Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
For the last month there was a number of significant events: sabotage in Crimea, the continuing escalation in Donbass, the increase in intensity of attacks, turmoil in Kiev as an attempt to rescue absolute villains of the “Tornado” battalion, Savchenko’s statement, and so on and so forth. All of us see that the situation is approaching a certain point that historians and sociologists call a bifurcation point – a certain historical moment that offers absolutely different options and opportunities of development of the situation in both Russia and Ukraine, and in Novorossiya. Our guest, who kindly agreed to answer a number of questions, doesn’t need an introduction— we talked to Oleg Tsarev.
How do you see the situation today from your point of view?
Firstly, on events in Crimea. I was called by the acting Ukrainian parliamentarians several times and asked whether relatives of the dead had been shown. I told them they were not shown. They said that it is good, it means that it won’t be used by Russia as a casus belli as a pretext for war, and there will be no armed response from Russia. Whether it is good or not, there will not be an armed response of Russia in relation to Ukraine anytime soon — it is most likely indeed.
But I think Vladimir Vladimirovich, Moscow, and the Kremlin are using this situation to change the relation to Ukraine, to change the rhetoric. It is possible not to agree with it, it is possible to argue with it, it is possible not to accept it, but the Kremlin and Moscow accepted results of elections in the Supreme Council, accepted Poroshenko’s election. Poroshenko was accepted as the president, they conducted negotiations with him, as with the incumbent president.
And on Vladimir Vladimirovich’s speech we see that now there is a change of rhetoric. “Now its people who are illegitimately in power, and those who plunder their people, and continue civil war”. From my point of view initially Poroshenko’s legitimacy was weaker than the legitimacy of the same Plotnitsky, Zakharchenko. The same can be said about the Verkhovna Rada. That’s why I consider that the question is phrased in the correct way. It is a pity that such a decision initially wasn’t taken.
Mikhail Zurabov was always a certain lobbyist of Petro Poroshenko. And Mikhail Zurabov’s replacement shows that the Kremlin changes its policy and rhetoric towards Poroshenko. Already in 2012, I remember, at a MGIMO round table, during a conversation, Zurabov convinced all attendees that Petro Poroshenko will be president. Back then still nobody could imagine it. He tried to convinced that this person is the best choice for Russia because he will never tick three boxes: the first – NATO, the second – Sevastopol, and the third – the Orthodox church.
But now Poroshenko went beyond all boxes possible. As a result, Mikhail Zurabov was removed from post of the ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. And Petro Poroshenko, I think, became the person whose hand it is impossible to shake with Russia.
About the situation in Ukraine. The situation in Ukraine is complicated. Poroshenko concentrated all powers of authority in his hands. And, especially having put his people in place, and not those who were recommended by Americans, and in this way he found himself alone against all. And his position is not simple. He leans on the Prosecutor’s Office (Lutsenko), the army, and on the SBU. But in a country that was always ran by oligarchs, plus battalions of radicals were now added, plus the United States have serious influence within the country – make the situation not all simple.
I think if in the near future the Ukrainian army attacks Donbass soon, the militia cannot stop on the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. They will definitely not stop on the borders registered by the Minsk agreements when there is a counterattack. But no matter how the situation is, I think Russia should understand: the situation with Ukraine is very much reminiscent of the situation with Chechnya at the time of Yeltsin. Back then, as a result of international pressure upon Russia, it was forced to stop the Chechen war for the allocation of a loan from the IMF. And it didn’t work to continue normal life in Russia under the slogan “Let Chechens live as they want, and we will live as we want!”
And now Ukraine is more and more similar to Chechnya during those times. Before the second Chechen war there was already not the first attempt of Dudaev’s supporters to venture outside the borders of Chechnya. Because when they were left within the limits of these borders, they at first robbed the people, and then the territory. And then contradictions began between clans and leaders of the Chechen republic started, and they had to find a new war, otherwise a civil war would begin. And at this time incursions outside the borders of Chechnya began. Now Ukraine is in the same situation. And in the same way sooner or later it is necessary to understand that one day in Ukraine they can surprise with something that, perhaps, not only Russia, but also the world community will be obliged to bring order to their territory.
You made a comparison between Ukraine and Chechnya, I would like to clarify: in Chechnya there was a certain unity — both national, and religious more or less. And in Ukraine now it is senseless to speak about United Ukraine, even without Donbass and Crimea, we have Galicia in which separatist tendencies are very strong, we have Volhynia which wants only one thing — to dig amber without Kiev’s impeachment, we have Odessa where only hell knows what is going on with the redistribution of traffic flows. Is it possible to speak now about some United Ukraine, when even the state which is directed by Poroshenko, doesn’t control their regions?
