The Verkhovna Rada is still blocked. Negotiations between the government and the opposition are going on. In spite of never-ending meetings and heavy workload, Yurii SAMOILENKO, a Party of Regions MP, found the time to visit The Day and give a first-hand account of the latest events. Naturally, our conversation was not confined to this thing only – we recorded an interview which you will be able to read next week. Meanwhile, what is going on in parliament?
Mr. Samoilenko, the government and the opposition are so far unable to come to terms about in-person voting. The Verkhovna Rada still remains blocked. Is the Party of Regions prepared for a compromise?
“Problems should always be tackled at the negotiating table rather than by way of ultimatums or some violent methods. We all came on Tuesday, including those who, as our oppositionists say, were overseas, in the Maldives (which is not true). In a word, the parliamentary majority was ready to work, but we could not work because the opposition chose to block the rostrum. Of course, there are a few people in our faction, who, unfortunately, do not attend sessions, but let it be the matter of their conscience. I think that all the hundred percent, except for the sick (even though we have an MP who regularly comes to parliament on crutches), should vote in person. There should be order. People elected the MPs for this very purpose. There can be some exceptions, such as, for example, when the Verkhovna Rada sends somebody on a business trip abroad. For example, as member of the Ukraine — NATO delegation, I am supposed to visit Lichtenstein in May to attend a session of the NATO Interparliamentary Assembly. It is a foreign trip, but all the rest is not the reason why one should not come to their workplace. One must come and vote. My standpoint is: there should be no bogus button-pushers.”
Does your faction heed this kind of reasoning?
“It does. We are establishing discipline. We admonish some individuals. I think we will find mutual understanding with some MPs. And in case this produces no effect, the decision rests with the party, not with the faction. If you are doing business instead of parliamentary duties, you’d better remain a businessman. Our faction held a meeting recently, and most of us backed this viewpoint.”
Is a compromise with the opposition possible?
“A compromise is not only possible but necessary. I think that on February 19, when there will be a plenary week and, accordingly, the Verkhovna Rada’s second session is to open, parliament will resume functioning. Of course, the problem can be also solved today by a strong-arm action, as it has been done before. But the opposition is counting on this very scenario – they want bloodshed again, they want all the media to show a brawl and then, of course, they will put all the blame on the Party of Regions. For example, speaking on this matter, Oleksandr Yefremov said to Klitschko: ‘Vitali, if you go on taking part in all these scuffles, you will lose not only all your [champion] belts but also your face!’”
On the contrary, he always says he opposes strong-arm methods.
“We are also flesh-and-blood people. Most of us are normal men of no retirement age. Some are calling out: let’s start…”
Are they out to fight Klitschko?
“I am against strong-arm methods, but I am sure we will win. In all parliaments, people fist-fight and pour water on one another, but this only tarnishes the image of a state. You see, it will be a shame for Ukraine, our image will suffer. So I think some compromise will be reached, all the more so that negotiations are underway. Yesterday we held a committee meeting with participation of the oppositionists who are blocking the podium. We discussed all the draft laws, invited a minister and a deputy minister, but the meeting was illegitimate because the Verkhovna Rada plenary session has not opened. When it opens, we will have to gather just nominally.”
In other words, the Party of Regions considers it right to vote in person and, as a variant, studies the possibility of voting, say, twice a week?
“We can already hear this kind of proposals, and they are finding understanding in the opposition.”