Ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus Igor Kizim told why Ukraine is wary of the news about the Belarusian-Russian exercises that are waiting for Belarusian companies, which supply to the Donbass their products, and how Ukrainian security forces are tracking those who illegally went on vacation to the Crimea.
“We are grateful to Belarus for its position on Crimea”
“Belarusian news”: Igor Yuryevich, now is actively discussed Russian-Belarusian exercises “West-2017”. Representatives of Ukraine has expressed fears that Russian troops may remain after the exercise in Belarus and to use our country to attack Ukraine. Perhaps Kiev is afraid of exercise due to lack of information? Did you discuss this topic, for example, at the last meeting of the presidents?
Igor Kizim: This issue was discussed in bilateral and expanded format at the meeting in Kiev. But it was discussed in the context of what Alexander Lukashenko once again assured our party and the President personally, that the territory of Belarus will never become a springboard for aggression against Ukraine. Our President had said that the Belarusian-Ukrainian border will always be a border of friendship and peace. And that’s the main thing that can be said in the context of your question and the exercises.
Why the interest in these exercises, much? Earlier it was not clearly stated plans and purpose of the exercise. Now the Belarusian side is made, and the Declaration that will be invited observers, soothes neighbouring countries. But anxiety still remains, because it is not Belarusian and Belarusian-Russian military exercises. Here we have a question.
The word “Russian” causes all the time worrying because of what is happening now in Ukraine. Russia does not adhere to his words, Russia violated all international agreements. From these considerations, the Ukraine will never be easy to treat exercise, where there is a Russian presence. Moreover, the presence of this considerable, if in the teachings it is planned to involve the North-Western military district — a rather large forces and means. While Russian troops will be on the territory of Belarus, of complete calm with our side. But given the repeated assurances of the Belarusian authorities, grounds for concern that the Belarusian side will become a springboard for attacks, I personally do not.
— While we’re on the subject of Russia. It is the main strategic partner of Belarus and it is affecting our country’s foreign policy. For example, in the case of Crimea, Belarus does not officially recognize its Russian, but with the UN vote on a resolution on human rights violations in the Crimea voted against its adoption. As Ukraine refers to the duality?
You correctly said that you have the strategic partnership with Russia. And we have a strategic partnership with Belarus. The situation that has developed now in this triangle, is the fault primarily Russia. If it were not for the occupation of the Crimea was not Russian aggression and military presence in the Donbass, of course, these issues were resolved would be different.
Belarus has chosen a format with Ukraine and Russia, which suits her. And I think over the years we have with Belarus found its format of relations, which suits us.
Belarus we are grateful for the position it took in Crimea. This is a clear position that says that the territorial integrity was violated, and Belarus supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
As for voting, the Belarus — a sovereign state. As far as it is sovereign in relation to Russia, for me to discuss properly. When voting on a resolution in the UN that you were talking about, the Belarusian position was explained by the fact that Belarus is fundamentally opposed country-specific approach to human rights issues and vote against such resolutions. From our point of view, the situation with the Crimea in this context is somewhat different, but in the vision of Belarus — this is country approach. Of course, it would be desirable that she voted “Yes”, or at least abstaining, but it is the position of the Belarusian side, and it is her right.
At the same time, if you go back to recent events at the session of the OSCE parliamentary Assembly in Minsk, the Belarusian side supported the inclusion of the resolution on the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the final document of the Minsk Declaration of the OSCE PA, and we are grateful to the Belarusian parliamentarians for their principled position on this issue.
Militants in Ukraine could be sentenced to 15 years in prison
In media appeared reports about Belarusians who are fighting in the East of Ukraine and on the side of Kiev and on the side of the so-called DNR and LNR. If Ukraine takes any action to prosecute the howling on the side of the separatists, to protect those who are fighting on the side of Ukraine?
— At first let’s define terms: we are separatists, there are terrorists, insurgents or members of illegal armed groups who are being persecuted by the Ukrainian legislation.
All — Belarusians, Russians, Serbs, whoever there still are in our understanding, they all were doing terrorist activities. And our legislation in this respect very hard — up to 15 years of imprisonment.
If the person who took part in the fighting on the other side, prove in court that he was not involved in the shooting of non-combatants, looting, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the court will take it into consideration. It can grant Amnesty or to reduce the degree of punishment that is happening quite often, if a person comes to confession.
— And of Belarusians someone got in Ukraine on trial for terrorist activities?
— I about such cases did not hear.
— As for the persons on the side of official Kiev are fighting?
— We have a law, and they are officially under contract to serve in the Armed forces of Ukraine. Does other legislation apply to them. What in Belarus to them the law is valid is another question. Those people who went to fight against Russian aggression — in my mind they are heroes. But they had an idea about Belarusian legislation, when we took decisions for ourselves. We can’t interfere in the legislation of another country.
