February 21, 2015
Translated by Kristina Rus
Like we said on that day Friday, February 21 of last year an agreement between president Yanukovich and the opposition was signed in Kiev mediated by heads of Foreign Ministries of European countries. But on the following day, nothing was left of the compromise, and Yanukovich was forced to leave Kiev. Then our correspondent Alexander Balitsky was providing us with the latest reports from Maidan, and today he spoke to the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich. We have not seen him in a long time.
How does it feel to be a president in exile, and are you ready to go back to Ukraine, and what would you like to say to the Ukrainians when you go back?
I spent many sleepless nights. I don't want to say much. If God has saved my life, if God will give me an opportunity to do what's necessary today to defend the rights of the people, to defend them from the turmoil and lawlessness that now takes place in the country, I will do everything in my power.
Exactly one year has passed since the moment when you were forced to leave the country. Plenty of time to weigh all the decisions which you had made during the events of Maidan. Why until the last moment, when the administrative buildings were already captured, when the streets and squares were captured, why didn't the law enforcement receive an order to use force, or did they?
I don't have such information. My goal was to solve the issues with political methods. Without the use of force. I am convinced even today that no power is worth one drop of blood. That this war was unleashed by our opponents, those who came to power illegally, they had no reasons to do that.
So who had fired the shots?
This should be decided by the investigation. Already a year had passed since the current government came to power, but from the beginning they had already put the blame on the law enforcement and the president without any investigation.
In my view this is a classic scenario of color revolutions. After the first provocations there were more. And those killings of those two young guys to this day have not been solved. And our law enforcement during the time when I was still in power, already had facts and evidence that those killings did not happen in those places, where the bodies were placed. It was the provocations, which had taken place. And it was, unfortunately, the work of the media, which was far from objective, and was not reflecting the reality, mildly speaking.
The worst thing that I was afraid of had happened. Blood was spilled and a war has begun.
Did you expect this to happen, since you were afraid of it?
I understood my responsibility very well. In essence, when I was illegally removed from power, adopting a decision in the parliament, while I was on the territory of Ukraine, they voted on a law to remove the president from power. At that time I was on the way from Donetsk to Crimea. All the following steps of the current authorities were directed at achieving the triumph of Maidan on those territories, were no one had accepted the Maidan. This was the territory of South-Eastern Ukraine. To impose a certain [Bandera - tr.] lifestyle on the people, cancelling the law on languages - all of this provoked a defensive reaction and people demanded a reform of self-government. They were immediately given the mark of "separatists". Then people had risen against the representatives of radical nationalistic so-called battalion coming to those territories.
The arrival of the three ministers to Kiev was very important. Representatives of the three biggest states in Europe had arrived and with the president, with the acting authorities and the opposition had prepared an agreement. They initiated this process, so they should carry the responsibility. Two sides have taken on the obligations - the government and the opposition. And the three ministers were the guarantors. I agreed to early presidential elections, I agreed to a constitutional reform, and to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on the basis of the new constitution. What else did they want? All of this had to be fulfilled, and they had to wait for the decision of the Ukrainian people. What were they afraid of? They were afraid that the people would react to their actions very negatively, and they wouldn't be elected. Therefore the war was unleashed in order to exclude the people, the protesting electorate from this political process, and they were able to achieve that partially. Because South-Eastern Ukraine practically did not take part in the elections, and even if they did, then a very insignificant part of the population.
If we take today's events in Donbass, the civil war, the latest talks in Minsk. What will the new agreements lead to? Is there still a chance for negotiations between Kiev on one side, and Donetsk and Lugansk on the other side, considering how many deaths had happened and that Donbass is in ruins?
I am convinced that there is no other way. They must end the war, they must stop insulting the residents of South-East. Must get rid of those labels. Give guarantees that self-government will be sufficient for this regions in order to defend their rights. And in this process should absolutely be included the European countries and Russia.
Today this process has to be started from scratch. We need to include these territories in the political life. If we want to see these territories with this population from South-Eastern Ukraine, Donbass, in the large Ukrainian family, as part of the Ukrainian state, then we cannot allow discrimination against them.
Who would ever think, while I was still a president of Ukraine, that Yanukovich would take away the retirement benefits of the retirees of the Western regions. How can you take away the social guarantees, which are written in the constitution?
Yanukovich of course represents Donbass, were he is originally from. He is very familiar with the animosity between the East and the West of Ukraine.
Although he is often blamed today for not doing enough to halt the violence on Maidan by force and thus prevent a coup, we don't know what would have happened. We don't know if it would only fire up more people to fight and would lead to the same scenario, only later.
The steps taken by Europe, the West and the Kiev junta from the beginning clearly illustrate that it was not about democracy and human rights. This is about who is the strongest. About pulling Ukraine into the Atlanticist sphere at all costs without the regard for the aspirations of half of the country.
The United States and Europe had enabled a bunch of ultra-nationalist marginals and a few oligarchs to destabilize Ukraine so brazenly that a civil war was the only logical result.
The residents of Crimea, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa, Kharkov, who were working hard, raising families and minding their business could not accept a second class status that was offered to them by Maidan. They asked for more rights and more autonomy. Kiev sent in tanks. They did not ask for a civil war. But Western-backed Kiev gave them no choice.
When their own government pulled artillery systems to their cities, their only hope was the brotherly help from Russia. A Crimea scenario and a help of the Russian armed forces. But due to complexity of a global standoff between Russia and the West, Putin had to choose a long game over a quick military victory.
It is not Kiev that cares about Donbass, it is Moscow. And the Russian people would never forgive Putin if he would abandon Donbass.
No matter how corrupt was Yanukovoch, clearly he had tried to do his best to avoid a bloodshed. But this is not what his opponents had in mind.
The masters of Kiev had done everything to push previously quiet Crimea and Donbass over the edge, and when they realized that the land, assets and natural resources are inseparable from it's population, they naturally chose to destroy it. Territorial integrity over human rights. Territory over humans.