The discussion of the sitting of the Supreme Rada on 5 March: „A criminal gang headed by President Kuchma acts in Ukraine“ (A. Zhyr)
Presenters: Zinoviy Friz and Yulia Zhmakina.
Guests: MP Aleksandr Zhir, the head of the Provisional investigation commission of the Supreme Rada for investigating Gongadzes case and other sensational crimes; Mykola Veresen, a journalist, a candidate to the Parliament from the election bloc „Komanda ozimogo pokolenija“ („The team of winter generation“).
Z. Friz: „At first let us discuss the events of this morning in the Supreme Rada. Our Kyivan colleague Viktor Meniaylo will tell what he saw and heard“.
V. Miniaylo: „The morning plenary sitting was lasting, but speaker Ivan Pliushch did not offer for voting the question about a special sitting of the Supreme Rada, and it seemed that he was not going to do it. To express his protest MP Aleksandr Elyashkevich occupied the rostrum“.
A. Elyashkevich: „If someone pretends that he does not understand what is happening, I repeat what I said yesterday at the conciliatory sitting: Kuchma is a murderer…“
I. Pliushch: „Thank you, the floor is given to MP…“
However, several deputies, who had enlisted to make a speech, asked to pass the floor to A. Elyashkevich.
A. Elyashkevich: „They do what they can to prevent Ukrainians learn the truth till 31 March. You will fail, Mr. Pliushch! That is I, who declare it! I will not leave the rostrum until the special sitting of the Supreme Rada is organized. You may carry me out bodily or kill me!“
I. Pliushch: „Switch off the mike. There are no reasons to hold a special sitting, since we have an approved schedule of the work of the Supreme Rada session. I publicly told O. Zhir that he had the time till 4 March to prepare the documents for a conciliatory sitting. Unfortunately, yesterday I got no such documents. At about 4 p. M. I received a document. Stepan Gavrish proposed to write a letter to A. Zhir to ask him, according to the regulations, to compile the agenda of this special sitting and, together with the regulation commission, to make the propositions to the Supreme Rada.
If those propositions were prepared, I would present them for your consideration and voting. Yet, we have nothing except the mentioned letter. What can you vote for?“
I. Sharov, party „Trudova Ukraina“: „Dear Mr. Pliushch, dear colleagues. In the beginning of this session the parliamentary fraction „For united Ukraine“ proposed to find such a from of cooperation in the parliament that would enable us to work only in districts, committees and fractions, because otherwise it was obvious that the work would degenerate to political squabbles, to „cassettes“ and to creating special investigating commissions.
That is why, Mr. Pliushch, I ask you to pass to work according to the agenda and regulations. Besides, I ask you to order to remove Elyashkevich from the rostrum.“
V. Miniaylo: „While peoples deputies were working according to the agenda and regulations, A. Elyashkevich, as the little tin soldier, was standing on the rostrum“.
Z. Friz: „The Internet newspaper „Ukrainska Pravda“, in the note „Zhir was not given 10 minutes for his speech“ wrote, in particular: „Deputies did not support the proposition to give the floor to Aleksandr Zhir, head of the Provisional investigation commission of the Supreme Rada for investigating Gongadzes case and other sensational crimes. The commission proposes today to hold the special sitting of the Supreme Rada“.
Mr. Zhir, you have had no chance today to say what you wanted. We, certainly, cannot give you 10 minutes, since we have too little transmitting time, but you have the opportunity to say what you wanted to say in the Supreme Rada. Please, do it.“
A. Zhir: „I would like to remind you of 12 February 2002, when the sitting of the Provisional investigating commission approved the decision that, in the case of positive results of the expertise of the tapes concerning Elyashkevich, the commission will approve another decision about raising the question on holding the special sitting of the Supreme Rada for considering the situation in the country.
Why it happened? First, we have obtained the results of the expertise. The expertise confirmed that in the talk between Kravchenko, the then Minister of Interior, and President Kuchma it was said that MP Elyashkevich must be beaten, and beaten so hard that he would never walk again.
Moreover, after it we have no doubts that the records are authentic. A criminal gang headed by President Kuchma acts in Ukraine.
We intended to speak not only about the records. Now I, as the head of the commission, receive a great number of letters from the whole Ukraine, thus obtaining the confirmation of the activities of this criminal gang.
For example, I got materials about bribes, which were taken by Minister of Interior Kravchenko and other persons from his clique. These facts are confirmed with the corresponding documents. I have already declared that I got enough testimony to prove that it is true. I have lots of such materials. They must be considered altogether. It is unreasonable to consider separately Gongadzes case and then Elyashkevichs case, since these cases are interconnected.
