Serhiy Sivokho has acted as the adviser to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on the reintegration and restoration of Donbass since October 2019 but was dismissed on March 30, 2020. He commented on this in Facebook, pointing to president Zelenskyi: “It’s easy to enter office taking advantage of the issues of peace building, and then sell the country and hide your head in the sand under the pressure of an active minority.” The “active minority” was extremely dissatisfied with clear attempts by Sivokho’s team to start a dialogue with Donbass. On March 12, the National Corps disrupted a presentation of the “National Platform for Reconciliation and Unity” developed by Sivokho’s team. The National Corps continues to exert pressure demanding that the Security Service SBU initiate a criminal case against Sivokho on charges of treason.
Andrei Biletsky, the leader of the ultra-right political party National Corps and the former commander of the Azov regiment, did not hide his satisfaction with the resignation of Serhiy Sivokho. He thanked everyone who had lobbied for Sivokho’s resignation and called him “one more pro-Russian in the government.”
This interview with Serhiy Sivokho was done via Skype. He commented on the loss of his position as the adviser to the Secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine:
“What is gone is the paper while the aspirations are the same. In terms of opportunities, that position did not give me much. On the contrary, issues which were never part of my portfolio as the unofficial off-staff advisor to the Council secretary were always pinned on me. I am determined to keep on moving in the same directions: our priority is to keep communication going among people so that it becomes a stepping stone on the path to peace.”
The confrontation between Serhiy Sivokho and those who gave in to pressure from the National Corps and their affiliates is an example of obstacles Ukraine is facing. But the first step towards true peace would be an absolute ceasefire.
“The main obstacle here are the actions undertaken by the party of war, which is relatively united and acting on both sides of the conflict. It’s those who profit from this war by making money or obtaining certain political dividends, anything. They interfere with any attempt to advance the peace process because they don’t need peace, they need the atmosphere of hostility. All their priorities entirely depend on a hotbed of tension and instability, so they foster the aggressive minority which has been so loud in Ukraine”.
Sivokho’s hopes that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Ukraine who cast their votes for President Zelensky, choosing peace, may form mechanisms which cool or restrain the “party of war”.
“To confront the aggressive minority, it is necessary to socially awaken the majority, make it more active. We need to demonstrate that the peace process can go on if those who are genuinely motivated start supporting such initiatives”.
Sivokho is confident that he can motivate others by his personal example. Despite all odds, threats and pressure, he is committed with his team to continue working for peace. He wants to tell the Ukrainians that there have been precedents in the world on how to solve such drastic problems. No war has lasted forever.
Sivokho recollects his recent trip to Serbia, where his team studied ways to resolve similarly grave conflicts. “Before the war in Yugoslavia, there had been problematic issues between different ethnic or religious groups, but they were able to keep some balance. External interference exacerbated those conflicts or even brought them there. That external interference soon turned minor conflicts into a bloody confrontation. The former Yugoslavia had not been able to recover from it until now. ”
Sivokho tells he feels pain to see Belgrade. “One has to say that the country is still not allowed to rise. You cannot compare Belgrade before the war to what it now is like. I really don’t want Ukraine to be treated in the same way. Our country at the moment is at the crossroads of global interests. It is being used as some testing ground. From the bottom of my heart: I do not want this to continue”.