Igor Poshivailo: “It is obvious that an attempt is being made to multiply the Revolution of Dignity by zero”
On Thursday, November 19, the office of the Maidan Museum was searched by National Police investigators accompanied by SBU officers.
Police attributed the searches to an investigation into the construction of the Memorial to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred: the Maidan Museum paid the general contractor UAH 111 million in advance, but the latter allegedly spent the funds improperly and, police said, “the museum has not been completed.”
The story is that there is no talk of building a museum yet, and the construction of the memorial cannot begin, because the area where it is to be built is under arrest by the prosecutor’s office: there are investigative actions and experiments necessary to investigate the shootings. Maidan in February 2014.
Thus, two civil wills intersected: one that the memorialization of Maidan heroes should be embodied in a memorial designed by architects Iryna Volynets and Maryna Protsyk , and the other about the proper investigation of crimes against protesters. The fact that the museum was searched on the eve of the anniversary of the beginning of Euromaidan, and the appearance of news that the DBR is questioning political leaders in connection with the “coup d’etat” case , have sparked discussions about the status of Maidan’s achievements. what memory the society has left about this event and whether the idea of mass protests in general is being discredited.
We talked to Igor Poshivail, director of the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity, about all this, as well as about the difficulties of building a memorial and museum of the Revolution of Dignity, the political will of the old and new authorities and the complicated mechanisms of public administration.
Daria Badior , Editor of the Culture DepartmentPhoto: National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity • Maidan MuseumIgor Poshivailo
First, I would like to go through a statement issued by the SBU on the day of the searches . I quote: “law enforcement officers found out that the work was not actually carried out within the terms established by the agreements. Instead, most of the budget funds received by the contractor were not spent for the purposes specified in the relevant agreements. ” It is about 111 million hryvnias which were paid to the contractor as an advance. Do you know what they were spent on?
As a museum, we do not know the facts that the contractor spent this advance for purposes other than those specified in the contract. He provided us with information about purchased trees and granite – these are the most expensive items of expenditure, as well as other materials for the memorial. The contractor purchased 105 trees and special granite, which was brought from abroad and is currently stored in Ukraine. The museum has a separate professional department, which deals with all issues related to construction.
But we do not have legal mechanisms to check what the general contractor spends money on. The only safeguard against misuse is that the money is in the treasury account. Therefore, they must be spent in accordance with the design and estimate documentation and in accordance with the agreement between the museum and the general contractor.
Does the contractor have to report to you about his work? Annually or quarterly, for example?
No, he has to report on the work done. The subject of the agreement is the construction of a memorial. Officially, the documents state as follows: reconstruction of the alley, arrangement of the pedestrian zone, landscaping and landscaping. The general contractor should report when the facility – a white granite memorial wall, planted trees, a pedestrian zone – will be built. Because the materials were purchased but the work was not performed, the contractor has no mechanisms to report on.
We have repeatedly written about this to our subordinate bodies – the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, the Ministry of Culture; appealed to the DBR and the Prosecutor General’s Office to explain that the museum had been held hostage to the situation; we informed the Cabinet of Ministers, which authorized us with its Order in 2018 to perform the functions of the customer of design and construction. It is not in our competence to stop construction, as well as to violate the law, because the arrest imposed on the site is a clear signal that forbids us to take any action to change the territory there. Therefore, from June 20, 2019, when the arrest was made for the second time, we continued to be in a state of constant correspondence with prosecutors, ministries and attempts to find a way out of this situation. The project of the Memorial to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, on the one hand,Photo: maidanmuseum.orgStele of heroes in the project of the Memorial to the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred
Is there a deadline in the contract with the contractor when the project should be completed?
Yes, when we signed this agreement, the deadline was August 2019. At the end of 2018, the winner – the North-Ukrainian Construction Alliance – was determined through open procurement at the Prozorro tender. But on appeal, the Antimonopoly Committee dismissed him for violating the documentation provided. Therefore, the winner was the one who took second place – Special Research and Restoration Design, Construction and Production Workshop “Ukraine-Restoration”. The term of works was 8 months. But when those eight months passed, the Cabinet, given the inability of the Prosecutor General’s Office to complete investigative experiments and investigative actions on the Alley of the Heavenly Hundred, allowed a new resolution to extend this deadline by 24 months.
