Yevhen Hrytsiak has ample credentials to advise policy makers and the public on the future action course. His name is part of the history of Ukrainian resistance to the Nazi and Bolshevik invaders. In 1953, he was one of the leaders of the Norilsk uprising, which laid the foundations for the subsequent collapse of the Soviet system. Hrytsiak presented his assessment of the recent developments in Ukraine in an interview with The Day.
There was some danger that Russia might disrupt the presidential election in Ukraine, but the voting went ahead everywhere except the Donbas. What is your take on this election?
“The election was better than I had expected. I would have never guessed that the society would display such unanimity, because I am well aware of our differences by region and political stance...”
How would you explain this unanimity?
“I think it has to do with Vladimir Putin. What I like most is the fact that our disagreements and differences between eastern and western Ukraine are gradually disappearing.”
What are the main challenges facing the newly elected president?
“His most important objective is to bring an end to the Russian intervention in our territory. How well will the new president cope with it, is now hard to say, but he has no choice, as we must put things in order. The Russian aggression is not a temporary thing, but a long-planned operation. I believe that the Kremlin is going to unleash a global war. This crisis will not stop with Ukraine. If we do not break Russia’s will to continue this ‘dirty work,’ it will end badly for the world. The fate of Europe is being decided in Ukraine now.”
Is the West aware of the danger? Is its support for Ukraine adequate?
“They support Ukraine quite well, but they do not realize the danger of Russia wanting to remake the whole world to its designs. This is a neo-Mongol tribe, aiming ‘to reach the ultimate sea.’ The Kremlin believes that the West is so weak already that it can dictate its will.”
Many people died in eastern Ukraine, including Ukrainian military, in particular those killed near Volnovakha and onboard the downed helicopter near Sloviansk. How would you comment on it?
“Unfortunately, our Armed Forces have been run into ground. I am also worried about lack of coordinated actions during the anti-terrorist operation. Terrorists attacked a border guard headquarters, but the guards did not get help. It is demoralizing our military.”
Now, to the pressing question of the future of the Euromaidan: should they stay put or disperse?
“I am of the latter opinion. The protest is already waning. There are still some patriotic captains there, but there are many homeless there too. The capital should be cleaned, and people should be expressing their protest in new forms. There is currently no need to protest, as we need to support the government by all means.”
Do politicians adequately perceive signals sent by society now?
“Throughout its history, patriots have not been lacking in Ukraine, but good politicians have been. I associate Ukrainian politics with painting The Cossacks Writing a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan. It is inefficient. Still, we see some individuals, especially of younger generation, who deserve our support.”
Following the events of the past six months, how much will our society change?
“Psychologically, it has definitely changed. Russia’s most important objective now is to finally crush Ukraine, and there can be no doubt about it. The main thing is how far we will allow it to advance along this path. We need to fight back. And we are capable of it.”