I would like to see Ukraine and Russia with a common position in the Conference of Transportation Ministers of the European Union. In the framework of the rebirth of the silk route and the transportation of products from the Far East to the Union, passing through Ukraine, it is indispensable to harmonize the traffic tariffs. Sea transport from Vladivostok to Budapest takes 40 days while it takes only 14 by train. Ukraine and Russia can make billions. The Caucasus-Crimea link has been working for a month. On August 1, the high speed train between Kiev and Moscow will be inaugurated and it will only take nine hours instead of the previous 18. We have several other projects including a deep-water port in the Black Sea. It would be very convenient to unite and conquer new markets in Africa, Iran and Iraq.

The facts prove that, contrary to what they say, the Socialists and the party of Tymoshenko work for themselves. We have come to power in the President’s sole team and we should keep it that way. Tymoshenko spoke of a “Bund” of oligarchs but I simply joined them around a negotiation table. The bigger groups, that represent 60% of railroad transportation, were present. I told them I want fair rules so that they did not have to pay bribes and that they should support the country. We reached an agreement.

An audit is being carried out in the Transportation Ministry; it is important for me as its director. I have nothing personal against anyone. A member of the Duma, Mitrofanov, is saying that there are recordings that prove that I accepted bribes; that is totally impossible. I publicly declared a few months ago that, during a special operation, we arrested some people who had tried to corrupt me. There are people who are bothered by the rapprochement between Ukraine and Russia but I feel proud that Putin and Yushchenko allowed us to put an end to the lack of understanding.

Vremya Novostyey (Russia)

Украине и России нужно переступить через взаимные упреки и мелочность ”, by Evgueni Chervonenko, Vremya Novostyey, May 20, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.