2 No.9 FEBRUARY 13, 2018 DAY AFTER DAY WWW.DAY.KIEV.UA “The Yanukovych case”: what lesson have we drawn? Expert: “There is no understanding that political processes need to be separated from legal issues” By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day These days four years ago, there was not much time left before the tragic apogee of the Maidan. A week later (February 18-20, 2014), dozens of people were shot in the center of the Ukrainian capital. Then Viktor Yanukovych fled the country, and our current rulers came to power. Has any representative of the then authorities been brought to account for the terrible crimes committed? They have fled, you will say. Yes, but has a quality investigation been carried out at least? Or have we seen a trial in absentia happening? On the latter matter, some new information has appeared lately. It is quite likely that the current government decided to accelerate the process precisely due to the approaching anniversary of the tragic events. They are just used to working this way – marking an important date with some actions. Thus, Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko wrote on Facebook: “From my first day in office, I have felt that my main task is to answer the question: who is to blame for the deaths of the Heavenly Hundred? During this year-and-a-half, a lot has been done: 280 individuals who executed criminal orders to commit acts of violence against Maidan protesters are being tried. But the public rightly asks: who was the organizer of the shootings of peaceful protesters? ... Today, after months of controversial actions by Yanukovych’s defense team, the Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv allowed us to hold a special (in absentia) preliminary investigation of former president Yanukovych, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Oleksandr Yakymenko, and former first deputy head of the SBU Volodymyr Totskyi’s involvement in the Maidan shootings. This means that after the completion of the Yanukovych high treason trial, Ukrainians will witness the next trial dealing with criminal orders to attack the Maidan. As to the other three persons involved in this criminal proceeding, namely Vitalii Zakharchenko, Viktor Ratushniak, and Petro Fedchuk, similar prosecutorial motions will be considered in the near future.” The investigation team blames expresident Yanukovych and other former high-ranking officials of involvement in the Maidan shootings. From February 18-20, 2014, clashes between protesters and lawenforcement officers saw more than 100 activists of the Euromaidan and 19 police officers killed. In response, Yanukovych said that he was dissatisfied with the court’s permission to hold an in absentia investigation into his actions, and accused the current government of preventing his lawyers from attending the court hearing, This claim is contained in a statement by the ex-president which was posted on Facebook by the spokesman of his son Oleksandr Yanukovych, Yurii Kyrasyr. “The current Ukrainian regime has stooped to criminal measures, namely using force to remove my lawyers from the trial in the so-called Maidan case, which is allegedly being ‘heard’ by the Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv,” stated Yanukovych. Let us recall that the Obolonskyi District Court of Kyiv is already hearing a case against Yanukovych on charges of high treason. Yanukovych himself, who is currently residing in Russia, rejects all the allegations against himself. He testified in court through a video link. A very important point in this whole story is to see not just criminal cases against former high-ranking officials, but high-quality investigations. After all, any mistakes made during them may then serve as grounds for the annulment of judgments in European courts, if, for example, Yanukovych decides to bring the matter there. There are even examples where representatives of the former regime have already won cases in European courts: for example, Andrii Portnov. Journalists, of course, can be blamed for interviewing Portnov or Olena Bondarenko (this is a separate matter, though), but what has the current Ukrainian government done to prove the guilt of former officials? Therefore, this story, in fact, is not just indicative, but also instructive, both from a legal and a political point of view. It is these key matters that are dealt with in the commentary below, offered by lawyer, Candidate of Law, senior research fellow at the Koretsky Institute of State and Law (the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) Mykola SIRYI. “I would like to recall the statement of Prosecutor General Lutsenko that the conviction in the first case involving treason had to be obtained by September 2017. It is February 2018 now, that is, it has already been six months since this stated date, and we see that the end of this proceeding is nowhere in sight. This implies irresponsible attitude on the part of the state, in particular