Interview with Leonid Kuchma
Russia Today: You were the president of Ukraine for ten consecutive years, and during your time in office, there were no serious confrontations between political forces like we’re seeing now. What’s your take on the current political situation in Ukraine?
L.K.: No politician in both Ukraine and abroad can call the current situation a normal development of the country. I would describe it as a dead-end and it’s impossible to predict what will happen next. It destabilizes the political landscape and, as a result, the economy as well. Plus it damages the reputation of our politicians worldwide. I’m strongly against the current stalemate. And I believe that politicians are simply fighting for power, neglecting society’s interests.
RT: There’s a common opinion that the chaos in Ukraine’s politics happened due to some ideological schism between the East and the West of Ukraine. Do you think such concerns have any real weight?
L.K.: Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union we had no political elite in both parts. We had a technocratic political force in the east and nationalists in the west. Independence failed to quickly unite political forces of the Eastern and Western Ukraine. Though towards the end of my term, there was a lot less fighting between the two political forces, then we had presidential and parliamentary elections, which split the country in two. Now if you watch televised debates of the main political players, it’s impossible to see anything constructive in their language – there’s no dialogue. All they do is accuse each other of all possible sins, not worrying about their country.
RT: Do you think that the upcoming early election can somehow resolve the crisis?
L.K.: I don’t believe that early elections as a democratic tool will help Ukraine. The balance of powers will most likely stay the same – half the parliament from Eastern Ukraine, half from the West. Besides, the prime minister allowed the parliament to be dissolved, allowing such games to be possible in the future, if a certain political force isn’t satisfied with the results of the vote. So I think the elections will show that it’s not the solution for Ukraine.
RT: What is the solution then in your opinion?
L.K.: A wide coalition within parliament, I believe. The parties need to put their contradictions aside and work for the good of Ukraine. Let’s take the issue of the country’s accession to NATO for instance. Everybody knows that more than half of Ukraine’s population stands against it. And everybody knows that if Ukraine joins the organization, it will seriously damage its relationships with Russia. Both camps need to understand that we have no stable future without close ties with our big strategic neighbour – Russia.