Editor’s Note: This exclusive interview with Anton Gerashchenko conducted by Maryna Shashkova was recorded in the Kyiv Post studio on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Maryna Shaskova: I want to clarify something about Belarus. Now there is a lot of talk about what will happen to Lukashenko, whether he is sick or not, whether he will die. This allows the Belarusian opposition to become more active and understand – at least plan – how to further cooperate and live in Belarus. In the meantime, the Ukrainian authorities do not actively communicate with leader of the Belarusian opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was recognized as the winner of the presidential elections in Belarus. Why do you think we can’t establish communication with them?
Look, I’m not a diplomat, but I understand the following: Lukashenko is a pawn of Putin. He participated in his criminal attack on Ukraine because, as they say, he could not say “no” to Putin. However, over the last year, the territory of Belarus was not used for any strikes against Ukraine.
By the way, it seemed to me ridiculous when last autumn or summer I heard that there would be another offensive from the territory of Belarus. Nothing like that happened and was not planned. It was Russian psyops. There had were no air or missile strikes from the territory of Belarus in the last year. This is good. This means that Lukashenko pretends to the public that he is with Putin, but in reality he won’t allow any such actions.
Is it in our interests for Putin to seize power completely and overthrow Lukashenko in Belarus? No, it is not in our interests. I think that Putin does not even have the strength and intelligence to do it.
As for the opposition, the Belarusian opposition needs to unite and, for example, create a powerful military force that would be ready to take power in Belarus, because Lukashenko will not surrender power without weapons. What is the difference between our revolution of 2014 and the events that took place in Belarus in 2020, after the falsification of the elections? The fact that the Belarusian opposition did not call on the people to take up arms. That’s why Lukashenko, unfortunately, won and Belarus is still under his yoke. Therefore, the Belarusian opposition, in addition to speaking at forums, should work to ensure that they have an armed force capable of doing this.
You see, the Russian anti-Putin corps have everything. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen Belarusian units, for example, the Kalinouski Regiment, so that they can carry out forceful actions against fascist Belarus. There is no doubt that Lukashenko is a war criminal, like Putin. He is an aggressor, he provided his territory for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he is a bastard. I wish him death.
You were an adviser to the late Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 18. His deputy Yevhen Yenin and about ten other people also died in the accident. What do the investigators know? What do you know?
Yes, I lost many friends on Jan. 18. It was very difficult. First, it is hard for their families and for everyone who worked with them.
The investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation is already at the final stage but I don’t want to rush ahead. This is their competence to voice the reason. I have a clear understanding of what happened. It was neither sabotage nor malfunction. It was another reason, which the State Bureau of Investigation will officially reveal when they complete all the examinations and everything that is necessary.
Denys Monastyrsky was a great man, a good leader, an interior minister who did everything to help the president protect the country.
There was no malfunction with the French rotorcraft?
I don’t know about that. I don’t know about any malfunction.
Okay. My last question is about corruption in Ukraine. Unfortunately, we were badly shaken by the story with the head of the Supreme Court [Vsevolod Kniaziev], who was detained because of a bribe of almost $3 million. Before that, there was a scandal regarding the former head of the Constitutional Court, Oleksandr Tupytsky. There are often scandals with judges who take bribes. Is it possible to overcome corruption in the Ukrainian judicial system?
It is necessary to overcome corruption not only in the judicial system but also in the country in general because a high level of corruption makes the state uncompetitive and unable to develop. The level of corruption in Ukraine is high – remember the story with the head of the Supreme Court, who was selected through a competition. By the way, there were no complaints about him from the public, from journalists, investigators. As you can see, still waters run deep. The problem is that the businessman who offered him this huge bribe was ready to pay money to ensure the outcome of the court ruling. And the court’s decision was in favor of this businessman. He paid because he was afraid that the judges might rule against him. We are waiting for further actions by NABU [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] because media say that there may be suspicions against the persons from among the 18 judges who made this decision.
Hatred for corruption should be instilled from school. However, for many years, for example, admission to universities before the appearance of the test system was corrupt. University exams at law and medical schools were also corrupt. When a person encounters corruption from a young age, he/she thinks that this is normal. There is a problem with this. First, there should be hate for corruption, and then people who hate corruption will not offer bribes but immediately inform law enforcers about corrupt officials. However, there should be no corruption in law enforcement agencies when they detain officials for corruption. Otherwise, such cases drag on for many years. We have many cases related to corruption that have been pending for six-seven-eight years. This isn’t normal. Quick punishment is needed. For example, they detain Kniaziev [former head of the Supreme Court Vsevolod Kniazev], investigate this case in a few months, bring it to court, and the court gives a verdict the same year – that is all. And not as it happens with many lawsuits that drag on for years. As a result, citizens do not believe in justice.
How can the court pass the right sentence if there are corrupt judges in it?
Look, I dream that the Supreme Court – in which, by the way, there should be elections this week – elects a head who will lead the judicial system. I am not a judge of the Supreme Court but I think that the only possible candidate now, taking into account the blow that the entire judicial system has suffered, is Oleksandr Mamaluy. He is the judge who was mobilized twice in 2014, and now he is fighting. He is a sniper, a judge of the Supreme Court. They tell me he is one of the candidates. He can become a symbol of the real purification of the judiciary, someone who will demand trust in the judicial system, help restore it from the legislators, from the president. This is a very complicated situation. Judges don’t like them, but they are still needed because the functioning of a modern state is impossible without the institution of a fair court.
Thank you, Mr. Herashchenko, for a fascinating conversation.