17:56 11.02.2020

Zelensky: "Power is an opportunity. I have the chance to help."

33 min read
Zelensky: "Power is an opportunity. I have the chance to help."

Interfax-Ukraine's exclusive interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Was it difficult day?

The last easy day I had was before I declared I would run for president. It's a new life for me now. I'm not complaining. It's just that it's more complicated now. Everything has changed, even in the morning. The morning comes earlier, the evening comes later and the day is longer. I am taking it day by day.

How long do you sleep?

Six hours. Maximum. That's the right amount, as I understand that I am not completely at rest. My brain is not resting.

What should a leader be like in your opinion? Are you trying to solve everything yourself, or are you able to delegate authority to others?

To delegate authority is the right thing. But this is something that is not happening to me to the fullest extent. Both the president, the Office of the President and the public must get used to it. Because society says, 'We don't have the snow shoveled here, Mr. President, please do something about it.' Society expects decisions that you, under the Constitution, must hand over to the government. I conveyed them, but the situation in the country is that for many years the mechanism called 'the state' has not been working systematically. Everything was always in manual or telephone mode. In principle, this is what the government should do. We will get there. For sure.

Now it is difficult for everyone. Only if you remove the person in charge, he is replaced by the acting director, who was first deputy director. The whole vertical is made so that in public institutions people are halfway in the commercial sector. Before, everything was clear. The state company is run by a manager. He really runs an enterprise that really works. People get paid, but the state gets nothing. You remove the head, and he sues and comes back. We are breaking this system. State-owned companies should benefit the state, society and Ukrainians. They must be modernized, efficient, pay salaries and taxes. And for this there is no need to steal. We need to kill the corruption that has taken root here for so many years.

I tell you clearly: at the highest level, we do not allow anyone to take a bribe. But medium-ranking officials still take bribes. Take, for example, Ukrspyrt. Higher management was changed, general reform began, but, by law, law-enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter the state distillery. There is a private guard with machine guns and they do not let anyone in. We are changing that. It's a step-by-step process, but something that needs to be done.

How do you feel about scandals involving MPs in your faction?

Badly. For me, if the deputy of our faction 'gets squeamish,' then I feel guilty. Because he is a member of the Servant of the People faction. But we cannot control all the deputies, all the majoritarian deputies. We said there would be a cleansing, and that we should do it. You must support all the honest, the strong, and peacefully part ways with others. It is enough to say calmly, 'You cannot be the face of the party.'

The story about the dog is very unpleasant. But in this case, let's see. I know him, I talked to him. He worked at our headquarters. He is a historian, a graduate student at Shevchenko University. A reasonable person, but very young. I always support young people, but we can see what could happen.

It's a different story with majoritarian deputies. I told myself, 'We take people from the people.' There is a region. Someone wants to run. They fill in their data. Let's check it, have it checked by our staff. Does it look correct? Yes, it's clean. Security clearance, Ministry of Internal Affairs, everything is clean. Before I went into politics, I couldn't imagine that a person could change his or her profile, their biography, for money. That is, some 'cleansed' their biographies. There are such people.

You called elections very quickly...

Yes. It was very quick. We wanted to hold elections under the new code. We did not want the first-past-the-post system. The picture should have been this way: open lists, no deputies elected by the first-past-the-post system, people know them. They did something for the region. We passed the Electoral Code. The amendments to the Constitution regarding the number of deputies have not been fully voted yet, and at first reading they barely gained votes.

I ask the deputies elected by the first-past-the-post system, 'Why didn't you vote? This is our promise, the one you from our party made in the list of the things we have to do that we have promised to society. They responded, 'We are afraid that you will dissolve the Verkhovna Rada.'

There was no desire to say, 'C'mon, let's get re-elected?'

Different thoughts come to mind. I told them that if we do everything we promised (no more), no one will dissolve anything. If you came just to become MPs, then we do not need such a Verkhovna Rada.