That is, until August 2021?
Did you know that the same searches as yours were carried out at the contractor’s?
Yes, I heard about it.
A message on the museum’s Facebook page said that the first arrest was made on the site in November 2018. It’s true?
So it’s true.
But the advance to the general contractor, 111 million, you transferred in December 2018, when the arrest was already and it was clear that in the near future there will be no construction. Why did this happen?
We held the tender before the arrest, in October 2018. According to its results, according to the current legislation, we had to conclude an agreement with the winner and transfer the funds, otherwise we would be fined. We learned about the arrest after we transferred the advance to the general contractor. No one informed us that the site had been arrested. In addition, in official letters, the then representatives of the GPU’s Special Investigations Department told us that they needed a couple of weeks for the experiments, and they would complete everything. Indeed, in February 2019, at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the arrest was lifted from the site, and we began preparatory work, registered them with the State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate.) and opened a card for a temporary violation of landscaping, received approval from the Ministry of Culture. The Prosecutor General’s Office officially informed us that in the lower part of the alley we can start the first stage of works, in April-May a construction town appeared, a fence was erected, construction equipment appeared. On the day when the Minister of Culture and I publicly announced our readiness to begin construction of the memorial, we received letters from the Prosecutor General’s Office – “no-no-no, you can not build, we need a couple of weeks to complete the experiments.” Correspondence with the Prosecutor General’s Office took place almost every week, deadlines were postponed for more than two weeks – a month, six months, until the end of the year and so on. And so on June 20, 2019, they made another arrest.
In addition to the memorial project on the alley, there is another project for which you are responsible. This is a project of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity, which is to be built on the Alley of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, determined by a separate nomination of the international project competition, with a separate budget and so on. By the way, what is the budget for the construction of this museum in general?
So far no calculations have been made. We have only the results of an international competition – a project idea. In order to start accurate calculations, we need to conclude an agreement with the winner of the competition, the German company Kleihues + Kleihues Gesellschaft von Architekten, which will then provide us with technical conditions. After that it is necessary to order initial data for designing which provide in particular town-planning conditions and restrictions. To date, no museum has been built in Ukraine designed by foreigners as a result of an international competition. This is a difficult matter. Photo: maidanmuseum.orgThe project of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity, which won the competition
The agreement was not signed for more than a year due to the fact that Ukraine did not pay the prize to the winners of the competition. It was paid only in late 2019 – early 2020.
Although they are different projects and architectural teams, the museum project envisages the implementation of the memorial project: they are integrated, combined with important stylistic and symbolic elements – in particular, the ramp around the museum building continues the zigzag shape of the memorial alley. It is clear that the Germans are watching what is happening around the memorial, which should have been opened a long time ago, and see a lot of risks for their project here. But we, for our part, are actively looking for a solution that would allow us to start implementing this project early next year.
Do we have any obstacles in the legislation to cooperate with foreign companies at public expense? Does this add to the problems?
There is no direct ban on such cooperation. That is why the competition was organized as an international one , and it passed, from a legal point of view, purely – this was confirmed by an audit at the Ministry of Culture. But there are no clear and proven mechanisms to implement the winning project correctly and on time.
The construction of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity is a story that is closely monitored by society, regulators, politicians and foreign partners. There are signs of the political will of the state leadership to implement the project proposal of the Germans. This is important so as not to tarnish Ukraine’s reputation in the field of international architectural competitions.
The project of the Maidan Museum is really, among other things, a product of political will. It was a kind of grand project of the previous president Petro Poroshenko , even the first lady was involved in the work on it, if I’m not mistaken.
Yes, she joined unofficially. An organizing committee for the development of the national memorial complex was established. The committee had two co-chairs – the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration and the Deputy Prime Minister. There are a lot of stakeholders in this project – more than 50, so it was not just a project of President Petro Poroshenko. It was initiated primarily under public pressure in response to a public inquiry into the proper memorialization and museification of the “Territory of Dignity,” a protest space in downtown Kyiv.
