"Ukraine Has Never Had a More Stable Situation Than It Has Today"
An interview with President Viktor Yanukovych.
L.W.: People in the United States are also worried about pressure applied to civil society offices and journalists in your country. They say that they believe the pressure is to suppress any opposition activity. Is this fair?
V.Y.: Perhaps you are aware of some specific facts. What civil organizations are we talking about? What officers?
L.W.: One journalist disappeared, didn't he?
V.Y.: Many journalists disappear all over the world.
L.W.: That is something to worry about.
V.Y.: By all means that does worry us, but that was many years ago. The investigation is under way.
L.W.: I was told that there is a lot of pressure by your security organization on civil societies and human rights organizations. Freedom House downgraded Ukraine from free to partly free. What's going on?
V.Y.: I always react very harshly to any violations of human rights. If I hear that any member of the government or official of the government is involved in any pressure, I look into the issue very carefully, trying to find answers. I still believe that in many ways, such allegations are an attempt to exercise pressure upon the government—the government which has started this large-scale fight against corruption.
L.W.: You are saying [the report] is an attempt to go after this government because this government is going after corruption?
V.Y.: Yes, I do think so. Let me give you another fact. Today the level of confidence and trust of Ukraine is growing in the world. Almost all the credit agencies have upgraded Ukraine's rating today. Yet another important fact, the United Nations has four categories for countries: the first group is the most developed nations, the second group is for countries with a medium level of development, the third group is the countries with prospects, and the fourth group is countries with a low level of development and all sorts of deficiencies.
In 2004, Ukraine ranked 70th, and it was in Group 3. In the past five years, the country came down to the 85th position.
That is how we were ranked in 2009.
During the last year, Ukraine climbed 16 positions up, so now we are ranked 69th.That was the highest leap in the world in the course of one year. Today, Ukraine finds itself in Group 2. That's an international evaluation. There is one other important factor that one has to take into account when thinking about Ukraine today. For the previous 20 years of its independence, Ukraine practically did not modernize itself. No serious reforms were undertaken.
Because throughout those years of independence, Ukraine saw a fierce political fight. There was no stability. When the new president took office in 2010, we finally started global, large-scale reforms. We started the judicial reform, reform of criminal justice, tax reform, public administrative reform. We are trying to streamline and improve the public finance system. The government's policy is for deregulation of the economy and making the climate for investors more attractive. Clearly this process cannot be completely smooth. Ukraine has never had a more stable situation than it has today.
L.W.: How do you see Ukraine's relationship with the United States evolving?
V.Y.: Our relations with the United States are strategic, and on very many issues we are of the same opinion and we support each other.
All of the agreements that were reached last year, including at the nuclear summit between President Obama and myself, are being implemented almost 100 percent. This is true for the highly enriched uranium program. The same is true about the removal and destruction of missile fuel and so on. We have a broad agenda between our two countries, and this broad agenda shows that relations between us are good and stable.
Lally Weymouth is a senior associate editor of the Washington Post.
Photograph of Viktor Yanukovych by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images.