Yulia Timoshenko became a locomotive force

An interview with Yulia Timoshenko.

Yulia Timoshenko became a locomotive force in the Ukrainian revolution a year ago. She brushed aside the old regime and became the second top executive in the country, remaining the topmost executive unofficially. Timoshenko resigned soon and became the leader of the opposition again. Experts do not rule out the possibility of her return to the pinnacle of state power again, next year…

Question: You aroused the people in the maidan a year ago. There is a widespread opinion in Russia and in Ukraine itself that it was a coup d’etat.

Yulia Timoshenko: As a matter of fact, everything was absolutely legitimate. It was a peaceful action of civilian resistance. There were no calls to topple the regime. Justice was all the people wanted. Whenever they cannot talk to the authorities and do not wield any clout with them by way of elections, referendums, or any other legitimate procedures, they can and even should find another way. It is not a revolution; it is but an adequate response.

Question: There are rumors that the Orange Revolution was partially financed by Boris Berezovsky…

Yulia Timoshenko: I do not know how and who financed Viktor Yuschenko’s campaign or actions within its framework. Yuschenko’s advisor, Alexander Tretiakov, handled all financial matters. As for Berezovsky, he and I met face to face only when he was executive secretary of the CIS. In other words, we did not communicate on the subject of sponsorship of the maidan. Checking it must be easy. Secret services must have had him under surveillance… As for his help to us, I can only surmise that there may have been some sort of pact with him. If so, then the men Berezovsky helped have double-crossed him.

Question: The country will be run by the prime minister next spring. This is your chance to become the premier, your chance for vengeance…

Yulia Timoshenko: First, I remain a steady adversary of this particular reform. The system we have is not ideal, but what is suggested may bring irreparable harm. It remains to be seen yet what will be worse: what we have now or what we will have in six months.

Second, I’m not vengeful by nature. Revenge is not what I’m after. My resignation is but a change of format of our relations with the president. He and I headed different political forces. We had worked side by side in the government once and did one and the same thing being partners. Afterwards, in the course of the parliamentary election, we went doing one and the same thing but separately from one another. We formed an integral system in the election last year but the format changed again.

Question: Let’s fancy nevertheless that it is already spring’2006. Election of the Rada is over, you are the prime minister again… What do you do?

Yulia Timoshenko: I mean to set up a system in Ukraine that will remain stable for decades on end regardless of who is the president or prime minister. In order to rule out the abuses and extremities we’ve witnesses all these years of sovereignty. As for practical tasks, first and foremost we will have to complete reorganization of the basic systems – those of courts and the media. This is what we initiated, tentatively, earlier this year.

We should try to establish rapport and harmony in the next parliament. I really hope that we will be able to form the parliamentary majority. If it is formed on the basis of accords between different political forces, the Rada will only be all the more efficient.

Question: When the prime minister, you never visited Russia…

Yulia Timoshenko: Are you asking if I’m going to visit Russia in the rank of prime minister? I am. I understand the importance of visits to Russia and direct contacts with representatives of the Russian elite. I want everyone in Russia to know that nobody in Ukraine wants our relations ruined, the relations we built together for centuries on end. At the same time, no encroachment on strategic interests of Ukraine will be permitted. That’s very important if we want equality in the relations.

Question: There used to be an obstacle preventing your visits to Moscow. I mean the questions the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office wanted you to answer concerning your previous businesses activities.

Yulia Timoshenko: The conflict is settled. No, it was not even a conflict. It was a sad lack of understanding. I did not have the time in the course of the campaign and later, when I was the prime minister, to settle the matter. As soon as I found time, however, I made a trip to Moscow and answered all questions.

Question: Who did you see on the visit to Moscow?

Yulia Timoshenko: Apart from officials of the Prosecutor General’s Office? I saw my friends. I have many friends in Moscow.

Question: Do these latter include officials of the presidential administration?

Yulia Timoshenko: No comment.

Question: What do you think of Yuschenko’s idea of vesting additional powers in Ukrainian regions, of making them more independent?

Yulia Timoshenko: I do not see the point. We need to consolidate east and west Ukraine, not sow dissent. As I see it, this idea of a “civilized divorce” between the Eastern Orthodox Civilization and the Western one is obsolete.

These days, the idea of separatism is presented in a thoroughly naive manner: Yushchenko represents America and Yanukovich – Russia. That’s wrong. Yushchenko does not always support American ideas. He did not vote for sending the army to Iraq, he voted against NATO presence on the territory of Ukraine.

Alexander Moroz, a socialist who cannot be called pro-American at all, backed Yushchenko. Anatoly Kinakh, new Secretary of the Security and Defense Council, advocates cooperation with Russia. Like Moroz does. And like Moroz, he backed Yushchenko too.

Everything boils down to the dirty technologies used against us. We are presented as some kind of chauvinists…

Question: What about your intention to “put the pro-Russian Donbass on its knees” and “surround it with barbed wire”?

Yulia Timoshenko: I have never said anything like that.

Question: Let me then inquire as to the authorship of another phrase also ascribed to you. The matter concerns the words that “Ukrainian economy should not be centered around Russia” because “Ukraine and Russia are not strategic partners.”

Yulia Timoshenko: Another rubbish. Russia has always been and will remain our strategic partner. Some ties were severed under Kuchma. This man won two elections with promises concerning the Russian language, rights of the Russian-speaking population, etc. He deceived everyone. It goes without saying that it was not exactly an atmosphere favorable for bilateral contacts. Well, we will do what we can now. We have to restore the relations of partnership and friendship with Russia.

Question: What is your personal opinion of the idea of making Russian the second state language?

Yulia Timoshenko: Personally I think that it will be wrong to oversimplify the matter. Whoever wants to speak Russian is welcome to do so. There are lots of Russian schools in the east, and there are no Ukrainian ones in the Crimea at all. All our attempts to establish Ukrainian schools there were thwarted. The Ukrainian language has been neglected for decades. It needs state support now. We are reviving the state now and reviving the language. It’s important for me because I usually speak Ukrainian. As for the status of a state language for Russian, I believe that the matter should be discussed by all of society first.