A Macho Mayor at Lutsenko’s Police Academy
Much of Ukrainian politics can be construed as a one-way contact sport whereby a bunch of ballsy individuals bang the people silly in every conceivable way.
They turn power into money, and money into power. They turn votes into poverty, and poverty into votes. This perpetual bliss is called stabilnist, and it's the only thing that turns them on.
But when something — or someone — threatens to disrupt stabilnist and turn it into a two-way street, it’s nothing short of Apocalypse for them. The angels of stabilnist start crying blue murder. They can’t get enough of that sexy time!
Undoubtedly, the Lutsenko-Chernovetsky episode involved behavioral patterns that broke the rules of civil conduct. But there’s more to it.
By bringing the land issue out in the open, this episode also broke the not-so-secret behavioral code whereby political opponents often treat each other like friends, but treat their voters like shit. It’s the same code that helps certain individuals in the Kyiv City Council find common ground — or should we say, common land — and force Kyivites on the sidelines. At the end of the day, the people play by the rules while the politicians they vote for play with the rules.
Below is a fragment from Savik Shuster’s Svoboda talk show on Inter. The program aired Friday night, hours after the act. Lutsenko joins the studio on the phone, at approximately 04:00 minutes into this video.
Yuriy Lutsenko, Minister of the Interior: Good evening, dear Savik! Good evening everyone who’s watching and listening. Uh, I couldn’t miss this broadcast, despite having promised not to make statements for the media during the first 100 days of my office as Minister of the Interior. I will tell you briefly why today’s incident took place, and will outline it.
Today, a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council was held on the issue of land grabs in Ukraine. Uh, many different officials said feel-good things, and I was one of them. Without naming names, I cited cases of utter land lawlessness and land grabs of thousands of hectares worth of priceless Kyiv land — all of it without reference to the incumbent Mayor of Kyiv. I talked about similar things happening in Kyiv oblast and in the Crimean Autonomous Republic.
As the meeting drew to a close, I offered a hands-on solution. The Office of the Prosecutor-General should not just challenge the illegal activity of, say, the Kyiv City Council — which has already started pillaging hospitals, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the Kyiv Fortress and so on — but to file charges and attach these contested land plots so that they will not pass into the hands of con artists.
After all the attendees favored the initiative to form a joint task force of Prosecution, MoI, and SBU, and to set up special land courts — for this problem concerns all of Ukraine — I finished my speech. After this, there was a statement by Chernovetsky, who said the following: “Viktor Andriyovych [Mr. President], Lutsenko extorted me for land, allegedly for police purposes, and if I refused, he promised to arrest my son.”
I was shocked. I remember one occasion…I met with Chernovetsky twice in my life: once at a Kyiv City Council session, and once in my office. So once — before the [2006 parliamentary] elections, before he became head of the City Council — he called me and told me that the former Kyiv City prosecutor is putting the pressure on a law enforcement officer to arrest my son, Stepan Chernovetsky, before the elections, on suspicion of involvement in the housing fraud of the Elita Center, which stole hundreds of millions worth of people’s money invested in the construction of dwellings.
I said, “Mr. Chernovetsky, here’s my credo: ‘I don’t fight the kids. This is a no-go.’” So I gave an order to Kyiv police to interrogate Mr. Stepan Chernovetsky, son of the incumbent Mayor, after the elections, so that it would not be exploited in the political faceoff. And when today he brutally exploited this — and turned the issue on its head — I was shocked. I said it was a lie. After that, 20 minutes passed. The meeting of the National Security and Defense Council finished. The President thanked everyone for a job well done and, accompanied by other officials, left.
I called out to Chernovetsky and said he was a liar — that he was the bastard in this situation, for normal people don’t act this way. I made a human thing, keeping in mind that even the Sicilian mafia doesn’t fight the kids, least of all the Ukrainian government. [Comment: The Sicilian mafia in La Piovra behaves differently. And much of the Ukrainian government, in fact, does behave like mafia.] And for this I got backstabbed with an absolutely untruthful and sordid accusation.
After that, Mr. Chernovetsky — in a manner he’s been acting all his life — hit me cunningly in the knee that still hurts from the days of Maidan. I’ve just been to the hospital and have made all the arrangements to document this. I gave Chernovetsky a face slap — all the governors have seen it. With the palm of my hand, I gave a man’s, or manly, if you like, slap to a person who lies and schemes in his position as Mayor of Kyiv. I must disappoint Mr. Oles Dovhy [Deputy Mayor of Kyiv, 27]. I will not make apologies, for I believe that it was an absolutely mean act — heaping lies on me after all I had done.
Oles Dovhy, Deputy Mayor of Kyiv: It’s not Chernovetsky you should seek apologies from, but from the people, and that’s it.
Yuriy Lutsenko: It’s absolutely mean to hide behind the President’s back, and it’s absolutely mean to hit a man in the knee under the table, for I know who does it — it’s jailbirds who do this. Apparently this skill will come in handy for Mr. Chernovetsky. But someplace else. I’m not going to apologize, and I believe that I acted as a human, as a citizen, and finally, as Lutsenko. In this case, I can understand Mr. Chernovetsky: He will buy off everything, just as he bought off Kyiv. He will buy off the doctors, he will buy himself a medical certificate [as proof of battery], and let him do it. I will remain Lutsenko and am not going to apologize to scoundrels and thugs.
Savik Shuster, Host: Thank you. That’s it.
Oles Dovhy, Deputy Mayor: Lastly…
Savik Shuster: Subject closed.
Oles Dovhy: I would like to add some detail…
Savik Shuster: No, subject closed. We have to take a commercial break.
Oles Dovhy: I didn’t ask…
Savik Shuster: Please, Mr. Dovhy [roar of applause]… That’s it. We’re closing. That’s it. We’ve heard both sides.
Oles Dovhy: I didn’t ask Mr. Lutsenko to apologize to Leonid Mykhailovych [Chernovetsky]. I would like to ask him to apologize...
Savik Shuster: …to the nation....
Oles Dovhy: …to the people…
Savik Shuster: That’s it. Thank you. We’ll be right back after the commercial break.
Below is an audio fragment from ICTV’s Svoboda Slova talk show, the arch-rival of Inter’s Svoboda — which Savik Shuster cloned when he changed channels last year. Chernovetsky can be heard licking his wounds in a rather pathetic way.
Leonid Chernovetsky, Mayor of Kyiv: He stormed out of the crowd, and hit me twice…uh…in places that men usually take pride in — that’s point number one.
Andriy Kulykov, Host: You mean the head, right? [Comment: What kind of sick freak are you? Can’t you think of anything else? Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that some powerful men in this country take pride in “places” other than the head?]
Leonid Chernovetsky: And point number two, he hit me in the face with his fist, and instantly he was held back by several ministers and administration chiefs. Of course, I naturally pulled myself forward to fight him back, but to my greatest disappointment, I didn’t have the opportunity. Now, that was a nightmare! Just imagine, what should we do in a country where a minister, in the presence of the country’s key figures, punches someone in the face and crotch?
Damn, I thought that turning the other cheek — or whatever — was the Christian thing to do. Isn’t it what you stabilnist folks preach to us?
Joking aside, most Kyivites would agree that Lutsenko and Chernovetsky owe them an explanation. After all, analysts consider them the two major contenders for the job, should mayoral early elections be held as promised by the Orange camp.
In the spirit of clean fighting, the two should settle the score by taking independently monitored polygraph tests on the land issue and by reporting the test results to the public. Let the public see whose side of the story has more truth to it.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” as the CIA motto goes.