It is the united territory of catastrophe. It is in this sense that this territory is united. The territory on which problems grow catastrophically. And by the autumn we can expect a growth in confrontation because already people receive bills for hot water and pay half of their salary for it. And what will happen when they receive bills for heating?
In Dnepropetrovsk evictions began of people in debt for municipal payments. There the mayor – Kolomoisky’s helper – is in charge. His Privatbank probably a rigid approach: you don’t pay utility payments — good-bye! People are removed from apartments. And when these debts will be everywhere, it will mean 70% of the population won’t be able to pay utility payments in such a situation as now.
Of course the situation will worsen. Also it is necessary to understand that for the Ukrainian government to maintain power in the conditions of these contradictions and problems, the war is the best way. Therefore it is necessary to understand that now Poroshenko is like a wounded, sick, driven into a corner animal, which will pounce on everyone. And it is extremely dangerous. It is dangerous to people who are in Ukraine, but it is also dangerous for neighbours. He will not rush on Poland and Hungary, but he will stage incursions and provocations on the borders with Russia, and the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
I have been in Ukrainian politics for 20 years, and have a large number of friends, including among the staff of intelligence services. And here the young ones say that they were forced to come a year and a half ago to the territory of the Belgorod region. They came out, put on their attire, took up arms, did a battle march, crossed the border, passed along a certain route at night and came back. And all understand what this was in preparation for.
Provocations will be not only in Crimea. It is easier for Crimea now after what happened, I think, conclusions will be drawn, and the border will be taken under tight control. There is a small isthmus, and taking it under control is easy. But the border of Ukraine with Russia – two-thirds of the border of Ukraine – is extremely difficult to take under control. And there will be provocations on all of the border. It is necessary to understand that the more the situation in Ukraine will worsen, the more there will be provocations.
There is one other point. Here, imagine, the last few days a picture is crawling on the Internet taken by an unknown hero in which we can see Avakov, Nalyvaichenko, and (suddenly) Yatsenyuk, who came back, and a rumour is circulating that right now in Kiev on some floor of some hotel…
On the 17th floor of Kiev Hotel. The Kiev hotel belongs to the Verkhovna Rada. I won’t disclose sources, but it turns out that now almost every day I communicate with deputies from Donetsk, Lugansk, from Kiev, being, acting, and a large amount of information comes to me. As it’s the property of the Verkhovna Rada, the fact that the whole floor was taken and isolated, it began to raise questions. When below near the elevator a security guard appeared, it too began to cause questions. Well, it is my friends who obtained the answer. I don’t know who else’s offices are here, but on this same floor there are offices of Parubiy and Avakov. There now repairs are underway, they prepare offices for themselves.
I think if we look who else will take up an office on this floor, here you will find approximately a structure of certain such HQ that will call itself the name of either new administration, or a HQ of conspirators, I don’t know how to call it. Indeed today, armed divisions of radicals are under the leadership of Arsen Avakov. Communications with the United States of America and Europe — it is Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
When Groysman arrived in the United States, he didn’t come to any offices, he was asked, “And where is Arseniy Yatsenyuk?”Arseny led him to some offices, and that’s all. Groysman was shocked. There the person of the new power – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – for the West he is clear. Moreover, if nazis stage a coup, it will be Arseniy Yatsenyuk who will be the person, but you won’t be able to prove that it is a nazi coup. It’s possible? Arseniy Yatsenyuk with radicals? How can a Jew lead a nazi coup and be the face of a nazi coup?
But we have the example of Igor Kolomoisky, who armed frankly nazi divisions…
I am not an anti-Semite and can very easily relate to this. But very often in conversations with western politicians they say: “Listen, what do you say about nazis? Look at the Verkhovna Rada, look at all of the Ukrainian authorities — where is Nazism?”
This is some extravagant eclecticism that is impossible for the mind to comprehend…
I think that this will be used as an argument. Some consider that if there will be a nazi coup, the whole world will turn away from Ukraine. But me I think this is not finished, such arguments will be used. However, I will tell you, in Lvov, two weeks ago there were incidents in Jewish cemeteries, and the decision of the local community was to not inform the media of these cases, in order that they wasn’t released everywhere and to not provoke even more violence.
But nevertheless anti-Semitism is growing in Western Ukraine, in Lvov, in Ternopol, in Ivano-Frankovsk. Moreover. sharply, in an explosive way. Physicists will understand “the explosive method”, which means the input parameters change slightly, and the resulting output is more severe. It is in this way the growth of anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish moods in Ukraine are happening. And sooner or later, I think, this will cover also those who tries to earn money on the civil war in Donbass.
Back on the topic of Petro Poroshenko. He has a situation of loss of control over part of the country, he has a situation where directly near him the pro-American opposition in the person of Parubiy, Avakov, Yatsenyuk sits…
And an unclear position is taken by the US Embassy. Pay attention — it’s not to Ukraine that money isn’t given, they don’t give money to Poroshenko. That’s why his situation is not simple. And betting in this opposition is not only done with money. He’s after all a pure businessman, he was always engaged in money, and wanted so much to earn it, he as the president often behaves as a businessman, and it is his biggest mistake.
