Viktor Baloga ‘always supported values at first and only then – their owners’

Diana Dutsyk, 'Zerkalo Nedeli. Ukraine'   7 April 2012 09:31  4509357 29664
Viktor Baloga ‘always supported values at first and only then – their owners’

He has never been the part of orange circles for one hundred percent, the social-democratic past and uneasy temper revealed it. Some of the former colleagues, like Petro Doroshenko, consider him as a traitor. Viktor Ivanovych behaves in the same way with them – he does not search for appropriate words when it comes to the assessment of present opposition. Baloga does not feel like being the part of a white-blue team either where he works as the Minister of Emergency Situations. The friction with Boris Kolesnikov for the system ‘112’ and the altercation with Mykola Azarov during the recent Council of Regions were displayed to the public. However, Baloga remains as a minister so far thanks to the personal support of Viktor Yanukovych who is bound him for a certain communication services he provided during the Yushchenko presidency. But for how long? Obviously, Viktor Baloga is not sure in it either if he decided to run for the Verkhovna Rada. The Minister of the Emergency Situations and the leader of the party ‘United Center’ (Yedunuy Tsenter) told in the interview about the political ambitions, the reform of the Ministry of Emergencies and about the Viktor Medvedchuk’s returning into the politics.   

-         Victor Ivanovych, the development of the concept of reforming the Ministry of Emergencies that provides the integration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs began at the end of 2011. At what stage is this process now? How the integration is to happen?

-         I openly expressed the idea of integration of two ministries into the one at the end of 2010. I have to admit that I was slightly disturbed because of the assumption from the expert environment that is why I want to embrace the main chair in the new structure. And again I repeat to all skeptics: my final goal – the establishment on the basis of the Ministry of Emergencies mobile, equipped and well-funded rescue forces and passing them under control of police.

The extensive reform which is responsible for the people security in the whole state is to be held at the same time. Other agencies which are dealing with migrations and borders should be transferred into the United Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the same time we have to withdraw services with functions which are unusual to European police. For example registration and permitting functions. In short – we have to create a law enforcement agency with broad mandate and the same broad responsibility which will return the trust of citizens.

Currently the President’s decree is being prepared . Several ministries coordinated by the Ministry of Justice are developing this decree. The first version has caused a lot of substantial comments. As one of the idea authors I have sharply criticized the document for unreasoned complex of tasks.

-         So was it your personal initiative rather than an initiative of the administration of the President, or someone else?

-         When the president invited me to work there, I told him that I would offer to unify the management system of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. I can see its structure not in the status of the Ministry. ‘There is no questions - work’, – said the president.

 I worked for two or three months in the Ministry. The decree of the administration reform was signed at that time. There were a lot of issues that concerned the system of ‘112’.

We started to work on the new position of the Ministry of Emergencies where the system ‘112’ belongs to its competence. However I realized that I will not pass to the government with this paragraph because some of the Cabinet ministers were disagree with my suggestions. I met the president. He said that the system ‘112’ should be in the Ministry of Emergencies. The President adopted a resolution of the Ministry by the decree which clearly states the fact that the implementation and maintenance of the system ‘112’ belongs to the functions of the Ministry of Emergencies. After this no one in the government could dispute with me on this issue.

-         The service ‘112’ implementation was scheduled for April…Recently it has been postponed already for June, and the introduction of the system in action across the country is expected only at the end of 2013. What is the breaking process connected with?

-         The process did not slow down. Note that the creation of the analogue of American 911 in Ukraine has been discussed already for several years. They started to work last year in June, when the President gave the relevant instructions for the Ministry of Emergencies and the first contacts with developers were started. We studied the experience of countries where the emergency calls by a single number have been successfully operating for decades. We considered a lot of offers from the leading Western firms. Personally I flew three times to the USA to held negotiations with the officials of the state structures and the heads of companies who are acknowledge as the leaders in this field.  

The Government has allocated 452 million for the first stage of works. It was found and prepared the placing premises for centers ‘112’ in the cities of holding of the European Football Championship matches. These centers are to start working in May. Completely network must start working across the country in 2013.

-         In whose subordination will appear the emergency service after the actual liquidation of the Ministry?

-         If the Ministry of Emergencies is reformed and has the status of the service in the MIA, then it is to be coordinated by this Ministry as well as other rescue services.

-         Returning to the MIA reforming. How much does such reform cost? How many officials will be dismissed?

-         We still don’t know the concrete sum of money which is to be used on the construction of new MIA. The number of dismissed and enrolled will depend on the sum of money. We are sure that it will take a very large sum from the budget but the issue is worth it. It is damages plus inefficiency to keep so many allied structures.

-         Recently at the meeting of the regions when the President left the hall you refused to continue your speech. This is actually the demonstration of the fact that in Ukraine we can appeal only to the President, because only he makes key decisions on important issues? Isn’t this tendency slightly authoritarian?

-         Of course the President takes key decisions and he is responsible for the Government according to the Constitution. The president is responsible for all decisions taken in the state, even if he does not take it or even is against them the negative reaction still goes on him.

