''Poroshenko is losing legitimate chances to remain in power. That means he can do whatever''

Nikita Dzhigurda on pre-election situation in Ukraine

''Poroshenko is losing legitimate chances to remain in power. That means he can do whatever'' Photo: 24smi.org

''Today's political elite of Ukraine has sane people and professionals but they are scared, this is why they're not running for president. In this situation, Zelensky's popularity as a new face in politics – young, not linked with Mafiosi structures – is logical,'' famous actor Nikita Dzhigurda born in Kyiv thinks. In an interview with Realnoe Vremya, he expressed his attitude to key figures of the presidential campaign.

''Zelensky has been preparing his campaign for long''

Mr Dzhigurda, there is an artist among candidates for president of Ukraine for the first time. Could you tell if it's true that you, a person born in Kyiv who lived there and still has citizenship of Ukraine was to become the first artist candidate but the Euromaidan impeded it?

Yes, I was to run for president of Ukraine in 2015 according to a proposal of some structures. Why was it possible and why did I have a chance? Because when I was offered this in 2013, there were no fake news and paid material about me like now, and people liked me both in Ukraine and Russia very much, and I was the only actor – honoured artist of both Russia and Ukraine.

Why does it turn so that almost 40 (!) candidates and about a third of citizens are ready to vote for your colleague, artist Volodymyr Zelensky in the latest surveys, not famous experienced politicians and professional managers? Is it the Ukrainians' disappointment in politicians?

Today's political elite of Ukraine has sane people and professionals. But the situation is so that a huge part of such people is scared and isn't running for the post – people were burnt alive in Odessa on 2 May 2014 for a reason. In this situation, before Zelensky appeared, I had been supporting Yulia Tymoshenko, but only as a heterosexual. But Zelensky appeared, and it's a new face in politics, young, not linked with Mafiosi structures. Due to this, I began to like him like many others.

And don't you think that Zelensky's ratings can be sponsored, too high, and he has in fact not 30% but 20-22%?

No, the ratings aren't sponsored, Zelensky has been preparing his campaign for long. It wasn't seen at the beginning. But there was a series Servant of the People in which a person far from the political circle becomes a president (Editor's Note: Volodymyr Zelensky as leading character). This is why Zelensky's rating is real: all the youth are supporting him after watching the film, and it's an enormous advantage for the campaign! Because we know that the youth traditionally doesn't go to vote. While in this case, if there is a candidate who is close to the youth, ''funny'', of course, they prefer him at the polling station. Plus, there are protest voters that, so to speak, don't see Zelensky as president but gives him their votes because Poroshenko cheated people in all possible ways.

''Zelensky's rating is real: all the youth are supporting him after watching the film, and it's an enormous advantage for the campaign!'' Photo: tickethunt.net

According to your observations and acquaintance with him as a person, does Zelensky want to become president himself or is his candidacy for president a request leading to artist Ihor Kolomoysky to get rid of Poroshenko as fast as possible?

It really could be Kolomoysky's request because when I was ready to run for president of Ukraine in 2013, I received this proposal from a specific party. You know, even my candidacy for president or that of Zelensky or Ksenia Sobchak here in Russia would look very pale without the support of some party or oligarchic structure.

''If Klichko somehow learned how to speak, Zelensky will be able to improvise on political topics in Ukrainian''

What difficulties can Zelensky face after becoming the president?

The major difficulty is that it will be a new role for him, he hasn't played it in life. But Zelensky's advantage is that he has played a president in cinema. His huge advantage is that he is a person not dependent on external players, he is loved, he has an excellent sense of humour. Yes, it turned out he can't improvise on political topics in Ukrainian like he does on other topics, but if Klichko somehow learned how to speak, Zelensky will succeed here too. I think in the 21 st century, a candidate might not understand a lot in politics but surround himself or herself with professionals. And even here we can out Raegan's successful rule in the USA as early as the 80s: yes, he was an artist, but not a comic like Zelensky, while in life a comic can be a tragic actor. I would also like to note that it can be a dangerous role for Zelensky because as a president he will have billions of dollars at his disposal. And if he doesn't make the concessions expected and required from him, not only Zelensky but any candidate for president and the president will see the lot Kennedy saw in America.

