Vladimir Zelensky is still a “dark horse” for many, many people still do not know his plans. But he voiced some positions on the eve of the second round in an interview with RBC-Ukraine. True, many have more questions than answers.
In particular, when asked whether he considered Putin an enemy, Zelensky replied – “of course.”
It is worth recalling that two weeks ago Zelensky declared that he was ready for talks with Putin, adding that he considers it important to conduct a dialogue with Moscow “in the presence of Western representatives.”
Regarding Donbass, the candidate said that he was not going to give the region special status to Donbas and sign an amnesty law – the key points of the Minsk agreements.
In addition, in his previous statements Zelensky did not mention the Minsk-2 at all, speaking of the need to return to the “Norman format” with the involvement of the United States and Great Britain. He repeatedly stressed that he did not see subjects of negotiations in Donetsk and Lugansk.
Answering the question about Stepan Bandera, Zelensky said: “Stepan Bandera is a hero for some percentage of Ukrainians, and this is normal and cool. This is one of those people who defended the freedom of Ukraine.”
At the same time, he made a nod toward the Southeast, saying that he plans to record video messages to them with the aim of “uniting the country.”
– I will tell them every day: look, NATO is not a beast, it will not swallow you. See what it is. Let people think, let them start reading about it, let them start studying, – he said.
– As for the answer of Zelensky regarding Putin, there are several reasons why he said that, – said Larisa Shesler, chairman of the Union of Political Immigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine.
– First, he wants to keep the voices of Western Ukraine. In the South-East, he has no alternative, these voters will never vote for Poroshenko, regardless of the statements of Zelensky. The West and the center of Ukraine are the most exposed to Russophobic brainwashing, so they want to hear from Zelensky’s lips that for him Putin is the same enemy as for them.
Secondly, to some extent, it remains the voice of Kolomoysky, who at the time also spoke sharply against Putin. Thirdly, Zelensky himself in his views is a classic Ukrainian man in the street, a limited fitter, and Russophobia very much coincides with his personal perception.
Today, he has no idea whether he will have to meet with Putin. By the way, it is quite possible that in the near future it will be just as undesirable for Russian diplomacy as Saakashvili did in his time.
– Zelensky does not intend to provide a special status to Donbass and to sign an amnesty law, as provided for in the Minsk agreements. That is, he says that “Minsk-2” can be buried?
– Here, his statements speak of a complete lack of understanding of the political processes associated with the Minsk agreements, ignorance of the obligations assumed by Ukraine.
Again, he is trying to fit into the picture of the voter’s perception from Western Ukraine, and demonstrates, as it seems to him, the tough position of the Ukrainian patriot. Minsk-2 is not to be buried – it has been buried for a long time. More than four years have passed since the adoption of these agreements, but there is no peace in the Donbas. With the arrival of Zelensky, hopes for his reanimation are very illusory.
The phrase “there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements” remains meaningless mantra, since any promotion looks like a betrayal, both for the Ukrainian side and for the Donbass.
– Zelensky intends to convince Donbassians that, above all, they are Ukrainians …
– For five years, the Kiev authorities have consistently cut off the residents of Donbass from Ukraine, seeking pressure and hardship to “punish the rebels.” Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are deprived of pensions, special permits of the SBU are required to cross the contact line, a food blockade was arranged, the authorities are doing everything to deprive citizens living in the Donbass of their civil rights. Now it is obvious that the opposite effect is achieved. Even the Ukrainian-speaking residents of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions no longer associate themselves with Ukraine, receiving even tiny but still regular benefits from Russia, from where they come and food, and energy.
Zelensky declares that he wants to break this blockade by restoring normal relations between Ukraine and the Donbas. But this, just, is extremely difficult to do.
Non-payment of pensions to pensioners of Donbass saves huge sums in the stunted Ukrainian budget, and the situation with the budget deficit will only worsen in the near future.
Ukraine has nothing to support pensioners who live in the rest of the territory, and it’s impossible to find additional money for Donbass. But I do not exclude that some radio towers will be installed on the border with the Donbas, and they will consider that they are winning in the information war with Russia. Most likely, the desire to “return Donetsk Ukrainians to Ukraine” will end with this profanation.
This was reported to the agency “Moscow” by the head of the metropolitan department for nature management and environmental protection Anton Kulbachevsky.
– Zelensky also called Bandera’s glorification “cool.” What reaction of the South-East does he expect?
– The position of Zelensky “both to yours, and ours” still gradually transformed into “yours and yours.”
Voters in the South-East of Ukraine will perceive such revelations of Zelensky, as inevitable diplomatic formulas, empty in content. Voters of the West and the central part perceive these words about Bandera as a marker – “their own”.
Of course, Zelensky’s disappointment is inevitable, but now he has really turned out to be the leader of the presidential race.