-         Recently you wrote an open letter to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Boyko with the request to interfere in the situation of the fire safety on existing nuclear power stations of Ukraine. What made you write this letter?

-         Security concerns everybody and there cannot be the lack of knowledge about it. The power units of all our nuclear power plants – from the oldest up to ones that put into operation in 2004 – they worked their resources by 65 per cent. The whole automatic fire equipment that is installed on them are designed and edited in the Soviet times. The further use of the automatics systems of fire does not guarantee the safety of operating power units as far as the power unit details are no longer produced.

The fireproof measures at the nuclear power plants were crossed out from the list of priorities by the company ‘Energoatom’. And the reason is the lack of money.

Therefore the only thing we can do – is to write to the all organizations. That is why I wrote this letter to my colleague with the hope to change an uneasy situation. Because the main goal of the Ministry of Emergency is to avoid, prevent an emergency situation.

-         What kind of relationship do you have with Mykola Azarov?

My personal opinion is that in the Government should work the system based on the strict rules and procedures. Then the quality of working relationships between the minister and the Prime Minister would have no meaning. They are supposed to be friendly and the rest is a personal matter.

-         Let’s return to the letter about the safety on the nuclear power plants. What is the real state of Ukrainian nuclear power plants: is there a problem only with the fire strength security or that is a set of problems? Can the present condition of plants guarantee the security of Ukrainian citizens?

I am not the one who has to answer this question. The State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation is responsible for the safe uses of nuclear energy according to the law. Therefore it is approproate to speak only about the problems of the Ministry of Emergencies competence.

The main one lies in the fact that all 15 operating power units in case of fire remain vulnerable. The reconstruction and installation of existing new systems of fire quenching are implemented or delayed from year to year.

From the necessary number of buildings of Civil Protection of the population that live around the plants is about a half. Only one third among them is ready for their intended use in case of accidents at the NPP. There are problems in the case when the need is arises in the sanitary-treated release of radiation and the establishment of sufficient reserves of deactivation. I can assure you that in case of an accident at the NNP all forces will be involved.

-         In what conditions are other companies, such as chemical ones?

-         It is enough to say that for the majority of enterprises equipment work for more than 25 years. Anyone could establish the high risk of incident proceeding from this sum. More than a thousand objects which are use or preserve 275 thousand tons of dangerous chemical substances operates in the country. Every fourth Ukrainian lives in the area of possible chemical contamination.

There is also problem in the waste. The final products are around 40% from all chemical raw that are recycled. The rest goes into the dumps and does not actually utilize.

-         There have been collected 550 million euro for implementation of Chernobyl projects last year. Is it enough?

Several international projects are implementing simultaneously at the Chernobyl station at the moment. Their ultimate aim is the final removing of NPP from the exploitation and complete ecological safety of the object ‘Shelter’. There are two main projects: the construction of the protective arch over the damaged 4th power unit and the construction of the storage of spent nuclear fuel consumption number 2. They are fully funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development of Chernobyl Fund and the Nuclear Safety Account. The donor countries give money.

The clarified cost of the work on the ‘Shelter’ is 1 billion 540 million euro. CW-2 costs 255million euro. There should be enough collected money in order to complete both projects in 2015 according to the signed contracts.

-         You announced that you will run for deputy. Does that mean that you will resign from the post of minister? Who will complete the Ministry’s reform?

The reform is complete. The necessary laws are adopted. The tender for the system ‘112’ is successfully conducted. It does not matter who is to be the minister, the Ministry of Emergency will no descend from its path. As I have told already, my main goal is to take part in the election to Verkhovna Rada.

-         You refused to merge with PR. Does this mean that in Transcarpathia you will have to compete first of all with the Party of Regions?

There is nothing to worry about. What matters is that the competition has to be civilized. Deputies from the ‘Yedynyy Tsenter’ always support important for Ukraine law drafts. We have disagreements with the PR concerning the language and some other issues. But this does not prevent us from the working on the construction of Ukraine. Our goal is not to fight. Our goal to is to work for the development of country.

-         How do you think how many candidates from the YT are able to fight for the victory in the majority districts?

There are candidates in all regions. We expect to have 20-25 candidates. I think half of them have a real chance of winning.

-         Does the Yedynyy Tsenter impose candidates in all districts of Transcarpathia?

There will be candidates in three districts for sure. Concerning others we have an internal plan but it is too soon to speak about it. In the political steps YT is very sensitive to the interests of the local community and always takes into account them in Transcarpathia. Therefore we will define later the nature of our participation in the election in Transcarpathia districts.

-         However we know that your cousin Vasil Petovka and two brothers – Ivan and Pavlo are also represented by YT. Recently there has been a tendency: politics becomes the family affair. Is it correct that one and the same party actually is represented by a family?

First, it is not about the family besides the decision hasn’t been made yet. There will be nothing wrong if my family wins. The victory on the district would mean that the community trusts them. There is a confidence in our team and it is our success.

-         You have mentioned that Yedynyy Tsenter is sensitive to the interests of the community. What is your attitude towards the creation of ethnic Hungarians autonomy in Transcarpathia?

