The mayor of Kharkiv told how to win the election at parrot from Zelensky, why still not met with the new Governor and how he got to the underworld.
Kharkov, city hall, glass Cabinet, stuffed animals. Fed motley parrot invariably quacks in the waiting room, entertaining the waiting list to get on reception to the mayor. Can not see name tags – everyone knows who rules here.
The mayor of Kharkiv has not changed for nearly ten years, and his perseverance on one chair due to the art of compromise. At all times Kernes was able to build relationships with the government and with Yanukovych and Poroshenko.
Last he even supported the election of what is now said reluctantly. But recently, the mayor went ballistic. And wrote angry post on Facebook the official, who “was not invited to the ball” – namely, the representation of the new Governor Alexey Kucher, who presented the President himself Zelensky. Kernes was first ignored.
About this and also about the relationship with Avakov, Kolomoisky, Dobkin and the prospects for mayoral elections, we talked in an interview for “Country”.
— Let’s start with the main question: how do you feel?
— I feel well. But I clearly understand that I am a person with disabilities — from a physical point of view. From the point of view of working capacity and efficiency, as mayor, I am a man with unlimited abilities and capabilities.
— You better than a couple of years ago?
Yes. Just six months ago, I did an additional surgery in Germany. Put the pump, which reduces phantom limb pain in the legs. I also wanted to regain the ability of motion of the spine, and I did.
By the way, you got better. You were shown the gym, which are doing every morning after the assassination. How are things with sports?
— Not every day, but do. Now try to eat by the clock and more diet. I used to be sporting, because were moving a lot. Now at city hall I ride an electric wheelchair, and drive me around. There has never been an obstacle through which I would not have passed.
— You’ve not been telling me about the time of the assassination attempt on you? Describe how it was. How did you feel?
— I ran every morning for 20 miles in an hour and a half. Then dipped in cold water. And here I run with my cruising speed. Security accompanies me back. I received signals that I want to eliminate, but I do not believe that it will be out of the bushes. I knew that it could be, but a rifle with a telescopic sight? And then I heard a clap. “Buhbuh” — as something exploded near you. Clearly remember the sound and treat it from the thousands of others clapping.
— How did you feel during the shot?
Cold burning sensation. I only had time to expose hands forward. And fell, hitting his chin. I have a small scar (pointing to his chin, but the scar is not seen under the beard, — Ed.).
What? You passed out? Or even felt something?
— I felt nothing. I saw that the guards ran out and started to pull me into the car. And I realized that with me something happened and I don’t remember anything. I lost consciousness.
— And you managed to figure out that it was a gunshot?
— I realized that it was a shot after he fell. It was searing pain. Heat and cold throughout the body. I bullet took down four vertebrae, twice pierced the lung and stomach, broke a rib and hurt his adrenal gland and went through a pony tail that was the reason why I’m paralyzed legs. Ponytail is soft and the temperature regime of the bullet about 1000 degrees, and it actually burned like a hot iron, everything in its path. And then the hallucinations started. Spooky, you want to tell me
— It was a delusional state or you went there, what you write in books?
So I got in. I got in the other unknown world where flying helicopters and planes. Some planet, some island. Some women, children, armed men. And in the book there was a hallway of transition. I gave some of the team. And waited that they will be implemented. It seemed to me that I become a member of this world and the life of some obscure people. And I was sucked further and further into these events. Six days later I came out of the coma, opened his eyes and saw the silhouette of a man in a hat. It seemed to me that he is from the world of my hallucinations. I did not even realize that I woke up. He was out of the world of my dreams. I asked him: “What do you want?”. He replied that I am on Holy Ground. It was Rabbi of Haifa. Six days was a question: will I survive or not.
— Back to the current situation. When you are not invited to a meeting with the President when he presented the new Governor, you in social networks wrote angry post, where he criticized the Governor and the President. And this text differs from what you wrote before, how to behave before, when you tried to be friends with any authority. What happened to you?
