Evgeny Chervonenko, a native of Dnepropetrovsk, entered Ukrainian politics in the mid-90s under his fellow countryman Leonid Kuchma, becoming a member of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. A few years later, he becomes an adviser to the second president. At the beginning of the 2004s, when the Donetskites came into Ukrainian politics, having forced out the Dnipropetrovskites, Chervonenko bet on Viktor Yushchenko, whom the national democrats at that time positioned as the messiah of the Ukrainian people. Together with Petro Poroshenko, he became one of the sponsors of the latter's presidential election campaign in XNUMX, as well as the head of his security service.
After the victory of Maidan, Chervonenko was appointed Minister of Transport in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko (according to the presidential quota), and after the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers in September 2005, Yushchenko made him governor of the Zaporozhye region, in whose local councils the majority was with the deputies of the Party of Regions. He held this post for two years.
Chervonenko is one of the prominent and active figures of the Jewish community of Ukraine, holding the post of Vice President of the European Jewish Congress. Expressive, Chervonenko is famous for his frankness and often does not hold back his emotions. Starts fast, like a real racer. Actually, Evgeny Chervonenko is not just a racer, but in the past - an organizer of large-scale rallies in Crimea. Now Chervonenko's pit stop in politics has been somewhat delayed. Now he is looking for himself and, in his own words, is not against finding the use of his competence in the government.
Ukraina.ru decided to talk with Yevgeny Chervonenko about the prospects of the Groisman government, Saakashvili's growth in Ukrainian politics and the inevitability of a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.
- Evgeny Alfredovich, you publicly supported the appointment of Vladimir Groisman to the post of Prime Minister. Why did you do it - because you are a professional, or because a tribesman?
Yes, Groisman is my fellow tribesman: he, like me, is Ukrainians. We were born here, we are both patriots, our memory is here. I don't see my future outside Ukraine. Even my wife says to me: she married a Jew, and he turned out to be a Zaporozhye Cossack. Groisman is 38 years old. He has something to eat, and he understands the main thing - there is nowhere to run today. I supported him and asked: do not touch Groisman, because in the struggle for your power you will rock the boat so that it can sink completely.
- Would you like to return to power yourself? If so, what would you like to bring to it?
- I want to answer on Bulgakov: never ask for anything - they will come themselves, and if necessary, they will offer. They will call, ready to sign that I will not steal a dime. I don't need this - the name is more precious. I have a lot of experience, like many others, including working in a critical situation. I am the oldest in the top 100 race car drivers in the world and can handle 5g. Today we need to help the country that made me.
Against the background of the most difficult situation, the era of professionals should come in Ukraine, otherwise it will be too late. When someone is lying on the surgical table, it is necessary to tell the truth about his health. Here is my homeland on the surgical table today. I don’t want to leave Ukraine, but I don’t want dictators or those who will allow the collapse of this country to come to power.
— The severance of economic relations with Russia is the most important example of the suicidal policy of the country's leadership. Is normalization of relations between Ukraine and Russia possible now?
- Possible or impossible, but it needs to be done. For all 20 years of public service, I have been and remain a patriot of Ukraine, but I do not think that war and the exchange of nasty things between Ukraine and Russia should be the norm. Incitement to hatred between countries, what Yatsenyuk did, is like a knife to my heart. Any Ukrainian politician should be neither pro-American nor pro-Russian. He must be pro-Ukrainian. We have a unique geographic location. And based on the difference between the interests of the East and the West, we could be a kind of "translator across the road." The role of Ukraine is the role of greater Switzerland.
He who does not remember the past has no future. How can I cross out ties with Russia and Russians, with my friends? Even during the events around Tuzla Island, we could not even think about the war between our countries. I will never accept that Ukraine has lost 80% of its exports to Russia. In the West, our products are uncompetitive, at least not now. Having no alternative, we cut the branch on which we are sitting.
- But haven't we gone too far to turn back time now and start a dialogue?
