Q: There has been a lot of conflict recently between your city, Lviv, and national authorities in the capital Kiev, about rubbish collection and other issues. Do you feel that this tension limits your ability to pursue economic development in Lviv in the way that you would like?

A: What is the main issue about the conflict? [There are big] differences in cities across Ukraine. The peculiarity of Lviv is that it is a ‘free’ city – and it works. The city is owned by the community, by the citizens. There is no oligarch to make decisions. So we are the core place to generate this free thinking, which may be frightening for the oligarchs, and this is [behind the] conflict. When we started developing the Self-reliance Party, we decided we should be looking for the same free thinkers in different cities across Ukraine.

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Our faction in parliament consists of free, independent thinkers and the system is really afraid of that. [It is] terrified. So they keep making up various barriers and obstacles. I’m sure these problems only make us stronger; our ambitions are quite high. I see every problem as an opportunity for new things to happen.

We want to build a ‘creator’ type of city, which will only be possible once we have built a creator type of country. I do realise that if we do not manage to build a successful country, I will not be able to develop the successful plans that I have for Lviv… It’s all very exciting to live in Lviv, [but] I also want to have a successful country.

Q: Do you have aspirations to run for national office?

A: My faction only has 26 deputies – you can only act as a prime minister when you have the support of the majority in parliament. I am campaigning for the party and the people – I do want to instil hope in them that success can be possible, to go forward and never stop, because many people are losing faith. They believe nothing is going to happen. So I tell them ‘No! Let’s go! Never give up!’

All these things could be easily done on [a national] scale. When we pass the new election law, it will allow [us to have] more honest members of the public in the parliament and it will enable a new type of high-quality government. We need to catch up with Poland and Germany – and we need to do it fast.

Q: What could the rest of Ukraine learn from Lviv? It is generally considered to be one of the country’s more successful cities.

A: It is very important to eliminate the barriers between the communities and authorities and to work in a consolidated way together. We need to put our minds together; mayors from many other cities are coming to Lviv to learn. And the millions of visitors coming from the eastern parts of Ukraine to Lviv to spend some days here get so much inspiration and enthusiasm and share and disseminate this energy in their own cities and destinations. They are willing to live in the same way that we do – which means that they need to learn to be skilful in public administration and work in an honest way.

Today, I’m building the capacity of my team working in Lviv. We are introducing the key performance indicator management system in all of the facilities with the structure of municipal enterprises. My goal now is to bring management in the city to the level of Western standards. We would like to be a role model.