What if Zelensky and Tymoshenko reach the second stage?

If Zelensky and Mrs Tymoshenko go through, it will be possible to clearly distribute posts, which, as I've heard, Mrs Tymoshenko would like very much. That's to say, if Zelensky becomes the president, Yulia will be the prime minister. And perhaps the Rada might hold voting according to which the premier will become the main person in the country, like in Germany. In my opinion, this would be the best option.

''It turned out he can't improvise on political topics in Ukrainian like he does on other topics, but if Klichko somehow learned how to speak, Zelensky will succeed here too.'' Photo: Фото Andrey Gudzegko (file.liga.net)

''The president of Russia insists that Donbass is part of Ukraine''

The Donbass problem is an important issue. Zelensky offers to gradually send in peacemakers from the countries that suite both Russia and Ukraine to the region. Is this clause of the plan real?

It's a thousand per cent real if Zelensky and Tymoshenko come to power together. If same Nadia Savchenko showed Ukraine that one can go to PRD and PRL to talk and agreed with that side to exchange injured people, Zelensky also understands that a bad peace is better than a good war.

Does it mean that Moscow influencing PRD and PRL will support this plan without any proviso?

Medvedchuk and Boiko who have recently been in Moscow said that the president of Russia insists that Donbass is part of Ukraine, But the autonomy is the problem, not peacemakers – Donetsk and Luhansk have forces that fight for joining Russia, and this is the problem.

Neither Zelensky nor Tymoshenko said anything about the autonomy. Why?

This makes one uneasy. But I think they aren't talking about the autonomy because if they express this idea now, before the election, these candidates will be afraid that Russia might impose by far stricter conditions on Ukraine. But the autonomy is really a compromise: two languages and so on.

Won't Ukrainian nationalists raise a storm of protest in this case?

These forces can show off only if Zelensky and Poroshenko go through to the second stage. Nationalists can start to ruin for Poroshenko because he is against talks with Putin, which is very convenient for nationalists, while Zelensky has already claimed he is for talks, for finding a way of interaction with Donbass and coming to a compromise. There is no compromise for nationalists, and they can do whatever to make Poroshenko the president.

Is Kolomoysky able to, so to speak, calm the nationalists down?

He won't be able to calm them down but will be able to restrict their influence only if his people win – Zelensky or Tymoshenko. And in this case, active nationalists will total just 2-3% like in most countries. I am sure that if Zelensky and Tymoshenko come to power, people frightened by the Odessa events in 2014 will start waking up and won't be afraid to express their opinion about Donbass, too. We just need to wait a bit.

''Kolomoysky won't be able to calm them down but will be able to restrict their influence only if his people win – Zelensky or Tymoshenko. And in this case, active nationalists will total just 2-3% like in most countries.'' Photo: unian.net

''I think that Zelensky, Tymoshenko, Saakashvili and Savchenko will come to an agreement''

Will Poroshenko escape from the country in case of defeat?

Of course. But it's unclear where because investigations against him might launch in different countries. Poroshenko's situation is a dead end – he must win, because where can he go?

Do Zelensky and Tymoshenko need such odious figures as Saakashvili and Savchenko in their work?

Saakashvili is needed – he did a huge job in Ukraine and was against Poroshenko despite friendly relations. Nadia Savchenko is also needed – though she is against Zelensky, she is for a compromise with Russia. I think that Zelensky, Tymoshenko, Saakashvili and Savchenko will come to an agreement. I suppose the situation in Ukraine now resembles a situation with a desire to get rid of Yanukovich – but then Yanukovich was removed from power illegally, while now there is an opportunity to remove the president legally.

Will the Ukrainian issue leave the screens of Russian television if Poroshenko isn't elected?

No, Ukraine won't leave the screens because it's necessary to distract from what's going on in Russia, while it's a very comfortable position for TV channels – the best thing to do is to show what's going on in Syria, Ukraine or France. It's geopolitics! Yes, the tension in relations of Russia and Ukraine will mitigate if those who support a compromise with Russia win. But I think this week the situation will escalate because Poroshenko is losing legitimate chances to remain in power. That means he can do whatever.

By Sergey Kochnev