Vitali KLITSCHKO: “There will be a different generation of politicians in parliament”

On June 6 Vitali Klitschko received the James A. Farley Award for Honesty and Integrity in Boxing in the US. We had spoken shortly before that. “This is an honorary prize from American journalists,” Vitali Klitschko told The Day. “On June 6 New York will host the 87th award ceremony of the association of journalists who write about boxing. I will receive this award on behalf of my brother and myself.” While the Klitschko brothers’ brand continues to do Ukraine good and helps it win international fame, some events now underway in Kyiv are discrediting our state. The ruling Party of Regions managed to railroad the notorious language policy bill in the first reading against the backdrop of brawls in parliament, public rallies, protests of intellectuals, etc. Incidentally, we expect Euro-2012 to be Ukraine’s another top brand in the world. This is the subject of an interview with the UDAR party leader Vitali KLITSCHKO.

“THE LANGUAGE QUESTION IS THE QUESTON OF THIS COUNTRY’S IDENTIFICATION”

Parliament has passed the language bill in the first reading. You have already called this a “shameful event.” But what next? How are you going to resist it? Has the opposition taken counsel over this?

“One can make high-sounding statements, appeal to journalists and the public, but what will be the result? We have decided to go to politics actively and aggressively in order to correct all the mistakes the current leadership has done and to forestall such things happening again. Idle politicians always invoke the language question during election campaigns, thus drawing public attention away from the burning issues. They want to win the so-called prestige on a topic that disunites Ukrainian society. But we are sure the Ukrainians will come to the right conclusions, duly appraise these machinations, and, what is more, make the right choice. As a result, parliament will comprise an entirely new generation of politicians who will take quite a different attitude to people.”

You have been extensively touring the regions. What do people think about things, including the language?

“Any region, even a Russian-speaking one, agrees that the language question is the question of this country’s identification. Ukrainian should be the only official language. I have not yet come across the people who think otherwise. There is no language problem among the people today – this is a political card played by politicians.”

“I AM NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE TO CHERNOVETSKY”

Oleksandr Yefremov, leader of the Party of Regions’ parliamentary faction, has said they suggest that Kyiv mayoral elections be held in 2013. Would you comment on this?

“The current situation in Kyiv means destruction of local self-government and manipulation of the Kyivites’ awareness and the law. Elections to local councils were held nationwide, except for Kyiv, in 2010. The authorities are now speaking about 2013, but it remains to be seen whether these elections will be held next year because Bankova St. helmsmen are doing their utmost for a Party of Regions member to occupy the mayor’s chair and be 100-percent accountable to the president. Their goal is to put the elections on hold and boost [city administration head] Popov’s rating. The leadership wants him to represent Kyivites, but he in fact represents just one person – Viktor Yanukovych. The resignation of Chernovetsky is a subtle political game. We know that Chernovetsky will be doing his best not to end up behind bars. But it is easy to prove his offenses – if only there were a will to do so.

“Incidentally, a few days ago I lost a court case to Chernovetsky. Our ‘unbiased’ Pechersky Court ruled to satisfy Chernovetsky’s lawsuit against Klitschko to protect his honor, dignity, and reputation. Naturally, we are going to appeal. I can repeat the figures Mr. Popov revealed at a Kyiv City Council session: while Chernovetsky was the mayor, Kyiv lost 70 billion hryvnias. To say ‘lost’ is to put it mildly – we should call a spade a spade and say: land, real estate, etc., was plundered away. I am not going to apologize to Mr. Chernovetsky. What damage he did to Kyiv is common knowledge. Tellingly, neither Chernovetsky nor any other official has been held responsible. They have just bought themselves off. Today, unfortunately, money can buy any court decision.”

“IF THE STATE DOES NOT PROTECT PEOPLE, THEY WILL DO SO BY THEMSELVES”

This amply testifies to the situation in Ukrainian justice. For example, a guy from the village of Semypolky, who could no longer bear to be brutalized by a local policeman, defended himself with a rifle. In Nizhyn, a group of young people also had to take the law into their own hands in a face-off with drug barons. How can this tendency be reversed? How can the system of justice be corrected?

“Corruption has eaten away the entire state system, including justice. If there is no justice in the country, a modern society is out of the question. We should introduce not only the lustration of bureaucrats, but also the 100-percent replacement of the judges who have handed down odious rulings. The Zvarych case could only occur in a country, where there is mutual cover-up. He was obviously not the only one to have taken bribes. Ukrainian justice is politically motivated, biased, and corrupt. The grassroots are losing trust in the system of justice. The examples you cited is the ultimate stage. If the state does not protect people, they will do so by themselves.”

The Party of Regions often resorts to the use of force when it makes its decisions. How are you going to resist this system?

“Within the limits of the law. If we fail to resist within the limits of the law, this may cause things of a different nature, of which I wouldn’t like to speak. It is very dangerous. It is not only my opinion – it is the opinion of the people I meet every day all over the country. The people want to know a different thing: why is there no work, social security, etc.? They are saying: we have no future, so there are only two options left: to emigrate from this country or to defend ourselves ‘with a pitchfork in hand.’ I hate this scenario to happen, but this what the grassroots are saying.”

How are you going to uphold the election results?

“We have invited international observers and are training our own monitors. We are doing our best to ward off rigging. We suggested to the Dictatorship Resistance Committee that we form a committee to protect the elections. We need at least 64,000 observers. This being a large number, we must engage civil society to protect ourselves.”

“OUR GUYS STAND GOOD CHANCES – TO QUALIFY FOR AT LEAST THE FINAL”

On the eve of Euro-2012, we are in a whirlwind of political events that are marring the feast…

“Euro-2012 is a chance to show our country to the whole world. Unfortunately, we are so far presenting Ukraine as one of the most corrupt countries with never-ending political scandals. When I travel across the world, I can always see articles on the imprisoned Ms. Tymoshenko on newspaper front pages. They write that we kill animals and that ordinary people is not the number-one concern for our politicians. What really matters to them is their personal rating, the rating of their party, and their personal gains. They promise a lot of things from election to election, but they do not deliver on their promises. Therefore, those who have flouted their promises must quit politics. We are taking part in the elections in order to replace them. The trust of people is very important for us. We cannot lose it.

“I really wish to attend the championship on the opening and closing days and, naturally, visit the matches of Ukraine’s national team. I will do my best to feel the sporting spirit at the stadium, not before a TV screen at home.”

What would you like to wish our team?

“There is so much talk today about the chances of one team or another. All I can say is that eight years ago, at the championship in Portugal, where the Netherlands, Germany, and England played, nobody could foresee the victory of Greece. As an athlete, I can say that everybody has the same chances in sport. The question is whether or not a team is able to make use of these chances. I wish our guys to be sure of themselves and believe in the victory. I am convinced that they stand good chances – to qualify for at least the final.”