Two years ago, on May 20, 2019, the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took place. On May 20, 2021, he gave a press conference following the results of two years of his presidency.
About priority number one
Zelenskyy's top priority is to build a country without oligarchs. Another priority is resolving the problem of war and de-occupation of territories.
"We are building a country that independently defends its sovereignty and pursues a powerful sanctions policy itself. We are building, I would say from scratch, judicial reform. We are building a country without war. And this is a difficult path," he stated.
The President reasoned the choice of the venue for the press conference by the fact that the territory of the Antonov plant is his vision of Ukraine: remembering the past, understanding the current state and building the future.
«Our Ruslan aircraft is standing behind me. The last time we constructed such an aircraft was in 1994. On our right there is the unfinished Mriya (from Ukrainian—a dream) of Ukraine. On the left there is the new AN-178, one of three aircraft that the state has ordered for our army for the first time in 30 years of independence.»
President of Ukraine
He added that the question is not only to complete the construction of the Mriya aircraft, but to build the country of dreams.
About the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine
The Independence Day celebration will consist of several stages. On August 23, 2021, on National Flag Day, large flags will be raised in all regions of Ukraine. Thee will remain in regions centers.
Also on August 23, the first summit on the de-occupation of Crimea will be held.
"Important documents will be signed, Presidents, the Prime Ministers, leaders of churches, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs will be invited. About 30 countries will be represented," he said.
Zelenskyy stressed that this would not be just a summit, where something will be demonstratively signed. An office of the Crimean Platform will be opened, where the issues of the occupied Crimea will be delt with and steps for de-occupation will be considered.
"These will be professionals who every day—from lawyers to economists—will deal with the issues of the occupied Crimea and the issues of people who should receive humanitarian aid, and those who are there in prisons—both Crimea and the Russian Federation," he said.
The President added that the accession of various countries to the Crimean Platform threatens them with complications in relations with Russia. The Russian Federation takes the Crimean Platform hard.
At the same time, during the celebration of Independence Day on August 24, a large military parade "on land and on water" will take place—on the Maidan in Kiv and in Odesa. As part of the celebration, the first Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk will be brought to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy also presented a symbol of the 30th anniversary of independence. Companies did it for free, and a company from Lviv won.
"This is the main flower of the thirtieth anniversary. It seems to me that this is the right symbol of our statehood. And a symbol that we will not be trampled or broken, "Zelenskyy stated.
When asked whether he considers it possible to come to an agreement with Putin and whether it is possible to end the war while Putin is president of the Russian Federation, the head of the Ukrainian state replied that there is no other option.
"We must stop the war now that the President of the Russian Federation is Putin. I really want it, I believe in it," he said.
In the future, Ukraine will move forward towards the Normandy format.
"I had a meeting with President Macron and a video meeting with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. I feel their support. I believe that they should support us more," Zelenskyy said and added that, in his opinion, they have been slightly weakening their positions in relation to Russia lately.
When asked what he thinks of Putin, Zelenskyy replied that he did not have time to think about him. He thinks about a meeting that could end the war.
«I'm not afraid of questions, I'm not afraid of hotheads who shout something... I'm not afraid of anything of this. Basically, I am now in such a feeling that I understand exactly what I am doing, where I am going, what for I am doing everything. I don't turn around—I look only forward.»
President of Ukraine
About the law on oligarchs
The text of the draft law on oligarchs will appear next week. If a person matches the concept of "oligarch", he will appear in the corresponding register. This threatens to reduce the value of their assets both in the Ukrainian market and at the international level. This will be done not due to sanctions, but due to the emergence of the "oligarch" concept at the legislative level.
A person will be included in the register of oligarchs if their meet three criteria:
- influence on the media;
- participation in political life (influence on officials, deputies, there is a party that they finance, etc.);
- the amount of assets.
When asked whether the oligarchs really cannot be politicians and deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, Zelenskyy said "yes".
"They have the opportunity not to be oligarchs. They will be given time to get rid of all this influence—we will show them how to do it. There will be no dead end for them. This is a normal law respected by big business," the President added.
Ukraine has contracted 45—47 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. According to the President, this is the maximum amount that could be found under the COVAX programs, a separate program of direct contracts, for instance, under the contract with Pfizer for 20 million doses.