the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), towards the construction of its strategy. It must be understood that if a certain action is announced, the PGO must exhibit professionalism and understanding of the situation, that is, they must know how the events will develop. If you want to amend the law, and in fact the in absentia procedure needs this to be legal, then it was necessary to do so a year ago and understand how the trial will develop. Unfortunately, we are seeing a situation instead when people are starting to act blindly, not knowing what consequences these actions will have. “As for the Maidan killings, we also see that the prosecutor general is again in a hurry to make statements and demonstrate seemingly dynamic progress. I would not want to offer a negative forecast, but it is likely that we will have the same situation in that latter trial too. In general, those people who take important decisions in the legal sphere today lack understanding that political processes need to be separated from legal issues. Beginning one or another legal proceeding, including a trial, one needs to have a good hold on one’s tools and to separate political information from purely legal proceedings. In my opinion, it is in this area that we have serious problems and the corresponding consequences. “With regard to the formal issues of defense provision, the accused person always takes lead in choosing a counsel. That is, the state cannot impose on the person a counsel that it considers to be the best from its own perspective. Therefore, any actions aimed at ignoring the right to legal defense can be perceived positively neither in Ukraine nor abroad. It should also be remembered that an in absentia trial is a quasi trial, after which it is still possible to return to the complete trial mode. Therefore, when starting any in absentia trial, it is necessary to conduct it as one, that is, in an abbreviated form. After an in absentia trial, the person against whom the verdict is pronounced is still entitled to a complete trial. “The fact that we need to raise the issue of the legal responsibility of Yanukovych and the then supreme leadership of the nation, who used excessive force and weapons against people which led to numerous deaths – that fact is indisputable. But if the state is involved in this trial, in particular the PGO, then everything must be done in a professional, authoritative manner, with an understanding of how this trial will develop. What we are seeing now is the prosecution team lacking full understanding of the essence of the trial. Therefore, we see the high treason trial expanding its scope beyond belief. The impression is that they plan to question the entire military establishment and the entire political class of Ukraine, including past, present, and future figures. This indicates a nonprofessional approach.” By Natalia PUSHKARUK, The Day Recently, member of the Israeli Knesset Akram Hasson submitted for consideration by the chamber a bill proposing to recognize the Holodomor of 1932- 33 as genocide, and to proclaim December 6 as the official commemoration day for Holodomor victims. The explanatory notes to the bill state that the Holodomor was planned by “the Soviet authorities in order to strike a blow against the Ukrainian nation and Ukrainian national identity,” the DW writes. NEWSru.co.il writes that the idea of submitting the bill for consideration occurred to Hasson after he had made a visit to Ukraine and, in particular, visited the Holodomor Museum, which made a great impression on him. A request to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide was communicated to the Israeli side back in September 2016 by a group of Ukrainian public figures. Yurii SHCHERBAK, diplomat and journalist: “They are now able to talk about it and have put the bill on the agenda, which is already a step forward and should be welcomed. But I think that they will not pass it, because their position is clear: the Holocaust of the Jewish people was the only event of that magnitude, and the Holodomor was, of course, acrime, butnotgenocide. AndIhave great doubts that this position has changed, butIwouldbeveryhappyifithas.Moreover, Israel is under the great influence of Russia which will not allow them to recognize the Holodomor as genocide. “The fact that the Knesset still has not recognized the Holodomor as genocide is due to them having such an ideology of concentrating on their people’s particular issues. An Israeli foreign minister explained once that their state was a regional rather than a global power, therefore they were only concerned with Jewish problems. For example, according to him, if Jews are oppressed somewhere, Israel will fight this, provide help, but it will try not to interfere otherwise. In addition, there are many delicate moments interwoven here, like the fact that there were many Jews serving in the NKVD who played their part in the Holodomor policy. “During my time in Israel, I published