Lutsenko: In autumn government of credits should turn into government of investments
An exclusive interview with Head of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko faction Yuriy Lutsenko
Question: Last plenary week, the Verkhovna Rada terminated a number of agreements with Russia on military cooperation. Why did it happen one year after Crimea's annexation and the beginning of the aggression?
Answer: Unfortunately, the answer to this question is complicated. Ukraine is building the state apparatus only now. It concerns all the branches of power. In fact, we had a semicolonial administration, and people don't have institutional knowledge to execute preparatory functions when authorities are changing.
The parliament simply didn't fully analyze the whole complex of relations with Russia.
Some MPs noticed that we still had those laws. [Head of the Radical Party's faction Oleh] Liashko told about it at the coalition's meeting. Everybody, of course, said that [the laws] should have been denounced long ago, and voted [accordingly].
A lot of similar issues haven't been considered yet and remain unresolved, taking into account Russia's status as an aggressor country.
Question: Which, in particular?
Answer: I'm not ready to say. To do that one needs to sit down and profoundly analyze the whole complex of relations connecting us, all the regulatory acts. Not only MPs, but also professional staff of relevant committees, assistants and public have to work to do that,
For now, unfortunately, our emotions prevail over professional everyday work. It's a childhood disease of every country escaping its semicolonial status.
Question: Denunciation of the agreement on transit of Russian military formations to Moldova is very painful to Russia. Do we understand the consequences of this decision?
Answer: Yes, we do. Ukraine can win this war only in cooperation with western democracies.
Moldova is a part of the civilized world's front against Russian aggression. Moldova and Ukraine might be the closest allies that understand and feel the consequences of Russia's actions, we must help each other.
It's a completely right law and a well-judged action. It wasn't spontaneous, it was calculated. The issue was agreed with the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, National Security and Defense Council and other agencies. When one deals with a strong predator, two things must be done: evaluating his powers and looking for allies. This is what has been done in this case.
Question: The Verkhovna Rada has in fact started reforming interior agencies. When will Ukrainians feel the results of this reform?
Answer: One of the key moments is that the law on the national police finally clearly describes all the complex of police actions, i.e. what a policeman has a right to do to a citizen, how he [policeman] stops, detains, searches him [citizen], how [policeman] gets into a building, uses force or weapons.
Earlier, it all was stated in a decree of the Cabinet of Ministers, violation of which led to official liability. Today, a policeman that will hit a person into a collarbone or head with a rubber hose, use a sound and flash grenade in the crowd without warning, will violate the law, which leads to criminal liability.
Yes, the law foresees rather broad rights for policemen, however also clearly outlines [policemen's] obligations and responsibilities.
The second revolutionary thing is that the law grants the right to members of relevant councils, with the majority of votes, to pass a motion of no confidence in any employee of current public security police. That leaves out criminal investigation and investigatory [departments]. But the rest – patrol, road traffic police, district police offices, inspectors - can be [a subject] to the non-confidence motion.
Question: Some coalition's factions have been criticizing the coalition government more and more lately. Is there a crisis in the parliamentary majority?
Answer: It is not a crisis. Thing is there's no opposition in Ukrainian parliament. The bloc, calling itself opposition, isn't opposition. It doesn't perform its function. The opposition's function is not to wait for a recoup but to be a creative and criticizing force. This function must be a part of a viable parliament, if it's not a parliament created [to suit] a dictator.
So both the authorities and the opposition turned out to be within the coalition. Thus, two large factions undertook pro-government functions, while three factions perform the function of the opposition and [still] vote for [those in] power. It's an unbelievable situation. It's possible only in the child's state of Ukraine's nation, but this is how it is.
The recent debates in the collation were caused by the fact that unfortunately the coalition council hadn't gathered for over a month.
As we didn't argue each other at the coalition meetings behind the closed doors, [the arguments] inevitably found their way to all talk shows and then Verkhovna Rada's hall. It led to a certain relation's crisis.
We must meet to have it out, among other things. These are very hot debates, sometimes they cross the boundaries of a calm conversation. However, it's important that this be the way we must make arrangements instead of taking debates out to a talk show or [parliament's] hall.
If you paid attention, last two weeks were super-productive. That's because the coalition council started working.
Question: What's the likelihood of the coalition being reformed?
Answer: Who needs it? Reforming the coalition definitely leads to reforming the government. Do we understand it? Does anybody want to do that? Yes. They are talking about it. Can they achieve it? No, until they say what kind of government they want.
Today, everybody who is criticizing [Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatseniuk's government, can't say what they are offering. Who will be the Premier, Finance Minister, Energy Minister, [occupy] other important official positions?
I'd note that for now, not a single political force has answers about a new team.
Question: In hard times, the trust in political forces in power declines, while trust in others that are allegedly in power too rises…
Answer: Our closed polls shows that people with critical attitude to current authorities still don't trust the previous government.
Recently the ratings have changed. One month ago everything was a bit different. Why did it happen? Because, coalition's quasi-positional factions that got into populist declamations have gained people's support. This is true. They felt it. Politicians that couldn't find their messages found them. That's why the picture will now change in front of us.
