On the fourth day of a hunger strike by Yulia Tymoshenko, the jailed former prime minister and main political opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, her daughter Yevhenia Tymoshenko gave an exclusive interview to EurActiv in Vilnius.
She spoke to EurActiv Senior Editor Georgi Gotev.
On 21 November, the government of President Viktor Yanukovich announced the U-turn of Ukraine’s policy towards the EU, it looks like the fate of your mother changed. Now it looks like there is not the slightest chance that she would be freed before the 2015 presidential elections. This must have been a heavy blow for you, as a solution appeared as quite realistic before that?
It’s not only me. Of course we were hopeful, my mother was hopeful, but our hope lied in that Yanukovich would sign the [EU-Ukraine association] agreement. Nobody doubted that in the last two months, by the way he led the preparations for European integration and for signing.
But unfortunately after this cabinet of ministers’ statement it became clear that Yanukovich never had in mind the European strategy in mind for Ukraine, he was trying to find the best way out, to find a solution, an instrument to keep him in power longer and to promote “the wealth of his family”, as Freedom House called this phenomenon in Ukraine.
Of course we are all disappointed, but mostly Ukrainian people are disappointed, that’s why they are on the streets now, hundreds of thousands, calling for European integration, but also for my mother’s freedom.
How long do you think the protests may last? It’s winter, and the winter is very cold in Ukraine…
The Orange Revolution [of 2004-2005] was also done during winter and it was much colder than now, it was snowing, but people stood up. And now the numbers of people are increasing on the square, more students, more young people are coming out, and there may be more people after the failure of the [Vilnius] summit.
I think that any attempt to sell anything else to the Ukrainian people by Yanukovich will fail. People in Ukraine demand the signature of this agreement to happen tomorrow [29 November]. If not, the consequences may not be predictable.
For sure, the opposition made it clear that they will fight for the impeachment of Yanukovich and they are calling on behalf of my mother, and my mother is calling on European leaders to help in any way they can, to make sure that [presidential] elections in 2015 will be free and fair, so that democratic forces win and make sure that this fiasco which happened today will never be repeated.
Don’t you think that Yanukovich gave a present to the opposition by giving them the EU flag to fight for?
I think the opposition made it clear and especially my mother as the leader of the opposition, that the main result for Ukraine, for its future, will be the signing of the association agreement.
The signature doesn’t mean that we will be in the EU tomorrow, there will be hard work, and most of the work will have to be done by the authorities. But those in power now refused to make this effort, because their real aim is to be in power and abuse it. By this failure to sign, everybody else lost, and especially Ukrainians who were hoping for a positive outcome and for a chance for Ukraine.