an article on the Holodomor in a local newspaper, which listed many facts. This was, I think, the first publication on this topic. I found materials about the famine’s impact in Jewish districts of Ukraine. Interestingly, Jews suffered from the Holodomor as well. But of course, one publication was unlikely to solve anything, although it was welcomed quite warmly in Israel.” Why is it so important to us that the Israeli government recognize the Holodomor as genocide, after all, and why has this issue been delayed for so long? “We have a very positive attitude towards the Jewish state, towards Israel. We feel great sympathy for the suffering and tragedy of the Jewish people. And that is the right thing to do. There are many similarities in the fates of the Ukrainian and Jewish peoples and our two states. The Jewish state emerged despite the enormous resistance of the Arab countries in the Middle East and has asserted itself through unceasing wars. There are certain analogies in our historical fates. Therefore, it would be important for us to see them feeling Ukrainian pain as well. Moreover, grandfathers and great-grandfathers of a large number of living Ukrainian Israelis saw the Holodomor, and also suffered to a certain extent. Although, since most Jews lived in cities, they were less affected by it. “Of course, we have every right to expect that they will not be indifferent to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, which their fathers and grandfathers also experienced, and at least will be able to express their compassion.” What steps should Ukraine and our embassy in Israel take in order to change the Israeli public opinion on this issue? “The embassy is not the only institution with a role here. I am convinced and aware that our embassy is conducting appropriate outreach and advocacy work and trying to influence decisions of the Knesset. But I think that we need to pay more attention to the problems that exist Expert: “There are many similarities in the fates of the Ukrainian and Jewish peoples and our two states” between us, to expand our cooperation. Still, Israel depends heavily on Russia, on its decisions to supply or not modern weapons to hostile regimes, in particular, Iran and Hamas, which have set themselves the goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, they are forced to approach Vladimir Putin as supplicants and ask him not to take some steps, and Russia responds, as it has done everywhere and with everyone, with its characteristic haughty imperialist behavior. On the one hand, sometimes it promises something, and on the other hand, if modern systems, especially very effective anti-aircraft missile systems are delivered, Israel will not be able to respond adequately to terrorist attacks. After all, it has to deal with constant barrages of primitive homemade rockets hitting its territory. Therefore, this is a very serious matter. The role of Russia is enormous in the region since it has taken upon itself to act on the side of the Shiite Muslim countries and has been engaged in hostilities in Syria, which has caused enormous rage among other Muslims. But that mess of contradictions, hatred and blood, which Syria is now, is also an intersection of interests of Russia, Israel, and Turkey. We must understand that they are heavily dependent on Russia’s behavior. “I think the time is on our side as we are working to have Israel recognize the Holodomor as genocide. I am confident of this, but I have great doubts about it happening right now. But history is such a mole that slowly digs its burrows, in the end the truth comes to surface.” ● “WE NEED TO PREPARE PUBLIC OPINION” Josef ZISSELS, a Soviet-era dissident, co-chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine: “I am very glad that this bill has been introduced. But it seems to me that it has come too early, because we need to prepare public opinion, to publicize this story through the Israeli press. I do not know if Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day Will Israel recognize the Holodomor as genocide? the embassy is doing enough to introduce the Israeli society to the Holodomor problem. I think they would be able to perceive it if they saw it explained correctly and in a measured manner in various languages: English, Russian, Hebrew. “The odds of the bill passing are low at the moment. It can be ‘killed’ as early as the committee stage, although I will be glad if it passes anyway. “But the main thing is to inform the Israeli population about what the Holodomor was. This requires a systematic effort which our friends in Israel also have to join. There is a large community called Israel Supports Ukraine there that arose during the Maidan, and there are people in the Knesset who are sympathetic to us, but that is not enough. We need a high level of activity in Hebrew-language media, on the Internet, on TV. After that, the prepared audience would take well to this law.” Why has Israel still not recognized