— Anything that could change my reputation. When presented governors from Arsen Avakov in 2005 to Julia Svetlichnaya in 2016 has collected the regional elite. Presentation of the new head of the region usually was prepared by the staff of the presidential Administration and the state administration. In this case, the meeting was attended “Ukroboronprom”. I think it would have to be held in two stages: public presentation of the Governor for the regional elite and the media, and a closed meeting dedicated to the issues of the industry.
On TV I’ve seen different ideas — when Zelensky participated in them and when without his participation. In this case, with regard to the presentation of the Governor of the Kharkiv region, I think, unwarranted not only the absence of the mayor and heads of regional administrations, but also of rectors. This is wrong. Since I did not understand — and I’m not the only one to whom Zelensky represented Kucher? Cold not heated indoor aircraft factory…
— During a visit Zelensky, asked why so cold and addressed the question to you. So you said to him, be you near?
— What is the enterprise “Ukroboronprom”. They have created comfort conditions for the President in the cold, so he would not see people Avakov gathered near the building of the regional administration.
— What kind of people?
Usually the governors present in the hall of the regional Council, where he was waiting at the entrance. 500 activists Avakov, wanted to make the President the “corridor of shame”. Therefore, the Governor presented at a closed meeting of Ukroboronprom, if only the President had not seen the activists.
— How do you know they are activists Avakov?
Is the activists who controls Avakov, among them Ncorpus and activists – radically-minded people, who actively protested against the formula Steinmeier.
— Offended that the President after your post?
— I think no hard feelings there.
— Have you met the new head of the Kharkiv regional administration Alexey Kucher? Phoned?
— No. With him I never saw. After the appointment I called him and offered to meet. He refused.
— What do you mean declined?
I told him that we need to discuss important topics, the heating season, issues that put the President in the region. He said he was not ready to meet.
— Why is not ready? Not logged in?
— Probably. I can’t answer. It’s his words.
— Is it true that the driver — a man Avakov? Or whose he is a man?
— Walks a lot of rumors. I don’t care whose it is. If he was a protege of Avakov and swore loyalty to him, and he Avakov lobbied for it, and the Coachman could not perform what he promised…
— What he promised? It is believed that the Coachman was appointed to the region to work against you, knocking your rating and paving the way for the victory on elections of the mayor the candidate of the “public Servants”. Do you already see his work in this direction?
If this is true, then I will feel it, because I’m not a new person in these matters. Why are we talking about elections? When these elections?
— In the fall, and maybe spring will decide how.
— I’m ready. At any time. Why should I care if I work? From the point of view of the system of government and system of law enforcement, it is clear that you can discredit anyone and any job. It’s called manipulation and pressure. This tactic was under Poroshenko. I don’t know what did the new Governor. You can’t live in one election.
— In our country is somewhat different.
— It should be only once in 4-5 years. There is a transfer in Russia, “Unique people”. Presidential elections in 2019 as a script for this transfer.
— Explain what you mean?
Zelensky unique human being with the head of “95 Quarter” became President of Ukraine. He immediately dissolved the Parliament. Happened after the elections in the hype of his success. People felt it necessary to give him power. Now I meet people and they don’t understand what is happening. Coachman not I gave a promise and a commitment that will work like a monster.
— How do you know his work schedule? Outdoor advertising put what?
— So he himself assured the President that he would work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But I don’t believe he works 24/7.
— How to build a relationship with the driver? He is still the Governor.
— I have a very simple strategy. When the new Governor will understand that Kharkov is an integral part of the Kharkiv region and Ukraine, he wants to meet with the mayor of this town, I guess. Another question. Whether it’s a constructive meeting, we just look at each other and disperse?
— Do you intend to directly build relationships with the Office of the President to bypass the head of the regional administration?
— I will probably build a relationship that will result for the city, for people, for citizens. Because the Coachman for three weeks in the city, and I don’t see what exactly he was doing. In the past, according to rumors, he was a key lawyer in “backpacks Avakov”, and thus have a special relationship with the Minister of interior of Ukraine. What about the concept of dialogue can we tell if someone is manipulating him?
— How is the situation in criminal cases, which were revived when Poroshenko under the new government?
— Even more difficult.
Coupled with the fact that Anton Gerashchenko, was appointed to the post of Deputy head of the interior Ministry?