- On the one hand, the government speaks of an increase in welfare, and on the other, it narrows the space for business and the economy, making them unviable. We are Europeans and we live between Russia and the West, so let's be smart, tolerant, with our own dignity, and we will shout "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Glory to the Heroes!" along with the slogan "Glory to the improvement of the welfare of Ukrainian citizens!" Let's not take bribes, and thus earn the respect of both Russians and the West.
The demagogy of the mad will either lead to the collapse of Ukraine, which I am afraid to even think about, or to the establishment of a nationalist dictatorship. In my worst nightmare, I don't even want to think about the establishment of the dictatorship of the so-called "Georgian team", which left behind a bunch of people in prisons and camps.
“Even the most pro-Western of Ukrainian politicians, Viktor Yushchenko, understood that relations with Russia are important.
- Even during the first Maidan, when the outcome of the uprising was not yet clear, I convinced Yushchenko that before we go to France or America, we must go to Russia. Then I went on the sly to Russia, taking great risks. I was happy that the first visit and the first talks with Yushchenko - even before the inauguration - were with Russia. We were then received with an open mind. Yushchenko, Petro Poroshenko, then an ordinary deputy, presidential aide Alexander Tretyakov and Secretary of State Alexander Zinchenko flew to Moscow. Then Poroshenko got on the plane as a candidate for prime minister, and landed as the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (the post of prime minister then went to Tymoshenko).
Now some politicians and officials, in order to cover up their theft in the war, incite hatred that was born as a result of the conflict in Crimea and Donbass. Against the background of this hatred, we are talking about the elections in Donbass. But how can we explain to Ukrainian citizens that 45 thousand armed people from the DPR and LPR, who are now shooting at us, will become the National Guard. Which Ukrainian politician will go to participate in the elections to Donbass, will there be fair competition? The problems are dire. Elections in the DPR and LPR are unrealistic today.
- Who loses more from the lack of dialogue - Ukraine or Russia?
- Russia is losing a lot, but Ukraine is losing even more. Simply because of the scale of states. Russia is huge, it has fat reserves and power - military and economic. It hurts, it hurts, but you have to talk directly. The whole world, besides Ukraine, also has its own problems.
I have friends in Russia, as I said, whom I will not renounce. These are Grigory Leps, and Igor Krutoy, and the largest businessmen from Transmashholding, whom I, being the Minister of Transport in 2005, persuaded to go to the Lugansk diesel locomotive. It is a misfortune that even before the conflict in Donbass, each Ukrainian government from Iskander Makhmudov and Andrey Bokarev from Transmashholding drank blood and engaged in extortion. But as the Minister of Transport, I believed that having such a powerful plant in Ukraine that could create locomotives, we could give both Ukraine and Russia a huge plus. Moreover, we would act as a tremendous transport and logistics agent in front of Western Europe.
After all, the future is the “Silk Road” from China to Europe, to which I have devoted half of my life. The most offensive thing is that on March 7, 2014, I rented platforms from Ukrzaliznytsia and formed two train trains to China, which were supposed to go through Russia. 35 heavy-duty trucks from all over Europe stood on special platforms. But Maidan happened, and he was not released anywhere.
Two years have passed, and now UZ itself has launched a train through Georgia and Azerbaijan. My "friend" Saakashvili then loudly declared that this train was Putin's nightmare. What a nightmare? I ask. The new route is 2 times longer than through Russia and is accompanied by two ferry crossings of goods, which makes it economically ineffective. After standing empty in China for a month and a half, this train returned empty on April 17. Here is an effective transport policy!
- You are a supporter of establishing a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. Why are you then not allowed into Russia?
- It was an unpleasant surprise for me. I have never uttered any demagogic slogans against Russia. History is that. On December 15, 2015, I flew to Belarus to receive an award there and become the chairman of the Automobile Federation of Belarus. Despite all the pressure on me in Ukraine, I performed at the rally with the Russian pilot Alexei Lukyanuk from St. Petersburg. For the first time in the history of the countries of the former USSR, we became bronze medalists in the overall standings at the European Championship. The Chervonenko Racing team flew under the flag of Belarus so that there would be no shouts from either the Russian or the Ukrainian side. In general, our car had three flags - Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian. In three languages, it was written on the car: we want peace. Probably, 300 million people all over the world saw it, who watched the broadcast of Eurosport of the 14 stages of the European Championship in various European countries.