the Holodomor as genocide? “Only 24 out of 200 countries have recognized the Holodomor as a genocide. Israel has its own headache, I mean the Holocaust. It is very difficult to overcome the barrier when you have always existed in your tragedy and cultivated the memory of it, to overcome it and feel compassion for another people. But this is possible. We have seen it in other countries, but those countries did not experience the Holocaust. This is a process that has started and, I think, will reach its logical conclusion, but it will not be soon.” P.S. Den/The Day’s editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna wrote on Facebook: “If the Knesset will be able to recognize the Holodomor as genocide, Ukraine will have to recognize Israel as a strategic partner.” If the Knesset will still miss the opportunity and fail to pass the law on the recognition of the Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people in the near future, we will hope that the next generation of politicians will be able to not just put this issue on the agenda, but also implement it.
WWW.DAY.KIEV.UA DAY AFTER DAY No.9 FEBRUARY 13, 2018 3 By Ivan ANTYPENKO, The Day, Kherson Borys Babin has been in office since August 17 last year. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko appointed a new representative in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea after activists had expressed dissatisfaction with the previous one – Natalia Popovych. It will be recalled that Crimean Tatar activists protested against Popovych in July last year near the Representation of the President of Ukraine in Crimea. Members of the Asker civic formation, former Aidar fighters, and other people in military uniform were saying that Popovych did not receive people in her office or care about migrants from Crimea, and they knew very little about the work of this governmental body. The conflict lasted for about a month. Izet Gdanov, a participant in the July protest and the public blockade of Crimea in 2015, became the first deputy of the newly-appointed representative. He is called a creature of Lenur Isliamov, a Crimean Tatar political figure, the mastermind of the public blockade of Crimea in 2015, and an initiator of protests against Natalia Popovych. Borys BABIN is an international and maritime law expert, an academic. After his appointment, the Representation became a more frequent subject of discussions. Babin often speaks publicly about Crimean problems, such as illegal transportations, the performance of customs services at check points, the establishment of “service provision centers” in the borderline areas of Kherson oblast, etc. The Day met Babin to talk about the Representation’s role in tackling legal, security, economic, social, and other problems Ukraine is facing as a result of Russia’s aggression. ● DEOCCUPATION Mr. Babin, is there a strategy of returning Crimea? Who works it out? “The occupation of Crimea and the Donbas is an element of the interstate conflict. The strategy of deoccupation can only be a component in solving the overall problem – ending the war with Ukraine’s victory, not defeat.” In other words, first a victory in the Donbas war and only then the strategy of deoccupation? “The Donbas and Crimea are not separate conflicts. They shoot over there, but not here. But still it is one conflict. We must have a single – diplomatic, security, and military – front of resistance. I don’t know what we will liberate earlier – Crimea or the Donbas. The world is changing fast. Yet we must map out a general strategy of resisting the aggressor. I am sure that these documents exist, but they cannot be publicized.” What is the role of the Representation in this process? “We know that Crimea will be deoccupied. But we cannot say in detail and publicly how this will be done. Yet we can say what is to be done here and now to resist the Russian aggression that is unfolding in the public plane. Let’s call it Plan of Urgent Actions. We have almost finished drawing up this document.” What is there in it? “It is about international relations, the policy of law, public administration, transport, trade, finances, the environment, education, etc. We have a lot of bodies that deal with Crimea: the police, the Security Service, the Ministry for Temporary Occupied Territories, the Ministry of Defense, and other ministries. The question is whether we should have this plan approved at the National Security and Defense Council level or a separate law. But it is difficult, for some things must be done now. We think we will be fulfilling this plan within the limits of the Representation’s authority. It will result in projects, proposals, and actions. But the plan should at first be scrutinized by a high-level task force composed of prominent Ukrainian academics, deputy ministers, and other officials. It will take just a few weeks. Then we will make this plan public and work on it in the next two years. Unfortunately, I can’t say there will be