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Viche 2006 22

22, 2006

To be power for people, and not above people

Interview of Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Moroz for the periodical Viche

Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, you have been working in the Vrekhovna Rada since 1990. Consequently you can compare the degree of influential of parliament and professionalism of national deputies of different convocations. Certainly, every epoch generates its own legislators. But nevertheless the Verkhovna Rada of what convocation, in your opinion, fulfilled its constitutional duty in the best way?
Every cadence of parliament had its differences; each fulfilled its constitutional duty adopted legislative acts. Of course, the first membership of parliament will go down in history as it reached epochal decisions: the Declaration about the state sovereignty, the Act of independence of Ukraine.
But as regards a test for constitutionality I would mark out the parliament of the second cadence. Why exactly?
The membership of the first cadence was formed in the previous political system, when the predominance of one political force on the most of territory of Ukraine was irrefutable and its influence on electors was not called in question. All advantages and drawbacks of manpower policy at that time became apparent in the membership of deputy corps. But it wasnt ready yet to function actually as parliament (and on professional basis, especially). Previous traditions still prevailed. Many deputies (and population on the whole) looked at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as at the continuation, projection of the union legislative body. Our parliament was in the shadow, the unusually sharp speeches of deputies in the center were more widespread. They mainly formed the public moods.
The second membership of the Verkhovna Rada was formed on the most democratic basis. Then it was not yet known what administrative resources mean, the parties only rose to their feet, an elector had a possibility to choose among different. (We will give the first President of Ukraine L. Kravchuk his due. No matter who and what estimations gave him, his merit is in that administrative resources did not become a general instrument of power in the fight for power. It did not become the thing that afterwards disfigured all system of power relations, that did the outrage upon human rights, upon universal suffrage, in particular). Although an elector was a little bit shocked because of that circumstance democracy, nevertheless the legislative body reflected the indefinite state of society, though it already prepared to merely parliamentary work. And it was a success. Regardless of infuriate resistance of previous tradition, thirst for power of the President who did not feel the necessity of democratization of public life as he himself was the product of authoritarianism formed in the mutual relations characteristic for a military complex, the Verkhovna Rada became the parliament. Drafting and adoption of the Constitution was the evidence of that, it was the top of its activity. It was adopted by the parliament, in contrast to other states of the UIS (the Union of Independent States). It was adopted against the countrys leader will.
The second membership of parliament laid the basis for systematic legislative work. It had significance commensurable with adoption of the Basic Law. I wish the future cadences of the legislative body were capable to resist the administrative pressure from the side of the President, whose possibilities, advantages and drawbacks were used by those who defended their corporative and more often private interests by the instruments of the state. It was the period when the bases of clannish government were laid, the unfair and criminal redistribution of riches was carried out, and the legislative body mostly worked under the influence of lobbyists who defended the interests of clans. The typical examples of dependent status of the Verkhovna Rada were Speakers competitions of 1998 and 2002 years, the anticonstitutional upheaval in the year 2000 (with forgery and serving the regime of those who now consider themselves the defenders of democracy), the consent to conducting the false referendum for legal confirmation of dictatorship, the criminal submitting of the Land codex to the  parliament for consideration, the countless renunciation of bringing in the agenda the information about Gongadzes murder and reports of temporal committee of inquiry concerning this crime, unconstitutional conclusions of the Constitutional Court, etc.
In spite of a reckless resistance we were succeeded in not only breaking but also in slowing down the authoritarian tendency. Using medical terminology, the stage of remission began. And whether it will be accomplished with the development of democracy depends on position of the present fifth membership of parliament.