We must do everything we promised – to end the war, complete the state in a smartphone project, pass a new Electoral Code, a new tax system, and more.

Do you feel the influence of oligarchs on parliament, on your faction?

Even if we selected 450 ideal people – all honest, all decent, all new – big financial groups would have had an influence on them. In order to solve the problem, first, it is necessary to fight with the financial groups so that they do not have influence at the legislative level, and secondly, it takes selection, it takes time. I am in favor of reducing the number of MPs.

So reducing the number of MPs will make it easier to be elected?

Less risk, open lists, online elections. Voting online is not just because we are comfortable doing it. People who go online read about politicians, the situation in the country, and become more educated. And so it is more responsible to choose the leadership of the country in this way.

As for digital projects. The main problem is that it is difficult for people aged 40 and over.

People aged 40 and older are no worse than the young, they are not less stupid than the young, they are wiser. If you are 60, 65, you have a bunch of problems over the years that you solve every day. You're not surfing the Internet. However, we will explain that it is important to be more technological. We live in a time where we can't help but be online. On the other hand, we need people who have experience and understanding in various fields. Our government lacks a little of such people. As my father says, 'He may not be able to click on the Internet, but he has 40 years of experience and he knows where the pipe lies, because he put it there with his hands.' Such people should be involved.

Should there be a mix of different generations?

Exactly. A balance should be found. There should be a social contract. Young people need to learn, older people need to understand that without this energy, this mentality (and it is different) we will not change the country.

Do you enjoy being president?


What do you enjoy about it?

The responsibility.

That's not a plus, is it?

This is a plus for me. I want to help. The presidency gives me opportunities where I can do something every day so that I don't just live this day. I like it.

Do you like power?

Power is an opportunity. I have the opportunity to help. I can't make money, but I don't need it. I'm 42. I want to be in history.

Let me give you an example. I have bodyguards. I can't do anything about it. They would face criminal liability if something happens to me. I live in an apartment, long drive from home. And they are also close by. It is not only uncomfortable for us, the children, but uncomfortable for them. They are the same people. They say it's simple, they have to live in a residence. And here's what I think - if I move into a residence, people will think I'm the same as other presidents.

What is the president's Key Performance Indicators?

A difficult situation (laughs). I haven't been asked about it. The simplest is a presidential program. When you hire a manager for any job, you 'cut' the task. If you do not comply with the terms that you have agreed with the owner of a business, and then there are no questions – you are dismissed. It's usually all written in the contract. That is, if I am the president and the owner is the people of Ukraine, Ukraine hired you. And KPI is the program that people voted for.

I think so.

In principle, this is a normal approach. Moreover, it can even be a good bill to bind top executives of a country, a president, to KPI, and to see every year whether something changes according to the KPI.

The KPI inside of me… I really want our average salary to be the same as in Poland. I want to believe that in these four years and a little more we can fulfill this dream.

Why do I say so? Quite simply, there are already several million Ukrainians in Poland. And why will they come back? They need motivation, even if we have a little less wages than in Poland it is already normal. If they have 70% of Polish wages, I think the thought will still win that you want to be home and not go somewhere.

At the beginning of the war, Ukrainians proved that they would defend the country, no matter what. That is, they want to be in Ukraine, and they want to live in Ukraine. But they have to leave Ukraine. Here is this percentage of this compulsion. It should be reduced as soon as possible.

Tell me, what can be done so that the money they, those who work abroad, send is used as an investment resource, and there are a lot of them?

We set the tasks for the National Bank and the Ministry of Finance. I told them that we would rely on large and medium-sized investors. Two $10+ million and $100+ million programs to save and attract investment have already been developed. These programs are already starting to function.

But I understand, I know, that any country is based on the middle class. So I was promised by the end of February to address two major issues to help our middle class, to return those who left, and to ultimately build our strong middle class. The first question is how to make it profitable for our employees to have everything they earned there taxed. There needs to be an improvement in this system, easing of tax policy. And further to make it profitable for them to do something here, to invest money in the state.

