'Eastern Ukrainians 'hate Russian-led guerrillas' -- Yatsenyuk

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Just before his resignation, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk described as critical his country’s fight to preserve its territorial integrity. Following the loss of two more Ukrainian fighter jets to enemy fire, our Kyiv bureau chief Sergio Cantone asked him about what Arsenyuk calls ‘Russian-led guerrillas’.

Sergio Cantone, euronews: “Do you think that Russia will accept a kind of cease-fire and a consequent negotiation after new sanctions?”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister: “Room still exists; there is room for some kind of talks. But the only model of talks the Ukrainian government supports is the Geneva format: the United States, the European Union, Ukraine and Russia. So, we still have the room, but we need to have a cell, a prison cell, for those who committed these international crimes.”

euronews: “What do you expect over the next few weeks. Do you think that this country that you are mentioning will increase its pressure against Ukraine?”

Yatsenyuk: “Much depends on the ultimate goals of president Putin and his close allies in his regime. We still consider that the ultimate goal of the Russian federation is to eliminate Ukraine and to delete it from the world [map]... not to allow Ukraine to become a member of the big EU family, not to allow Ukraine to be an independent and free country. We are fighting for our freedoms and liberties. Look, we are fighting for our land, for our country and for our future, and in this case those who are fighting against us, they are on the dark side.”

euronews: “Now, considering the situation that is a very difficult one for Ukraine, do you think [now] is the good time from an internal policy point of view, a national policy point of view to dissolve the parliament and to go to new elections, as soon as possible?”

Yatsenyuk: “We have just two options, to be or not to be; on the one hand we need to pass an austerity package in the house, we need to push reforms and for this task we have to maintain stability and the majority in the parliament. On the other hand we need to hear the will of the Ukrainian people. They want to resume or to re-load the parliament, to have the new one and the majority of Ukrainians asking for snap parliamentary elections. This could be a decision in between I would say, for example to have snap parliamentary elections after we impose peace and stability in the east of Ukraine.”

euronews: “Don’t you think that anyway in this country there is a strong need to give the people from the eastern part of the country, the people who are now suffering for this war, a political response? There is a kind of lack of representation for them, from a political point of view at the moment. What is your message for these people in view of the possibility of snap elections?”

Yatsenyuk: “First, let me be very clear, because probably you don’t know the reality of what’s on the ground in Ukraine. The majority of all Ukrainian presidents, prime ministers and members of Ukrainian governments were from eastern Ukraine.”

euronews: “It is not that I don’t know the reality of the country, but that is what they say, so I have to…”

Yatsenyuk: “But, we need to talk again about the real facts. The second issue is that the east of Ukraine have a huge and vast representation in the parliament and they entirely control their local parliaments too, local governments. The third issue is that you are absolutely right, we need to find the political solution. But first we need to figure out what kind of political demands these people have, for example, if it relates to the Russian language, I was the first one who said, look, we still have a valid law on the special status of Russian language.”

euronews: “I’m not talking about the Russian language, I’m talking about their need, what they say: they don’t trust Kyiv.”

Yatsenyuk: “A few days ago I was in Slovyansk. Slovyansk is a former stronghold of these Russian-led guerrillas, and it’s true that probably up to thirty percent of the indigenous people of the east don’t trust Kyiv. And this is absolutely normal. But I saw the eyes and the faces of those who were liberated by the Ukrainian army. Probably they don’t like us, but they definitely hate these Russian-led guerrillas.”

euronews: “Just a last question: will you give them the possibility to vote for their own governor, as part of a decentralisation, for instance?”

Yatsenyuk: “The idea we have — this so-called decentralisation programme…”

euronews: “not federalisation?”

Yatsenyuk: [indicates ‘no’] “That was the Russian-shaped programme — how to eliminate Ukraine, to make it a federal state and to buy the parts of Ukraine.”

euronews: “That’s the reason why I mention decentralisation.”

Yatsenyuk: “Decentralisation — what kind of idea do we have? For today, the president has appointed governments [regional administrations]. We want to eliminate this institution [of appointment] and to allow the local councils directly to elect the governor