On Tuesday, President Yushchenko threw a grand Putin-style annual press conference. With Ukraine being more democratic than Russia, he had to answer the most democratic question.
Serhiy Leshchenko, Ukrayinska Pravda: The question that drew the greatest amount of feedback — on all of the three web sites — I think most people present here know it, as do you, Viktor Andriyovych. The question reads as follows: “Dear Mr. President, please tell us how much we, the ordinary people, should pay you so that you, along with all the MPs, ministers, and government officials, will leave the country forever and will not stand in the way of Ukraine’s normal development?” This question generated 85,850 votes and the greatest number of votes on our sites as well. Thank you, in advance, for answering.
President Yushchenko: Thank you, Mr. Serhiy. Well, first of all, I was thinking whether I should…answer it in as humo…in as humorous a manner as this question is being asked. Obviously, this question is a provocative one. Obviously, it’s being asked for posturing. It’s not all that important how one answers it. But I would like to add a somewhat serious note here. You know, dear authors of this question…though, let me tell you a secret: two-thirds of the authors of this question are not from Ukraine — or represent non-Ukrainian outlets. But that’s alright. That’s how in Ukraine they got used to viewing various aspects of domestic policy, which solely pertains to the affairs of this state, this government. Very often, we can’t even formulate a question without “tips.” But, alright, let’s set emotions aside. We’re talking about people, dear nation, dear journalists, whom you elected. I think you elected every single MP who’s in Parliament today. Every minister who works today is a person who, as a rule, previously worked as an MP in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and who received electoral support, including the support of those people who are asking these questions, apparently.
This question is not as banal as it seems. It’s a question that spurs the creation of common responsibility of those who were elected and those who elect. It’s a rhetorical question: The government merely reflects the people, although I don’t accept this notion because the government, a true government, I am convinced, should be a few steps ahead, showing the nation, showing the people, the way — perhaps today some may find it impossible or infeasible — or showing the answer to the questions that are not popular. But born by the elite is a new politician who tells the nation every day: “Our choice is this. We must go there. Tomorrow, we must be there.” Like it or not, we should discuss the things that perhaps are emotional and unacceptable to some, but in the absence of this truth in the life of society, we are reverting to Asiatic society. We are reverting to feudalism. We are reverting to yesterday.
I am happy — I genuinely want to say — that you, Serhiy, have the right, as a journalist, to voice this question, because I believe that in many countries, including neighboring countries, such questions would never even get off the ground. And not only are we here today asking these questions, but we are also trying to gi…to give an answer to…for whom it is a challenge and how to deal with it.
And lastly…speaking of pay…it's corruption. Such propositions won’t cut it. We should improve relations between the government and the voter. I am convinced that a better formula for answering this question is…democratization. We should never fool around with democratic processes. We should be watchful of the processes taking place. And the fact that today is not an easy time for Ukrainian democracy — that the whim of some today to portray democracy as ineffective, that today we should revert to the mode we had four, five, six or seven years ago — this…this is also one of the contexts of our discussion today: so that we won’t have second thoughts after abandoning democracy, so that we won’t be witness to the scene of 47 million common sense people being sent on the same route.
He just didn’t get it, did he?
It was not a provocative question! It was a practical question. It was not about posturing. It was about problem-solving. It concerned the entire government machinery and political elite, including his arch-enemies and arch-friends.
A straight question needs a straight answer. Instead, we got a rambling lecture, replete with peripheral thinking. The President totally withdrew his persona from the story, unless, of course, he referred to himself as the “new politician” born by the elite.
Now, the President maintains that two-thirds of the question voters came from abroad, alluding to Russia. According to Ukrayinska Pravda, more than 66% of the question referrals came from the Ukrainian segment of the web, as supported by sitemeter data.
Moving on, the President addresses Serhiy Leshchenko by the informal pronoun ти instead of the polite Ви, as required by the basic rules of ethics. (Well, that’s a great leap forward considering how the President lashed out at Leshchenko in 2005 for probing his son’s luxury lifestyle.) Anyway, not only does the President patronize the reporter, but he also makes interesting compliments about the advantages of democracy.
Speaking of democracy, shouldn’t we distinguish it from plutocracy and kleptocracy? Speaking of corruption, wasn’t it in the office of the President’s representative in Lviv oblast that The Hon. Ihor Zvarych harvested some of his bribes?
And what about that "ambulance for every village" promise championed by the President’s party in 2007? What about "lifting parliamentary immunity?" What about "one law for all?"
47 million common sense people? Mr. President, as of December 2008, we only have about 46.2 million people left in Ukraine.
Ukrayinska Pravda and Korespondent today issued a joint statement, demanding a clarification from the Presidential Secretariat.
They claim that more than 82 percent of the Internet questions posed to the President, and the votes they generated, came from Ukraine.
According to the latest geolocation report released by Ukrayinska Pravda, the most popular question drew 70,663 votes from Ukraine (82.31%), 9,126 votes from Russia (10.63%), and 821 votes from the U.S. (0.96%).
Germany, 776 (0.9%)
Belarus, 406 (0.47%)
UK, 260 (0.3%)
Canada, 256 (0.3%)
Moldova, 214 (0.25%)
Estonia, 182 (0.21%)
Czech Republic, 130 (0.15%)
Norway, 129 (0.15%)
Moreover, because the presidential press service attributed its "two-thirds" figure to "state intelligence agencies", Ukrayinska Pravda and Korespondent demand a thorough and independent investigation of the matter. No such numbers would have been available in the first place without unauthorized access to their computers, the two news engines said.
At the same time, the two rejected the idea of an SBU investigation, citing visitor privacy concerns.
We demand that the Secretariat of the President clarify the statements made at the live-broadcast press conference.
We will deem the absence of a response as a violation of freedom of speech. Unfortunately, it has become accepted practice in Ukraine to leave socially newsworthy information made public by journalists unanswered.
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Original source: http://5.ua