You fought consistently against authoritarian tendencies in the period of presidency of Leonid Kuchma, defended the values of parliamentarism, and Your efforts were crowned with success. However, British political scientists say parliament as well as a king can be a tyrant. Will not the Verkhovna Rada get into this trap, as it is known that a power dragon is hard to be put to death?
However the British parliament under symbolic plenary powers of the queen does not become a tyrant. Why? Because under the multi-party system different political forces, supporters of different ideologies, different visions of development of the state or ways of solving of concrete problems conflict with each other in the middle of the legislative body.
Certainly, the political system in Ukraine has not been developed yet, many influential parties were not formed due to classic principles (the speech of the President Viktor Yushchenko at the convention of Our Ukraine can be indicative in this case) and the risks of depending on one political force exist. For this reason the wide coalition in the parliament is necessary in order to make the element of structural discussion and the healthy competition between the supporters of different political trends exist. Yes, it is not quite natural for democratic traditions (although the examples of the FRG, Poland and other countries are useful too), but Ukraine has not yet reached first last and all the time its democratic position and the present membership of coalition and parliament in general reflects impartially the condition of society and its moods.

Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, the political reform is referred to be Your personal file. However the impression is given that the reform is interpreted simplistically in public opinion: to take away the Presidents authorities. Is it possible to clarify concisely the conception of distributing of authorities and the place of legislative body in the system of power relations?
The reform is interpreted so not in public opinion, but by those who dont apprehend it. Public opinion disposes itself quite the contrary. It expresses the desire of people to see the authority alongside, turned with its face to a person and dependent on a person. Can a citizen really like that the authority in the person of bureaucratic apparatus (where-ever and at any level) doesnt see and doesnt want to see him, perceives him as an object for neglect and for giving bribes for any, by law and functions foreseen and paid by the budget services?
All this happened not only as a result of the wrong formed political system but also in consequence of its deciding influence. To break and redesign this system is the main point of political reform. Among its constituents there are deconcentration authorities that fall into ones hands, liquidation of monopoly on power in the clannish centralized pyramids (sorry for difficult definition that can be simpler replaced by the words feudal system of dependences). It is the first stage of the reform. The next stage that is now slowed down by those who would like by the revision of political reform to return the lost advantages from power or to fight for getting their hands on them, applies to the reform of power at a local level. It applies to the grant to the elected local power bodies the possibilities to be finally power for people, and not power above people.
If we want at least to approach to the European Community, it wont happen without realization of the political reform, and the European choice will remain nothing but demagogic creation. Listen only to those who voted opportunistically for reform of the system of power yesterday, and today they blame it again opportunistically. What nuances does he dislike in the system? Is there no stability? No, he is not satisfied exactly with stability and inevitable under plenary powers changes adaptation (discussion about countersign, authority of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers, priorities of legislative initiatives about the Cabinet of Ministers, the WTO), which are presented by him as the examples of instability. But in the time of the previous system governments changed annually, corruption scandals became usual for public, the right of strong was defended without the law So is that stability?
Yes, it is the stability of lawlessness. It is exactly that stability, when the nation - the source of power has no influence. I am categorically against such stability and Im sure: the society will have enough strength (and the present authority too) to avoid the returning to it.

Power institutes usually have the degree of public confidence. The Verkhovna Rada is not an exception. The legislative body is accused of corruptibility, lobbying of oligarchic and regional interests. The proportional electoral system, under the conditions of which party leaders make arrangements of places in electoral rolls without any control, is marked to be one of reasons of such state of affairs. How can the negative phenomena in activity of legislative body be prevented, and is it worthwhile to democratize the electoral legislation, in particular?
The Verkhovna Rada works openly. Political discussions in it become a theme for the analysis in society. In transport, in a market, at work or in a kitchen, from a newspaper or television people find out that deputies are venal, corrupt, dependent And the fact that the courts impose sentences of opposite contents is known by a few and interests only a few. It is easier to explain an average inhabitant that his uncomfortable condition is made by the figure of enemy. The power turns out to be this enemy, and the embodiment of it is the Verkhovna Rada. That is the answer to a question why it happens in such a way.
Thus I dont shield parliament. It is sinful, because it expresses the sins of society in itself. It does it attentively and in relief. Because it is formed, conditionally speaking, also by sinners (in view of that there cant be any saints in earthy life). All point is that how to reduce the measure of sin, what sieve should be used for prevention of its penetration in the legislative body of the state.
Modernization of electoral legislation is possible here as one of directions. It is not unique, not universal, but important.
Before passing the electoral law that is currently in force I was the coauthor of the variant in accordance with which the party lists were formed taking into account the opinion of electors at the local level. Popularly speaking, it added up to that a list is made in alphabetical order and is given to the CEC (the Central Electoral Committee), and the list of deputies and their ranking in it depends on that how in every district people voted for a candidate and a party which he agitates for. It would have meant that an elector votes for party, and also for a man that embodies it and afterwards will present the interests of this elector in the parliament.
I will not say that this project is simple and ideal. Ideal electoral systems do not exist. But it looks as if it gave the best fit to the present political situation in Ukraine. This variant was not supported. I think it would be useful to return to it now, having conducted wide public audition before that. So that every not indifferent elector could understand the prospect of the influence on the forming of parliament, as well as on forming of local authority.

