Dear delegates of the congress, dear guests.
Since March 2014, I have attended the largest number of funerals in my life. I have paid last respects to young boys and grown-up men; I have watched young widows and orphaned children, mothers and parents who buried their children, grandmothers and grandfathers who did not have enough tears, because the pain of burying their own grandchildren was so enormous that it squeezed their hearts.
I am a father of 5 sons; the eldest is 15 years old. At moments like this I often think about what kind of fate awaits them. Very often I don’t know what words to say to those people whose close ones died in the war. For what, for whom, for what higher ideals did their children give their lives?
Each of us has their own path measured by God. We have to live a certain number of years and manage to do something during this time.
Every person in this room who has started political activities – either at the community level or at the parliament level – has to say these words, “I want to be useful not only to myself and my family, but also to the people who live around me”.
Nobody requires us to do this – this is neither written in the Constitution nor in the Bible. The latter two only clearly prescribe certain prohibitions, but give us a wide variety of options concerning the good things we can do.
It is our conscious will to serve the interests of the society. But this service is determined by one specific feature. This feature is the time in which we live.
We will all have to live our lives and do our work with the constant realization of one cruel fact: real men and women, our peers or peers of our children who died at Maidan and in the war with Russia have given their lives so that we could live and work.
We are all fully aware of the fact that in recent years before the war our country had been led to slaughter as a sacrificial lamb. At the same time, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the fact that in 2014 we were virtually unarmed in the face of the enemy.
After all, no one but Ukrainians themselves are to blame for the fact that our state was governed by people who robbed it and prepared it for surrender. But this is past – let historians and prosecutors deal with it.
However, we have no right to automatically drag the forced mistakes of the past to this day, let alone the tomorrow’s one.
If we only close our eyes and imagine that somewhere in the East of the country there is a military operation conducted against a group of terrorists, and the world community is willing to give eye teeth for the sake of helping Ukraine, the reality will not change.
And the reality is very clear and obvious – the country is at war. And this is not a war for the Crimea or Donbas. This is a war for independence, for the right to exist. Only those countries that in various periods of history managed to withstand this ordeal, have won their right to exist, have won respect in the world and a place among free nations.
Among our neighbors, there is hardly any country that at one time or another has not become a victim of Russia’s aggression: Poland, Finland, Georgia, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Baltic countries and so on. And each of these countries will tell us that only the most resolute, uncompromising and total resistance of the whole nation can stop aggression and force the enemy to retreat.
We are often asked how Samopomich differs from others. Personally, I think the following feature is obvious – we try to call things by their own names, we urge Ukrainians to face the truth, even if it is unpleasant and you are tempted to look aside.
And the truth is that the ATO has failed to be an anti-terrorist operation long time ago. This is a war, and it must be recognized officially with all the international legal consequences.
The truth is that Ukraine must do everything possible to organize evacuation from the occupied territories of all those who do not want to live under occupation, and to provide the evacuees with decent living conditions. And then we will have no remorse from the fact that by blockade we create inconveniences for our people on the other side of the front line.
The truth is that trading with the enemy is a betrayal of national interests. And no economic calculations are worth a hill of beans, because when a soldier on the front line is forced to protect the safety of trade flows with those who yesterday killed his comrade-in-arms, then it’s impossible to imagine anything worse for the morale of such a soldier.
History very often repeats itself and this allows us to take into account our mistakes. The main cause of our travails in the past was internal strife. Sometimes it was enough for our enemies simply to wait, and the Ukrainians themselves would do their job instead of them.
Ukrainians fought with each other in the name of Ukraine, justice and humanism. Hryshevskyi, Vynnychenko, Petliura, Skoropadskyi, Makhno – none of them wanted to give Ukraine into the hands of Moscow. But they did anyway. And they bear their share of historical responsibility for all the subsequent troubles of the Ukrainian people.
But let’s not judge others. We are now ourselves in the same difficult situation. And all our today’s actions or inaction have a direct impact on the lives of Ukrainians today and tomorrow.
On the one hand, we see injustice, which continues to dominate the country. We see thieves holding key positions, we see the weakness of the government in relations with the outside world, we see the reluctance to change the system of political corruption, further plundering of resources from the already completely drained and plundered country.
This system and its beneficiaries have clung like grim death to this country and are not willing to let go off it, since they don’t care about the thousands of victims, the broken lives of people, or about the millions of lost brilliant professionals who were forced to seek greener pastures somewhere else in the world.
And, on the other hand, we must take into account the historical experience, act wisely, with a cold mind but with a warm heart. After all, this ugly system is not some kind of external matrix, it is not an occupational administration that reposes on someone else’s bayonets. These are our authorities; these are those who were born and raised to power by our people.
How can we ensure that one day we won’t turn all our righteous anger against each other in the country? How not to repeat the defeat of the 1918 revolution? And at the same time to get rid of the dirt in the country?
I know that my colleagues from the faction often discuss these issues, and none of the decisions comes easy. However, one can always find the golden mean between the desire to destroy the completely insane corrupt power system and the readiness to make insulting compromises.
My formula is the following. The number one task for Samopomich is to unite people. Every minute spent on political showdowns, infighting, bashing is a lost minute. Constructing a political party means working with people, searching for and creating active environments, working jointly with those who share our values.
I thank Andriy Kulykov for one very important point. The journalist, who devoted most of his life to media work, made us an invaluable gift yesterday – he urged to go to people and talk with them without expecting that our ideas will be communicated through the media. Because, with all due respect to journalists, they will not!
Samopomich is not a political in-crowd, a social elevator, or a hobby club. This is a party that gives the opportunity to live a meaningful life. With many of you we have been through various hardships and our relations are always checked for strength by uneasy circumstances.
Each of us can prove themselves in different ways. Each of us is differently influenced by the fact that people’s lives depend on our actions.
The country is fighting for its right to freedom. Life in such a country is full of difficulties, pain, sweat and blood, daily tests of the strength of the spirit.
Laziness and weakness in such circumstances mean defeat. Full commitment and willingness to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the others will lead to victory.
It happens so in life that some doubts, fears and insecurities are somehow driven out by life itself, and everything becomes crystal clear – intentions become distinct and clean, strength, courage and the pungency of wit appear. This is the moment when God gives you the awareness of the importance of every minute of your life. And he gives you the strength to overcome all obstacles.
I know there is hard work and difficult struggle awaiting us ahead. I know that not everyone will find the strength to go through it till the end, and only those who will find the meaning of their life in this struggle will remain. I know this because every day I go through my own struggle. With each step forward resistance gets greater, pressure increases, challenges rise.
But only in such a struggle and under such circumstances real victories are achieved, people become free, and countries happy. And may God help us in this.