deoccupation in 2018 or, frankly speaking, even in 2019.” “The Donbas and Crimea are not separate conflicts” The President’s Representative in Crimea, Borys BABIN, on how to resist Russian aggression Does this plan set out any indicators of effectiveness? “Of course, in each of the steps, even if it is a matter beyond our competence. Then we will be reporting on progress in the fulfillment of this plan so that society can see why I am paid a salary off your taxes. “The next thing we are going to work on in 2018 is the strategy of Crimea’s reintegration. We must work out a plan of actions from the ‘zero hour,’ when we will begin to enter Crimea, until the moment we say: Crimea is fully integrated into the legal, economic, cultural, and security fields of Ukraine. Will the invader be withdrawing from Crimea smoothly and honestly? No. Will we run any risks after the deoccupation? Yes. That’s why we must think it over right now.” ● HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE In what way are you monitoring human rights abuse in Crimea? What is the current situation? “Seventy percent of the information about human rights abuse situation in Crimea is openly accessible. Russia is simulating its own legal system in Crimea and, therefore, cannot brazenly hide its activities, as it does in the Donbas. Our analytical section monitors the so-called administrative bodies, courts, and the mass media. About 1,500 people have turned to us in four months. It is a huge array of information about human rights abuse. We also cooperate with human rights advocates and the government bodies that furnish information. As for the situation as a whole, there are two dimensions. Firstly, Russia is brazenly destroying the people’s political freedoms. This includes Russification, ban of the Crimean Tatar people’s bodies of self-organization, and persecution of activists, patriots of Ukraine, under the guise of combating extremism. Secondly, it is a mass-scale violation of socioeconomic rights, such as to housing, work, education, pension, etc. This applies to the whole population of Crimea. We include the results of our monitoring in reports to the Presidential Administration and the UN and OSCE monitoring missions.” As for the disappeared activists in Crimea, there are nongovernmental organizations that inquire into these cases. Do you cooperate with them? “It is a very delicate matter. Unfortunately, there are entities that make political or material capital out of this subject. There were instances when we were going to help people, but once the so-called human rights champions came to know about this, things went awry. We are prepared to cooperate with any entity, but our condition is that cooperation should really help the people who are detained or missing in Crimea, or their relatives. We are not hyping ourselves up. As for the disappeared persons, I advise their relatives to turn to the Representation so that we closely look into every case.” What are you doing concretely for these people? “I cannot give names. For example, there is a family in Crimea. The father was kidnapped or is behind bars. The mother is left with children who need to receive Ukrainian documents, go to the mainland, and come back. It is very difficult to do if there is only one of the parents. And we resolve this kind of problems. Another example: there is a well-known person who died in Crimea. There are his relatives in mainland Ukraine. A lot activist visited them. I asked them later if all these hypeup entities helped them, say, to file a lawsuit to an international court. The answer was ‘No.’” ● INTERNATIONAL COURTS Let’s take Ukraine’s lawsuits against Russia over violations of international law. How many of them are there, who deals with them, and at what stage of examination are they now? “Various entities are responsible for this. The first is the Ministry of Justice which deals with suits to the European Court of Human Rights. There are several suits, of which two touch upon Crimea. I can’t forecast how long it will all take, but, surely, at least a few years. This ruling in this case will include a lot of documented human rights violations in Crimea on the part of Russia. The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine is also monitoring many cases, including some at the International Court of Justice on the basis of two conventions – for the suppression of the financing of terrorism and on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. The Crimean question is raised in the second part. It is in this part that the court ruled in 2017 to lift the ban on the Crimean Tatar people’s bodies of self-organization. This case has a lot of risks and is expected to last several years. Russia will be doing its utmost to have this case dropped. An arbitration court also begins to examine Russia’s violations of the Convention on the Law of the Sea – about the rights of Ukraine to the continental shelf and the economic zone around Crimea, restrictions