Vladimir Bidyovka: Parliament must be efficient
Vladimir Bidyovka, the Speaker of the DPR Parliament described the People’s Council’s work and staff in an interview to an online media outlet DNR-Live.
– You had the experience of parliamentary work in Ukraine before the war. Are the People’s Council and Verkhovna Rada comparable?
– These are two completely different systems. First of all, in regard to lobbying of someone’s interests. This factor is exaggerated in the Verkhovna Rada. I think that this will destroy the Ukrainian parliament sooner or later. It is common knowledge that presents a lot of different groups and structures, which have not gone anywhere after the “Euromaidan”. Oligarchic capitals and lobbyists of the western countries are fully productive. The most obvious example is the signing of an association with the European Union in 2014. There was quite a large group of lobbyists of this anti-state issue and, as you see, they have achieved it.
– There is no such thing in the People’s Council. There is no only lobbyism as such in the People’s Council, but anti-state projects as well. Here is utmost unity among the deputies.
– The second point is that a lot of attention is paid to PR and populism in the work of Ukrainian deputies and Rada as a whole. They work there more for appearances than for addressing some issues. There is a completely different situation in the People’s Council. Therefore, the work of our Parliament is called, often enough, especially in social networks, to say the least, “not spectacular”.
The fact is that all the battles we have are held at the level of committees, temporary commissions, various meetings, interdepartmental meetings and so on. The deputies tackle issues more thoroughly than in Ukraine before plenary sessions. And then, as a rule, we put to the vote those issues in the Hall of the Parliament, on which understanding has already been reached both between deputies and various authorities. That is why our citizens see normal constructive work in the debating chamber, not a circus or bedlam.
There is a feeling due to the western propaganda that a parliament of any country has to be spectacular. But if someone needs a show – a circus or movie can cope with that perfectly. A parliament should not be spectacular, it should be efficient. It should enact laws work with citizens’ appeals. Deputies should work in their districts and should not organize a commotion, lobby someone’s interests and so on. This is a major difference.
– Excuse me, but some deputies represent the interests of manufacturers, the others – agricultural producers, still others – trade unions, yet others – youth and so forth and so on. Can it be called lobbyism as well?
– Me, as the majority of our citizens, define lobbyism as the promotion of vested interests of certain financial and industrial groups and companies. And often it is done illegally or fraudulently.
Of course, it would be strange and wrong, if a person, who worked in agriculture and became a deputy, would not defend the interests of agricultural producers or farmers. Therefore, the parliament is elected in a diverse composition, so that each deputy could not only defend the interests of large groups of people or entire industries, but, as an expert, knew what he could possibly do to address an issue having the status of a deputy.
Other thing is when a corporation needs to make every effort in order to have an advantage and competitors’ lives worse. We will not allow this in the People’s Council.
I will give you an example of how the Verkhovna Rada works. The law “On motor vehicle utilization” was adopted in due time there. Then it was aimed at providing preferential conditions, first of all, for ZAZ and “Bogdan” Corporation. It was a pure lobbyism. And if a deputy defended the development of an automobile industry, it would be a completely different approach.
– Can we say that the second Parliament has become more technocratic?
– I would not use that term. I will put it this way, every composition of parliament has its own tasks. You have to remember that the second parliament comes not to an empty field. The first parliament had to solve quite complex tasks. They are, first of all, formation of authorities, institutions of power, community outreach. As a matter of fact, while I was working in the People’s Council of the First Convocation, the DPR was being formed as a state and we had to rebuild all state institutional bodies from scratch.
I always remember my first reception as a deputy of the People’s Council in Zolotarevka, Shakhtersk district. When I arrived there, people were gathering and waiting for social payments, 1000 hryvnias were given to pensioners back then. We were going through tough times – there were no pensions and banking system. In fact, there was no hierarchy of power. The deputies of the Parliament of the First Convocation had to work in this environment.
There was no well-established mechanism of interaction between a deputy and administration. We had to build this system from scratch. To the point where we learnt to write appeals and so on. Even if you now look at the documents of the People’s Council of 2014 – 2015 and the latest documents of 2018, you will see how much difference in quality of preparation of documents they have, how experienced the People’s Council and the staff of the People’s Council have become.
Therefore, if we talk about the second convocation of the People’s Council, I am sure that these are the people who, at least, want to multiply those achievements that the first convocation made and ensure solid outcomes. I am sure that we will make every effort to do so. Frankly speaking, we have no other options.
Of course, the Parliament of the Second Convocation, from my point of view, was renewed enough. At the same time, there were deputies of the first parliament, who were elected to the Parliament of the Second Convocation. This is also a good thing, but it is important not to overdo it. On the one hand, having the same structures for many years is wrong. On the other hand, you cannot renew them radically. There must be some transfer of experience.
– You mentioned work in the districts. I have to admit that the deputies of the first convocation form “Free Donbass” faction had certain problems with obtaining office space for public reception office. Is this going to be solved somehow?
– Certainly, this convocation will not have such difficulties. You should understand that such questions often have to be solved on a personal level as well. It is not really about the office. After all, the deputies of the “Donetsk Republic” faction had the same issues.
For instance, the Shakhtersk district and Khartsyzsk were my district. I did not have my own office anywhere. I had a room where I, according to my schedule of reception, came to and received residents. It was a room in the territorial department of the “Donetsk Republic” public movement or in the people’s hall.
Here it is necessary for a deputy to agree the schedule and place of reception. By the way, we talked about this today with the Chairmen of the Committees. That it would be in a normal working way, that a deputy could arrive at a certain stipulated time and hold a reception there. Here it is necessary to ask to have understanding, because not everyone can spare a permanent room.
We talked about this with the leadership of the faction, and if there will be misunderstanding, then let them contact us. We will try to help in every way in solving this issue. There have been no requests yet.
– New parliament is noticeably younger. More than 10 deputies are not even 30 years old yet. And as it is known, youth and discipline are incompatible things. How will you achieve parliamentary discipline outside the walls of the parliament?
– I will tell you this: it is a life. And, of course, any country, any parliament has such problems. We need to work with them.
It is clear that somewhere a person may not take in a situation properly. Especially if it is the first time working in the parliament. A person may not understand at his level that he has become a deputy and that he already requires completely different behavioural constraints. Here you need to look at a specific case. It is important to do something in an off-hand manner, to see if a person did not mean to do something intentionally and, at the same time, to prevent its repetition.
I mentioned a faction on purpose, because the question of discipline is very much influenced by the faction, because it is also a team. Any person would feel, to put it mildly, uncomfortable, if an adult people in a faction told this person off.
Every deputy has to realize that they are public figures. And I would like to draw attention to the fact that a deputy has to abide by special ethics, a deputy has a special responsibility for conduct.
– Will you, as the new Speaker of the Parliament, make any changes in the People’s Council?
– As for the changes, I will tell you this: no changes have been made yet. In fact, it has been only a week. Time will tell.
I will give an assessment as the deputy and Chairman of the Committee of the People’s Council of the First Convocation: the People’s Council works perfectly! I cannot single out any specific structures, I am afraid to offend someone, but everyone is doing the best.
Of course, there is a certain rotation of office like in any other structure: someone quits, someone goes to another structure or gets a promotion. The employees of People’s Council’s Office, let us say, are demanded people. The previous speaker has built a high-quality structure.
My personal attitude: the Office is the heart of the People’s Council. And no matter how the parliament changes its deputies, their work is always organized by the Office.