Leader of Ukrainian Opposition to AIA: Our Security Services in Total Disorder

Since the famous Orange Revolution of the end of 2004 in Ukraine, this country is living through a permanent political crisis, which is deepened by deteriorating relations with Russia and by problems of the energy market. Against this background, even those who supported the Orange Revolution sound more and more doubtful as to the achievement of its goals. One of the main reason for that is the inability of the democratic camp to achieve inner understanding and to work in partnership.

It allowed the main rival of the Orange Revolution, Victor Yanukovich, to return to power and to head the Government. At the same time, Yulia Timoshenko, who was Victor Yushchenko’s main partner two years ago, is now at the head of the opposition. However, she continues to be one of the leading players of Ukrainian political scene. In her interview to AIA Timoshenko makes conclusions about the two years that passed since the bloodless overturn in Ukraine, from the point of view of interior and foreign policy, energy, and the security services.

Yulia Timoshenko  

A long-lasting political crisis in Ukraine gives all the reasons to presume that the Orange Revolution failed to achieve its goals. Do you think that the revolution gave the Ukrainians what they expected?
I suppose that the revolution did not instantaneously give everything that was expected from it by the people and by the politicians. And it could not give it at once, keeping in mind the reasons why it was happening in the country, where the influential and powerful groups having unlimited economic and administrative abilities actually penetrated all the spheres of our social life. Revolution, vivid and brilliant as it was, could only destroy the top of this iceberg, giving a possibility to build something new instead. But it could not, in a few days or weeks, destroy all those metastases, which strangled our country for many years. Therefore, the revolution had done what it had to do: it withdrew those people from power, who were constantly reproducing such diseases, such social problems as only a partial liberty of Ukraine, when the country is being intentionally kept by the politicians in the circle of influence of the other states; when after fifteen years of independence Ukraine is being drawn in such projects as the unified economic space, which actually is an attempt to remake the USSR model; when all decisions of the state authority are subdued to greedy interests of influential clans, while the people are left outside the authority’s attention; when there is corruption, the lack of liberty, the lack of freedom of expression as such, the lack of free elections and of the possibility to replace this corrupt elite. Thus, the revolution did reach the initial task, as it withdrew the apex that was constantly preserving those problems. It did not, however, withdraw the problems themselves. And perhaps we, and the Ukrainian people, were far too optimistic to think that it could be done quickly. Moreover, the whole world caught this optimism from us, and I think this fact was harming our case in a certain way.
Now Ukraine is different. We now have freedom of expression, political competitiveness, an almost fair and free elections (not totally fair, though, but very close to it). All this means that, first of all, the Ukrainian people will always be informed from different sources and not from one dominating source; that the competition between the politicians will allow making a more adequate political choice. This is our hope today. And we even believe that the return to power of the pro-Russian forces headed by Viktor Yanukovich also has its particular meaning in this entire situation. Actions, decisions, and results of work of this new-old power will only break up those vane illusions that the people might still have. From day to day, Yanukovich is loosing his credibility in the Ukrainian society. That is good and right, and I think that, together with his political force, the slavery will leave Ukraine forever.
Thus, we are now living through the process of final disillusionment. And I believe that we shall have early parliamentary elections; I believe that the recent constitutional reform may well be abolished, because it did not lead to democratization of the country, but rather attempted to bring a revanche. And on the early elections to come our country will be politically wiser, and will make a right choice in favor of the European integration, in favor of strengthening Ukraine’s independence, in favor of closing-up all shadow economic models.
The Orange Revolution was also a declaration of Ukraine’s geopolitical reorientation from Russia to the West. It cost you the pressure that Moscow has been putting upon Kiev ever since. But has the West actually answered Ukraine’s expectations? Has it given it all the support it could give?
In the process of our Orange Revolution, our calm, peaceful, brilliant revolution, the entire democratic world was on the side of democracy and of those forces that tried to establish it in Ukraine. This was a very strong support. It could be seen in such actions as the media coverage, as the visits of prominent politicians who reviewed and analyzed the situation. All that the free world could give to support us, it did give us.
On the other hand, what was the thing for which Ukraine was struggling? It was particularly struggling for preservation of its independence, and simultaneously becoming an integral part of the European Union. And when, for the first time in fifteen years, we actually honestly said that we wish to become an integral part of the European Union, unfortunately there were some EU states that delicately closed this door in front of us. May be, this also served as a sort of political wet blanket for the Ukrainian people. We received jolts from several directions at once, and it was not easy at all to stand those new challenges. But today I can say that all these hard trials strengthened us, they strengthened our country. Today we are ready to stand all tryouts and to move forward.
Talking of independence in general, we cannot omit the issue of Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russia. Do you see a prospective of cooperation with such countries as Poland, as the Baltic States in search of alternative for Russia in what concerns energy supplies?
First of all, our energy independence equals our political independence. One should not divide between the two. Therefore, one more characteristic of the politicians ruling in Ukraine is their attitude toward the issue of forming Ukraine’s energy independence. Because for the fifteen years of our independence (from the USSR, ed.), President Leonid Kuchma and all his team did not raise a question of energy independence. They did not invest in this issue; they did not negotiate with the neighboring states; they were intentionally preserving the existing system of dependence. And, I am sure, that was done by agreement.

  Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko

The team of the democratic forces that came into power after President Viktor Yushchenko was elected, with me as the Prime-Minister, definitely started to break up all those cords by holding relevant negotiations, by contacts with governments of the foreign states that can create energy alternatives for us. And I was really hurt, as a human being, as the citizen of Ukraine, and as a politician, when President Yushchenko and his team once again chose the way of strengthening our energy dependence, by letting the RosUkrEnergo company to enter Ukraine’s market. Not only was it a shadow-type company, but it was also cutting off all our ways to independent gas supply, be it through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or Kazakhstan. And it was an absolutely conscious decision of the presidential team. We rose against it not only as a political force, but we set the entire democratic world against it. Unfortunately, Yushchenko and his team’s position in this issue was unshakable. They let RosUkrEnergo in; they made it an absolute monopolist, allowing it to drive the country into financial and social crisis by the extreme increase of gas prices. This led to breaking up our contracts with Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, which previously gave us a possibility to gradually enter the correct pricing policy, i.e. – to pass to the world gas prices. It was a very painful blow for the country, and I am sure that our people will make an adequate evaluation of this step.
As for me, being a leader of the opposition and of a rather influential political force, I can say with all the responsibility that my colleagues and I shall never allow manipulating Ukraine through energy. I mean a political manipulation through energy, which would lead to our loss of sovereignty. We shall act in a toughest way to prevent it, not whispering about it, but going completely public.
The “orange” team came into power proclaiming the need of a profound reform of the state security bodies. Such reform started, but it continues for almost two years now. Does it mean that Ukraine’s security services are in a chaotic state, unable to act?
Unfortunately, the constitutional reform that was adopted just a few days before Yushchenko became president, and not without the support of his team, turned the state administration in Ukraine into a definite chaos. Because today in Ukraine the president and the prime-minister – the two main figures in the state – are in opposition to each other, be it from the point of view of the strategy, tactics, or personnel appointments. Such order just cannot be a strong one.
On the other hand, security services are being torn between the two leaders of the country – the president and the prime-minister, who have completely different concept of how the security bodies should look and act. Therefore, today it is impossible to speak of any logical order, of any movement toward a strategic reform. First, the abovementioned constitutional reform should be abolished, then the state administration system should be regulated, and only afterwards the security bodies can be profoundly reformed. Such as they are at present, Ukrainian security bodies cannot be considered normal for a democratic state.

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