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Ukrainian Leader on Soviet Politics

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FOLLOWING are excerpts from an interview with Leonid Karvchuk, chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, in Kiev on March 29.

What is your frank assessment of Boris Yeltsin's political leadership these days? How do you see this conflict between Yeltsin and [Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev?

I always say that if we judge [Russian leader] Boris Yeltsin by declarations, by speeches, he sincerely supports the idea of sovereign Russia. He wants to give the Russian people what they deserve. And I understand him in this.

But is it necessary to confront Gorbachev to do this?

We in the Ukraine are also making certain steps toward sovereignty. But we are not confronting Gorbachev.

I understand there are a lot of personal things here, because Yeltsin was a member of the Gorbachev team. Then he was excluded. Naturally there are some ill feelings and the desire to prove that he can do better. This desire to prove himself makes him want to jump ahead. But in politics, it is impossible to pose unrealistic goals. We can promise lots to people, to raise salaries and pensions threefold, and people will like it. But how can you promise it, knowing that every year we have a recession?

If Yeltsin means to export valuables and gold, to sell resources, gas, oil, well, of course, it is a way. But it is a way toward dependency, not toward industrial development.

Equally Gorbachev should not, when he makes a decision, be guided by personal feelings. What matters is the country, the people.


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