Consequently is it possible to assert that the confusions in the activity of parliamentary factions are conditioned by the character of forming the party lists?
The content of the electoral law represents the political situation. Unfortunately, most political parties are formed from the top to the bottom. And the President in his speech during the convention of Our Ukraine mentioned the things know by everybody, but spoken by nobody. Only a few parties, the Socialistic in particular, were created according to a classic scheme: from the bottom to the top. Such party should not be afraid of rotary press of its most active members. Those should rise who have authority among citizens. And if a man is worthy, agitates for party and citizens understand the words addressed to them, then he deserves a high post in a party.
I suggested to realize this principle in the electoral legislation.  I personally also was ready to go to a district and conduct agitation there (three times I was elected in accordance with majority circuit). When I offered this scheme to the representatives of parties and factions who were in the parliament at the time of passing the law about elections, no political party supported me. It meant that some were afraid of the rotary press of most active members and of losing their post in a party (and presently, according to the proportional system, it is not only a post in a party but also in power structures), and others deprecated, because they had no party structures. As politically designed industrially-financial structures are not parties yet. That is why they were afraid of such law about elections, because it could be a high-risk for them. Except charismatic personality of leader, his white or fiery red appearance, there must also be concrete people, citizens of a concrete district could vote for. In order to prevent the things that happen today, when on basis of visual things party gets corresponding number of voices, and at local level, getting the same support, there is nobody in a list capable to be engaged in the concrete work concerned with interests of society. Consequently the law is needed to be worked at. I will not say that today it is an urgent task, but it exists.
And one thing more. The psychology of elector has to be changed: he is to be responsible for his own decision. Because a doubtful practice has been lasted till now: an elector votes in the way good for him (because somebody gave him a small coin, breaking roughly the electoral law, or because of the promises, or by order of a chief), and the very next day he begins to find fault with the elected politicians. One should look at oneself! This practice, by the way, explains the motivation of conduct of political forces in the power structures.
I used to say that from the point of ideology, program bases, practice of existence the BYT party, the Party of Regions, Our Ukraine do not differ from each other. They are identical right-wing parties with the certain nuances of political support. But in point of fact they are identical parties. That is why to join the coalition with one or another is not after all the question of ideology. Lets look at an elector, how he voted: 33% for the Party of regions. He thought, took responsibility, and delegated his own vision of prospects of development of the state to those, who came to power. And if we are pragmatists, we are to take into account the opinion of elector, even if we dont like it.
Im convinced: we had all grounds to take about 15% voices, but the stereotypes made during the presidential campaign (our- not our, black white, separatists patriots), that split Ukraine and heated up from all directions, confused the electors. This opposition held out till the parliamentary elections. The polarization of society took place. People made the choice, relying on arguments, which dont trouble them above all.   However they turned out to be decisive during the distributing of voices. However it is objectivity already. Starting from it, the corresponding steps are to be taken, compromises, blocks, alliances are to be found. The electoral law has to be changed. I repeat once more that no ideal electoral laws exist. The transition from one selecting circuit to another always takes place, depending on the development of democracy, on practice of application of law. The first experience of elections on proportional basis (partly successful and partly not) has to be used. In my opinion, the progressive point in it is that people clarify themselves in relation to existence of several different political forces. People do not perceive 150 parties. They want to be guided by parties, which they can entrust their own destiny. They can be as numerous as, for example, the Socialistic party, but they have to be necessarily all-sufficient taking into account perception of their ideas by people.