And the second is a mortgage. Everything is very simple and primitive. The government and the National Bank are already working on lowering the interest rate. By September, the mortgage can be 10%. This is a very difficult task, but already a real one.

Investment is hindered by the judicial system...

The judicial system is such a 'wound that does not heal.' Sometimes there is a virus in the body that the wounds do not heal. Only a complete reboot of this system can work. Moreover, there is no proper restart procedure. Therefore, we will apply arbitration to investors so that they are independent of the Ukrainian court. We will do so until we restart the whole Ukrainian judicial system. There will be arbitration for investors. 100%, for sure, there will be.

What do you choose: exchange rate and price stability or economic growth?

Economic growth. Miners, teachers, doctors… We need to increase their salaries, yes. But there is a budget. What can we do with you? Where are the salaries and pensions increased? Increase budget taxes. We can't just print money.

We either have to build a system that we have not built before: tax, effective financing of various industries. Or we can feed people for one year, for example, give them all the money and close half of the infrastructure programs. We can. But in a year, everyone will want to eat at the same level. At the same time, by investing in the economy, in the infrastructure of the country we have the opportunity of having it growing, may be not by many times, but growing. Look, we already have results. 2019 started with a growth of 2.7% of GDP, and now it's 3.5%. The question is not in the GDP, but in the fact that the big machine starts working. From here we will have salaries, pensions, social assistance, investments, and new jobs. If we do not have them before, we are starting to build now. We plan to build ten times more roads than last year. This is a very ambitious goal.

Is Ukraine ready for the global challenges? For example, coronavirus...

Now, what we can definitely do quickly is support hospitals ... With the money after the arbitration decision from Naftogaz, we now have the opportunity to quickly make 220 hospital admissions units. We have several programs for buying ambulances we really buy many, very many. We want to see that in four or five years there will be confidence that we are not afraid of any viruses, we have modern hospitals, affordable medicine, insurance medicine. We want to see it all. Today, our ministry has not yet developed a fully-fledged health care model that would be understood by every Ukrainian ... understood by society. They have not done so yet. We monitor how they move and what they offer.

You work a lot with international financial institutions, with the IMF, the World Bank. How do you feel they are interested in Ukraine growing, or in giving back the money previously provided?

They are playing defense. They set the conditions not because they run the country, but because they want to protect their investments. It is not profitable for them to have something with the country, an unstable situation, because it is their money. And we should not use this money all our lives, but as much as it will be beneficial to us. For example, the International Monetary Fund ...

It's like a quality seal...

It's a signal. The IMF and the World Bank are a signal for everyone to enter the country and not be afraid. Many investors ask whether the IMF is there or not.

Some people from your own faction call your government the 'Soros installed government'

'Soros installed government,' yes, I know. I heard (laughs).

How do you feel about this formulation?

I am not familiar with a person named Soros. I have never met him. I'm definitely not one of that 'followers of Soros'. There are probably people who studied at the expense of various donor funds and worked for companies that were founded by such funds. And one of these funds is Soros Foundation. I understand that in fact they received money from the fund of this person for which they studied abroad. The question of the influence of Mr. Soros on Ukraine – I do not feel it. I think this is all an exaggeration.

I don't like when, for example, the government is identical, the same, the only one. This means that there is no other opinion. If there are no other thoughts, fatal errors can sometimes occur. That is, you need to hear different things, different forecasts, different risks.

Therefore, it seems to me that they must be different both 'pro-Soros' and 'anti-Soros' people, if you want to call them that.

How will they work together?

- We talked about KPI. They have to do their job... Now we have questions to some people about changes in government. The first thing we did: this government, they are all young people, were definitely not interested in taking bribes. That is, they have a completely different mentality. They are tuned to the process itself. Therefore, these people are definitely decent.