– At the same time, most Ukrainians still care about tariff reduction and the fight against corruption. Is there anything to show Zelensky or just bare slogans?
– It is clear that the rapid impoverishment of the population of Ukraine forms the primary request for the reduction of predatory tariffs for utilities.
But in this field Zelensky is difficult to expect any significant results. If during the times of Yanukovych-Azarov low tariffs for gas and electricity for the population were compensated by tariffs for industry, today this resource is completely exhausted – today the industry cannot be a source of subsidies due to a sharp drop in profitability. In the near future, the situation will be aggravated by Russia’s decision to ban the export of energy resources to Ukraine and the reduction of gas transit through Ukraine after the introduction of the Nord Stream-2 and Turkish Stream gas pipelines. In addition, Ukraine’s economy will face huge payments of foreign debt.
But on the field of anti-corruption Zelensky situation can be advantageous. Like Saakashvili in his time, he may well strike the pocket of Poroshenko and Akhmetov and Firtash, which will cause rapid approval among the population.
The fight against corruption can be supported by American curators who plan to finally make the administration of Ukraine cheap and predictable.
– How good do you think are his chances of winning?
– The chance to become president of Zelensky is very high against the background of the huge negative that the population of Ukraine feels towards Poroshenko. His elector sees him as an honest and incorruptible Goloborodko, whom he plays in the TV series “Servant of the People”.
Maidan, which was supposed to be the door to a bright European future, turned into monstrous corruption and loss of territory. Now people are told that the cause of all troubles is corruption.
And few people realize that the main cause of all misfortunes is the disintegration of a single space, de-industrialization and social degradation caused by nationalism.
These diseases cannot be cured by the anti-corruption courts and the prosecutor’s office; it is impossible to get rid of them by eradicating bribes at customs.
– Zelensky does not have any stable position regarding the settlement of the conflict in the Donbas, since it will be determined by what political forces he can reach after the elections, – says Dmitry Galkin, a political columnist for the 2000 newspaper.
– Of particular concern is the fact that Kolomoysky, apparently, has agreed on an alliance with Avakov. Accordingly, Zelensky, who at least for the first time will depend on Kolomoysky, will be forced to resort to rhetoric that is attractive to the radical nationalists on whom Avakov relies.
However, it can be assumed that Zelensky will not go to the escalation of the Donbass conflict, because among his voters there are many who supported him, hoping that he, unlike Poroshenko, will seek an end to the armed confrontation. True, we should not forget that many representatives of the leadership of the DNR and the LNR are not interested in a transition to a peaceful settlement, and Avakov, who most likely doesn’t care too much about Zelensky’s political fate, will gladly take advantage of any excuse to escalate tensions to strengthen his own position.
– What does Zelensky, glorifying Bandera?
First, Zelensky spoke out quite cautiously. He said that Stepan Bandera fought for the freedom of Ukraine, and for many Ukrainians is a hero, but the number of objects named after him is redundant. I think that a considerable part of the inhabitants of the Southeast are completely satisfied with this position.
Secondly, those who relate to Bandera extremely negatively, still under no circumstances will vote for Poroshenko, and therefore Zelensky may not worry that he will lose their votes.
Zelensky needed to get Tymoshenko’s voters (who won in the Ivano-Frankivsk region), and therefore he had to show that he expressed the opinion of not only voters of the South-East, but also residents of other regions. Do not forget that Zelensky won in all regions of Ukraine, except three in the West and two in the East, including such as Rivne and Volyn, who in their moods do not differ in principle from Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. And there was a real danger that the voters of the western regions could go to Poroshenko in the second round.
– Zelensky called Putin the enemy. How is he going to communicate with Moscow if elected?
No, he well understands that the Russian leadership is not going to discuss with him the conditions for a transition to a political settlement in the Donbass, since it will try to negotiate directly with the United States in order to exchange its concessions for the lifting of sanctions. Therefore, it is important for him to show that he is not interested in negotiations with Moscow.
– Does Zelensky actually bury Minsk-2 in his own words?
He says that Avakov and the highest military officials should not worry, there will not be a transition from opposition to political settlement in the Donbas in the near future, and therefore their economic interests and political influence are not threatened. Zelensky is now concerned about domestic issues much more than foreign policy.
– Zelensky proposes to convince Donbassians and Crimeans that they are Ukrainians. How can this look in practice and what will it lead to?
If the Ukrainian government does not pay pensions and benefits to residents of the DNR, as well as those residents of the Crimea who have kept Ukrainian passports, any propaganda will be ineffective. If the Ukrainian authorities find the necessary funds for this, then, thanks to an effective policy for the population of these regions, nostalgia for “life under Ukraine” can be awakened. It is clear that the share of those who will experience such a feeling will be significantly higher in the Donbas than in the Crimea. It is difficult to say how effective this information policy will be, since the Ukrainian government did not do anything like that under Poroshenko.