But in this case the rate for him is not money, his rate is life. If Yanukovych managed to hide, disappear, he can be late to do it. The West will definitely not accept him, and Russia showed that these events, the last statements, that already he will not have a place in Rostov. Neither in Lipetsk too. Even though he is building a new factory in Russia.
But I mean that in such a situation, in order to consolidate some part of society, Poroshenko may try to launch an offensive in Donbass.
You remember how in the movie “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession”, where the troops were sent to war, so that they didn’t learn that the Tsar was false.
That is, speaking in chess language, he is both in a Zugzwang, and in Zeitnot. And whatever he does, everything will be bad. And ultimately we can expect from him some extreme nonsense.
This is not a nonsense. He simply has no way out. I know Petro Poroshenko personally, for a long time, and I know him well. Whatever is said, he is a clever and rather strong person. Ukraine has not had such a president yet. I don’t discuss his moral qualities because I consider that he is a criminal. And an obvious criminal who should be trailed and necessary to trial him publicly. But the fact that he isn’t a fool, is guaranteed.
Nobody will argue with it, because he holds the situation for longer than all expected. But, nevertheless, if there is this jump on Donbass which will end in defeat unambiguously, then the question arises …
For him it is easier to defeat and lose some territories, but time which war will give him a delay in time. That’s why he is ready to pay for this delayed time, which permits him to stay in power, by lives of Ukrainians and territories of Ukraine. And, thus, here’s such a situation. I talked to the militia, and, despite losses of friends, attacks, wounds, etc., the joy that you will kill one more Ukrop, there is no great joy. Because they understand that they kill their own.
And the power in Kiev is in other situation. They make now a pantheon of heroes, such an obelisk of hatred to Russia on the base of which they want to put all the dead. Such necromancers. Such magic of hatred on blood, and as more people will be killed from one and the other side, the better for them, and the stronger this obelisk will be, the more hatred there will be.
That’s why, the more Ukrainians that will die in cauldrons in, thoughtless, unnecessary to anybody offensives, for them the better, the more they will rejoice more strongly because there will be more hatred. The country of victorious hatred.
But me, It’s even not about this that I wanted to ask about. I wanted to ask another question. Let’s say such an attempt of an offensive arrives, and there is a counterattack. Old structures collapse, the chain of command of the remains of Ukraine is destroyed. In order for all of this to not fall into this period that is called a “Ruin”, it is necessary to pick up and structure all this time …
You speak about Novorossiya?
I want to ask a question where there are no ambiguities. Novorossiya’s parliament is still a frozen structure, but not disavowed?
Some words about Novorossiya’s Parliament. Novorossiya’s parliament was created by the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. At the same time the congress of the Popular front of Novorossiya was held. There was such organization. There were representatives from all regions. Why these two events were coordinated in one day? Because Novorossiya and Novorossiya’s Parliament were envisaged as a forward movement. Me, as the head of Parliament of Novorossiya, never interfered with life of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. Moreover, I was engaged in the work against myself, and not by will of heart, as I never considered myself as a professional politician.
I never tried to get my hands on any powerful levers. We created a confederation. How did we create it? On this popular front we signed an agreement between the Donetsk and Lugansk republics on the creation of the Union. The Council of the Union of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics was created. This council included six people. I was one of the people delegated from one of the regions. During the same council I was tasked with writing the Constitution. I wrote the constitution. It was voted by parliaments of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
After the voting on the Constitution, the following vote was delegated by 30 deputies from each republic. The parliament began its work. As the deputy of 4 convocations of the Verkhovna Rada, I constructed parliamentary work, believe me, in the right way. We had an agenda, we accepted regulations, registered all committees. Unfortunately, our Parliament worked only for a few months. The Minsk agreements were signed.
I participated in the first meeting of the Minsk agreements. You can agree with the plan of Minsk or not. But believe me, though I am a person not the military, it is better to have a plan, and all to move according to one plan, than everyone will move in their own way. There is a plan, and we — Novorossiya’s Parliament — according to this plan froze our activity. Because Novorssiya’s creation, of course, contradicted the Minsk process. Many deputies of Parliament work until now. Work in offices. They passed a rather large quantity of humanitarian aid through Novorossiya’s Parliament.
You won’t find accusations of Parliament of any violations anywhere, the fact that humanitarian aid went somewhere else. I registered procedures in such a way that any responsible official didn’t touch any inventory items. They only controlled its passage, controlled it to stop it being stolen, control of it so that it got to the necessary people. All the rest is work of economic structures. Eventually, we teamed up with the Donetsk and Lugansk republics when they already created their structures.
