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Подорожуємо Україною

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© copy 2003 р.
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Ukraine : New Leader on political stage
An Interview with Valeriy Asadchev
By Stojan Obradovic

Parliamentary elections held in Ukraine at the end of March didn't enable opposition to win over authoritarian regime of president Leonid Kucma, but they have still shaken up his position, say elections monitors. Relative majority was won by political bloc "Our Ukraine" led by former prime minister Viktor Yushchenko. President Kucma relieved him of his post in 2000 because the capable banker and manager started to become more and more popular thanks to decisive economic actions. As prime minister Yushchenko started mercilessly collecting state taxes, but he also provided money for state officials and retired persons who previously had to wait for it for months.

Although Kucma will continue controlling parliament over his parties, election results are still far from expected two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional changes enabling him to run the country for the third time. On the other hand, relative victory of "Our Ukraine" has affirmed new leader Viktor Yushchenko who could pave victory for democratic opposition at next presidential elections in 2004.

We talked with Valeriy Asadchev, MP and member of Ukrainian Popular Movement (RUKH) that was part of victorious Yushchenko's political bloc "Our Ukraine" about election results, current political situation and future expectations.

-- What is your opinion about recent parliamentary elections in Ukraine? Did opposition achive success, and if yes, what kind of success?

-- At these elections we managed to form a group of political forces arrayed against authoritarian regime in Ukraine. They want democratic development of the country. Generally speaking, election results were very close, it was a tie. Balance of political power between government and opposition, between president and the parliament, remained more or less the same. Truth, one could talk about certain progress of the opposition, but the government managed to hold to its position so they could take it as their advantage. However, what certainly is a gain for opposition and the country in general is the fact that now president Kucma won't be able to change constitution as planned, that is Kucma won't be able to remain president for the third time.

But, unfortunately, there is no gurantee that after Kucma Ukrainian development mill move towards democracy – primarily because of specific role of Russia reflected not only in its huge political influence but also in economic ties, economic dependence of Ukraine on Russia. Moscow is capable of strong influence on many things in our country. Russia got hold of main media outlets in Ukraine as well as majority of economic powerm which enables it to control political situation in Ukraine. One should have in mind that Russia for great part inherited political methods and system of rule from Soviet era, meaning that political life is still strongly influenced by secret services - with all the consequences such style has.

All of this will greatly influence next presidential elections in Ukraine in two years. There is a possibility of scenario where Kucma's successor will be one supported by Russia.

-- Could you explain more specifically in what way does Russia rule Ukrainian media and economy?

-- Enough is to watch state television and see how dominant are Russian interests. Russian companies and capital are integral of any major privatization. Russian investors have practically pushed out investors from western Europe and USA out of game. Even after collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is still acting like big power and is trying to have a puppet regime in Ukraine, to have a government which will be under Russian control and influence. Such regime will never develop democracy in Ukraine.

-- How can that relation with Russia be changed?

-- Our aim is not entering in dispute or conflict with Russia. Russia is a big country, our neighbour, and we are interested in good relations with Russia. But we need government which is pro-Ukraine, not pro-Russian, a government which will protect Ukrainian, not Russian interests. That has to be changed. Of course, Russia doesn't want Ukrainian government which will lead completely independent politics according to Ukrainian national interests. But only such Ukrainian government, governed by our national interests, can develop democracy and general progress in the country.

-- What is economic situation in Ukraine?

-- At this moment, we are still feeling results of economic growth, but that is thanks to former government led by Viktor Yushenko who managed to promote transparency in some important elements. However, current government is returning us once again into controlled economy without monetary exchange. For 2002, we already have a state deficit of 200 million USD
which is plainly saying that economic situation will detoriate significantly.

-- Will economic crisis you predict help democratic forces or will it aid conservation of the current regime?

-- Well, it is possible that deep and prolonged economic crisis causes change of governmen, although regime's entrenchment can also prosper in time of crisis. But the real problem is that economic crisis will anyhow cause great economic damage. Economy will take much time to recover and to become attractive to foreign investors without whom there is no development. And without economic development, there is no true democracy.

--What you think is important for the future of democratic changes in Ukraine?

-- I think that parliamentary elections have clearly shown the way opposition must now take. If the elections were a kind of success to the opposition, then it is mostly reflected in the fact that through elections surfaced a new political leader supported by both opposition parties as well as civil sector and international circles - Viktor Yushchenko. There are two important conditions for development of democracy in Ukraine. One is peaceful transfer of government on new president and, second, I think that it would be very beneficial and important for further democratic development if that new president would be Viktor Yushchenko.

2002 y. STINA

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