— I think he just calmed down.
— Gerashchenko has calmed down?
— I know him well. It worked for me. Walked in not dressed in the pants the shirt that the back was sticking out like a tail.
— It is interesting that you remember it is this feature of his image.
— Well, you imagine. Big boy, big girl is so healthy, and the shirt in the back like a tail sticking out. How do you not remember? And now he Deputy Minister of interior. By the way I gave one of your paintings with the image of Gerashchenko. “Sycophant” is called. Fun.
— How has your relationship with Arsen Avakov?
We calmed down.
— You do not think that he orchestrated the attempt on your life?
— Nothing has changed.
— Let’s go back to your political metamorphosis. Earlier you tried not to quarrel with the President – whether it’s Yanukovych or Poroshenko. On the contrary – has always been in the forefront of support of the head of state that Maidan during 2013-2014, during the presidential campaign, 2019-th year. What has changed now?
— I was expecting to meet with the President, like any leader of such magnitude. I’m not saying too great, but I run a two million metropolis.
— No do you connect the indifferent attitude Zelensky with the fact that during the election campaign, you campaigned and helped the candidate Poroshenko and not him?
— When Zelensky as presidential candidate was not on the horizon, I said that I will vote for Poroshenko. And a “Philharmonic” relationships for me, as head of the city was correct. We opened 150 criminal cases, and if I spoke differently, you would have significantly worsened the situation of the city. And we need a guarantee for infrastructure projects, for the loan of the World Bank, EBRD. I acted in the interests of Kharkiv.
So when you campaigned for Poroshenko’s government you don’t was insincere in its campaign?
— I never campaigned for power, which makes everything flawed.
— And how it is possible: one hand to help, and the second to heat and destroy?
— I’m not drowned, not been destroyed and do not interfere. Did not prevent Poroshenko, Tymoshenko and do not interfere with Zelensky.
— What role in the Kharkiv region plays Vadim Slyusarev (the guard times of Viktor Yanukovych, who was called the shadow chief of staff public Servants in the region – Ed.)?
I don’t know.
— It is said that he had strengthened his influence? Or is it not so?
— It is clear that I know who Slyusarev. He is the General who headed the internal security of the border. He is a competent leader. But to Slyusarev was involved in politics – this is information I no.
— When Zelensky dismissed the previous Governor Yulia Svetlichnaya, then spoke about her in a positive way, asked her not lost, and was carried to an orbit of interests of the President. Whether this is due to the fact that Svetlichnaya could be a candidate for mayor in opposition to you?
— I do not exclude it, but I want to say that the President tolerate entered against the former Governor saying these words.
— And yet, does this mean that svitlychnyi will go to the polls?
— When the elections were held in Parliament and was picked up by candidates who wanted to not have anyone from the previous government. And then appointed Avakov, Oksana Markarova (Minister of Finance of Ukraine – Ed.), Irina Ephraim, who was first elected CEC member from the “popular front”, and now “public Servants”. And the list of those who in the new government is old, you can go on and on.
— If the local elections will appoint to the nearest spring, are you ready?
— I can say for myself and little for others. Any Manager who believes in your potential, ready for elections at any time of the year.
— We do not doubt that you are ready for the elections and believe in their potential. Question in the political environment. You’ve seen the hype Zelensky “public Servants” gathered monopolist in Parliament. And last sizleri show that if Zelensky bring a hand candidate, you may be very questionable chances of success. Aren’t you afraid to lose?
— What will be, will be. If that happens, I will compete even with the hand, which leads Zelensky.
— What do you mean?
— If the President will lead “idol” and say “choose him because I brought him” then I’ll find the mechanism of how with him to fight. To grab any extravagant conjunctural policy to show it next to the President is not the focus. The trick is to read what is written by the members of Parliament in their social networks. The way they talk — that’s interesting! As for the local elections, the expectations will be a little bit other, different from parliamentary elections.
— In the local elections will win the people who are close to people and contact people constantly. That is, those who work.
— The results of the elections in majority districts, including and in Kharkov say the opposite — all the candidates from ze won almost all the districts of the Kharkiv region.
