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Levko Lukyanenko: „Power in Ukraine passes from democracy to fascism in its attitude to the opposition“

Igor Stoliarov, Odessa
Every nationally conscious Ukrainian knows Levko Lukyanenko. His lifetime full of struggle for the independence of Ukraine was really heroic. Cells for the doomed to death, Bolshevik concentration camps, where they murdered Vasyl Stus, Valeriy Marchenko, Yuri Litvin and others…

In the first years of the Ukrainian independent L. Lukyanenko was the first Ukrainian ambassador in Canada. Now he is the head of the Ukrainian republican party and the deputy head of the election bloc of Yulia Timoshenko.

Our correspondent Igor Stoliarov took the following interview from him.

Igor Stoliarov: I am sure that many people inside and outside Ukraine are interested to hear you opinion about the pre-election situation in Ukraine.

Levko Lukyanenko: It seems that the power decided to violate openly the Law „On election“. Five pro-governmental political parties making the bloc „For united Ukraine!“ wasted heaps of money for posters, slogans and other agitation matter. This matter covers towns and villages.

The authorities openly abuse laws and exceed the expenditures for the election campaign. Yet, they think that it is not sufficient. Using their power, they exert pressure upon mass media and impede the representatives of Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc to communicate with voters.

Today I have returned from electoral district No. 148, the town of Lubny of the Poltava oblast. There Viktor Bilous is a candidate to the Supreme Rada from Timoshenko’s bloc. He was an MP before, from 1994 to 1998, he is a political experienced person, graduated from two higher schools, defends the independence of Ukraine. He is a member of the Ukrainian republican party.

His rival in this electoral district is, among others, a Salmin, a representative of power clans and the head of the corporation „Ukrainian Oil“. Salmin and his support group hired girls (for 100 UAH each), gave them notebooks and sent them to wander around and to write down those, who promised to vote for Salmin. Salmin’s agitators question, insist and then intimidate the voters.

Such methods can influence the opinion of simple peasants…

I. S.: Are such cases frequent?

L. L.: Yes, rather. The most disgusting fact occurred in the Sumy oblast.

Vladimir Shcherban, the head of the oblast administration, gathered for conference the heads of district administrations and town mayors. At the conference he said that they had to agitate only for the bloc „For united Ukraine!“ and do it as well as they can. Else, he said, is someone does it without proper zeal, he will be sacked. He made all state officers, who are financed from the budget, write and sign the promise (dated by 2 April) that, if on their territories less than a half vote for the bloc „For united Ukraine!“, they will retire.

V. Shcherban ordered the heads of district administrations and town mayors to fight actively against any agitation of the representatives of national-democratic parties, and, in particular, Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc. He appealed to „to tear away leaflets of the oppositionists’ and beat them on the kisser. And never care if they do not look well in the coffin…“

I assess this as a gradual passage from democracy to fascism, since the latter begins when the ruling regime starts proving its rightness not by ideological methods, but by beating and them shooting opponents.

I categorically protest.

On behalf of the Ukrainian Republican party we wrote the appeal to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine with the demanded to start then criminal case against Sumy governor Vladimir Shcherban for abusing election laws.

One more appeal we sent to President Leonid Kuchma, in which we demanded to dismiss Shcherban from his post, since his activities contradict the Ukrainian Constitution and the operating laws.

In the Konotop electoral district slogans and leaflets agitating for Petro Rubin, the counselor in economics of the head of the Ukrainian Republican party, are torn off or painted black. The electoral headquarters of P. Ruban complained about these facts to the Central election commission.

I. S.: Taking into account the horrible events happening in Ukraine we ask whether Yu. Timoshenko’s bloc has any chance to win a significant number of seats in the new Ukrainian Parliament?

L. L.: Upon the whole, people feel sympathy to this block.

Individual candidates from this bloc (in particular from the Ukrainian Republican party) – P. Ruban, V. Bilous, I. Bidyk (in the Chernivtsi oblast) and L. Stasiv (in the Khamelnitska oblast), are very respected by people. They undoubtedly will win and become MPs. But they encounter not only counter-propaganda. The authorities have nothing to say against these candidates and they apply various dirty methods. For example, in the small hours of the morning of 10 March 2002 strangers cut the wheels of the car of candidate L. Stasiv. Is at a method of honest political struggle?

Our people are brave. They cannot be intimidated by such actions, but cutting protectors restricts the candidate’s ability to move around.

I am indignant and I protest. We, republicans, are now forced not to prove our views at meetings with voters, but protect our cars and our kissers from our political opponents.

We are worried by the policy of the government that strives to preserve its rule in the country by hook or crook.

I. S.: Many observers confirm that something similar occurs in Odessa now. Using obedient judges and almost complete information blockade, the authorities do their best to prevent Eduard Gurvits to win the mayor’s post. Bureaucrats are anxious to preserve at this post Ruslan Bodelian, the former oblast communist party chief. Last time this communist came to power in Odessa with the assistance of the Kirovograd oblast court. This time courts are also involved.

L. L.: It worries me even more, because it demonstrates that, obviously, such methods are approved by the top power of Ukraine, with President’s camarilla.

I am certainly indignant, I abhor the actions with which R. Bodelian attempts to prolong his rule.

He is known as a man, who almost for ten years was fighting against the construction of the Odessa oil terminus. It contradicted the interests of Ukrainian. Certainly R. Bodelian long ago had to be sacked and driven from power as far as possible.

At the same time Eduard Gurvits is a democrat, and I would be happy, if he won the election.
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