Yuriy Andrukhovych never tires of speaking about Maidan or offering his own views on how to find a way out of the crisis. In an interview with Espreso.TV, the well-known Ukrainian writer shared his thoughts on who should become the next president and why what is happening on Maidan is hugely important for the country and should not be forgotten.
You recently returned from Germany. How are the events in Ukraine really perceived there?
I participated in two major events in Frankfurt-on-the-Maine with Serhiy Zhadan and Tetyana Maliarchuk: a literary evening and a political discussion. Both times, the auditorium was packed. It was standing room only. It made me think that, if we constantly had some kind of revolution, Ukrainian writers would no doubt be much more successful. But naturally, these events are perceived differently there. There is a misunderstanding, for example, about the role played by Vitaliy Klitschko. I, too, would support him becoming president, but we see, nonetheless, that he is not the central figure in Ukraine. Opponents of Maidan believe that Ukraine already has a legitimately elected president and that a small group of people is trying to overturn this government.
How frequently do you go to Maidan?
I went there today for the first time in weeks. At first glance, it seems to have thinned out a bit. But at the same time, there has been a definite reorganization. A fair amount of people people [now] spend time on Hrushevskiy Street. There are people in tents. It feels more confrontational than before.
Which recent artistic event on Maidan impressed you the most?
I’m amazed that we have artistic events there at all. This is what helps us show it’s not some fascists here but artists – exhibiting their work, performing their music, reading their poetry. And this is very compelling. When I described the capture of Ukrainian House in Germany, I told them what a pigsty it had been and how the first thing these so-called extremists did is removed the empty bottles and debris. They cleaned up the mess. It later became evident that the police [who had been stationed there] had destroyed many artifacts. But the fact that this place now houses an open university, with lectures and concerts, impresses and convinces. So on the one hand, the activists supposedly acted improperly when they attacked the building and broke the windows. But on the other, the windows have long been sealed up and they’ve transformed Ukrainian House into a center for the arts.
Who from the opposition do you think deserves higher office?
I would support Vitaliy Klitschko for president. But this would be premised, of course, on there being a weak presidency, meaning that the president’s powers would consist primarily of diplomatic functions. The thing is that Klitschko is very well known internationally. He could do a lot of good things for Ukraine on the strength of his reputation and contacts alone without directing the judiciary and security forces [as under the current presidency].
Did you expect that your prediction of a third Maidan, as described in your novel, Lexicon, would come true?
I expected this revolution to take place in 2017. And I’ve been amazed. I never expected that everything would happen so quickly. But all these events demonstrate that our society is picking up speed. We’re no longer in a 13-year cycle but a much shorter one.
In your view, has the current Maidan changed Ukrainians?
Yes, it has helped create a more mature civil society. It is this aspect that we need to keep foremost in mind. The most important thing is for Maidan to continue as a spiritual phenomenon for as long as possible.
What do you think will be the outcome of Maidan?
To be honest, during Yushchenko’s time, we had a corrupt country but it was free. Now it is even more corrupt but it’s no longer free. That is the principal difference. If we could at least restore the level of civil liberties that we enjoyed during the term of the former president, then we could consider this, in itself, to have been a major achievement. Beyond that, if we could use this experience to deal with some of the other societal ills, like corruption, this would be truly amazing. In reality though, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Many people have walked this path before. And for us, this is complicated because we’re a big country, in terms of territory and population, and we are very complex on account of our diversity. But all of these problems are manageable, and my hope is that this revolution will cope with these challenges.
By Karolina Tymkiv, Espreso.TV
Translated by Anna Mostovych
Edited by Lesia Stangret