and did not take any part in any of the events that were ongoing in Kiev.”
After the pumping of powerful information in support of European integration, which continued for a long time, why on 21st November did Yanukovych suspended this process nevertheless?
“If to speak about it in a few words, it was succeeded to convince the President that cooperation with Russia would bring much more advantages than the agreement on euro-association. Moreover, Russia did not demand entry into the Customs Union, but at the time offered the most beneficial loans and the implementation of joint programmes, which had to have an even greater effect than the $15 billion loan that Russia offered Ukraine. All of this should’ve served as the impetus for the development of Ukraine. But the Europeans only wanted to receive the maximum from Ukraine without investing anything in its development. The approach was too contrasting.”
Why indeed didn’t Yanukovych until the last moment undertake any decisive action to quell the riots and the rebellion that took place in Kiev and Western Ukraine?
“Yanukovych assumed the obligation in front of Biden (Vice President of the United States in 2009-2017), and fulfilled these obligations. It is necessary to say that the Americans and Europeans also fulfilled their obligations in front of Yanukovych. He is not wanted by Interpol, he is not pursued, and is not wanted.”
I.e., a backroom agreement between Yanukovych and Biden took place, that there will not be a violent dispersal of Maidan, and that he will voluntarily leave office?
“Yanukovych held constant negotiations with representatives of the West. There were both written agreements – e.g. the agreement of 21st February 2014, which was never fulfilled – and verbal ones. They are apparently being observed, because no sanctions affected Yanukovych personally.”
What point in the development of the coup, in your opinion, became the point of no return?
“The last day when it was still possible to change the situation was 18th February, 2014. On that day the level of the standoff reached its terminal point. The militants of Maidan tried to storm the Verkhovna Rada and seized the office of the ‘Party of Regions’, where there were fatalities and wounded. The soldiers of ‘Berkut’ managed to repel the attack of the Maidanists.
On that day I visited the head of the Presidential Administration Andrey Klyuyev and told him that an immediate order for the violent quelling of Maidan is needed, otherwise tomorrow will be too late. He said that such an order had already been received, and asked me to go see the Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko in order to control its implementation. At this time Klyuyev assured me that the order to force the cessation of disturbances will not be canceled, despite the fact that all the telephones in the reception of the head of the Presidential Administration were ringing off the hook because of the calls of representatives of the countries of the European Union and the United States, who already knew about the upcoming dispersal of Maidan. Zakharchenko ordered law enforcement bodies to begin the assault at any price, and asked me to speak on television and to address the people on Maidan, urging them to disperse in order to minimise casualties. After my speech, the leaders of Maidan began to panic. Klitschko and Yatsenyuk were going to move to Boryspil, where a chartered flight awaited them. But then Tyagnibok told Yatsenyuk that he received a call from the Presidential Administration and was invited to negotiate, and that it means that there won’t be any removal of opponents.
On the same day, in the West of Ukraine the militants of Maidan began the seizure of the departments of the Interior Ministry and the SBU. Local law enforcement officers constantly called to ask if there’s an order for the violent suppression of protesters. But since no order had been given, they had no choice but to comply with the demands of the extremists and hand over the keys to the armoury. Already the next day the captured weapons appeared in Kiev on Maidan.
I don’t know who back then from the Europeans or Americans managed to call Yanukovych, and what assurances were given to him in exchange for refusing to disperse Maidan, but fact remains – the order to cancel the storm came from the administration of Yanukovych. As a result, we lost the battle for Ukraine. Ukraine fell under the rule of crooks who unleashed war against its own people.”
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