When the community for some reasons cannot rely on politicians, it starts looking for its own leaders. Oleksandr POLOZHYNSKY became a new star of Euromaidan; some social media users suggested him for president. Nonetheless Oleksandr does not want to build a political career. Instead, he suggests to all Ukrainians to unite into a single civic movement. In an interview to The Day Tartak front man told about the difference between 2004 and 2013, why Euromaidan is an inappropriate name for current events, why Zakharchenko’s resignation will not change anything, and how will today’s Maidan end.
What is the quality difference between Maidan of 2004 and Euromaidan? Has the society grown up to make new decisions over the past nine years?
“The difference is at least in having the experience of the previous Maidan. People already have an experience of no-Maidan period and see the abilities of the politicians. The leaders of this Maidan, even declaratively, are less unanimous – I don’t think that in 2004 there was the unity they were trying to show, but at least there was a clear leader, who formally took the whole responsibility. Now we have three leaders, and I surmise there are even four, five, or six of them, and none of them wants to assume the responsibility. Even the personalities of these politicians… In my opinion, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko are much brighter personalities than Arsenii Yatseniuk, Vitalii Klitschko, and Oleh Tiahnybok. At the moment people trust the politicians less and count more on themselves.”
Nine years have passed since 2004. Assessing the youth and the students, who go now to the Maidan and who were born in independent Ukraine, what difference do you feel?
“Namely the new youth encourages active participants of the 2004 events to believe again that something can be changed. New Euromaidans and student actions were organized by young people from independent Ukraine. By their actions, optimism, faith, and desire to live in a different Ukraine they inspired all of us. Maybe it is the main difference: they believe for us.”
At least the beginning of this Euromaidan is different.
“I don’t want to call the current events a Euromaidan. Euromaidan was rolled into asphalt on Saturday night. People who are called law-enforcers do not have any right to beat their fellow countrymen who do not fight them. For such beatings a person without a uniform would have been sentenced to a long prison term. It means that there is total lawlessness in the country and Ukrainians do not have equal opportunities to defend their rights. These people on the Maidan are practically defending their rights. The question of EU integration of such a country cannot simply be on the agenda. We can do some steps toward the EU, ask to give us professional help, consultations, maybe, financial, but well-purposed aid. I would like to be given the fishing tackle, not the fish. We need to change the system first, not simply the people in this system.”
Would this Maidan be so politics-oriented, be it not for the cruel dispersal? Would there be any Maidan at all?
“I think there would not be so many people: those events have stimulated many. I am sure that we cannot reject the version that Berkut acted not according to the orders of the current government, but as a result of internal intrigues.”
TACTICS OF SMALL DEEDS
Our editor-in-chief has presented you with Yevhen Hrytsiak’s book. Its author said in an interview to The Day that he has questions to the opposition, which demands all at once: resignation of Azarov’s Cabinet and resignation of the president.
“For some reason, they started to add the demand to free Yulia.”
Yes. So, should we use the tactic of small deeds? Like starting with Zakharchenko’s resignation and moving further as soon as we achieve this.
“Of course, I support his resignation and punishment of people who give orders. But I cannot put up with the fact that any task force fighter can do such things, using someone’s orders as a cover. Even if Zakharchenko is dismissed and it will appear that formally we have achieved something, but in fact nothing has changed. I am not sure that even several resignations will change something. I don’t see any leaders on the top level whom we can consider the good powers. Therefore we need a maximum unity, so that we weren’t banally beaten and dispersed, when the reaction starts – and I am sure there will be reaction.”
What demands should be set forth to the opposition leaders, who are playing the role of good forces?
“My personal demand is as follows: they should stop deceiving people. They call themselves a united opposition of three political forces. The ‘tripersonality’ cannot win the trust of people unless they choose one person who will say: ‘I am the one who takes the responsibility.’ I said this at the meeting on November 30, when I had an access to a microphone. We started to act together with the opposition, but with each day passing the opposition is making more and more steps which make people distrustful. People need one leader. Movements without a leader are a good thing, but an organizer is needed for an efficient struggle. The one who will unite all the united opposition forces in negotiations with the government, Russia, and the West; the one who will make the key decisions. We won’t be able to break the system without a leader. We must as well get distanced from such ambiguous personalities as Oleksandr Turchynov, whose speeches cause rejection. He has for quite a long time headed the SBU to implement what he has been promising for many years. As a result, nothing has been done, however, there are many questions concerning what he has actually done.”
Do the approaching presidential elections make the choice of the leader more complicated?
“Sure. I would like it to be defined right away: the one who assumes the whole responsibility will be a single candidate for president from the opposition.”
An interesting initiative, new candidates, has appeared in social media. Along with Huzar, you are called a leader. Have you thought about making a political career?
“In view of current events I suddenly became very popular. I am presented less as Tartak’s vocalist and more as a noted public figure. I understand, I may be popular today, but people will forget about me tomorrow. And I don’t mind to be forgotten, so that this situation did not impede my artistic activity or endanger my life. If I face the choice: go into politics and change something or flee Ukraine and live for myself, I will go to politics. Circumstances, people, and time set forth their own conditions. At the moment I don’t want this. But I am sure, every citizen must be active. And I call on everyone to be active. Those who think it’s none of their business are wrong. Imagine a situation if we lose and everything remains like it was. A part will be imprisoned, another part will be intimidated, and the rest will flee abroad. If it happens, the citizens who support the Yanukovych regime will be left face to face with this machine. Do you think the fact that you don’t oppose them today will save you? Of course, I do care about my own interests. But at the same time I am not indifferent to how other people live. I believe that we can live better.”
