Vadim Rabinovich: The #Trump of #Ukraine?

| May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

Vadim Rabinovich heads one of the opposition parties in Ukraine called For Life, which is currently riding high in the opinion polls. The Ukrainian MP believes the country’s economic wealth remains largely untapped and has tabled a programme designed to unlock this potential, writes Colin Stevens.

Rabinovich spoke exclusively to EU Reporter.

What’s your view of EU-Ukraine relations and the potential accession of Ukraine?

It seems to me that the endless imposition of itself on Europe does not help either Ukraine or Europe. We need to build such a country that will be organically a part of Europe – to create a European society within itself. We need to overcome all those instruments that are unacceptable for Europe and make it impossible for Ukraine to join the EU, such as corruption, absolute rejection of others’ opinions, the basis of democratic justice, etc. Thus, when we cope with this, then we can consider Ukraine a part of Europe. When we become Europe inside, then we will become Europe and outside.

What’s your view on recent decision of the EU, which will allow Ukrainians to travel to the EU without visas?

You know, I have an ambivalent attitude towards visa-free travel. On the one hand, this is an unconditional victory – both moral and the one raising the prestige of the country. On the other hand, in our current situation – both unemployment and absolute poverty – I’m very much afraid that many young people (and this is already happening) will leave our country and only the retired people will stay, whom we cannot support. In any case, I consider visa-free travel as a good event, but I do hope that our government will be able to do something other than chatter and try and find an acceptable living environment for the youth in their country.

Vadim Rabinovich

Vadim Rabinovich

How are you planning to solve the conflict with Russia? What are your foreign policy objectives?

Russia is a neighbour of Ukraine and nothing can be done about it. I always remember the European experience, even the most negative. The 100-year war between England and France ended in peace. Therefore, we need to go to a peaceful resolution of the issue. First of all, this is the unconditional fulfillment by both sides of the Minsk agreements. In addition, it seems to me important that if we, together with Russia, manage to slightly change rhetoric and replace the words, which are particularly irritating for both sides, then we could move much further. Because it often happens so that the essence of the conflict, even when the parties are ready to agree, are some epithets and words that begin to be major, replacing the essence. And the essence is that it is beneficial for the peoples to resolve the conflict, and for some politicians it is not.

Why are you called ‘Trump of Ukraine’? Does this bother you?

In every country, Trump is associated with something positive and negative. For Ukraine, this is a positive image, and for me it is positive in the sense that I see a person who wins regardless of anything. I am often called the Trump of Ukraine, because I also do television programs – one of the most popular political shows in the country. Besides there is the fact that I, like Trump, am not exactly suitable for the establishment, which is accustomed to the fact that the Ukrainian politician must first be in the Komsomol, in the Communist Party, then necessarily take part in the political party life for 20 years. This was not the story for Trump and, thank God, it was not for me.

What’s the difference between you and other political leaders in Ukraine? What’s your programme for the future of the country?

I think that first and foremost I differ by the fact that I, probably, am the only ‘centrist’ in our country. Everyone speaks either for the ‘reds’ or for the ‘whites’, and those who try to bring both sides closer together are practically nonexistent. I believe that I treat Ukrainians with the same respect in Lviv, in Odessa, in Kharkov and in Rivne. And I probably have the only excellent, completely working relationship with all political forces. I speak perfectly with those who are considered to be more oriented on the opinion of the eastern regions, I have excellent relations with those that are more oriented on the western regions. I have excellent relations with everyone from the right sector to the left sector. After all, we live in one country and we need to seek unity. We have a very polarized policy, so it’s very advantageous to be on someone’s side. I do not adhere to this opinion and destroy stereotypes. I believe that we must listen and hear both the right and the left. I believe that we should listen to all the inhabitants of our country otherwise we are not a country.

Vadim Rabinovich

Vadim Rabinovich

We want to build a neutral independent state, as I call it ‘Switzerland of Eastern Europe’ with a professional army. We want to destroy all stereotypes, develop the agrarian industry (because we have a unique land, our unique black earth), develop high-tech, raise the educational level of the population and, of course, build a banking system. Here’s what we need to focus on. In our country, all management systems were post-communist. I suggest a liberal system of government aimed at increasing the purchasing power of the population, rather than tightening the belts. I think this is a kind of programme that brings future, because otherwise we are doomed to post-communist extinction.

Rabinovich, who has  been likened to President Trump, partly because he is  colourful character with a past to match. He is head of Jewish community in Ukraine and chairman of the European Jewish Parliament. He’s earned his ‘Trump of Ukraine’ nickname because he is seen as being very different compared with other politicians. He did not participate in political activities until the last presidential election in 2014, when he amassed some 480,000 votes and was elected to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada.

According to current polls, For Life is among the three strongest political parties in Ukraine. Rabinovich also enjoys similarly favourable personal ratings.


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