As a child, he dreamed of becoming a pilot but began to work as a history teacher. However, life had its own plans: after he gave up teaching, he came to politics and became a diplomat and one of the authors of the Constitution. He believes the main reference point in the work of the state is a man and the national idea for him is the building of a great Ukraine. Read in the category “Who is” on Opinion about the secrets of his success, Ukrainian democracy, the liberation of the occupied territories and Russia from Roman Bezsmertny’s words.
The secret of success and childhood dreams
Recalling his childhood, the politician says: from an early age, his father taught that in the alphabetical order, Motyzhyn is before Moscow. This is what the future diplomat remembered from his childhood. And the secret of his success is not only and not so many ambitions.
“I was taught to work hard since childhood. I can’t work half-hard. If you work, you must show the result. Therefore, I made maximum efforts in my studies and maximum efforts in my work. That’s the secret of the effectiveness of life.
Despite the fact that Motyzhyn is an ordinary village, and I grew up in an ordinary Soviet family (my mother worked in the hospital all her life, my father worked on the farm), but the family code, attitude to work and appropriate education are the main prerequisites for success.
My first childhood dream was to become a pilot. For a long time as a child, I dreamed of flying into space. I remember being scared of it. One morning I woke up and my grandmother, my mother’s mom, was standing over me, blowing on me. She was a very religious person, was a churchwarden, knew many things. Since then, flights ceased to come to my dreams. Soon this dream to become a pilot passed as well. But very pragmatic dreams started to emerge, but it was much later”.
First steps in politics
He was a teacher and became a people’s deputy. He was well known in the Makariv district of Kyiv oblast, where he came from, and also – in Borodyanka district, where Bezsmertny was working as a teacher. As a result, the local branch of the Ukrainian Republican Party nominated the historian as a candidate for the majority district.
“Then the electoral process lasted almost six months. Electoral districts were reduced to 2 administrative districts. This is about 60 settlements. During this time, this area can be passed twice or three times. Starting from 6 am and ending with the evening milking, I talked to people at the meetings, tractor parks, on the board of the collective farm. You have no idea how aggressive and conflicted those conversations were. Power and heat outages, people did not get any wages or pensions.
At that time there was a two-round majority system of an absolute majority. I won in the first round but didn’t score 50+1, so there was the second round. I won the 2nd round and so became a people’s deputy. Normal work began, followed by the 1998 and 2002 elections. When Viktor Yushchenko became president, I was sure that all the dangers for Ukraine were over, and now there would only be a question: “What Ukraine will be? What course will it take?”. But I was seriously wrong.
The readiness of the Ukrainians to democracy
Reflecting on this question, Bezsmertny proposes to divide our society into at least two parts, that is, those who were born under the USSR and grew up on that ideology, and those who were born in an already independent country.
“The first ones are those who lived with democratic beliefs, that were born in an independent Ukraine, who do not dream about anything except for democracy and freedom. And the second ones are the Ukrainian population which is affected, infected with totalitarian Soviet ideas. This is the part that cannot imagine itself without patriarchalism.
The ratio today is 30% to 70%. Therefore, any leader who comes to power must accept this as a fact. Now I do not give estimates to either ones or the others. It is necessary to keep something in politics that also gives the answer to the infected part because sometimes these people look helpless. And at the same time, we need to give freedom to new people because it is a locomotive — they pull us forward, they develop us. I live by the ideals of freedom. I do what I think is necessary.”
The re-foundation of the state and the amendment of the Constitution
The politician notes that the current Constitution is only a quarter devoted to human rights, the rest of it is about ensuring the work of the authorities. According to Roman Bezsmertny, a person does not exist for the state today, and it has to be vice versa. Therefore, we need a new Constitution and… re-founding the state, because “there is nothing to repair, it is necessary to build from scratch”.
“It is obvious that the beginning of this should be the adoption of a law or a set of laws that will fix the transition period. Its duration should be no more than 3 years. This is the time in which it is necessary to develop a new model of the state. To develop the Constitution, the whole complex of the legislation on the institutes of the power – from central institutes such as the parliament, the government, the president (if this position remains), to the regional organization and local governments.
The second thing is the need for training. Unfortunately, we do not have personnel who can meet the needs of the entire “state machine”. We must understand that there is a war. The inability to finish it, among other things, lies in the completely incapable state institutions and senseless organization of the army itself. This is the third thing that will have to be addressed during this transition period.
And the final of this period should be the adoption of a new version of the Constitution, based on the principles that I have already mentioned.”
The inevitability of war with Russia
In a conversation with Opinion, the diplomat admits: in fact, the inevitability of the confrontation with Russia was understood in Bankova street back in 1996. It was impossible to predict the character then, but the fact that it was going to happen was… obvious.
“The war was absolutely predictable… You see, from the first days of my work in Ukrainian politics, I joined the political environment of such people as Mykhailo Horin, Levko Lukianenko, Ihor Yukhnovsky, Leon Horokhivsky, Viacheslav Chornovil. Some of them spent 20-25 years in camps. I understood who put them there, so for me, the theme of the watershed has always existed.