That is why we sure that it is necessary to conduct the sitting, as separate sitting, if you do not like the word „special“. The Ukrainian President, General Prosecutors office, Prime-Minister, the Ministry of Interior and USS head should be invited to this sitting, where the current situation in Ukraine will be discussed.
That is why I would like to point out again that yesterday, obeying all demands of the regulations, I, on behalf of the commission, handed the application to the Supreme Rada. As it was established today, during the interval, this application satisfies all the requirements.
Yu. Zhmakina: „Mr. Zhir, tell me please, what do you expect to get from such a sitting, special or not special, if the Supreme Rada even did not give you the opportunity to make a speech?“
A. Zhir: „Not all deputies were present at the sitting. I am sure that tomorrow the house will be full. On the other hand, Mr. Pliushch promised to raise this question. So, I am sure that the deputies will vote for giving the commission the opportunity to inform the Supreme Rada. The information must sound from the rostrum of the Supreme Rada as official.
I was to turn your attention that today nobody voted against this opportunity“.
Yu. Zhmakina: „Yet, the observers remarked that just those fractions, which are now candidates from the bloc „Our Ukraine“, have not taken part in the voting. How can you explain that?“
A. Zhir: „I think that they have been a little inattentive during the voting and hope that tomorrow that they will show the contrary results“.
Yu. Zhmakina: „Taras Chornovil has something to comment these events“.
Z. Friz: „Yes, he told the radio Liberty that it looked rather strange that most deputies of the bloc „Our Ukraine“, to which you, Mr. Zhir, also belong, voted against giving you the floor. Really, it is very surprising. So, let us listen to Mr. Chornovil“.
T. Chornovil: „What can I say? That is a pity that such events occur. That is a pity that may people, who had to endorse MP Zhir without any hesitations, did not do it, although that is a very important question for us.
I am afraid that the absence of unanimity on the bloc „Our Ukraine“ is a sign that today we have not developed yet a mechanism for approving decisions. This happens because of the position of some political parties, which decided to be on the safe side on the eve of the election. This is painful question for me since I, first, am convinced that Zhirs report had to be delivered and, secondly, such overcaution, especially before election, may be only harmful.
People want to see a pure, realistic and honest position. If there is no such position, then the success at the election seems very doubtful“.
Z. Friz: „Mr. Zhir, today MPs have approved the request about starting criminal case against Leonid Kuchma. Can we regard it as the beginning of Kuchmas impeachment? At, least the Internet editions support this conjecture“.
A. Zhir: „Today my main goal is to establish the truth. To achieve this I did very much, as well as the majority of the Provisional commission members.
I must achieve the following results: the Supreme Rada must assess those actions, about which, in my opinion and in opinion of the commission members, we have the proofs.
That is why it is not very important now, whether it is the beginning of the impeachment or not. The main thing is that the Supreme Rada must approve certain decision about the materials that we, the Provisional commission, have“.
Yu. Zhmakina: „Do not you think that the declarations of the type „Kuchma is a murderer“ impede the approval of such decisions, do not they? After all the trial did not happen and there is no verdict.
A. Zhir: „No one ever heard such declarations from me in the capacity of the head of the commission. As a private person I sympathize with Aleksandr Elyuashkevich. I sympathize with him, since he had the opportunity to learn on his own experience what regime is rules in Ukraine. I have the proofs that the records are genuine, it is not a montage, I have the proofs that the dialogue was about him and about beating him.
Yu. Zhmakina: „I have a question to Mykola Veresen. Mykola, you perhaps understand that Gongadzes case and the tape scandal in general will be inherited by the next Parliament. What is your opinion, what could be Parliaments role in investigating this case?“
M. Veresen: „I would not like to tell about the mission of the Supreme Rada, I would like to tell that I am deeply convinced that sooner or later the truth will be known by everyone. The needed investigation will be conducted and those, who were executors and who were organizers will be named. I have no doubts that everything can happen as Mr. Zhir says.
I think that honest people want the truth to be learned sooner, while the bureaucrats prefer that it would happen as late as possible. But the truth, after all, shall be found, the truth penetrates the public consciousness, people begin to suspect the power in small peccadillos and then begin to suspect deadly sins. These doubts cover the situation with thicker and thicker layers, and step by step the power becomes suspicious as such. This is socially very dangerous“.
Z. Friz: „Mr. Veresen, if you become a peoples deputy, what will you do to learn the truth about Gongadzes case as soon as possible?“
M. Veresen: „Regardless of the fact whether I become an MP or not, I believe that Gongadzes case will not be isolated from me and pout in some special drawer. I will work on this case steadily and doggedly, in the capacity of either a journalist or a deputy“.
Z. Friz: „This is a very profound topic, and I believe that one transmission is not enough for its discussion. I guess that in further transmissions my colleagues will discuss these problems more than once“.
Kyiv -- Prague, 5 March2002 -