The presence of political will contributed to the opening of funding for the museum, very quickly and efficiently held an international competition, allocated a plot of land – “pit”, which had a notorious reputation before. But on the other hand, the main reason why the construction of the memorial has stopped now is the lack of objective, timely and complete investigative actions, bringing cases to court and bringing the perpetrators to justice. This is the biggest obstacle.Therefore, if there was the political will to actually build a memorial and a museum, I think there would be the political will to conduct an effective investigation of Maidan crimes and bring cases to court. For some reason this did not happen.
However, Petro Poroshenko’s political will and loud statements contributed to the fact that the site on Institutsky Street was allocated for the Maidan Museum. Instead, the National Art Museum fought for it for a long time, wanting to build a branch and a depository there. And there were even reports that you signed a memorandum with them that you will be in the same building . What happened, why did the museum eventually fall out of this equation?
This was at the very beginning, when our museum first appeared and we applied to the Kyiv City Council to hand over this area on the Alley of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred for use – for the construction of a memorial and a museum. We did this not because we were so upset, it was determined by the results of the international architectural competition “Terra Dignitas”, which was held in 2014-2015 and which did not end with the implementation of the winning projects, but determined the location of construction. It was about the area with the pit for the museum and the alley of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred for the memorial. In response to our requests, they replied that this area is in international arbitration, the story with it is very dark. So, we were denied.
The National Art Museum then invited us to fight for this land together. It was a bold, but at the same time romantic idea, because one plot of land cannot be allocated for two museums at the same time. However, we offered the NHMU that we would provide it with an exhibition space for temporary exhibitions and that we could constantly do joint exhibition projects and educational programs with them. But it is clear that the National Art Museum’s urgent needs were different – they needed their own space to arrange a depository, a gallery of contemporary art. Therefore, to talk about the use of different land plots by different legal entities, and especially the disputed one, as well as to build premises on it together, of course, was unrealistic. In addition, a law was passed to amend the final provisions for the regulation of urban planning, which enabled the rapid allotment of plots and protected them from further misuse, prohibiting the transfer of both the plot and the premises of the building for rent. Therefore, in accordance with this law, the museum cannot lease its territory.
If Ukraine has no experience of successfully building a new museum in almost 30 years of its independence, then what about placing two museums under one roof?Photo: Maria LebedevaMay 2019, Alina Shpak, Yevhen Nyschuk and Ihor Poshivailo during a briefing on the Alley of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred
And a few more questions about money. This year, the article on the construction of objects of national importance in the field of culture was sequestered – about 500 million hryvnias were taken from it, only 100 remained. The money was not returned after reviewing that sequestration?
No. Of these 100 million, 60 were theoretically assigned to us, but never provided. That is, there are no funds for construction in our accounts. And this is another reason why we could not complete negotiations with the Germans on the design of the museum.
Is budget funding planned for the construction of the museum next year and in what amount?
Thus, UAH 60 million appear in the draft state budget. We stated the need for 95 million, but we were proved only 60.
Discussions at the Maidan Museum often suggest that it is difficult to build a museum of an event that, in fact, has not yet been completed – there are no sentences for those who gave orders to shoot at protesters. How did you solve this question for yourself? What is the meaning of this museum for you and what narrative can it offer now, on the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the Maidan?
From the very beginning, the public initiative “Maidan Museum”, which was formed in January 2014, collected evidence, documents, artifacts, in fact, worked on the collections of the future state museum. At the end of 2014, we were joined by the public initiative “Museum of Freedom”, represented in particular by Yevhen Hlibovytsky, Oleksandra Baklanova, Olesya Ostrovska , who gave a different vector to the concept of the museum. His focus was not only on the events of the Revolution of Dignity, not only the death of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, not only the wounded on the Maidan, but also valuable values, important social experience, continuity of the struggle for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity, critical rethinking of our history.