When someone says, 'Here, for example...'. And there are no 100% examples! Whatever country we take everywhere it has its particular nature, its mentality, its history and its conditions. For example, someone will accept English law, and then it did 'not take off.' We can look at concepts and see if they work for us or not, adapt them to us.

I think our model is young people with Western education, plus our experienced people, who understand the "apparatus," this vertical, understand what is happening "on earth", as they say. This combination can build the concept of our country.

Because everyone is saying what strategy do you see in your country?

People ask...

You know, to be honest, our task today in general is not to lose the country. Not to lose what we have. Because when you take each region, look inside it, what is going on in each of them... Donetsk and Luhansk – we realize, there is a war going on there.

So, I understand that our task for the years ahead is to put an end to the war. There are symbols around which the country can be united. It happens that a country unites when it is at war and a country unites in peace when the war is over.

When the war began, the country united, but lost its territories. Now, if peace is achieved, Ukraine has a change to become united in general. Everyone will live better when people are not being killed and the country is united. So, it is a symbol. As to peace in Donbas, it is not just about returning the territory and people, it is about not losing the country in general. I know that Ukrainians are striving for this.

What do you think about the law enforcement system, the work of various law enforcement agencies? Some time ago there was a popular theory that competition between them is a good thing. Do you think so too?

Competition is not a bad thing for the law enforcement system, but it depends what we are talking about. They have to unite their efforts in some cases. For example, when we closed illegal casinos or fuel stations, we needed that all of them – the prosecutor's office, the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] and the police – to consolidate their efforts.

I can see a lack of balance in the law enforcement system, and it is normal when the system is changing. If they manage to change it, it will mean that they did everything right. And if they fail, then, unfortunately, the lack of balance will not bring benefits to the state.

During the reboot of the Prosecutor General's Office they are facing the lack of prosecutors. They just do not have them. I think this is very dangerous.

The SBU is also having difficulties. The bill has not been considered, it is being drawn up. Everyone is arguing – the international and domestic experts. The reboot of the SBU has not been held yet.

The SBI [State Bureau of Investigations] is just starting. She [Acting Director of the SBI Iryna Venediktova] is also rebooting it, relaunching it. They complain about the SBI in many regions , about those who still remain [in office] there, who need a reboot. They also complain about the police, and the SBU, and the prosecutors.

However, everything is not so pessimistic. We have several cool signals. We have three or four regions where the head of the regional state administration, the SBU, the prosecutor and the police have created a real team and it is honest.

Do you regret that some time ago you were present at the Interior Ministry's presentation of the first results of the investigation into the murder of Pavlo Sheremet? Many people say that in such a way you made a "quality seal" on this very complicated and uneasy investigation.

This is a very complicated and high-profile case. I do not regret that I came, however I did not make any seals then. I said then that there are many factors. Some of them are serious, some are weaker... That is why I called them 'alleged' perpetrators, 'alleged' killers. We cannot say that they were the killers before a court ruling. I was very glad that we have put such a serious case into motions. If this is lies about the Sheremet case, if the court rules that the charges are not grounded enough and there is no sufficient evidence, then all law enforcers who were on it will at least apologize. They can apologize if it was just a mistake, and if there were some specific details, then it will be impossible to close such a case with only apologies.

By the way, if we have the same case on [Kherson activist Kateryna] Handziuk, I would also come. Because this is important to me. We promised to finish with all of these cases, find the paymasters and the killers during our term. We must do this.

And what about the Maidan cases? They say that evidences and documents were lost...

Evidence, documents were lost. There are no people, no witnesses. They say that much has been cleaned up on the scenes after this tragedy. The most complicated case in our country is the Maidan. These cases are the most complicated. I know for sure that they are working on them faster than several years before. It is not clear when they will find the paymasters, while it is more clear about the killers, - I cannot say. All forces are involved in these cases and we are doing the utmost.

