20 January 2018, Saturday, 14:24

Andrei Sannikov: New Ukraine’s government shouldn’t repeat Yushchenko’s mistakes


Ukraine cannot conduct a dialogue on democracy with the West and at the same time recognize the dictatorship in Belarus.

It has been stated by the presidential candidate in Belarus in the election-2010, the leader of “European Belarus” civil campaign Andrei Sannikov, who comments the results of the presidential election in Ukraine for charter97.org.

- What is your estimation of the election results in Ukraine? Will the policy of Ukraine towards Belarus change after the presidential election held on May 25, and the victory of Petro Poroshenko?

- First of all, I would like to sincerely congratulate the Ukrainian nation, who has displayed a unique responsibility and courage, by making their choice in the first round, despite the situation of military activities on their territory actually. And certainly I want to congratulate Petro Poroshenko, as well as Vitaly Klitschko with their being elected President of Ukraine and Kyiv’s mayor.

I think that the mandate given by voters to the new president provides that he should advance democratic values, and reinforce democratic institutions in the country. The new authorities in Ukraine have a moral obligation to the people who had committed a democratic revolution: first of all, to Ukrainians, and to thousands of Belarusians, who fought for freedom at the barricades of Maidan.

This mandate does not sanction support and development of relations with the dictatorship in Belarus. I hope that the new authorities of Ukraine understand that well, but still I want to remind them that relations with the dictatorial regime of Belarus were a constituent part of President Yushchenko’s policy, which ended in his defeat and Yanukovych’s rise to power.

We, Belarusians, naturally hope that Petro Poroshenko would not repeat these mistakes. Unlike Ukraine, the dictator in Belarus does not have any desire to become closer to Europe. No double standards should be used towards this regime, that is, Ukraine cannot conduct a dialogue about democracy with the West and at the same time recognize the dictatorship in Belarus. The legitimate president cannot be placed on the same shelf with the usurper, who stays in power illegally.

- Nevertheless, over the last two days Petro Poroshenko has mentioned “long-standing good relations” with the Belarusian dictator twice…

- There have been complicated issues between Minsk and Kyiv, firstly about the border, but they were solved in Lukashenka’s style, that is, by blackmailing. The same attitude on his part is to continue. That is why it is extremely important for the new government of Ukraine to underpin the basic values, due to which they are going to move into Europe, in fact, not in word, and to understand that these values do not allow an inexplicit attitude to a dictatorship. There should be a principled position towards a dictatorship, and only in this way Ukraine would be able to make headway.

- Yesterday the Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine informed that withdrawal of Russian troops was noticed for the first time. However, large-scale military exercise in Voronezh region with participation of Belarus is underway now. Can we say that the threat of invasion to Ukraine has decreased after the presidential election?

- In its plans the Kremlin gives Belarus a role of foothold for creating a threat near the Ukrainian borders from the side of Minsk and of using Belarus in its military plans, which includes invasion of Ukraine.

Joint military exercises of different levels and formats, routinely held in recent times, show that Belarus under Lukashenka is viewed as a territory for exerting pressure on Ukraine. Once again the Ukrainian nation has demonstrated their maturity, and prevented thwarting the election by Russia. It gives a good impulse to future development, but the situation remains extremely tense.

It is quite obvious for me that the Kremlin would not stop its attempts to destabilize the situation and continue to pull Ukraine to pieces. The presidential election has become a vivid demonstration of the nation’s will to keep the unity of the country, both in terms of its territory and the choice of the strategic direction. I think that after its defeat Russia is going to take a time-out externally, but would try to formalize illegal formations in the South East of Ukraine and continue its subversive activities.

- The head of the Foreign Ministry of Russia has spoken about talks as well, however Sergei Lavrov opposed participation of the EU and the US as mediators in them.

- Russia would have to deal with the new authorities, but it will continue the policy of blackmailing, and primarily economic blackmailing. Without intermediaries Moscow wants to agree upon formalization of the plans to destabilize the situation in Ukraine which it still has. In this context it is really important for the new Ukrainian authorities not to forget the illegal armed annexation of Crimea. It is to become an acid test in the relations with Russia. Actually, I think that the Ukrainian authorities should consider the variant of direct talks with Russia.

The Kremlin has less and less bargaining chips, as now it is simply impossible to challenge the legitimacy of the elected president. In the complicated situation the election took place as it happens in European states. Poroshenko has been recognized by everyone already in fact, he has been recognized worldwide, and now it is necessary to talk to Russia from a different stance: as a completely legitimate power which represents the united country.