“I did not go myself. I was forced to go”
On Monday night, November 21, the news came that Dmytro Kiva, General Designer at Antonov state enterprise, left the office and was going to depart from Ukraine.
The news first appeared on Russian information resources.
The Russian media wrote that Kiva has “reluctantly moved from Kyiv to Baku, where he is going to create the Azerbaijani aviation industry.”
“Indeed, I made this decision. It was quite deliberate. I hope I can implement aviation projects in the interests of Azerbaijan,” Kiva was cited by Rambler News Service, a Russian agency.
Russian media have immediately inflated the news to present it as some kind of disaster for Ukraine. Numerous Russian experts have commented on Kiva’s retirement as the “death” of Ukrainian aircraft industry.
Ukrainian media – with the exception of some websites such as Press of Ukraine or Censor.net – remained silent yesterday.
The Day asked the press service of Antonov for an explanation: did Dmytro Kiva actually resign, or was it a fake? The enterprise’s website and official Facebook page did not publish a word about the dismissal of its long-time director and chief designer.
“We have news on our website that the office of general constructor has been eliminated” – such was a “restrained” phone answer by the press office. “We will not comment on resignation of Dmytro Kiva.”
Then we called Kiva himself (see below for an exclusive short interview) to understand the reason for this unexpected decision.
When Kiva explained that he thought President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko himself to have been interested in his resignation, we called to the Presidential Administration. Their answer was a standard one – we should submit a formal written request. We did. Now we are waiting for the response, which we will publish as soon as we get it.
By the way, at the time this article went to print, there have been no official position published – either from Ukroboronprom, the government or the parliament – on the resignation of Ukraine’s leading aviation engineer.
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day
We phoned Dmytro Kiva immediately as we had heard about him moving to Azerbaijan. Kiva withheld a 30-second pause before agreeing to talk with us about his decision to leave Antonov. We could hear from his voice, that this situation shook him – a 74-year-old man with extensive experience in aircraft design – deep in his soul.
Overall 52 years of his life Dmytro Kiva had worked at Antonov, 30 of them as the chief constructor.
During this time he, according to experts and colleagues, made an outstanding contribution to the development of aircraft designs. Kiva developed military-transport aircrafts An-70 and An-178; passenger aircrafts An-148 and An-158; and a regional passenger aircraft An-140.
It is only remarkable that Ukraine lost its leading aircraft designer because of “instructions from the top” – and it became known on the Day of Dignity and Freedom.
Dmyro, tell us please, why did you leave Antonov?
“They say there was an order... No reasons were given personally to me...”
So, it was not your decision, was it? Were you fired?
“No... I have been said that there was an order from the top. The same was in 2015, when I was released from the post of director of Antonov state enterprise [the decision to dismiss him had been made by Ukroboronprom, because the concern is now the parent company of Antonov. – Ed.]. Then I wrote the letter of resignation myself, for they had convinced me that they made two separate offices. Like, I would remain General Designer, and other people, who were better at it, would deal with finance and commerce. And so I agreed.
“Now it is the second time I am told that ‘there is an order from the top.’ To which I replied, that they had deceived me back then, and I would not write any statements this time. After that they issued the decree to eliminate the office of General Designer. And because the position is no more, I have nothing to do formally. I was offered a list of jobs to choose from, ranging from electronics engineer to designer. The highest post they offered me was head of sector...
“I said I would not sue them. If they don’t need me, I would resign myself and leave.”
And do you know who is this one “on the top”?
“Yes. The first person of the state. He personally came to Antonov to present a new director. And then I have been told that it was his instruction – to remove me and put Hvozdiov in charge.
“Of course, I cannot be completely certain of this. I have been told so. But the fact that the president personally visited the factory to present the new manager means that he at least knows about the situation.”
Did the president tell you anything personally?
“He shook hands with me and said thank you for understanding… (laughs) What ‘understanding’? I do not understand.”
And why would the president intervene in the work of Antonov? Have you noticed anything unusual in the company during this past year, since the new leadership came? Is Antonov being prepared for something?
“I had worked at Antonov for 52 years...
“This is my personal opinion, but I think that it is being prepared that it would be no longer. For it is not managed by experts. It was said in the Soviet times that a cook can manage the state... And here we have a high-tech enterprise managed by... let’s say... not professionals. Maybe they are good managers, in some other areas, but I haven’t heard of their successes, and I didn’t see any during this last year at Antonov...”
What are you going to do in Baku?
“Many countries with large reserves of natural resources are investing in high technology. Because leaders of these countries understand that the minerals – oil, gas, etc. – will run out sooner or later. It is necessary to prepare the state to high technology. It is the only way the country has a chance for the future.
“High technology develops the nation. The state that has a well-developed high-tech industry will have a society with high intellectual potential.
“So, smart leaders of resource-rich countries invest in technology the funds received from the production and sale of minerals. The areas of such investments are diverse: electronics, bioengineering, space technology, aviation...”
So, you are invited to lay the foundation for the development of aviation in Azerbaijan?
“Having the relevant experience and training, I am working on the organization of such work.
“I am a patriot of my company. I did not leave myself. I was forced to leave, when my position was eliminated. And then, I am a patriot of Ukraine. I have always been one, and I will be a patriot of Ukraine. On Maidan, many good people were killed. I thought everything would be different... but unfortunately it isn’t.”