Can you clarify the situation with the bill amending the Constitution regarding decentralization, which you proposed and then called it off? There was a response from mayors and our western partners.

We do not want to fight against the community, these are our people. Under the current conditions in the country, decentralization without strong prefects may result into a growth in separatist sentiments in some regions. However, I believe that we will manage to find a balance so that regions can have enough powers and work for the united country at the same time.

Why is it impossible to introduce a full ceasefire regime in Donbas? What do you think?

Unfortunately, I cannot say the whole truth to this question. I believe that we will achieve peace. I am really sure of this. Every day, starting from [the conclusion of] the Minsk Agreements, there were such political traps that could destroy your rating. But they have realized that I am not afraid to lose my rating.

After the latest meeting in the Normandy Format, in fact everyone, including [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, [President of France Emmanuel] Macron and the French ambassador implied that it was possible to change the Minsk Agreements. Do you see an opportunity, right now, after you have contacted with the Russian side and [President of Russia Vladimir] Putin, to correct them?

I call it “the flexibility of Minsk”. Everyone should understand. It seems to me that Germany and France understood this. I think I felt the mood that Russia is preparing to think over this. Unfortunately, it sounds complicated and in a diplomatic manner, but it is ready to think over this. This is at least a thread, an opportunity to talk about this – listen, the way it is written, it does not work. It either strongly outrages the community inside Ukraine or does not suit Russia very much or it does not match the principles of Germany and France which insist “let's do everything in line with the Minsk [Agreements].”

I think we have moved forward during the latest meeting. We did not cease fire, which is obviously a minus, however we exchanged people, which is a plus. Anyway this a kind of a balance. This is not a victory. A victory in the war is the end of the war. Peace is the victory for everyone. I am sure of this. To be honest, I do not know if Russia is sure of this, but I am. The end of the war is the victory for Russia. For them it is the victory not against Ukraine, but against themselves. I am sure.

The issue of Crimea is even more complicated. But we are also working on it. I cannot say more so far.

You met with Putin in Paris for the first time. Do you think he heard you?

I am sure that he understood me very transparently. I seems that when you have such an eye to eye contact, you immediately realize who is in front of you, what kind of a person. Despite all intelligence data. I think he understood me. And he understands that this war must be finished.

I am sure that they will not stop their attempts to generate new global ideas. However, the worst thing for Russia is its dissolution in the form in which it exists today. Escalation and seizure of such a large country as Ukraine is, I am sure, the only really dangerous step for Russia which may result onto a tough domestic conflict in Russia. These are my thoughts. I am not saying that I am a hundred percent right. But I think that is what can stop them.

Let us talk about elections on the occupied territories. Many people say that they could be held in October this year. Is it possible or not?

The local elections are one of the keys to the unity of the country. The local elections which take place simultaneously all over the territory of Ukraine and unite the country. Despite the fact that there is a political fight. It is a very important symbol to me. From the political viewpoint, we could even benefit if we hold the elections there earlier. That would mean that the war ends sooner as it is possible to hold the elections in Donbas only when military operations are over there and foreign military groups are withdrawn.

What is the likelihood? If we reach an agreement, we still will need at least around three month to ensure security for everyone there, including the press, the Central Election Commission and all observers. For some reason I believe that it is possible. I have such a sense.

Will it be clearer after April in Normandy?

I think so. We will agree on something already substantive there… If it happens again, let's just say, on the spot, the chances of local elections in October in the temporarily occupied territories will decrease substantially.

And then there will be another question about exchanging people, solving other current issues…

We have long lists [of detainees to be exchanged] there now. This has to stop. There are over 200 of us on that side, and here we have 175-180. And this means it's impossible to return all of them at once because the preparation of documents. Therefore, this process will be divided into several stages.

We are moving in this direction. But we have other things to do to end the war. This is already a matter of negotiation, not an interview.

Maybe, you just freeze this conflict?