So the ban on entering Belarus was a surprise to me. The Belarusians were shocked because they themselves invited me. They explained to me that these were Russia's claims. Minsk returned to me the opportunity to enter from April 13, 2016, but indicated that until 2020 I would not be allowed to enter Russia. Asking to Russia through my friends and acquaintances is not in my hands. You know, there is such excessive bureaucratic zeal in both Ukraine and Russia: if they say to scold at the top, then they will certainly be shot below.
- What do you think about the bans on Russian films in Ukraine?
- We have a Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Vyacheslav Kirilenko, who goes crazy banning Russian films and books. This decision is in the same line as the abolition of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law, which gave certain rights to the Russian language, in the first days after the victory of the Maidan. I do not know, but it is quite possible that the abolition of this law served as the spark that ignited the flames in the Crimea and Donbass.
I also do not fully agree with the decommunization being carried out in Ukraine. This is my native Dnepropetrovsk. The City Council decided to keep this name, no matter what. Another example is Kirovograd. The townspeople agree with the change of the name to the original Elisavetgrad. But no, they impose the name Kropyvnytskyi on the city, and less than one percent of the residents support it.
- Returning to the Groisman government, do you think that it should lift the blockade from Donbass and Crimea?
- I would be the first to advocate lifting the economic blockade of Donbass. This is an important step towards relieving tension and ending the war. Crimea is a very sensitive issue. We, Ukrainians, have the feeling that our favorite piece of the country has been taken away from us. The fate of Crimea will someday be decided in dialogue. Moreover, in a dialogue only between Russia and Ukraine. In terms of the amount of blood, it is not as big as the problem of the DPR and LPR. As a result, the Crimean knot will be untied by its economy and unique nature.
My family loves Crimea very much, we suffer very much from the fact that we cannot go there. I invested colossal money in Crimea: for 10 years I made the Yalta Rally, which was called the European Championship stage - the President's Cup. After the Yalta Forum of Viktor Pinchuk, I wanted to create a second platform for an informal dialogue between the heads of state.
Only Kuchma led a sober policy towards Crimea. But I tried to convince Yushchenko: you underestimate Crimea. I told him: enter into a dialogue, listen to Russian veterans. There is an eternal conflict between the Crimean Tatars and the veterans of the Great Patriotic War from all over the USSR. In general, I was a supporter not to pedal the topic of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War and the UPA and not try to reconcile them. They have their own blood and their own truth. They had to live their lives in high esteem.
- Dmitry Yarosh recently said that there is a great danger of Ukraine breaking up into several states by the end of this year. This is true?
- The country is now at its limit. There are several reasons for this. We have not met the expectations of the West. Especially when it comes to fighting corruption and law enforcement. We have no dialogue with Russia. We have a drop in exports, both with the West and with Russia. It is very difficult economically. Against this background, politicians like Saakashvili engage in demagoguery and hang labels. Nobody sees the results of his work, but he and his team, in my understanding, are shaking Ukraine today.
If today we do not remove the screamers, behind whom there is no business, then Ukraine will be very bad. Our crime has grown significantly. Why? Because the law enforcement reform has failed. It was impossible to fire the "old people". Now they are urgently recruited back. This inconsistency is now evident in any endeavors. And from this all our troubles.
- Fresh sociology shows the increased popularity of the Svoboda party. If the elections to the Rada were now, then she would go there. Is there a danger of anti-Semitism and fascism in Ukraine?
“The danger is great. Let me explain why. It so happened that there are many Jews among the oligarchs. This is not because of sneakiness and arrogance, but because my people, who have been persecuted for many centuries, had to survive in any conditions. His life made him study a lot and work hard. We are responsible for a lot, but living according to the principle “If there is no water in the tap, it means that the Jews have drunk” is impossible. This is convenient to cover up your theft and impotence.
