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Vakhtang Kipiani: “Georgian-Ukrainian Relations Shall Get either Frozen or Delayed”

February 4, 2010

Here is an interview with famous Ukrainian journalist, head of project “Top Hundred” and deputy editor-in-chief of the TV-Company TBi Vakhtang Kipiani.

-Mr. Vakhtang, how do you evaluate the first round of presidential elections in Ukraine?

-The first round finished with the results which were predicted long before. Nobody suspected that principle fights should start between Ianukovich and Timoshenko. People also argued about the candidate who would occupy the third place and they supposed it would be young politician Iatseniuk or current president Iushchenko. However, as we have witnessed, former head of National Bank, billionaire Sergei Togopko occupied the third place. Now, Togipko shall decide instead people who the next president of the Ukraine will be because he gained 13 % of votes. If he calls upon his supporters in the last days to vote for any of the remaining two candidates, it will definitely play very important role in the victory of the candidate. It is noteworthy, that many other candidates played only technical role in the elections: part of them supported Timoshenko while others supported Ianukovich and even Iushchenko. We can say that the elections were very democratic. Reports of international organizations, who observed the elections, prove the same. We can say that it was good because Ukraine can hold fair elections; though it is bad because Ukrainian people do not know the candidates very well.

-What are the expectations in the Ukraine about election of either Timoshenko or Ianukovich?

-there are no particular expectations because both of them will leave the country in the same deadlock where it has been stuck for past several years already; elections cannot resolve these problems for the Ukraine. Unfortunately, we will face a new stage of tension, deep political and economical crisis.

-Ukraine is particularly important partner state for Georgia. Consequently, Tbilisi is also very attentive about the elections in the Ukraine. How do you think, will the relationship between Georgia and Ukraine change after a new president is elected?

-I think, during the presidency of Iushchenko, there was perfect relationship between Georgia and Ukraine. Now, whoever wins the elections – Timoshenko or Ianukovich, these relations will either get frozen or delayed because Ianukovich represents pro-Russian political party which demonstrates particular favor towards Russia, Putin, Medvedev and “Edinaia Rosia”. During Russian-Georgian war in 2008 Ianukovich’s party “Regions” demanded to recognize the independence of de-facto governments. In fact, it is political power which can be considered to be anti-Georgian. Thus, if Ianukovich wins the elections, general governmental vertical shall be changed and it will have negative influence on Georgian-Ukrainian relationship which will lead to complete collapse.

As for Timoshenko, if she wins the elections, the situation will be a bit delayed because she has some sentiments towards Saakashvili and government because they supported her in the elections. Besides that, she is very pragmatic person and if she does not receive important political and economical support from Georgia, she is unlikely to be very attentive about Georgia. At least, she will not be as attentive as Iushchenko was. For example, Timoshenko and Ianukovich will never behave like Iushchenko did during Russian-Georgian war when he left everything and arrived in Georgia in order to support western leaders and protect territorial integrity of Georgia. Timoshenko is more pragmatic and cynic politician than Iushchenko. However, I think, relations between two countries shall not face problems during the next president either.

-You recalled the statements of the political party”Region” during August war. Can we expect the Ukraine to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if Ianukovich becomes the president?

-I think, political decisions shall not be made because it will cause deep political crisis in the Ukraine. The point is that Ukraine also has similar problems. Recognition of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia means that several years later, other states will recognize the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In this view, even those politicians, who give similar promises in public, do not make similar statements for their voters but for Russian establishment. More precisely, on this stage, they will declare it formally and I am sure official recognition will not happen. However, it will have negative influence on the relation between Georgia and Ukraine.

-I want to ask a question about the scandal about Georgian observers. How do you think, why were not they registered in fact?

-If everything was done correctly, the scandal would not have happened. The point is that, political elite of the eastern Ukraine – Donetsk, is very isolated. Foreigners do not visit this region. During elections, only one party gains 70 % of votes and the winning party rules this region. Consequently, attempt of foreigners to observe elections in Donetsk always causes aggression and tension. Georgian observers turned up in Donetsk. I think everything was done incorrectly by Georgian organizers who sent those people in this region. They really looked like a group of physically strong people who wanted to fail elections. If they had not arrived only in one region, stark anti-Georgian campaign would not have started. The fact that those people were not registered was really violation. However, on the other hand, based on the provided data, Ukrainian officials did not know who they were. Most Georgian observers did not indicate their working place in the documents and wrote different reasons of their arrival. More precisely, they were not ready to have common position. “We are observers and we have experience in this field.” If everything was done correctly, I think scandal would not have happened.

-After the Supreme Rada of the Ukraine fired minister of internal affairs Iuri Lutsenko, he announced about the plot planned by Georgian observers and Ukrainian political party “Regions.” More precisely, he said that Georgian people also participated in the detention of polygraph factory. What do you think about the fact that Georgian observers were blamed in the violation by the politician who supports Timoshenko?

-Lutsenko is not a politician with a high sense of responsibility. I do not know why he made similar statement, but for me personally, as a reader and a citizen who watches political processes carefully, involvement of Georgian observers in the controversy between Ianukovich and Timoshenko is completely unclear. If it was attempt of Lutsenko to gain some points in order to be invited by TV-companies, it was at least irresponsibility from his side. But if Georgian observers really took part in this incident, then Lutskenko had to act in accordance to the law and arrest them or provide more proofs during public statement. However, former minister has neither provided any proofs nor detained anybody. Consequently, I can say that he is a talkative person and does not have right to speak about similar issues. Lutsenko was bad minister and he was fired for this reason. The fact that he was protégé of Timoshenko was not profitable for Timoshenko; just the opposite she lost some votes for it.

News Agency “Pirveli”