As a result of elections of 1994 the SPU was represented by 14 national deputies in the Verkhovna Rada. In 1998 the SPU-Rural PU block got 35 places. And in 2002 the party obtained 20 mandates. According to the results of present elections the SPU faction was formed by 33 national deputies. Why, do you think, socialists have a stable result?
As the leader of the party, Im certainly dissatisfied with the degree of trust to it from the side of society. I look for a reason and find an explanation. It was explained frankly during the convention. I think, such position, critical perception of the state of affairs exists (or at least it has to exist) in every party. The one, who is responsible for its development, is always dissatisfied with an evident result. From another side the certain statistics exists: we began with three national deputies in the parliament, presently there are thirty; we began with a twelve thousand party, presently more than three hundred thousand. Unlike the representatives of other parties I can frankly say: the party exists, its people are present at all structures of state authority, organs of self-government and public institutes. And the main point is not in statistics. I can say about every party member: who he is, where he is and what he is engaged in. Work is built in such a way as it has to be in a functioning party. We are not phantoms. We are the party that consistently defended the positions concerned with democracy, defence of rights and freedoms of people, social defence and with influence on activity of different branches of power in order to approach to that state which we consider the best, is society of democratic socialism.
Choosing such program arrangements, we risked. In Mykhaylo Horbachovs times the definition of democratic socialism was compromised. As well as many other things: the principle of democracy itself and publicity. It turned out to be some things were spoken about, and others were done. That is why getting back to such definition as program purpose of party activity was risky. Certain stereotypes peculiar to public conscious were collided. However Im convinced: democratic socialism is the state of society that is worth fighting for, and it is the one that gives a prospect both to the society and a concrete person. Exactly the consecution of our position was a clear reason for a citizen that induced him to support party, to take part in its activity. It gave us the possibility to grow at the most difficult moments of history.
I think the well organized work with defamation of party conducted presently by our competitors (and in a political spectrum we all are competitors, regardless of joining or not joining the coalition) will make us do positive conclusions. Our consistent position is the necessity to influence on power to the extent that determined for us by electors, defence of bases of democracy and human rights, orientation toward the social state, providing of just society (in its wide understanding). These are the pre-conditions of trust of citizens.

If we look at history of Ukrainian elections, we can assert that all elections occurred on the basis of antagonisms. Is it possible, in your opinion, to overcome this practice and turn to the competition of the programs?
The changes to the electoral law, which I spoke about, would give possibility to achieve it. People would have to read the programs of parties instead of vote for phantoms. And the representatives of parties would have to agitate for instead of against. That is more difficult to do. We made attempt to conduct such campaign. We did not fight against anybody. We didnt fight against regions, understanding, however, that they present specific interest. We didnt fight against Yulia Tymoshenko, though she disparaged us, using the unworthy methods. We didnt fight against Our Ukraine, understanding that Our Ukraine and BYT, falling out between itself, destroyed virtually the ideals of Maydan by conflicts and corruption scandals; though they like to speak much about them.  We agitated for our program; we told what it meant to build Europe in Ukraine. We reported on the work of our ministers in the government. And, maybe, we made a tactical error (and maybe, not), staying in the government and not returning to opposition, the experience of being in which is greater than anybody has. It turns out to be that for the society prepared properly the voting for is not quite convincing. It would have been easier for it, if I represented the figure of enemy, who is better to be put to death. It happens in the societies brought up in an autocratic atmosphere during their transition to democracy. We need a lot to do to make positive things be the content of political life. It is, certainly, ideal. I dont want to come in sight of idealist. Because nowhere in the world elections do not take place without criticism. But an opponent shouldnt be converted into an enemy.
In the struggle for power everything is used. A model example is the recent situation in Hungary. Our present members of the opposition did not understand that one shouldnt overcome the veto of the President concerned with the law about a moratorium on the rise in prices for communal payments, did they? They understood it. Because in their presence the rise in tariffs was adopted, prices on energy resources grew. But... they continue to struggle for power.