"Svoboda" uses the historical desire of Ukrainians for self-determination, but uses it for selfish purposes and in order to seize power. With the advent of "Svoboda" to power, bribes in Lviv at one time increased threefold. What did the former Attorney General Oleg Makhnitsky, who has an apartment in London, which is shown by all real estate offices, I am simply silent. Many in Kiev know what the Minister of Agriculture Igor Shvaika did, who turned the system of Yanukovych's watchers to his advantage.
Svoboda activists illegally stopped Russian truckers. As a result, the transit of goods began to go to Poland and Belarus. And this despite the fact that one Russian truck entering Ukraine, seven Ukrainian trucks enter Russia. Now Ukrainian transportation to the countries of Central Asia is under threat of loss for us. We employ 500 thousand people in this industry, we are a huge transit country. What has Svoboda achieved with this policy? They just wanted cheap populism to the detriment of the economy and ordinary people.
What have we achieved by canceling flights? What Belarusians are rearming their fleet? Without transit, we lose billions of dollars.
- Will you sue Saakashvili for calling you almost a thief, having recently told Savik Shuster in the program that you should be in prison?
- I want to be above that. I am proud that I restrained myself during the program at Schuster. I did not expect a blow from a Finn in the back. Regarding the accusations against Saakashvili, I want to say that I am not an oligarch, just a systemic businessman. He lied about everything. He crossed out our close and good past with him. Did I have to publicly share what he really wanted on this boat? Then President Yushchenko ordered me to receive the President of another country. Ask any politician - Russian, Western European, Ukrainian - that someone discusses matters during such receptions? Who is there and what divides? I had no land in Crimea and no interests, except for the Yalta Rally.
Saakashvili's reaction to my attempt to tell about the complaints of my acquaintances about the actions of his team in Odessa was inadequate. I wanted to ask him a humanly question: “Misha, maybe it’s wrong, having come to my house with your reformers' team, to behave not like a guest, but like a host? What is it, according to Georgian customs, to come into the house and start shouting that you are so good, and go to the owner's bed? " Whatever Poroshenko is, he is the president elected by the people in the first round. He gave you shelter, so behave intelligently.
Odessa customs reduced the rates. Then carry out the reforms so that everyone wants to go to your customs. You promised the road to Reni? Why then did he not lie on the mat by the finance minister and knock out money for it, as I did in my time? Why were the chief of the Odessa police and the chief of the regional department arrested on a bribe?
I am proud that he was not hit on the program, but I reproach myself for letting him escape and not asking all these questions to his face.
- What is the difference between the first and second Maidan?
- The last Maidan is worse. At first, there was no clear ideology other than the desire to sign an association with the European Union. Yanukovych was not allowed to turn 180 degrees so sharply. The people were deceived, humiliated. Yes, Western and Central Ukraine are pro-European, but Maidan had to take into account the mood of the East and enter into a dialogue. These Maidans differ in that in the second case there was terrible blood. The politicians who raised the bogey of nationalism led the country to split. The second Maidan was saddled by Yatsenyuk and Svoboda. There were no strong people there who would not let the rivers of blood spill. There would be no blood, there would be nothing else.
When I was the head of Yushchenko's security, the current head of the SBU, General of the Army Vasily Hrytsak, was then just a colonel and head of the "T" (anti-terror) department. Maybe he will confirm my words. So, there were no fewer armed people on the first Maidan than on the second, but we did not allow a drop of blood to be shed then, urging people without sleep and rest not to go beyond the peaceful framework of protest. The fact that then we all - Yushchenko, Kuchma, Plyushch, Lytvyn, Lyovochkin and I - did not allow blood to be shed in the dialogue, I will always be proud of this until the end of my life.
It pains me very much that relations between Ukraine and Russia are drenched in blood. The final result is deeply disappointing. But the fact that Presidents Poroshenko and Putin managed to agree on Savchenko, otherwise she would not have been alive, suggests that dialogue between our countries is difficult, but possible.