Question: And one day the might happen to gain from early elections… Answer: Of course, every politician is interested in ratings. But I put them only on the third place. First of all, I'm interested in country's results, then – cooperation, and only then our party's ratings. If someone from 4% got 8%, it's surely a colossal achievement by the party. But of it happens at the cost of ruining reforms, breakup of coalition and government, and new parliamentary elections – it's an unacceptable price for me. I'm ready to lose all ratings, but this parliament must finish its reforms. And when we're told that there are no reforms, it's lies. The laws are being adopted, but there are issues with their realization. Thus the talk about changes in the government has its basis. I note: not a change of the government, but a change in the government. MPs have problems with certain ministers that despite the adopted laws failed to fully implement them. This is true. I think such reformation will happen. I think that big personnel changes will take place in autumn. In autumn, the government of credits must turn into the government of investments. However, I suppose that some personnel decisions can be made by the end of this session, some ministers can be substituted. Question: But under which law and which system will the local elections be held? Answer: We must quickly adopt the law on local elections. Not for Europe. For Ukraine. We have an option. It's based on the so-called "German model" of open lists. We stopped on it, together with our coalition colleagues we're working on the possibility of its gaining support not only by our faction. The bill will be brought in not by politicians, but by experienced workers of election campaigns, monitors at previous elections. There are such people both in our and other factions. We're planning for them to bring the document in [the parliament]. This variant of the documents has been proposed to the Radical party, Samopomich and People's Front. Batkivschyna has another bill that they have already registered. Clean party lists. I think there are certain risks in it – people won't see their deputies. We're close to the model, when parties nominate candidates in every constituency. Some of them win and can become MPs, if their party overcomes a threshold. It's supposed to eliminate one-day parties with strange names. Then a candidate gets into the party list based on the number of gained votes. Thus, if party members win the elections with the results of 40%, 50% and 70%, the party will first of all bring the candidate with 70% to the local council, and the rest – in descending order. Thus, there's a stimulus not only to win the elections but also get the best result for party and oneself. Question: If amendments to the Constitution are made after the elections, will the election of local authorities have to be held once again in accordance with the new Constitution? Answer: We still have an opportunity to adopt the constitution before the local elections. In theory it's still possible. Two votes must be made during this session to send [the Constitution] to the Constitutional Court and the Venice Commission, which will allow supporting it with 300 votes in autumn before the local elections. It would be an ideal option so that people could elect deputes based on their new powers. If not, I don't think Ukraine has a luxury of reelecting deputies in a month. I think that when voting people will keep in mind the draft of the constitution that will be known by then. With a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada, MPs, possibly, will foresee that the elections will be held with taking into account the future powers defined by the Constitution. Anyway, we must conduct the decentralization. We'll get enough votes for that. It's a key to all reforms, without which we won't be able to give the country a chance. I would say that conducting decentralization is the only strategic goal holding the whole coalition together. Of course, everyone has their own vision of it. Question: What's your opinion on holding a referendum on key issues including the state structure in autumn? Answer: My opinion is positive. In the post-Maidan state, the country finally received various and real information about the EU, NATO and other issues. Therefore, a referendum can be held as a referendum, not a manipulation. We can suggest basic issues on the state structure and foreign policy to people. I think such a referendum will be useful. Question: Simultaneously with local elections? Answer: Possibly. Question: Have you discussed the suggestions by "DPR/LPR" on the amendments to the Constitution in the Constitutional Commission? Answer: No. The Constitution has been written for the unified and peaceful Ukraine. But we understand that the situation with the occupied territories is different. Crimea's special status led to Crimean separatism and then annexation. If such a status had been foreseen for any other region, it would have led to the same result. I'm against ranging one region against others. If this special status is provided to all the regions, which is called decentralization, I support it. Parts of one country can't be treated differently. However, there's the fact of occupation. One of the possible questions at the referendum is people's attitude to giving the temporarily occupied territories a special status. People must make a decision – to pay with dozen thousands of our soldiers' lives for Donbas' liberation, or block the cancer tumor and treat it with economic methods. I stand for the second option: we recognize that the occupied part of Luhansk and Donets regions, one third of Ukrainian Donbas, has a special status of relations with Ukraine. It means that they have a special regime of relations with Ukraine in economic, social, political, culture and any other [aspect of] life. It's a temporary status. But seeing these territories as a regular region seems impossible today. Question: Are these regions going to be a part of Ukraine legally? Answer: Legally they are parts of Ukraine. But they have a temporary special status. Until shots are fired, there will be a special status. How will these peculiarities manifest? Perhaps, it will be regulated by the laws: the election law, the law on free economic zone, etc. My position is simple: there's a wall, the occupied part is blocked behind it. According to our Finance Ministry, the war costs $5-7 million a day. I think there must be a serious block with three defense lines, a Ukrainian wall with the entrance for the humanitarian aid costing the same amount of money. If there are spare $4-5 million, there must be a huge line of Ukrainian humanitarian aid only for disabled Ukrainians on the occupied territories. All the rest – want to buy something? There are wholesale stores with prices for the occupied territories. One can't pay Ukrainian prices for food and shoot from Russian weapons. Another issue. There are 1.2 million IDPs registered, social services counted 500,000 in Ukraine. Where are the rest? [They] came back home. IDPs must check in every week, then they will get material help. But [it has to be] a large sum of money instead of shameful UAH 800 they are receiving. Facts must be acknowledged. I'm personally not ready to attack Donbas at the cost of dozens lives. The wall, blockade and support of those considering themselves Ukrainians. But it must be indeed put to referendum, the people's opinion is very important here.