Read the address here on the president's official web site.
It is a rather long address, but because of its importance and the political implications for the Ukraine and its people, I shall reproduce it in its entirety. I have added emphasis to those sections which I think deserve to be highlighted.
Dear fellow citizens!
I address you in performance of my constitutional duty under the Article 106 of the Basic Law of the state.
The reason is the emergency epidemic situation in the country.
Infections of viral origin, including the A/H1N1 flu, are rapidly spreading across Ukraine.
The emergency is evident in the scale of the epidemic: the speed and the geography of its spreading, rapid progress of the illness and the exceptional number of deaths.
People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely unprecedented and inconceivable in the XXI century.
All the limits have been exceeded - even those under the Constitution that determine my actions as the President.
Therefore I am motivated by the most important: the security of your life and your health.
Therefore I give clear and frank assessment of the situation. And you should know that.
We have special risk factors that aggravate the epidemic in Ukraine.
The conclusions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, my numerous consultations with national and international experts show that.
First. Unlike similar epidemics in other countries, three pathogens of viral infections came to Ukraine at the same time: two of them are seasonal flu and the third is the A/H1N1.
According to virologists, such a combination of infections due to mutation may produce a new, even more aggressive virus.
That's why I have addressed the United Nations with the request to conduct a virologic examination in Ukraine and to establish the appropriate laboratory in order to take timely preventive measures.
Second. The A/H1N1 virus is easily mutating. It has travelled across half of the globe before coming to Ukraine.
This means that the virus has become particularly pathogenic.
This means that medical aid must be urgently reinforced by emergency, critical care treatment.
The third risk factor. It is generally known that the only way to prevent any infection is vaccination. (1)
Due to unprofessional and highly disorganized vaccination against measles and rubella in Ukraine the practice of vaccination is compromised in essence.
According to the estimates of the Minister of Health approximately 58% of citizens are vaccinated today in Ukraine with the effective level being 90% and higher.
People have stopped getting vaccinated against extremely dangerous infections: tuberculosis, diphtheria, etc.
This led to high risk of A/H1N1 infection spread, when the virus came to Ukraine and made impossible preventive vaccination against both strains of seasonal flu.
All this made general epidemic situation in Ukraine even more complicated.
As the President I ask you, dear fellow citizens, to reconsider your attitude to vaccination and do it if necessary, but only, I emphasize it - only after consultation with the doctor.
At the same time I instruct the Government and the Ministry of Health to immediately start preventive and promotional work in areas where there is no epidemic, targeting primarily the special risk groups. (2)
I demand the Government to immediately cancel the existing order of registration of medical supplies, including vaccines.
Studying this issue by the National Security and Defense Council shown that this procedure has allowed various dealers to bring to Ukraine dubious medicines, which are not recognized by the WHO or other national institutions.
Under my direction the Security Service is investigating the issue.
The fourth factor. In reality it is the Reactor 4.
I mean the epidemic, rapid spread of viral infections in the west of the country. The Government, the leadership of the Parliament and the opposition were all aware of that already in early October.
The first and the most effective preventive measure is avoiding large gatherings of people.
Ignoring this principle, hundreds of thousands of people from different regions were brought to Kyiv; from both the areas struck by the epidemic, and those where there was no evidence of this epidemic.
This greatly increased the risk of infection.
I emphasize: it was a well-known thing. And it was ignored by the Chairman of the Parliament, by the opposition leader and, first of all, by the Prime Minister. And Chief Sanitary Inspector, together with his subordinates in the regions, including those in the city of Kiev ignored their professional duty. (3)
This directly reminds of the May Day demonstration in Kiev, held shortly after the accident at Chernobyl NPP.
This is a display of criminal irresponsibility of politicians and complete indifference towards the people.
Let me cite one example. On October 20 the epidemic of flu was declared in Ternopil with schools and kindergartens closed for quarantine. "From October 21 secondary and primary schools are closed due to the growing rate of flu and ARD sickness”. This was the order of local authorities.
As of October 20 the rate of ARD in Ternopil was 172.9 cases per 10 thousand people with epidemiological threshold for the city being 160 patients per 10 thousand people. In other words - all services of the country responsible for monitoring the figure were informed and knew about the situation.
