Below is part of the transcript of today's interview with president Medvedvev on CNN.
See video here
"F.Zakariya: Talking about Ukraine, when you say they should hold a referendum there, we should note that Ukraine is a sovereign state, and it’s free to enter any alliance it wants. There is no constitutional requirement for Ukraine to hold a referendum. Even though many believe that Russia is not satisfied with Ukraine being independent, as it believes Ukraine is still part of Russia to a large extent, that it cannot put up with the fact that it has lost Ukraine. In any case, we believe Ukraine has the opportunity to join any alliance; and according to the Constitution, it doesn’t need our direction on whether to do it or not.
D.Medvedev: You’re right. The question is that I am not making any recommendations to Ukraine; I just believe that Ukrainian politicians should think about it. I am not an expert on Ukrainian legislation. But we are talking about entering nothing else but a military bloc; and we had all been within one military bloc called the Warsaw Pact, which used to be NATO’s direct opponent. So if I was to make such a decision, I believe I would have to consult with the population on such issues. This is certainly their sovereign right; but as far as I know, a significant number of politicians hold the same position as me: that a referendum is required before acceding into NATO. The fact that the current Ukrainian president doesn’t think so is his own business. This is what I believe we should remember.
Regarding our attitude towards Ukraine, it’s a hearty and friendly one. We all have relatives and friends in Ukraine, and we have a need to communicate. Ukraine has been going its own way; it’s an independent state now, so let it develop itself. Ukraine has been experiencing economic difficulties and their own national problems; so let our colleagues deal with them.
What is it that I dislike? It’s something I had talked about in my recent address and in my letter to President Yushchenko. There is only one thing I dislike: that the anti-Russian position has become the main policy of the current leadership, meaning the country’s president, my colleague. Whatever they say, I am absolutely convinced this is their key policy. It’s a shame, and it’s wrong. Our nations have been so closely tied together that anyone who tries forcing a wedge between our two nations would be making a mistake, if not a crime, for the sake of future generations. So my address had only one meaning: to make Ukrainian politicians – and their president first of all – start to think about their policy. I really don’t like it that Ukraine has been heroising Nazi criminals, so to speak. [As a lawyer, Medvedev would certainly be aware he was deliberately making an erroneous sweeping generalisation here..LEvko] We had all actually fought against Nazism at some point. Other countries understand it, but the Ukrainian leaders are not willing to realise it for some reason. I have the right to make such assessments, as this is a common challenge, a common threat. Nazi criminals used to be judged by the Nuremberg tribunal.
So there are things that are truly crucial for the future of our relationships. We are not forcing anything on anyone; we are not addressing anyone. I’ve particularly emphasised that I wasn’t even appealing to the Ukrainian nation, because this nation has its own leadership. But as this country’s leader, I have to express my standing to my colleague. Considering everything that had been – and still has been happening there – I had to make an unpleasant decision and to delay sending a new ambassador to Ukraine, so that our Ukrainian colleagues would actually think about the consequences of such a policy."
In three of four months time president Yushchenko will be out of office, clearing his desk and packing a furniture removal truck. So why so hostile? Today was Medvedev's 44th birthday. Maybe he just didn't like the birthday prezzie from his Ukrainian counterpart...
'Segodnya's' "take" on this is: "Head of the Russian Federation has again criticized our president over [his] anti-Russian policies"