Dear participants of the Congress, guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Why do we need all this? Why waste time on social and political life, taking it away from yourself and your families? I guess many of you have asked yourself this question. Many went into politics just seeking glory, and there’s this!
I was asked similar questions by the people of Lviv when the city was driven to the state of an ecological blockade and threats to the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of city residents. Why criticize the government and then suffer like this? Why not negotiate somehow?
There is always a temptation – for someone it is greater, for someone smaller – to stand aside, to find a comfortable place where it’s quiet and calm, and stay there.
I have news for you, ladies and gentlemen – I do not know whether it’s good news or bad news. It will not be quiet or calm. It will not be so anywhere. Neither here in our party, nor in Ukraine, nor in the world. The sooner each of us understands this – the less painful the parting with illusions will be.
We are not on the verge of turbulences; we are in their very whirlpool. Today I will not talk about major geopolitical challenges. Today I want to focus on the tasks that the people who have gathered in this room have to face.
It happened so that our country was stolen from us. The Ukrainian people did not notice the theft, because they never really knew what it means to own their country. Ukraine entered those historic times when people in the world began to gain real influence over the management of their states as a territory occupied by neighboring empires. It takes years for people to form the skills to own something and to manage it; it takes centuries for nations. We have never had these centuries.
Therefore, being confused by an unexpected independence in 1991, blinded by the coveted national symbols, exhausted by subsequent economic problems, Ukrainians simply did not notice how something that belongs to them – their own country – was stolen from them.
And we are not only talking about privatization of big monopolies and natural resources that ended up in the hands of people connected with the authorities. Soon these people started being called oligarchs. But we are talking about something bigger. The new owners of the Ukrainian economy realized at one point that whatever had been given to them might be taken back; therefore, they decided to take over the political power of the country by establishing control over all of its institutions – the parliament, political parties, the government, the media, local authorities. In order to ensure that the state apparatus faithfully serves the new owners, the apparatus was given a green light for the robbery of the Ukrainians. Everybody “got due share” – starting from a head of department in some ministry ending with a district police officer in a village. Someone was tempted and immediately fitted into the system, while someone tried to remain honest in this environment and is still trying to stick to their position. The system immediately perceives such people as a foreign body and tries to get rid of them. It is against them that all the power of corrupt prosecutors and courts is channeled.
This system easily condemns the mayor of Skadovsk, Oleksandr Yakovliev, for the purchase of stationery worth of several hundred hryvnias, but turns a blind eye to all the schemes that pump out billions of dollars from Ukraine.
Presidents and prime ministers change, ministers and politicians change. But one thing remains unchanged – the mechanism of functioning of the state, which governs all the other spheres. This is the mechanism of pumping out money from the country for the benefit of a small group of the selected few. This is where all other troubles come from – destroyed medicine and infrastructure, poor pensioners, disarmed army, and the youth planning to emigrate. In the end, this scheme has depleted the country so much that our enemy decided to attack it.
Every week we receive reports on the deaths of our military in the war with Russia.
I do not know if great Ukrainian poet Shevchenko wrote his prophecies, referring to specific periods. But it is difficult to imagine a more precise definition for what we see now than in his lines about those evil people who, “will lull Ukraine, and will wake her up when it is on fire and robbed.”
Ukrainians woke up when they were on the edge between life and death. When lies, theft and readiness to surrender the country to the enemy became too obvious. Ukrainians woke up in a stolen and plundered country.
We can be endlessly proud of our history and culture, the victories of our athletes, and the beauty of our language. But facts are ruthless. We are facing a huge challenge – to drag the poorest country in Europe out of deep decline and degradation; to stop the outflow of talented and hard-working citizens who are massively leaving Ukraine; to convince young people to believe that it is here, in this country, that they can build their future.
To do all this – we must finally take the first step.
We must give the country back to people!
Will those who have taken something that didn’t belong to them be ready for this? We do not know this yet. But so far, I have one simple message to them: Samopomich does not intend to crusade or riot. We do not want cataclysms and blood. Our goal is a successful and fair state, which will have place for large business as well, but this business will have to work in a competitive environment, earn honestly and pay taxes honestly. And you will also have to give back what is not yours and take your hands off the state.
Will we have allies in our work? Our logo says “Union”. We are not a closed club and those who joined the party before the parliamentary elections in 2014, when Samopomich opened the doors for all progressive, honest and really independent forces, are well aware of this.
We are open now as well – we are declaring our readiness for cooperation and coordination of actions. The only condition is to share our values. If you do share them – we are ready to work together.
At the same time, I urge all of us to be realists: our real ally is those to whom we must return Ukraine – these are our citizens. I am often asked what our target audience is, who we are we targeting, what ideology we profess? You know, it will be possible to talk about the choice of target groups when a real competitive political environment will be formed in the country, and different social groups will generate their own political projects that will represent their social interests. As of today, 99 percent of Ukrainian citizens are being robbed. These are students and pensioners, these are small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, teachers, doctors, and workers. All those to whom Ukraine should rightly belong. We represent their interests precisely. Although I understand that we will not be able to convey these ideas to all of them and convince them of the sincerity of our intentions. Resistance and opposition will be extraordinarily strong.
Today in the afternoon, our colleagues will represent the position of Samopomich in key areas of the country’s development – the main problems and our vision of how to solve them. I ask you to listen carefully to this and later actively discuss this within your local organizations. This is something which we will later present to people. This is our vision of the country.
Of course, in order to realize these ideas, Samopomich has to gain some leverages. We are building a party that will soon take an active part in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
We must convey our ideas to as many people as possible. And we must win. We have a very difficult, cunning opponent who has something to lose. But this is not our main enemy. Our main enemy is inside each of us. This is laziness, unwillingness to learn and change, thousands of temptations. Each of us will first have to overcome this internal enemy in order to achieve a common victory.
Each of you made a conscious choice when going into politics. If this is a choice in favour of hard and honest work, you will get real understanding and support here. If this is a belief in Ukraine and its people, you have a unique chance to take part in the changes that only one generation in many centuries can witness – in building your own, strong and independent country. And may God help us in this.