On February, 10, for the first time after the election campaign-2004, the president of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko visited the outpost of his main opponent in elections Victor Yanukovich - Donetsk.
As compared to October, 2003 meeting was warm, except snowballs, thrown into Yushchenko by Yanukovich’s supporters. The first who met Yushchenko were head of Donetsk region administration Vadim Chuprun, head of Donetsk region council Boris Colesnikov, Donetsk mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko and PM Efim Zviagilsky.
Speaking in the hall of regional administration Yushchenko reminded about his notorious journey to Donetsk in October, 2003. The actions of protest were arranged against the attempt of faction «Our Ukraine» to conduct the convention in the city. «I remember that Donetsk met me with placards of SS symbol in October. I am asking guidance of region: who ordered these placards, who hung them? How can you hang SS symbol in the third millennium? If you are convinced, that I am like this, prove it with facts. But if you will not, I will force you to make public apologies. I do not want to forgive», - president said.Also president talked about economy’s going out of shadow. Yushchenko declared that he intends to increase budget incomings twice. «I do not like that 55% of economy of Ukraine and two thirds in Donetsk region is shadow economy. Shadow economy of that kind like it is now, will not exist». Yushchenko also pointed out that investors are afraid of Donbass and promised to change this situation.
Yushchenko remembered about «new opposition». «Time will pass, and I will say about every member of the opposition, if he does not get in prison. I give you my word to tell everything about, so-called, Ukrainian opposition.»
Yushchenko pointed out lawlessness in the region. Addressing the officials of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ukraine Security Service he said: «Guys, either you defend the country or go to serve “father” as brigadiers».
Yushchenko told about Russia’s role in construction of Ukraine’s future. «Russia is an eternal neighbour, eternal strategic partner of Ukraine. Russia is a unique market which strategic national interests of Ukraine are formed on. The main in the world is not how to extract coal, or to make million tone of steel, the main in an economy is where to sell. I have a perspective look at development of our relations. I will be logical, and every my word will be valued, because everything said is fulfilled always », - said Yushchenko.
Besides, Yushchenko drew attention to the question of federalization of Ukraine. According to his words, the idea of federalization of Ukraine is an utter fallacy. «Those, who urged, and will urge to separate, will be punished in accordance with the law», - said Yushchenko.
At the very end of the conferences in Donetsk, Yushchenko represented new governor of region Vadim Chuprun.
Initially Yushchenko was going to stay in Donetsk for 2 hours. But the program of his visit was prolonged because of president’s long speech.
Nestor Shufrich, PM, faction of Social Democratic Party (united) of Ukraine
I can make conclusions about Yuschenko’s visit to Donetsk based solely on information from Mass-Media. Based on what I have heard and seen, I felt I ought to be cautious. I was surprised that Yuschenko raised the issue of his previous visit. I was convinced that the new government in power will operate according to the “blank slate” principle. In addition, he was not able to convince people that his wishes were genuine and that it was not about getting even, even though it was only words and intentions. The decisions will have to be put off until the results of various deals are made.
I think that the new government should do its best to alleviate the feelings of offence and deceit in those regions where people think that their elections were stolen. Undoubtedly Yuschenko’s visit to Donetsk was courageous, as it was a pretty risky step on his part. The very fact that the step was made is great, in and of itself. However, it’s too early to tell whether Donetsk and Donbass truly welcomed Yuschenko as their president. These are my own impressions from fragments of meetings and the reactions of residents of Donbass, which I saw on the news.
As for Yuschenko’s thesis, the fact that he will eventually expose all the oppositionists, if they are not be imprisoned by that time, is indeed a good idea. However, we have to start with Victor Yuschenko’s closest associates and ask why they are still free men. As a delegate and a politician, I have nothing to hide or be shy of. I am ready to take responsibility for my very action.
Joseph Vinsky, PM, faction of Socialistic Party of Ukraine
I never gave anybody a high praise, but after Yushchenko’s visit, I want to say to him: “Bravo”. On the 10th February, in Donbass, an absolute adequate course of action was presented by him, and distinct arguments were present in the declaration of his propositions. A firm position towards interests of the region was present, but not of those gentlemen, who govern the region. “Bravo”.
I think, the wall, built by the previous government between Yushchenko and the citizens of Donbass, will disappear within a year or so. In yesterday’s meeting, it wasn’t the people of Donbass, but half-criminal coalition that still have power over that area of Ukraine. Donbass is different; they still have to get to it. The political standing of the president was publicly demonstrated to Donbass. They saw that he is a normal person, who wants to do something good for this region.
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