However, not a single Sanitary Inspector has banned either the movement of people, nor their gathering, including those in Kiev on October 24, when people have gathered at the central square. (3)
I would like to remind you, my dear, that on October 24, 2009 10 deaths were known to have occurred in Ternopil region itself and 6 deaths were reported in Lviv region. And in 7 days after the above mentioned gathering Kyiv turned out in the situation, when the rate of sickness demanded the announcement of flu epidemic. This is the behavior of the great politicians. The neglect of elementary means of prevention of a disease in any country in the world, by any society. Because they must conduct a show, they have concerts, because they were paid for and 130 million have already been spent.
In that, dear Ukrainians, I see not only moral but also criminal liability.
I have addressed the Prosecutor General of Ukraine with the request to institute criminal charges of negligence committed by first of all the Chief Sanitary Inspector, Kyiv City Sanitarian and the officials, who, despite having daily information on the epidemic situation in the country, neglected it in pursuit of political dividends and ambition. (4)
Now, the only principle of organizing preventive measures at the national scale should be as follows:
We treat the West and defend East, Center, North and South of Ukraine amain.
I now rely solely on the professionalism of our doctors. Today they are the true heroes of our nation.
I once again demand the Government to comply with the order the National Security and Defense Council to resolve the issue of wages for our doctors in this difficult period for the country.
The fifth factor.
Dear fellow citizens, the key threat that is aggravating the situation is chaos in the system of healthcare and protection of lives of people.
Today we must recognize that Ukraine does not have a single healthcare system. Prevention of any infection, including through vaccination, the localization and overcoming the consequences of epidemics is the responsibility of the State Sanitary-Epidemiological Service of Ukraine.
The Service is headed by the Chief Sanitary Inspector. He is appointed by the Prime Minister. (5)
The current Constitution after alterations in 2004 makes the Government solely responsible for conducting state healthcare policy.
The practice of using the power, as evident today, is a failure.
To the executive power, which is not subordinate to the President, I have suggested the holistic healthcare reforms plan and a set of instructions and recommendations that would help create the optimal model of the system for years to come. My remarks were presented as the groundless interference in Government’s work and as the unfounded criticism.
Back in April of 2009 I addressed the Government with the request to establish a special interdepartmental commission on fighting the spread of flu viruses, to finance the establishment of Flu Center and to take all measures to protect the country against flu. That included providing adequate availability of medicines, facemasks and all other necessaries.
Partial implementation of the instructions has its consequences.
They were not ignoring me – they were ignoring the people, the citizens. It is clear why. Because Ukraine still has unfair system of healthcare - one is for the power, the other is for the people.
We must change the system. We must change the entire system of government in Ukraine. (6)
But now, in this moment there is no time for waiting or remonstrance.
National Security and Defense Council should become the center of decision-making.
Failure to comply with its orders will immediately result in application to the law enforcement authorities. (6)
I remind all the responsible persons and draw attention to all of my orders, made in Lviv four days ago. In three days the deadline for compliance with these orders expires.
With my decree I put Minister of Health and Chief Sanitary Inspector of Ukraine into the Council for National Security and Defense.
I am conscious of my responsibility.
I express deep condolences to the families and relatives of those who have died.
I express my deep appreciation to doctors, who are saving our people risking their own lives. I am moved by this sacrifice. Such a commitment means that the epidemic will be stopped.
I appeal to all of you, dear fellow citizens, to show solidarity, mutual support, and strictly adhere to all the safety regulations regarding protection of your health and lives.
For not a single moment you will be left alone by the state. (7)
Thank you for your attention.
1) The president is stating that the potential of the present epidemic to have such a widespread affect, is down to the uptake of vaccination in the general population being so low. When he refers to the actual rate against the effective rate, he is referring to 90% and above being the threshold for "herd immunity," the theory being that if a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated, there is less potential for any pathogen to gain a foothold.
3) His recommendations/instructions about large gatherings of people were ignored and the Prime Minister and certain officials must bear responsibility.
4) Criminal charges will be brought against those who ignored his instructions.
5) The Prime Minister must take a good deal of the blame for this epidemic getting out of control. Will criminal charges be brought against her? Are we about to witness the arrest of president Yushchenko's opponent for the presidential role in the elections, which may be "postponed."?
6) Martial law.
7) The state is about to take control of every area of your lives.
The above does not bode well for any form of democracy in the Ukraine. If anyone is using the declared flu pandemic for political gain, it appears to be president Yushchenko, who could be planning to bring criminal charges, under the pretext of national security, against his political opponent, the present Prime Minister. He also appears to be using this crisis to cancel elections and to change the entire face of politics in the Ukraine. Martial law leading to some form of fascist dictatorship?