"We must understand that 1 million vaccinations were made. At the same time, we are not an EU country, we are not a NATO country, we are not a priority for the EU countries in terms of the sequence of vaccine supplies. Direct contracts with India and Pfizer were outside the European programs, they were at the level of complex agreements between companies and the leadership of Ukraine," the President said.
He added that it is unfair to compare the percentage of vaccinated. Despite the fact that Ukraine is not a priority, it made more vaccinations than some EU countries—"they are smaller, but nonetheless."
About three new Ministers
The dismissal of the Minister of Health, Maksym Stepanov, was due to the complication of relations with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
"The Prime Minister could not work with Stepanov. I didn’t intervene in this situation for a long time, I was afraid of the destabilization that could be caused by the change of the Minister in difficult Covid times. I know why there was a complication in relations, in this situation I sided with the Prime Minister," he reported.
Zelenskyy called the choice of the Chief Sanitary Doctor Viktor Lyashko for the post of the Minister "obvious."
Zelenskyy argued the appointment of Oleksiy Lyubchenko as First Deputy Prime Minister—Minister of Economy, and Oleksandr Kubrakov—Minister of Infrastructure for their high performance in their posts.
Former Minister of Economy Ihor Petrashko will remain in the team and will be responsible for land reform in the OP.
Former Minister of Infrastructure Vladyslav Kryklii will also work in a team, but in a new position.
"There are no serious problems with him. But we need to build Ukraine very quickly. This applies not only to roads, but also to the disaster at Ukrzaliznytsia, this concerns the Sea Ports Authority, a public-private air carrier. The team was unable to do this," the President noted.
About ending the era of poverty
"The era of poverty is the hardest part. Not everything depends on me. I press the government to raise both the minimum wage and pensions. It is not easy for the government to deal both with me and with filling the budget—the economy is developing slowly due to the coronavirus. But when compared with European countries, I believe that we are on a par," Zelenskyy stated.
The era of poverty will come to an end when the state is digitalized and everyone pays taxes.
According to the head of state, he will put an end the "era of corruption" until the end of his term.
About the referendum
"One of the important reforms is the rule of the people and the their will expression. Questions that the state does not raise, people can initiate themselves. We gave the opportunity of initiation by the law on the referendum," Zelensyky reported.
The referendum format can be proposed by the people of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy called the situation in Donbas the most important issue of the referendum.
"There will be no treason."
President of Ukraine
About relations with Klitschko and Poroshenko
"Klitschko did nothing to me. There is no connection between him and me, except that the Head of the Kyiv City State Administration is the President's vertical. Whether he wants it or not. In general, I have great respect for all of his victories before he became the Head of the city. The question of searches in Mr. Klitschko's entourage—well, they shouldn’t steal money from the budget," Zelenskyy stated.
The President believes that the mayor of Kyiv shows indecent behavior in public space, and added that Klitschko asked him not to dismiss him from the post of Head of the Kyiv City State Administration.
"You know perfectly well that there were people in my entourage earlier who wanted to fire him... I told him: please, work, show results," the President said.
Regarding Poroshenko, Zelenskyy said that he had already become a sentence to the ex-president.
About the dismissal of Kobolev
The dismissal of Andriy Kobolev from the post of chairman of the Board of Naftogaz was due to the negative financial result that the company showed in 2020. Zelenskyy also criticized Kobolev for the misuse of funds for lobbyist offices, funding for media and some journalists.
"Naftogaz will fill the budget in accordance with their promises and in accordance with their work plans," the President stressed.
About the work of the NBU
Zelenskyy was not familiar with the Head of the NBU, Kyrylo Shevchenko, prior to his appointment.
"I have invited all representatives of commercial and state banks of Ukraine and our international partners to the meeting. They named three candidates. Any of them could become an independent Head of the NBU. The state has chosen one of them".
President of Ukraine
Zelensky called the credit rate reduction a merit of the new NBU leadership.
"Now I am struggling to ensure that the program that I promised to the citizens of Ukraine works not only in words. It is mortgage is 7%," he reported.
It's too early to talk about a possible second term, since even half of the current cadence has not passed, Zelenskyy said.
«We will manage to do a lot, there are a lot of promises. I do not want them to remain promises. My willingness to go for a second term should coincide with the willingness of society and the results of my work—what I have done and have not done.»
President of Ukraine