on the freedom of shipping, and pollution of the Black Sea. The communication is going on, but it is confidential. One more case is being dealt with by the International Criminal Court – it directly concerns the Russian aggression. The Prosecutor General’s Office is responsible for this. From the juridical angle, this situation is at the initial stage in comparison with other lawsuits. “Besides, there are cases initiated by Ukrainian natural persons and legal entities – for example, the investment dispute of the national joint-stock company Naftohaz Ukrainy about the impossibility of using their property. These processes go fast. But here Russia evades participation. As for suits of natural persons to then ECtHR, this court says that only a few hundred people have filed complaints against the aggressor. More people have sued Russia and Ukraine at the same time. And still more people are suing Ukraine only. It is, above all, residents of the Donbas.” A number of resolutions of international organizations (UN, Council of Europe, NATO) condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Russia in fact ignores these statements. To what extent effective are these resolutions? “From the viewpoint of international law, these documents are very important. But still more important will be the binding rulings of courts. Firstly, the acts of international organizations are taken into account in the abovementioned judicial decisions. Secondly, they constitute the grounds for imposing sanctions against the aggressor.” The Russian president said recently that they are prepared to return the Ukrainian warships they had seized in Crimea. What do you think of this? “Word has it that the Russians are preparing a ‘heavenly nook’ for their powers that be in Balaclava. So it is necessary to move Russian ships from this bay to Sevastopol. But there are the captured ships of the Ukrainian Navy there. On the one hand, they want to solve their questions of self-interest about Balaclava, but, on the other hand, if we agree, they will say: look, we maintain good relations with Ukrainians, we are tackling the problem of Crimea, and they are taking back their junk. They expect us to swallow the bait, for it costs a pretty penny to recycle some equipment on the mainland. “Undoubtedly, Ukraine must increase its military presence in the Black Sea. However, what really matters here is people, not hardware. Unfortunately, 2014 showed the true level of the will to resist on the part of some Ukrainian servicemen, particularly the naval personnel. We are sure not to return Crimea with the help of those who surrendered Crimea and bargained over a trouble-free removal of property from the officers’ apartments.” Are you accusing these people of surrendering Crimea? “I am not putting the blame on them, but I want to see an investigation and a trial. I am only stating a well-known fact. How many Ukrainian servicemen left Crimea, how many remained behind, how many of those who left offered resistance? The figures are very different.” What is Crimea today in military terms? “The peninsula is becoming a beachhead of Russia’s further aggression. Obviously, the presence of Russia in Syria and its plans about the Mediterranean region would be impossible without presence in Crimea. Therefore, let me say it gain, only a victory of civilized nations in the undeclared war with Russia can resolve the Crimean question. Militarily, Russia obviously poses a threat to Ukraine from Crimea. There can be nuclear weapons on the peninsula because the necessary capacities are available.” ● THE CRIMEAN TATAR QUESTION What is your attitude to the Crimean Tatar autonomy? “This topic is politicized very much. In 1991, the Supreme Council of what was still Soviet Ukraine restored the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. I stress: restored. In other words, this envisioned autonomy for Crimea’s indigenous peoples. From 1992 until 2014 Ukraine had to make endless concessions to Russia about Crimea and autonomy. “The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine recognizes the UN declaration on indigenous peoples. Today, we are to let the Crimean Tatar people exercise their right to self-determination within the limits of Ukraine. How? There are several ways. The first is to introduce amendments to the Constitution. A task force is working on changes to Article 10 of the Constitution (Autonomous Republic of Crimea). The second is connected with disapproving he law on indigenous peoples. But the registered drafts of this law suggest controversial conclusions. My position is that there should be autonomy.” There is an idea of holding the Comprehensive Testing of Applicants in Kherson oblast. What is your attitude to this? “Territorially, the autonomy already exists – it is the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In my view, we in mainland Ukraine can only speak of the state’s overall duty to preserve the cultural, economic, and social rights