And it will be no different from what is happening now. Of course, it is necessary to deploy troops. However, disengagement on the contact line is a long process that will take many, many years. So long that hardly any of Normandy's leaders will still be in office. So why take responsibility for delivering results we can't control? We need to agree on a quick disengagement. The status of a formally frozen conflict may in this case help deploy troops more quickly. But until we talk about it. The main thing to think about in this situation is about the people who live there in the war and those who have gone but want to return. There are many people in the occupied territory who don't want to be abandoned, and because of that, there is a duty to try to negotiate.

We all understand what Russia wants Russia is talking about rebuilding the Soviet Union, already in the modern, capitalized, less communist world. That is, an increase in territories or a 'return' of territories. Without Ukraine, they would not be able to come because it was the second largest country of the Soviet Union.

And what do you see the relations between Ukraine and Russia at the moment of the return of the occupied territories? Now what should they be? Of course, we need to deploy troops. However, there is a lot of discussion, going there. Should our athletes compete in Russia or not…?

I do not know how many years it takes to rebuild relations at the level they were before the war.

Is it even possible?

I think it is impossible for many people in the country. Here again, it's a question of generations. For future generations, perhaps. Definitely. Time heals wounds. For the current generation, I think the hardest thing is… But Russia itself can begin to address this issue today. If the presidents sat down at one table and decided by their example that, listen, this is no longer possible, enough, let's end the war. I mean just this level of conversation: listen, give it yourself, we are on our own. But if we have peace, then let's talk about pragmatic relationships.

And here in this pragmatics there will be relations between people when there is no war. That is, the Russians will not be greeted with bread-salt in Ukraine, but if they come, when we have peace, if they come, for example, to Truskavets, then they will be told, okay, pay money, live, please enjoy yourselves. These will be pragmatic economic relations. And what more steps need to be taken and how long it will take to meet you again as loved ones, I do not even imagine.

About our relations with the United States. You have done a lot to prevent Ukraine from becoming a bargaining chip in the game of various political forces there. Was it difficult?

It is very difficult… We have come out of this difficult situation in such a way that for the next ive years, at least, we will have serious normal relations with the United States, whose leader from any party would not win this election, whether it would be a Democratic Party candidate or the incumbent president. Donald Trump. We have not offended either side. We have not allowed ourselves to be drawn into a domestic political conflict in the United States. They all, I know. Both Democrats and Republicans will respect our behavior in this situation.

Borodiansky's well-known draft bill on disinformation prepared in principle on the basis of your decree, which instructed the Cabinet to draft a bill on standards and requirements for news, caused a serious reaction among journalists.

There are no plans for us to adopt any law in the near future in order to 'squeeze' or 'twist' journalists. So much has been invented about us. I am very liberal about television, journalism, because my former profession is very much connected with it. I have no desire to interfere with the honest work of journalists.

'Fakes' are another question. The main problem with misinformation is that it contributes to the split of our country. Some platforms, some beneficiaries, non-Ukrainian, from different parts of the world, at any cost, do the dirty work. This is politics, such an aggressive media policy. Against such people, against such platforms there should be some reprisal, some sanctions. I am saying that there are systematic platforms of misinformation against Ukraine that affect public health and create strife. Propaganda if you like. And this law does not apply to an individual, a journalist who once made a mistake. All civilized countries are now fighting misinformation and fakes. The United States and the United Kingdom were the first to allocate significant funds, hundreds of millions of dollars, to combat misinformation. And we have to think about that too. Because these are the challenges of today, and we must be prepared for them.

In Ukraine, this is now a real business, a very serious business. Bot farms are a problem, whatever they are: for white or black, there is no difference. Because those who stand up for social networks today, such as Ukraine's independence, tomorrow may be against it. Because they just make money on it. Therefore, we must fight against such things. For the independence of the country, the independence of the individual, human rights must be fought in any way.

Do you read Telegram channels?

