Who benefit from bringing anti-government protest in Ukraine to the conflict between Poroshenko and Saakashvili?
Yegor Sobolev about his dismissal, the war against NABU and what the victory of another anti-government protest in Ukraine could lead to.
In an interview, the deputy also explained his resignation, comented on the war against the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, about the opposition and those who benefit from bringing anti-government protests under the Parliament of Ukraine to the conflict between Poroshenko and Saakashvili.
Demoting you from the position of the head of the anti-corruption Committee of the Parliament of Ukraine is an objective dissatisfaction with your work or have you cross someone’s path?
It is the same. I said after my dismissal that it was a commendation to me from a corrupt president and from a corrupt majority of people’s deputies.
In the committee, we stopped bills that contained corruption norms. This was the main task of our committee: 383 bills were stopped in this parliament. It’s clear that their authors, those people who hoped they could legitimize corruption with the help of these decisions, were unhappy.
Then we created legislation, which now suffers the president and the majority of people’s deputies – this legislation on the completeness and mandatory electronic declarations. Do you think only people are shocked by what they see? Those who fill out these declarations are even more shocked that they have to do it. Especially those who have never been in business, but earned a lot of money. Petro Poroshenko now declares the fortune, according to media sources, about a billion dollars. He was always on posts that forbid doing business. How can he explain this now?
And the third, the main reason, we created legislation on the independence of the anti-corruption bureau, the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, and protected them while they were growing up. And today the detectives of the bureau and prosecutors come with searches, arrests of those who are used to be above the law. All this causes their discontent, that’s why they recognized my work as unsatisfactory, from their point of view, I really am a problem. And from the point of view of society, I did what the head of the parliamentary committee on fighting corruption should do. By the way, I became the first head of this committee in history, who was fired. I think this is a very good estimate for me.
The initiators of your dismissal were 12 people’s deputies: from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”, People’s Front, the Opposition Bloc, the Radical Party and Revival Party. Whence suddenly such unity?
Corruption unites these forces in the parliament. This was my first shock when we were elected, that all this division into blue, orange, red and white was always a fake, deception of the voter, so that some voted for corrupt people who speak Russian, others voted for corrupt officials who speaks Ukrainian. And in the parliament they are one. Therefore, this voting united almost all political forces of the Verkhovna Rada, because they are united by corruption, and I was engaged in counteracting corruption.
Do you really think that NABU and Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine can now be called independent, and that electronic declaration works, identifies corrupt officials?
It is clear that the National Anti-corruption Bureau and the Prosecutor General’s office, which have been working for two years, cannot immediately become the FBI or even the Romanian anti-corruption bureau. But in comparison with the current Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs – they are the land and the sky. They took to court more judges than all these so-called law enforcement agencies. They came to those to whom no one came: the head of the Central Election Commission, the chief prosecutor of the ATO zone, the head of the tax service, key people’s deputies, the family of the Minister of Internal Affairs, the leadership of the Ministry of Justice. This all shows that we are on the right track.
Your bill on the Anti-Corruption Court was almost completely approved by the Venice Commission. But court had not begun still. What is the problem?
Because this is the final nail in the coffin of top corrupt officials. If there will be a normal court, and what we suggest is to create an anti-corruption court with the participation of the United States, the EU, that they help us to select judges honestly (not like in the Supreme Court, where one-third of the corrupt officials were recruited), such court will immediately suspend Okhendovsky for the time of investigation, as well as Kulik; will send Martinenko, Nasirov and all other top corrupt officials to jail, because they can influence the investigation. Poroshenko and Yatseniuk understand that as soon as their first accomplices actually will be in jail, they will begin to talk, tell who they covered and who led them. An anti-corruption court is the most important final step for us to see that those people who have already been put under the law, are in prison, and their property is confiscated. Therefore, they are so opposed to and we are fighting for this. This was one of our requirements when we went out to parliament on October 17 and it will be two months, as we stand day and night under the Rada, raising the society so that this decision is accepted and implemented.
In 2013, you were on the Maidan from the first night. Now you are taking an active part, leading the action near the Rada. Do you really think that it is possible to use the same slogans and appeals to the Maidan in the action of the parliament? Isn’t this blasphemy?
No, there is a lot in common. Now and then people went on the streets because of injustice. But what is completely different is that we are at war. And this makes all of us more cautious than then. The enemy is waiting to use the upheaval in Kiev against Ukraine. The second difference: now, instead of students, there are veterans of the war for independence. This is very good, because the government security services attacked us three times during these two months and received three rebuffs.
And most importantly, Euromaidan did not become a revolution. It kicked out the representative of the pro-Russian oligarchy and almost immediately chose another, also in the first round.
Our task now is to really change the rules of government. We came not just for the European choice of Ukraine, as then, we went for specific decisions that would change the governance of the state. We suggest creating the anti-corruption court, creating election rules that would help people choose their representatives, not representatives of the oligarchs.
The fact that many soldiers take part in this action is not manipulation? Because now the Ukrainian society supports the army more than others. The military themselves recorded a video, saying that they were tired from manipulation at their expense.
I have not seen the video, I saw six or seven identical posts of active military personnel. This is the work of the Ministry of Stetsya (information policy – ed.), this is the work of Peter Poroshenko, who, under the guise of his status as supreme commander-in-chief, is trying to draw the army into solving his political problems.
People who are with us are all demobilized. They went to war at the most terrible time, in the spring and summer of 2014, when the army gave in, when Poroshenko registered offshore, when he, along with general staff, allowed the formation of Ilovaisky, and later Debaltsevsky “kettle”.