We can feel that people are apathetic about politicians now. At the same time, there is a kind of energy that makes thousands of people go out to the streets. How can this energy be organized separately from the opposition and the government?
“We need to unite on a horizontal level. There are many active groups of ordinary people; forces of self-defense, as well as forces of lawyers and businessmen are organized. We need to learn to find common language. With time we will acquire an opportunity to grow enough brain and muscles and turn into an effective platform, which will be able to change the system and people in this system in Ukraine. At the moment many potential leaders rise to small summits, but if they are supported by small groups of citizens, it is hard to define to what extent they are leaders. Maybe they are maskers. We can see both people with leader’s qualities, and those who have demagogic and financial possibilities.”
Can this platform in the future turn into a political party? Or do you see this force only on the level of civic initiatives?
“I more and more tend to support a non-party society. Political parties today are organizations of influence, manipulations, and lobbyists. I believe less and less that these are associations of citizens aimed at improving the lives of other citizens.”
ARTISTS THAT “SEW” UKRAINE TOGETHER
Ukraine has been artificially divided into east and west. In your opinion, what have culture workers failed to do to familiarize two parts of Ukraine with one another?
“I think that actually there can be no complains about my colleagues who are actively working. On our part, we have done our best. In summer this year Okean Elzy went on a big tour over Ukraine. Their concerts had full houses, equally in south and east, center and west. Artists are doing their best to make people feel as one strong unit. And there is also the merit of sportsmen who defend the country’s honor on international level. We are being divided by politicians and businessmen, the task forces. Partially, by mass media which are means of governmental influence.”
Is the society mature enough to accept rightly the signals you’ve mentioned?
“Speaking of maturity, like fruits on the tree do not ripen simultaneously, neither does the society. Some people are aware of the processes underway in the country. But many people from different regions of Ukraine are still unaware of this.
“We cannot say that our society is homogenous. The task of people who have understood that something depends on us is to be active, to exert pressure on the government, to support the others.”
Is the songs “Brother for brother” was aimed namely on uniting?
“Our song was written several years ago when Kozak System composed music and asked me to write the lyrics. They recorded the song and published in an album. But when the Maidan started, we decided to sing it together. So, it can be called a uniting song, not only in terms of its content, but also according to the way it was presented.
“When politicians divide us, artistic actions can be an active and uniting factor. Sometimes it is hard for me to differentiate where art ends and politics starts, when the question is about the future of the country.”
Was it a real thing to convince those people in Bankova Street?
“Yes, it was. If at that moment I was sided by not 20 people, who partially were my partisans, but, for example, by 20 well-trained task force officers who were taught to find and neutralize provocateurs. If the Security Service in that situation set an aim to neutralize aggression, it would have succeeded. I felt that those guys were ready for a dialogue, they were ready to listen. But when you start to bring up some arguments they can agree with, an odd character suddenly emerges and shouts louder than everyone else: ‘Why are you listening to him? Go ahead! We will kick their asses!’ You start to dispute with him and suddenly you get surrounded by the same people, who push you or shout you down. They work in groups, like thimble riggers. I felt this scheme on me. One is the leader, several more people create a force cover, and several more – a game cover (they pretend to support you and add fuel to the argument). Similar things repeated themselves several times. So, young and hot-tempered guys, who want concrete actions and demand the opposition to assume responsibility for what it said, but don’t see any result, start to look for their own version.”
In your opinion, are these scenarios written in Ukraine or abroad?
“I cannot say for sure, but I assume that three different scenarios have combined in Ukraine. Different forces were interested in shedding more blood, so that the protesters could be blamed for this. It is quite possible that these forces did not consolidate, but they did one and the same thing in one and the same place and they achieved their aim. Fortunately, things went differently than it was written in the scenario.”
In your opinion, how will Euromaidan end? Do you have any optimistic forecasts?
“I don’t want and I am not good at making forecasts. I think a formal reason will be found to stop the active protests and then the reaction of the government will begin. After the tiniest reason will be found, they will stop us one by one in a legitimate or illegitimate way. This can be prevented only if after the action is formally stopped, we will continue our activity without bounding it to the Maidan. We should leave the maidans with the only promise we gave not to the politicians, but to one another: we must rise at the first alarm signal, when some of us will be endangered. The greatest danger is in all of us. Our laziness, despair, and unwillingness to do something are our main enemies and if we are able to fight them, there is hope that we will win soon, if not today.
“For sure, we have a chance to rise concerning the 2015 elections: they will either be cancelled or brought into the parliament walls, or will be held formally, but with numerous violations and falsifications. It is important how ready we will be. Spontaneous revolts are important if we need to protect some of us, but in order to break the system, the uprising must be well-organized.”
Nine people who were arrested and are accused of provocations, aren’t they an alarm signal?
“They are hostages to the situation. At the moment there is nothing we can do to rescue them. The only chance to free them is to yield to the governmental pressure. The power is demonstrating openly that it is ready to act using either SS or NKVD methods, when hostages are taken and their lives depend on the population. As long as we exert pressure, they will remain hostages. I cannot guaranty that they will be freed after we stop exerting the pressure, but there is such an opportunity. We cannot sacrifice these people, but we must remember that nine hundred or nine thousand more can join them – and we cannot allow this to happen.”