The parliament never dealt with military issues. Though among deputies of Parliament of Novorossiya — by the way, Alexander Zakharchenko was the deputy of Parliament — there were many fighting commanders. They left with an initiative to make Novorossiya’s awards. I said at once that the Parliament is a civil body. But we can help them to organized it. Because I consider that certain military bodies have to give out awards. But there wasn’t a uniform command for certain reasons which I don’t want to get into now, that’s why it is them who were engaged in it. However, we didn’t arrive at the awards. The Parliament didn’t distribute neither awards, nor an award weapon. Deputies had their personal weapon because some deputies died, some were arrested. We held sessions of Parliament in Donetsk and Lugansk, and to pass through Donetsk regional administration, it was necessary to submit lists of our deputies so that they were passed. Next day, when we submitted these lists to the security office, they appeared in the SBU. The staff of the SBU started coming home to my deputies. At this time there was no border.
Let’s suppose that the internal destruction of the Ukrainian state arrived, a frontal collapse…
It is more than that, it is necessary to imagine it, to imagine and think over the scenario because whatever someone today can think, Ukraine is obliged to pass through the ruin. It will start to assemble again after the situation falls to the lowest point.
And so, whether Novorossiya’s Parliament is ready to develop its mission of the assembling of the People’s republics? I think that it will be a form of the People’s republics — the Kharkov People’s Republic, etc.
I am sure that Ukraine cannot be anti-Russian. Whether it will be a part of Russia, whether there will be it part of the cultural and economic Russian world, the future will tell. Whether some regions will be a part of Russia, and others will be as a part of the state that will enter into economic blocks is unclear, but future territory can exist only if it is pro-Russian. There can’t be a different way, because otherwise there will be a ruin. And, of course, it will be necessary to bring an order. I know our deputies of Parliament of Novorossiya, these are worthy people. It will be this Parliament or another re-established Parliament, anyway, there will be a certain structure which will bring order in the territory of the former Ukraine.
Well, I just not simply ask you this question, not as a mathematician to a physician, but as a journalist to a politician…
Novorossiya’s parliament from the point of view of terms was elected for a certain term. But there is such a principle as the continuity of power. That is in order to elect the upcoming structure, it is necessary to hold elections. So far these elections haven’t been held. So if they will be carried out, among deputies who are now there, the majority proved to be from a very good party. They passed through fire, through attacks, through hunger, didn’t quit, and remained in the republics, and continue to work. They will be in this Parliament and will work further. This parliament was built in such a way that it included representatives of Odessa, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, that is from those territories which prospectively will be included in Novorossiya.
As for me, I am ready to work in any capacity for a common cause.
You took the words right out of my mouth, I just wanted to ask if you are ready to impose yourself with such weight? Because you are charismatic, because there are a million people in Ukraine who respect you, who remember you, we conduct lots of correspondence with other parties of Ukraine, which are on the other side of the front line…
I, at any time when it is required, am ready to join in the fight. My heart aches for the country, my heart aches for the people who are there. And psychologically it is very complex for me because I now can’t be in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, in order to not prevent the current authorities from carrying out their activities. I simply, by my presence, to some extent strain and confuse the operating management.
On the other hand, my friend have been arrested in Ukraine. Thousands of people are now in prisons. There was a time when I had my own means, and we had legal aid, which helped people who had been arrested or political emigrants from Ukraine. We were helping fighters of Berkut, and Kostya Dolgov. I don’t want to brag, but my means were spent for Gubarev’s hostage ransom money, and there were many such cases like this. Sometimes I don’t remember these people any more, but they write and call me: “We were released, thank you!” One or two Lawyers worked in each region who were an audience in court and gave consultations. Now I have no such financial means. And it is very bad that in Russia – a very rich country – nobody deals with problems of protecting human rights in Ukraine. This topic is very favorable from the point of view of the world community.
I want to interrupt you a little because I surely will acquaint you with the activity of two organizations – “CIS-EMO” and Dyukov’s Fund – because monitoring is constant …
Lawyers have to work, help to families of detainees has to be given, people are jailed already for a year. You know when you are in Ukrainian prisons in such conditions it is necessary sometimes and to bring food parcels to the person, and it doesn’t cost much. It’s not big money, but if you knew how much this help is appreciated here. You can’t imagine what kind of political-social resonance this kind of help would have in Ukraine. Because many people feel abandoned, and it is very bad.
Why am I saying this? Firstly — we have to do it. And, secondly — in order for it to be clear how difficult psychologically it is to be here. So it turned out that I was in the first ranks in the beginning, and now I out of this fight. Therefore as soon as there is the slightest opportunity again to join in this fight, I will join with pleasure.
On it we, probably, will finish. We asked sensitive questions and received interesting answers to them. Oleg, you are always a welcomed guest. Thank you
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