— Two didn’t win. Here the geography was such and the situation of the population.
— We have in all nine administrative districts. They have no authority, because we abolished district councils and made by the administration. Take, for example, Shevchenkivskiy district. They won the candidate from Zelensky – she didn’t even do anything on the district. At all. Another candidate worked consistently. I know that. Constantly doing good things for the city. And when I met with the new deputies of the Verkhovna Rada from Kharkiv and they began to ask questions, I realized that they are incompetent. I realized that we have broken the link between TV and reality, as people chose Zelensky, and not specifically.
— Well, you do agree with is irrefutable. Those who work lose the nameless heroes who on the hype come into politics.
— I’m talking about the local elections and that the situation at the time of their conduct will change. Those who voted for unknown candidates, just because they were from ze!the team will draw conclusions – these “winners” today will not appear on the districts.
— Do you think the voter will have time for such a short time to assess who’s working, who’s not?
— Maybe your design is working, but I don’t believe it. A rating of “Servants of the people” is still very high.
— If you do go out on the street and ask various people for whom they will vote in the mayoral election, without mentioning names, guess what you will answer.
— Have you done a survey? Can share with them?
— Of course I did.
— What is sociology? If the election to fight you and your, say, a parrot of the reception, which will be served from ze — who wins?
— Kernes, but not a parrot.
Let’s post the results, again measured.
— I never worked for rating. I have a motto: “Love Kharkov – to work for the people”. Everything I do, I do for Kharkov, not for themselves. And Kharkiv patriotism manifests itself in such things as cleanliness and order. Organized people understand that you need to wash, clean and love your city.
— What was sociology.
While we talked, I had another leak closed of sociology of Kharkiv. Fuchs dropped. The number of respondents 1487. Party ranking “servant of the people” – 36%, the party of Gennady Kernes “Trust Affairs” – 30% “For life” – 14%, “the European solidarity” – 4,5%. The mayor rating. First round: Kernes – 48%, the candidate from “public Servants” – 32%, Feldman – 8%, Yulia Svetlichnaya – 5%. The rating of the presidential party is clearly reduced. Last month, the “Servants of the people” was supported by 40%.
— Changed your relationship with Igor Kolomoisky after the election campaign?
— What are my relationship with Kolomoisky? Normal.
— You often talk on the phone with him than with the Governor?
— Probably, Yes.
Zelensky for Kolomoisky — problem or opportunity?
— Any person may become a problem. If you look at the game of chess, the pawn can become a problem. In politics as well. The environment is often a challenge. They have their own history of business relations. Zelensky and Kolomoisky are playing the roles that were assigned in the days of the “1+1”.
In the sense that Zelensky is he still on the payroll?
— No. I mean that public conversation and the flow of information such that he is not an enemy, but a friend Zelensky. All allegations that Kolomoisky’s not a team game. He is capable of many actions, which can easily prove that he is a major player in the process.
Is past relationships.
— No future without a past.
— That is, for Kolomoisky Zelensky will always be an actor, a 95 block?
— No, he does not perceive. Anyway, when I was in Israel before the presidential election. Kolomoisky understood that Zelensky will win the election and become President of Ukraine.
He had understood the format of a joke?
— No, he did not take it in the format of a joke. He had asked me about the ratings, and talked about it seriously.
— A lot of guys of “95 Quarter” went into politics, but Kolomoisky has no. Why do you think?
— Once he was in power, showed their Patriotic position, when Ukraine fought for their independence. Kharkiv was the polar city, the snowstorm, the sun… He gave me different tips, instructions on how to protect the interests of Ukraine.
— Important memory. Even when Kolomoisky called Putin a schizophrenic, and he recently said that we need peace with Russia, and the West is provoking us to war with her. As you his political metamorphosis?
— Kolomoisky many such words were called, but the fact that he has a real sense of life, and he thinks several steps ahead – I was convinced. If he spoke about relations with Russia, it means that he is open and understands what happens if we are without a relationship with Russia. And who are we to quarrel? I can openly say that the Crimea passed Alexander Turchinov and Co. I say this openly, because there was no decree to protect the Crimea.