If “Kommunarka” has supplied products to Donetsk, it will face sanctions
— Belarusian manufacturers sometimes do not hide that work directly with the Donetsk and Lugansk or deliver the goods to the Crimea. The authorities of Ukraine shall apply to such deliveries of Belarusian products to the occupied territory?
— The same question is ambiguous, because the presence of Belarusian goods on the shelves in stores in the temporarily occupied territories does not always mean direct supply. Sometimes Belarusian goods enter through intermediaries who buy Belarusian goods at the Russian firms.
We warn the Belarusian side formally: if Belarusian companies supply products directly to the militants against them will be sanctioned. And not only from Ukraine: we will try to ensure that these sanctions were imposed by the EU too.
You need to understand that work not only diplomats, intelligence agencies work. In the case of availability of relevant information, such enterprises will be closed on the Ukrainian market is 100%.
Recently the TV channel “Belsat” has published an investigation regarding the supply. There is, for example, “Kommunarka” said works directly with Donetsk.
— And that will take Ukraine?
— In case of confirmation of these data “Kommunarka” just gets in blacklist and will not be able to supply products to the territory of Ukraine.
Legally to go on vacation in Crimea impossible
— Belarusians have always been a popular summer holiday in the Crimea. Firms continue to offer it now, but with a stop on the Peninsula with Russia. Monitors the Ukraine move? And what is taking?
— For us it is a matter of principle. If necessary, trip to the Crimea it is necessary to contact our migration service to obtain a permit and legally enter there from the territory of Ukraine.
As for your wish to take a tourist detour via Russia, it is considered a violation of the residence act on the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea. There is nothing hidden that will not become manifest. Someone is going specifically, risking his reputation, someone accidentally, but sooner or later these lists of tourists want to do something, become available.
They fall in the security Service of Ukraine, and these people will have problems with entry to Ukraine. Sometimes they post pictures of campers with the rest of the sea in social networks. And there are people that this will also monitor, with the corresponding consequences for these tourists.
But if you get permission, you need a good reason to travel. Just say “Give permission, because I want to rest in the Crimea” will not work, isn’t it?
— We are not welcome. Through us legally to go on vacation in the Crimea is impossible. But if in the Crimea you have real estate of some kind, then there is a certain procedure by which a granted permission. But I’d still recommend it, as the cases are different, apply directly to the migration service on any and there to find out.
Ukraine sees serious human rights violations in Belarus
In March the Belarusian television aired a story about how the Ukrainian border in Belarus tried to drive the jeep with weapons. Immediately after this, the detention of high-profile “case of the patriots,” which at the moment is actually collapsed. The state border service of Ukraine stated that neither the jeep nor the driver wanted its territory is not crossed. It was stated that the search for the escaped driver of the jeep is being conducted in cooperation with the Ukrainian and Russian border guards. The Embassy know anything about the investigation of this mysterious story?
Of course I appealed and raised this issue. Unfortunately, there is no development of this theme is not received. In any case, the Embassy information that someone arrested, or condemned, have been reported. To your questions the answers I received. Probably continue looking for something, I don’t know… But if it is proved the fact of illegal crossing of the border, whoever it was, he will be punished. If Belarusians will need further information from the Ukrainian side, we will cooperate. Nobody has the right to illegally cross the border.
— I can not deal with the issue of human rights in Belarus. The EU and US frequently criticize Minsk, while Ukraine had, it seems, has not made statements regarding violations of human rights in Belarus.
The issue of human rights is so delicate and sensitive that I probably would not comment on the position of the Belarusian side on this issue. The only thing I could say: it seems to me that the presence of the Ombudsman would remove a lot of questions. This Institute helps you a lot to solve such issues.
We have so many of their problems, the existence of an armed conflict, that is all. If there are obvious violations — for example, political prisoners, demonstrations, but you probably will respond. But three and a half years after our revolution, and the problems that arose, and within four months of stay here I it’s still early to talk about the situation with human rights in Belarus, I have not gone through elections, not passed through some political actions and arrests. It’s hard for me to comment on it. If you tell me what the violations mean, I’ll be able to comment on them.
— Dispersal of peaceful demonstrations, arrest.
— In March. The detention of journalists, the fines freelancers.
In March I was waiting for, shall we say, more rigid reaction of the European Union. But if you look, by and large, on the territory of the former Soviet Union, with rare exceptions, unfortunately, there is no understanding of European standards of human rights. We still have a lot to do to make this Institute started to work in the understanding of the European countries.
Igor Kizim was born in 1961. In 1987 he graduated from the faculty of international relations of Kiev state University. In diplomatic service since 1995. In 2014-2015 was the chargé d’affaires of Ukraine in great Britain. From 2017, the Ambassador of Ukraine in Belarus.