I personally do not read Telegram channels. I have opened Telegram channels several times. This 'Joker' appeared, and the 'Dark Knight,' and 'Legitimniy.' First, I can't read anything where every sentence has terrible grammatical errors. I find it unpleasant, to tell you the truth. Secondly, there is some chaos in general, something people invent, write about some of our meetings, some weird things. This chaos greatly affects the information field, creates chaos in the minds, doubts, negative emotions.

Journalism is another matter. Honest journalism is a thrill. Journalism is respectful, journalism is a strong alternative power. It is such a separate part of people's thinking. I have always treated this with respect. And to me, with all due respect to some bloggers, it seems that any people who take their phone today and become 'journalists' have generally polluted the profession. This is my vision. At the same time, we have freedom of expression, and I insist that it should be at a high level.

However, everyone will agree that not all the people who take the pen - today it is a blog or a Telegram channel - are journalists. And I can draw a parallel: if anyone who took a scalpel in surgery had the right to operate, there would be a lot of casualties. In journalism, victims are harder to see, but they are there. These are the people who can't get their reputation back. A person who was not a professional worked with them, but he or she had this scalpel in his or her hands. The destruction of any profession always occurs when a layman comes there. And as their numbers grow, the profession is destroyed, because trust is lost.

After searches on the premises of the editorial office of the program "Secret Materials" of the TV channel "1+1", there were thoughts that it could lead to your new conflict with the owner of "1+1 media" Ihor Kolomoisky. Didn't you think about that?

I have so many conflicts with everyone that, you know, plus one, 1+1 (smiles)… is such a story.

No, I have respect… I love this channel. By the way, our product has been aired there and it's a long relationship. This does not apply to the situation in the SBU [State Security Service] with Sasha Dubinsky's employees. I think we there should be separation. Well, there will be conflict - what can I do?

There are still questions about customers, as we understand it, and not just about contractors?

- So. There's the first main question who ordered it, the second - who did it, and the third - who posted the information. This node needs to be untied.

Is there a point of view that you only work with people you trust and have known for a long time?

I think it's true by 10%. Because looking at who I work with, these are different people: who I work with and who I trust. If we talk to who I work with, then in the President's Office, I have two or three people I've known for a long time. We started working with others either during the election campaign, or after they won, to get acquainted with whether, even when we were not there, they still worked in the Presidential Administration.

What about trust?

With confidence it is more difficult. Why? In principle, I probably do not trust for a long time, but then, when I have already believed a person, no one can convince me that this is a bad person, that he or she is doing something bad, something wrong. It is very difficult for me to part with people, very difficult.

In the government there was the only minister I knew from the university. And then after university I didn't see her. That is not my person. Olena Babak. We were just studying in one university, so we knew each other. I have known Volodymyr Borodiansky for the last few years on television, and we did not even have any joint programs for STB, that is, we had no business interests.

How long does it take you to understand whether it is your person or not?

I met my future wife of eight years. I think that's the answer to your question (laughs). This is my closest person. That's all. You see, then I don't let go (laughs).

Are there conflicts in your team right now?

There are conflicts.

Are they natural or do they already interfere with work?

They interfere with work. I am always against such conflicts, because they have no winners and no draws. Unfortunately. So we waste time or lose people. And everyone who works in the Office, they are all professional people. That is, we will lose one hundred percent of someone. Because you can't live in constant conflict. That's all.

Are your team members and friends the same people or not?

A friend is more. And we each have friends, and I have some out of this work. For me, very close friends are the guys from the Quarter, because I lived with them for 15, 20, with someone - 25 years. I may not even see them for six months.

Has anything changed in your relationship?

There's just no time. These are my close friends, I have gone with them my way, a great way, for me and for them. And we will always remain friends.

The team now has people who have become my friends or, say, close friends. Not because I'm so ambitious, no, I just call them "my loved ones." Yes it is. They are not friends yet because I told you the truth: for me, a friend is somone who has been with me for many, many years.