The second point of the pre-election program of the SPU proclaims: We will limit the communal payments by the law to 12 percents of profit of family, and the quality of public utilities will be well-provided. How will the faction of socialists realize this requirement so actual for today in the Verkhovna Rada?
By the way, it is laid in the law about the budget. It foresees: if the amount of payments exceeds 15 % profits of family, subsidies are given. But opponents do not mention it. Certainly, the socialists offer the higher standards of public welfare. But if there were more socialists in the parliament, we would realize them.

The protracted being in opposition, one might say, tempered the SPU. There are no casual people in it. The party preserved the classic principles of the socialistic movement. But new ideas used to appear next to such conservative (in the conservative understanding) values. What are the newest tendencies in the development of the party?
Making a speech during the last convention of the SPU, I said that presently the party strugles for socially-democratic values. It does not mean that ideology changes. The instruments of realization of interests of people and defending of positions of the party are characteristic for every stage of development of the party. That is the peculiarity. In the first program we used some ideas and tasks, we oriented toward collaboration with parties of close ideological spectrum, but afterwards we had to change our position. In the program of party we set the forming of people's democratic republic with the parliamentary-presidential form of rule adequate to it as an object. This object is achieved. Now we have the task to form new bases of activity of party, first of all deepening and irreversibility of the process of democratization.
One of new tasks is the state control system, the state property management, in particular. What is the previous practice? The fund of state property is engaged in privatization of national property and the management is carried out by the Cabinet of Ministers. Nowadays everything is sold, consequently privatization is not the basic task. The management of the parts of national property at corporative enterprises is basic. Presently one should look at the change of relations of property as at the element of control. Who is to have the corresponding plenary powers? How should one write out it in the law? All the more there is a great number of enterprises privatized for a song, but new proprietors (without regard to the promises) did not put their effective work in order. The mechanism of change of relations of property should be written out. It is to be represented in new approaches to the management, and in new normatively-legal base concerned with privatization, already implemented reforms.
Take a village as an example. It fell into decay, ruined itself by drinking. People lost any prospect. Schools are closed. Frightful social consequences take place. Advisers from abroad took the air. And those, who operated according to their pieces of advice, are presently on the honourable pension. And the misfortune has happened, and it is objectivity already.

What do the Ukrainian socialists expect from the next convention of the Socialistic international in 2007? How does the SPU prepare to participation in this arrangement?
The procedure of entry to the Socialistic internee exists. We have passed all stages. And the Socialistic internee Advice made a positive decision concerning the SPU entry to the organization. And the formalization of this decision takes place at forums. This procedure is similar to that, which existed in Ukraine under the previous Constitution: Presidium made decision concerning, for example, conferring honourable ranks or concerning the administrative division, and then all decisions became firmly established at the session. The same procedure exists in Socialistic internee. As far as the forum is convened one time per four years. Because of ignorance or unwillingness to know this certain forces resort to speculations on the occasion of it. Although it is a trifle unworthy for attention.

How will the socialists celebrate the 15-th anniversary of creation of the party?
We will celebrate decently. The anniversary is the reason, repeating the classic, for becoming concentrated on own mistakes. We will convene the asset and get prepared to the out meeting of the political advice in Lugansk. We will watch how district organizations work, what problems appear, we will meet with the party asset and managers. We will watch how our tack corresponds to the necessities of such important region and to the whole society.

Political scientists speak about the crash of ideologies. Do socialists confirm or refute this thesis?
Ideological work, next to theoretical and organizational work, is a necessary component of party existence. It may sound immodesty but no political party will come up with in the Socialistic party here. I analyze theoretical theses, conclusions, interpretations given to the political life by other parties, I analyze on what their estimations are grounded, and I can testify: they usually are grounded on vain things. And we have to look forward, to see a prospect.

What is your attitude toward the idea of the state financing of political parties?
It must exist, of course. The party functioning needs considerable means. Parties have to defend interests of people and state instead of caring after the benefits of political investors.

Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, we thank you for a pithy talk.

The interview was taken by