Since 1996, when I began to work with Kuchma, I saw that the Bankova street knew that sooner or later we would not avoid confrontation. It was unclear what character it would have. But it was obvious that this would happen…
I remember, and even today I can say this: before leaving for Minsk (in February 2010, Roman Bezsmertny was appointed as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Belarus), I was meeting with the president Yanukovych. He told me: “You see, the main thing for us today is the border with Russia and the border with Belarus. If we do not build it, there will be trouble”. That is if Yanukovych understood it, then what can we say about others…”
Ukraine’s accession to NATO
Bezsmertny is firmly convinced: our state will become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. However, according to him, the time has come when Ukraine should look at the situation much wider.
“I insist that Ukraine is obliged to initiate the creation of the Baltic-Black Sea Military-Political Union as a protective shield against Russian aggression. Such an alliance does not contradict the country’s stay in NATO, but on the contrary – it only strengthens the protection from the enemy. Unfortunately, NATO is unable to quickly protect its Central and Eastern European members from an instant attack. Such a reluctance will only provoke the aggressor. On the Eurasian continent, the basic dangerous approaches have been destroyed: the principles of the Helsinki act of 1975 have been destroyed, neither the Budapest Memorandum nor bilateral agreements between the countries work.
It is obvious that Ukraine is the state that should initiate the creation of a new defense bloc. First, we understand the threat from Russia more than anyone else. Secondly, by its own example, our state has gained experience in grouping all possible forces in the fight against the aggressor.”
Donbas and reintegration
During one of the interviews, the politician notes: in fact, there is no law on the reintegration of Donbas, because it is difficult to call what the parliament voted for a law. But Bezsmertny himself proposes to apply the concept of “safe reintegration”.
“What are the components of this process? First and most important, force is a deterrent to aggression. I grew up in the cold war era when there were things like SDI – Strategic Defense Initiative. In fact, only those who have a serious, powerful army are able to deter aggression not because they are fighting, but because they represent strength.
The second is a dialogue with the civilian population that has remained in the occupied territories. A lot of people today stay there not because they want to. They have nowhere to go. Their children left them there as watchmen over the property, or there is no opportunity to leave. We urgently need a serious program of national and international support for the resettlement of those who wish to leave. We need to engage in dialogue and work out a system to help these people.
How should this dialogue be conducted? The only institution that remains today is the territorial communities. For example, the community of Torez, Khartsyzsk, Tsuhres elects 3-4 persons from its composition who are not involved in all these outrages, and Kyiv represents its people. And they have to negotiate face-to-face how to live and work together. It is clear that Russia will always pour salt onto this wound. In order to contain Russia, we will also have to face them tete-a-tete.”
The return of Crimea and the Crimean Tatar statehood
Speaking about the return of the annexed Crimea, the diplomat notes that this issue can be resolved only through the Crimean Tatars. Moreover, Bezsmertny is not just committed to autonomy, he supports the Crimean Tatar statehood.
“This current status of “the Crimean Tatars are indigenous people”… The Crimean Tatars are the titular nation. Titular nation. It has a right to its own state. I’m not talking that today it has a right to their own state. Yes, on what is called the Crimean Peninsula, Crimean Tatars are in the minority. But there are countries, such as Lebanon, in which the titular nation is in the minority. It finds the answer to the question of combining the system of power and local government through quota representation. Same applies to, say, Hungarians, Romanians and so on.
Why did the problem arise? Ukraine does not only ignore what they say, it does not meet the requirements by ratifying a number of European documents. Please tell me what prevents the rural, village, district, regional councils to have a quota of representation of these ethnic groups through national districts today? Also, what prevents the Ukrainian parliament from having representatives from national districts – Hungarians, Romanians, Tatars? Look invertedly. Therefore, our task is to implement foreign policy invertedly. Do Hungarians do that? We do. Do Romanians do that? We do. Moreover, we need to initiate these things from the Ukrainian side. We want you to make these schools, kindergartens. Then there will be something to talk about. And the position of “you are the fool, not us” is a position of extreme misunderstanding.
The national idea, dream and the main tasks of the country
National idea: “the Construction of a Great Ukraine is good enough to claim the national idea. There is Great Poland – from sea to sea, Great Romania, the Russian world is boundless. And we cry the blues. It’s important to start thinking big.”
The national dream of the Ukrainians: “For an American, property, and education are values. The meaning of what we are doing is still a white hut, bugs on cherries and wide trousers. And at the same time, we are talking about a modern nation. Any Ukrainian is concerned about the prosperity and happiness of his family. I think this is the national dream of the Ukrainians.”
The main tasks of the country for the next 5-10 years: “to take care of defense, to form an army. We desperately need to increase GDP, that is to make money. To do this, we must re-establish the state, change it radically.
The war is a consequence of mistakes in foreign and domestic policy. They need to be eliminated, we need the opportunity to form an answer to the question of war. In war, you either win or lose. “Winning the war” is a phrase of a person who plays cards, football, ping pong. He doesn’t understand the meaning of the word.
And we need a victory in this war. It will change us. It will show that we have the right to something. God forbid we be defeated, then we will not exist anymore.”
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel
The material has been collected from numerous interviews, speeches, speeches, and references by the hero of the publication.