Al Jazeera’s John Seigenthaler recently spoke with Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, about his country’s ongoing political crisis and the recent escalation of violence between police and anti-government protesters in the capital Kiev.
The full transcript of the interview, which airs on Al Jazeera America at 8 p.m. EST tonight, is below.
Does the Ukrainian government have blood on his hands today?
That’s not for me to judge. The people have their own estimations. What is seriously important is that those who are in power today should understand their responsibility and to demonstrate wisdom. Those who are in a position, who are leading the people, who are leading the single society, they should understand their responsibility and demonstrate their wisdom.
President Obama said today that he holds the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for this, do you agree?
Any government in the world is responsible for everything.
But this is going on in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian president is apparently negotiating, doesn’t he hold some responsibility for this?
If he still is negotiating, it means that he’s open for negotiation. This is important. It means we still have the room for a peaceful settlement. He invited the opposition to come after meeting with the European delegation, and most probably, they are so inspired and encouraged by the talks with the Europeans, and by President Obama and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who made a strong statement yesterday and today in the morning, so my feeling is that all this mitigation, mediation were important.
I am counting on the wisdom and the tolerance. This is only what I can do and to share with you. We are awaiting the results of the president’s meeting with the leaders of the opposition, and naturally the opposition should encourage their colleagues in the parliament to find a way out of the constitutional crisis.
Have you seen the video of the snipers on the ground, pulling the trigger, firing bullets into crowds of protesters?
No I have not, but from the previous violence we had before. When the protesters were killed, 16 of them and 10 policeman, the snipers they were shooting. But nobody until now identified who were snipers who killed the police people and the protesters. This is what should be immediately defined, who they are. Because different rumors appear on the Internet explaining who they are. But I can’t comment on rumors.
Now ambassador I don’t know who they are but I’m looking at the pictures just like you are and they look like authorities to me.
Well, but you know it is not proved. It is not proved. A lot of people they have these camouflaged uniforms. That’s why the investigation should be very correct.
So you are blaming the protesters equally as well as the police – is that what you’re saying?
No, I am not blaming. What I am addressing to all the sides involved is to demonstrate patience, wisdom and to stop any violence and usage of arms.
And you believe that leadership is coming from President Yanukovich?
It should come from every side. Whoever is the wiser should start first.
Would it help if President Yanukovich stepped down?
Well, if it is a part of the compromise, if it is a part of the deal. But it is, again, it should be a complex solution. So it means not only the political solution, who will lead the country, but how to lead the country. The constitutional reforms are badly needed as well.
Ambassador as I speak to you today, I take it that this is a very difficult day for you and for Ukraine. Can you tell me your feelings?
True. I am shocked. I am shocked. All the morning, all the night I spent in telephone calls to my mother, to my sister, to my friends, to my university partners who are with their students on the streets. So it’s very shocking.