So we wanted to talk more about freedom. The museum should be called “Maidan Museum / Freedom Museum”. We have the Memorial of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, which honors the victims, and the Maidan Museum should tell about the lessons of the Revolution of Dignity, focus not only on the tragedy and trauma of events, but also on the positive. On the fact that Ukrainians massively showed solidarity and self-organization, in every way in their own way supported the protests, formed a number of public initiatives.Today, according to sociological research, many of our citizens forget that multidimensional and phenomenal Maidan. People remember more politicians or murders on the Maidan. And they forget about the important thing that united Ukrainians, when tens, hundreds of thousands of completely different people took to the streets, who had a common goal: to change themselves, to change the state, to change society. Make civil society strong and influential. Give the opportunity to shape the future of their state.
We conducted a lot of sociological research – in 2018 we saw that more than 70% of respondents believe it is necessary to create a museum and a memorial dedicated to the Maidan. Even those who did not support the protests. This is how we conceived our museum – not as a political project, not as a museum that will cover only one side or the position of pro-government politicians, but as a museum that will talk about the values of Ukrainians and politicians of different parties to help our society unite. in the face of global and domestic challenges.
The theme of the Maidan is very hot and painful, but the absence of a museum and a memorial helps to dispel the memory of it, makes it selective. Memory tends to change under the influence of other traumatic events. Today we have enough reasons for this. Therefore, it is important to create an institution that would take responsibility and become a platform for the preservation of historical memory, the establishment of national identity, the intensification of civic initiatives. Memory needs a strong infrastructure, and the memorial-museum complex is a very important core for it to protect us from the leveling or manipulation of our historical memory by politicians.Photo: Max Levin
We studied the experience of creating a Museum-Memorial to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York – there was also a period of public unrest, discussion, political turbulence. But in the end, someone had to take political responsibility. In the case of this 9/11 Memorial Museum, it was the mayor of New York and the governor of the state.
Who in Ukraine should become the subject of such political responsibility, in your opinion?
President of Ukraine. If we talk about the main cause of stupor in the construction of the memorial, it is the lack of completion of investigative actions and sentencing. This is the responsibility of the DBR and the Office of the Prosecutor General, appointed by the President.
Has the atmosphere around the museum changed with the arrival of the new government? How do you communicate with the authorities now?
The atmosphere changed because the previous government took more coordinated care of the museum’s problems. After the last presidential and parliamentary elections, I do not see this coherence and interest in the implementation of our project.
From the new government, the Minister of Culture Volodymyr Borodyanskyi was very active in solving our problems – it was during his term that the winners of the competition were paid a prize. But he resigned in February, and since then the new leadership of the Cabinet has faced other challenges, so the museum and memorial are not a priority for them. Although open sabotage is not visible – somewhere there is an understanding that our memorial-museum complex is needed. Therefore, budget requests are supported, albeit not in full, some funds for construction are planned.
I saw that the Maidan Museum reacted to the appearance in public discourse of the term “coup d’etat” in relation to the events on the Maidan, and just in parallel with the news of the museum search, the news appeared that the DBR summoned Maidan political leaders for questioning. in connection with the case of the same “coup d’etat” . What do you think this may indicate?
Before that, there was another significant event – the abolition of the absentee conviction of the main participant in the crimes on the Maidan, Viktor Yanukovych. This was a signal that revenge forces were coming to power in Ukraine, trying to fulfill the tasks of the aggressor country, the Russian Federation. She, together with the former regionals, is trying to prove that Euromaidan, the Revolution of Dignity, was not a revolution, but a coup d’etat, that the resulting government was illegitimate, and the occupation of Crimea and part of Donbass is completely justified. It is obvious that a special operation is being carried out and an attempt is being made to multiply the Revolution of Dignity by zero.
If not only “aunts” were sentenced, but also the perpetrators and perpetrators of executions and tortures, then high-ranking officials, there would be an act of justice and the fact of these convictions, as evidenced in particular in history textbooks and scientific discourses. And since the main participants in the criminal cases on the Maidan are being released, it seems that none of the authorities is going to administer justice and tell the whole truth about those events. On the contrary, the fugitive politicians of the then Yanukovych regime are returning and are actively trying to discredit the Maidan as a civilizational event, to undermine its historical significance and values. And having done so, they hope to stop Ukraine’s European integration progress, stop its reforms and destroy independence.
Daria Badior , Editor of the Culture Department