In brief | Key takeaways from Zelenskyy’s first interview to Ukrainian media since Russia’s full-scale invasion
The Ukrainian president taks abioutelections during the war, corruption, business inspections, and the attack on Russia
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has given his first interview to the Ukrainian media since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion last February.
During the hour-long conversation with Nataliia Moseichuk, a Ukrainian anchor, Mr Zelenskyy spoke about combatting corruption during the war, business inspections, and ‘Facebook torture’.
LIGA.net watched the interview and picked fourteen most interesting quotes regarding US politicians’ calls for elections, the Ukrainian president’s inner circle, and the war in Russia.
On fighting corruption during the war
I will propose to the parliament that corruption be equated with high treason in wartime. I understand that such a weapon cannot be used in society all the time, but in wartime, I think, it will help... We are developing a democratic society. And it’s very important not to overtighten the screws.
It will be a very serious tool to prevent people from even thinking. That's all. But this is not an execution, this is not ‘Stalinism’. This means that if there is evidence, a person should be behind bars... I think the parliament will receive it [the bill on equating corruption to high treason] next week.
On inner circle
I have no friends or foes. A person is either honest or dishonest. If there is evidence that a person is dishonest, I fire that person. I have no such internal issues.
On spending local budgets during war
Is it fair that these funds should be used for the strategic development of our defence industry? I think it is fair in wartime... I am all for it when it comes to defending my city. But if people are laying paving stones — I'm sorry, you didn't earn this money. The military brought it to you.
On society being divided on Facebook
There is ‘Facebook torture’. Ukraine is divided on Facebook... You have to be careful with rhetoric. You cannot bring a person up only to let them down. Yesterday they were a talent, today they are nobody. This is torture... Online division will lead to offline division. This is exactly what Russia wants.
On nationalising strategic energy facilities
If people are in the trenches, and their children, women, they don't know what to do when there is no light, no water, no life in fact... He has to think and not divide his brain into everything... And if this distraction is due to certain businessmen, I have to put an end to it — not the businessman [in question], but the possibility of this distraction and the division of the state. Therefore, some energy facilities should be returned to state control to avoid certain risks. With all due respect to private property. This is a wartime requirement.
On resuming business inspections
We started inspecting them [businesspeople] because the state has returned to inspections. But this is a balance for me as president. It is very difficult to strike a balance during the war. The IMF and the European commission say that if we do not return the tax system that was in place before the war, if we do not return inspections, we will have questions about our future EU membership in the autumn.
I met with businesses and said, "Let's return as little as possible. Let's make changes to the legislation so that only one body has the right to inspect. I will find a balance between European legislation and you."
On businesses paying taxes
We must be honest and pay taxes... Even if I find a balance in paying taxes — pay something and don't pay something — I say that I helped the Armed Forces, so I didn't pay taxes. It's not fair to cover up any steps with the help of the Armed Forces.
On holding elections during war
Several elements can split support for the US. One of them is the elections... The logic is that the US held elections even during the war.
My answer to [Republican senator] Lindsey Graham was very simple: If you're willing to give me five billion, because I... I can't just take five billion out of the budget. I think that's the amount of money needed to hold elections in normal times. And in wartime, I don't know what that amount is, so I told him that if the US and Europe give us financial support — I'm sorry, I'm not asking for anything. I will not hold elections on credit. I will not take money from weapons and give it to elections either.
And most importantly, let's take risks together [with international partners]. Observers should be in the trenches then, they should be sent to the front line.
I don't want the authorities to be perceived as holding on to power. I am not holding on to anything. I would like to hold elections. I like to do it if it is necessary, to do it within a year.
On bringing war to Russian territory
This is a big risk that we will definitely be left alone... There are very large states that have only one reason why they are not on Russia’s side. This is the territorial integrity of the state. If I deliberately send troops to the territory of the Russian Federation, I must understand that this state will definitely not be with me.