— At the last parliamentary elections you and the mayor of Odessa, Trukhanov went under the brand name of the Opposition bloc and lost that to some degree undermined your political credibility. The curators of the opposition bloc were Kolomoisky and Akhmetov. Sorry that I dragged you into this adventure?
— I didn’t want to participate in it, but as the mayors of different cities expressed that they are willing to participate, I didn’t want to separate from these people. Therefore gave his consent, although he received other offers, more real.
In particular, you had an offer to go with Applatform, but you refused.
— Why? Would you together with Applatform would have passed in Parliament, would have a much stronger political position than it is now.
— I gave consent to participate in the project “the Party of mayors” – “Trust business”, but Rabinovich (Vadim Rabinovich is one of the leaders of the “Applatform” – Ed.) honestly say that I refuse. Despite the fact that I had a winning place. Unlike the Governor, I was invited to a meeting of deputies from ze. Quietly spoke with them the possibility of our collective work on the result, as members of Parliament can help local government to defend its position. For example, in part, to the excise tax stayed in place. And this decision was taken by Parliament. I think it’s overall merit.
— So you want to say that you don’t need their MPs to lobby for the interests of the city? Enough to build a proper communication with deputies from the lake.
— I always build the situation to a higher power to Kharkov was better. I’ve always done it.
But with Zelensky you haven’t?
— It is.
— Did not show whether you claim Kolomoisky and Akhmetov for the failure of the opposition bloc, according to which lists you went to the polls? Did not require compensation for moral damage?
— No. I am a wealthy man. How can I ask such questions? What kind of compensation?
— Moral. You put your name, and in the end, the opposition bloc gained only slightly more than 3%.
— Stop it. I was not in the grave, I went to the future.
— Maybe you just had around your finger to weaken the position of other political forces, which could reduce the degree of success of a Servant of the people?
— I know what I’m doing. I was allowed to use his name in this project.
— For what?
— I tell it like it is. Because I love to work on the result.
— Explain. In a political sense.
— Trample on one place I’m not going. At that time, I exchanged information with different stakeholders. I went to party “Trust business”, I was not in the Opposition bloc. Then, when “Trust Affairs” became the opposition bloc, I wasn’t meaning to go out and show their ego.
— Your fate has long been tied to Mikhail Dobkin. But now you’re not together. You are the mayor, and he is on his own. At what point did your relationship end?
— My interests and the interests of Mikhail Dobkin sold when he forgot what Kharkov.
When he went to an independent policy?
His statements are not going to benefit the city. He just sat on Twitter and participated in all this “shit”, sorry, as best he could. I told him that we associate together, and if he’s going to do some kind of key statement, for example, then first let me ask, if I want to participate.
— You wanted to monitor his Twitter and Dobkin did not obey?
— I was told that he erased it. Once he listened to me.
— That is, your a rift when he started — blogging activity?
— Incomprehensible to me. It was not Misha for me and some other people. We still have a personal relationship…
Now Dobkin has gone from big politics. Not going to return to Kharkiv business?
— It was recently my guest, but I saw that he wanted to work… He said he wanted to ride motorcycles. Came to me with a ring, I asked, what is it? And he said that it was a special biker sign.
Maybe he was waiting for you to offer?
— He just understands that in Kharkov the roads are good, and he can ride a motorcycle.
— Sorry for the personal questions. How is your family? Your spouse Oksana — with you?
— We are together and nemmeste. Together because she supports me. We make friends, communicate. But she has her own life. Besides Oksana was never my wife – either civil or official.
— Is it true that you have a bad relationship with your son?
— With a senior?
— With Cyril.
— You’re in luck. My children came from Kiev. Let me introduce you two.
Kernes calls the Secretary and says, where the younger son. He said that he just waits in the waiting room. Son Daniel cheerfully bounds into the office. Kernes asked whether all of them in order. Says that all is well. Decide to call the senior by video link. The phone appears bearded head of a man — the eldest son Cyril. Kernes suits questioning relationship status: all OK, peace, friendship, chewing gum. Doing a rare family photo of Kernes. For memory.