of indigenous peoples.” Would it be a good idea to assign quotas in administrative bodies for Mejlis members? “Quotas in the executive bodies of government on the basis of ethnicity contravene the law of Ukraine. It is absurd. We have representative bodies, where this can be discussed in theory – for example, elections to the Ukrainian parliament and local councils coupled with the formation of ethnic constituencies. Quotas for political offices? It’s possible. But the Mejlis is a special case. Anyway, this should be applied to the bodies that will function in Crimea after deoccupation.” What is the Representation doing to protect the cultural and educational rights of Crimean Tatars? “We are not dispensers of budgetary funds. Unfortunately, we don’t have a law on indigenous people. For this reason, funding is only possible through the program of protecting the deported. These funds are used, for example, to finance the ATR TV channel. In general, it is the domain of the Ministry of Social Policies. On our part, we stay in touch with all executive and local government bodies. We care about a Crimean Tatar language school in Novooleksiivka, Henichesk raion. We lobbied technical assistance and demanded that the local authorities resolve the heating problem. We are in contact with all the local Mejlises and ready to support projects, particularly those of international organizations.” ● CRIMEAN TITAN Why and how does the Crimean Titan plant work? Where does it take the raw material (ilmenite) and electric power? “The plant really works. Some reports say that raw materials are delivered from Ukraine and other countries. It is a serious problem,andweareraisingitbeforethelawenforcement bodies. As for electric power supply, this fact has not been proven for a simplereason–thepowergridsoperatorsays this does not occur. It is impossible to prove the opposite unless you control the grids. Andtheregionalpowersupplycompanysues those who say that electricity is being furnished. I am not so rich and will not make this kind of statements. But I want law-enforcerstodosomething.Icanassureyouthat his activity will be put an end to. Titan’s products are used in the aggressor’s military industry.Weaponsarebeingmadeunderour nose perhaps to destroy us. Besides, this poses an environmental problem – the pollution of Sivash and air. Incidentally, let us say the truth: this also existed before the war.” ● ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATIONS You have repeatedly said in the media about illegal transportations in Crimea. What’s the crux of the matter? “The main problem is that checkpoints to Crimea have no legal transport communication today. Motor transport is divided there into three groups. The first is former interregional buses that used to run before the war. They ride up to the checkpoint, passengers cross the administrative border, while the ‘twin’ of this bus is waiting on the other side. And our gallant Transport Safety Service is trying to say that this is lawful. Tickets to Kerch are not sold in mainland Ukraine, and there is no such stop as checkpoint. The second group is totally illegal taxi minibuses which pick up people at the checkpoint and carry them further on. The friends Franklin, Grant, and Jackson [portraits of US presidents on dollar bills. – Ed.] help solve all problems with the Transport Safety Service, the local authorities, and the police. The third group is taxi drivers. It is the only category that can carry people through the checkpoint without changing. Taxi drivers can cross the line with the Russian side’s permission. This strong corrupt chain also comprises our officials who oversee transport. All this occurs under the surveillance of Russian special services. Everybody smiles because everybody cashes in. We will not put up with this. Incidentally, we are raising the question of deploying National Guard units in Henichesk raion. We must admit that the state has lost control of this district to some extent. It is a big headache for the local executive authorities.” What is the way out of the situation? “We want to extend the railway communication as far as ‘Vadym’ station so that passengers can almost reach the checkpoint. We are trying to see to it that bus routes should be at last opened on a competitive basis. At the moment, it is enough to make a stop near the checkpoint, put up a ticket-selling booth – and it will be a legal route station. It is the Kherson Oblast Administration that should invite bids because it is interregional communication. I don’t know why this hasn’t been done in all these years. Raion administrations are not raising this question either. We wrote letters to the oblast administration, convened conferences, and informed the Transport Safety Service about illegal carriers. They are essentially turning a deaf ear to us. You know, it is easy to ‘clip coupons’ while it is illegal. But when it becomes legal, everybody will be paying taxes and nobody will be cheating.”