I don’t approve this idea. Unitarian System of Ukraine is fixed by the Constitution. There is no reason for the ethnic Hungarian autonomy. There are 150 thousand of them. They always have their own delegates in regional and some district councils in local government. Even the Head of the Beregovo is always Hungarian. There were representatives from the Hungarians in the Verkhovna Rada and now they are going to impose their candidates. I think that the Hungarian autonomy will not be accepted in any form. This is an artificial issue. Maybe somebody wanted to play on that field before the election.

-         How do you feel about the Medvedchuk’s returning into the big politics? What can we expect from this?

Everyone has a right to come and go from the sport. It is the same with politics. I don’t expect anything good from these intentions. Observing the political activities of this man since 1997 and 2004 I became convinced that his goal is not Ukraine. He returns into politics not to become engaged in the construction of Ukraine. Most likely, he received the task from his godfathers to drag Ukraine into institutions of EurAsEC.

-         Somebody says that Russians, Putin in particular, insisted on Medvedchuk to assume a key position in the country, such as the head of the AP Yanukovych?

I know one thing: where there is Medvedchuk the success of any power is over.

-         Does the present government know about it?

I would not say anything if this person worked on the integration of Ukraine into Europe. His desire to consolidate Ukraine in the sphere of Russian influence was at the time when Ms. Tymoshenko was the Prime Minister, and remains today. We can cooperate in the economic sphere with Russia. The government does not decide where we should integrate – the Ukrainian community does.

-         What political ambitions does personally Vikor Baloga have?

My ambition is to be active in the political process in order to influence its course and achieve positive changes for the country. Someone can consider it as pathos. But I am not.

But I certainly know that the political ambition can be devastating. Yulia Tymoshenko demonstrated this style of the goal achievement. It has not brought any advantages: neither her, nor society, nor country. Two years ago there was the slogan ‘she will win’. Now – ‘Freedom to Yulia’. Where is Ukraine? It is not in this system of coordinates.

My ambition is directed to the productive action. I always supported values at first and only then – their carriers.

Once I accepted the invitation of President Yanukovych to work in government. I think that year and four mounths in office I did not spend in vain.

-         What is your present relationship with the representatives of CODE?

While working with President Yushchenko I always cooperated with the opposition. Victor Fedorovych Yanukovych was in opposition at that time. I had never concealed the meetings with him. Because the problem was not in Yanukovych, Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, the matter was in Ukraine. The same is now. Some call themselves opposition. But I think that today it is not the opposition. There gathered a group of interests. ‘Opposition’ does not think of how to build the Ukraine. In the opposition are not those politicians who think of building a strong country and who really want to move in the West direction.

-         And what about 2004? It was these same people, but at that time you were all together…

We observed the phenomenon of the community, rather than Yushchenko in 2004. He was standing the closest to the community and everybody trusted him. Yes, we were together and worked together. And today we meet. But again I want to emphasize: this is not the opposition that will work to build the country. I have some sympathy only to specific politicians.

-         How do you think, why do they violate the criminal cases mainly against the Tymoshenko’s people, but do not touch those people who can be considered as Yushchenko’s?

I will answer to this question wider. I am against the fact that Brussels and Washington believed that we have political prisoners.

-         So do you not consider Tymoshenko and Lutsenko as politica prisoners?

I am against the fact that we were labeled as the country in which there are political prisoners. If today the mighty of this world say that we do have political prisoners and criticize the Ukrainian justice, we must make conclusions and come out from this situation.

-          How?

By using political, legislative and legal methods. If they say that we have political prisoners we must do everything possible to withdraw this issue in the eyes of the world. We should not have the political persecution. If Tymoshenko was not in prison and went to the election she would have the same score as marginal. That is why she must be allowed to receive treatment wherever she wants.

The trust which the community gave to Yushchenko (not Tymoshenko) was destroyed just because of the relationship between these people. I repeatedly said that in order to unite the country in 2005 Yushchenko’d better propose the post of the Prime Minister to Yanukovych. Today is the same situation. They had to find space for both her and for Yushchenko.

-          You released the declaration of your income for 2011, according to which you personally earned 209.7 thousand hryvnia and your family – 269.4 thousand hryvnia. Meanwhile, your income constituted only 67.6 thousand hryvnia according to the declaration in 2010. Has your wage increased?  

-          I started to work in November in 2010.

-          Were you involved in something else?

-          We are talking about the public service.

-          Why neither then nor now your family does not declare what they own and that they control a number of enterprises in Transcarpathia?

-          Everything is declared. As the official I show my salary as it is required by law. If the law came into force that obliged the public officials to declare not only incomes but also expenses – I would do exactly the same. Today, let’s say, I depend on my family. As soon as the new law came into force I’ll have, like all employees to declare income as well. Then the declaration would have a different look.


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Comments (2)

йой  09/04/2012 1:05 pm

а я нет

Анфиса  09/04/2012 9:01 am

Хорошо продуманное интервью.Далеко не дурак.Что-то делает для всех не забывая и про себя.Остальные-то только для и под себя.Я буду голосовать за него.

Total 2 comments