All these people are now citizens, not military, and in accordance with the law, they realize their right to peaceful protest, and indeed peaceful. But Poroshenko and his subordinates are trying to draw the army into a political confrontation, which is prohibited by law, the Constitution and the principles of democracy. Before him, Nicolae Ceausescu tried to do that, and it became the reason for his execution, because the army as a result sided with the people. I really would not want us to repeat those events.
And who finances the action under the Rada? It cannot be autonomous.
Vysvolennya (liberation) movement, who set up a camp on Grushevsky, became the main force of resistance and defense of the protest camp near the Verkhovna Rada. During the first month we reported every day how much money we collected in boxes, how much money came to the account of the volunteer organization that we provided on Facebook. For the first month it was about 450,000 UAH. Similarly, we will report for the second month. All this money was spent mainly on firewood, on insulation, on food, on communication, on the form, because it got colder, to compensate people who left their families at home. All this is completely open information. Plus, there is a lot of material assistance, not money, but in the form of products, firewood, and mats. Everything, as it was in the terrible times of 2014-2015. Society also supports the guys.
Can you admit that there were people paid for the action under the Parliament of Ukraine?
We were searching for them and kick them out. We kicked out so many drunk people. We kicked away so many people who came there for money. Our main problem is the integration of provocateurs into the camp. They come and say they support the action, they want to live there, and all of a sudden then they arrange conflicts with the National Guard or police, or they start drinking. The fight against provocateurs, who are integrated by the special services (still don’t know whose) is the biggest challenge. The most dangerous are those who pretend to be friendly, but act on someone’s task.
You said that the action is supported financially by people from all over Ukraine. But according to a survey of four companies for November, the action is supported by only 7.3%, and about 20 thousand people from all over Ukraine were interviewed then. What then is expediency, if this protest is not resonant?
Let’s count. If 40 million live in Ukraine, then 7% is about 3 million people, that’s a lot. Especially when it comes to thinking people, proactive, who are critical to the flow of disinformation. I am sure that there are enough forces in the society that already support us, and our support will grow. The last two rallies showed that the number of our like-minded people is already measured in thousands and tens of thousands. This is very inspiring. Now we have another task: not just to increase the number of people supporting us, but to organize ourselves. The tragedy of EuroMaidan was that it did not put forward new leaders and therefore was deceived. And our task is to show new leaders in the struggle.
As far as I understand, it was funny to everyone, maybe through tears, when they heard the charges, accusations of intent. I think that everyone will agree with me that if Mikhail Saakashvili stayed in Odessa as the head of the regional administration, praised Petr Alekseevich as a fine president, a good friend, he would now be sprinkled with titles, awards, titles of the reformer of the year and had no problems at all. This is a direct result of the fact that Mikhail Saakashvili began to denounce top corruption openly, oppose it and organize other people.
Is it worth consolidating with those deputies in the Parliament who are “true”?
We are trying. But there are very few of them. Among people’s deputies there are not many principled and active people. Therefore, we announced the creation of committees of national salvation in order to show new leaders. What Euromaidan did not do: he did not give Ukraine enough new leaders. A new revolution, which we need not as a shock, not as an escape of the next president, but as a change in the rules. It should give new leaders who will approve these rules, starting with themselves.
And the revolution in the capital, when there is a war in the east of the country, do you think this is correct?
I am categorically against street fighting, bloodshed. All the clashes were due to the fact that they attacked us. We have not captured any state institution, we live in tents in difficult weather. We stand for the rules. And those who fight against us propose arbitrariness. They provoke violence, and we stop it. You are right, during the war of independence we should be three times more careful. No one of us has the right to take risks with our own state.
And whom do you see as the real leader of the opposition forces? Who is the real Poroshenko’s competitor?
The real leader of the country will manifest themselves in the affairs and will be elected by the country. Fullstop. I believe that the position should be acquired in the struggle for the interests of society.
It is not so difficult to dismiss Poroshenko. He keeps himself in a car of lies with Kord, who is instead of Berkut. There are a lot of people who consider him a traitor. Not to mention that he betrayed what he promised us. The question is not in Poroshenko. The question is that an alternative should be created so that people can see the real leaders among themselves and delegate power to them.
You have already said partially, but what are the main reasons why there has not been a radical renewal of power since Euromaidan, the oligarchy has remained, and the opposition has not become a real opposition to the authorities?
Three reasons. First: during the Euromaidan the society did not put forward leaders. The second reason: because the leadership in Euromaidan, after the dispersal of students, captured politicians who pretended to be opposition to Yanukovych, but in fact they were just his junior partners and we now feel this on ourselves.
And the third reason: we were naive. The society did not understand what to dismiss someone it is only half the battle. Whom to choose instead, which rules to introduce in the first days after the revolution. This all was not ready. People chanted “lustration”, but what does lustration mean? How should it be performed? We began to do this in March, after the victory, which began to turn into a defeat from the first day. The appointment of Yatsenyuk as prime minister was a defeat. The formation of the new majority by half from the people of Yanukovych – was a defeat. The election of President Poroshenko (we later learned that Firtash had agreed on this with Klitschko in Vienna) was a defeat.
Here’s the reason why we lost. The society was not ready at the time of Euromaidan to nominate new leaders and there were no rules that it wanted to introduce. We are now preparing, as I call this, plan of liberation, a set of dozens of laws that will definitely need to be accepted in the first days after the victory. The creation of an anti-corruption court will undoubtedly be one of the first.
Image credits: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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