As anti-government protests continue in Ukraine, euronews asked First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov for his official reaction, his view of the violence, and the attempts to renegotiate the conditions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU
Euronews: “Can you tell us how much money you’re expecting Brussels to put on the table?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: It’s difficult to be exact but it is clearly more than the 600 million we discussed. The situation has worsened, we have dramatic changes on goods markets, including with our traditional partners. Our trade turnover with Russia has dropped by 25%.
Euronews: “But do you think the very very tough reaction of the riot police has facilitated these negotiations with the EU?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: “This really is a big problem, a very big one. Because of this behaviour, the protesters, who first took to the streets to demonstrate their wish to be with the EU, have now forgotten about that and found a new topic: that the entire situation brought pain and suffering to people. We, of course, do not approve of what happened. An investigation is underway and I have already said many times that we condemn what happened.”
Euronews: “What measures is the government going to take?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: “The investigation will answer this question. A professional, thorough investigation will be carried out so I can’t yet say how the guilty will be punished, or what the results of the investigation will be. All I can say is that all available video evidence will be examined by the investigators. As for what happened to some journalists, I suppose that as the trouble was taking place there was some misunderstanding and perhaps provocative acts were also to blame.”
Euronews: “Who gave the order to act like this?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: “I’m saying that it is unlikely there was a specific order given to the riot police, because the situation was developing over there. So the decision was taken on the spot regarding the events that were unfolding. I don’t think anyone thought, with that number of protesters, it was to anyone’s advantage to act that way.”
Euronews: “The Interior Minister’s decisions were not good ones apparently, because this is the result. So maybe there is a problem within the government or with some elements of the government?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: “I can assure you everything will be done according to the law. Only a few days have passed since the incident. We are just very distressed by it and it might seem that it happened a long time ago but in reality, there hasn’t been enough time to take a decision.”
Euronews: “But what do you personally think as a politician, a member of the government, and as a Ukrainian: would the country be better off with Russia or with the European Union?”
Serhiy Arbuzov: “In my opinion, we cannot put question like that. Ukraine is a self-sufficient, sovereign country, which aims to realise its full potential. That’s why we are working with all markets available to us: markets whose products we need and markets who need our products. Ukraine has always had versatile trade relations and will have them irrespective of how the situation unfolds. We will seek balance in order to support the interests of our businesses. Business determines which way we should go.”
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