Evgeny Bogachev: «UNICS shows that money is not everything in basketball. How many giants have we won!»




UNICS continues to make history - on the eve of the Kazan team inflicted the biggest defeat in the history of the army club on the home court (88:67). Now the team with 9 victories, including over the formidable Real Madrid, the leader of the Milan table, the champions of Israel and Serbia Maccabi and Red Star, climbed to the fifth place in the Euroleague table. The president of the club, Evgeny Bogachev, spoke about the recent successes of UNICS during an Internet conference with the readers of "BUSINESS Online".

“I say to our player:“ Why are you bringing your wife here? Let her stay in America! "

- Evgeny Borisovich, UNICS is surprising this season: the team has been in the Euroleague playoff zone for the second month and is holding the lead in the VTB United League. First, would you like to know how you put together the team?

- To begin with, in the summer we changed the head coach. Dimitris Priftis worked for us. During the four years that we had, he showed great progress. I am sure we have revealed his coaching potential! The right to exit was spelled out in his contract: he could pay us a certain amount and leave for another club. Apparently, he wanted to be closer to his family and home, so he used this right and moved to Panathinaikos. We have maintained friendly relations. A good coach, very efficient. He practically slept at the Basket Hall.

- Why did you stop at the candidacy of Velimir Perasovic when you were choosing a new coach?
- There are two types of coaches: those who have never played basketball, and those who have been a player themselves. I can categorize myself in the first category. I have never played, but for 22 years of work I can consider myself to some extent a head coach. But Perasovic at one time was a very famous player, played in the national team of Yugoslavia and became the best scorer of the Spanish championship. I like it. Eremin, Pashutin - all these coaches also had great playing experience.
In addition, Perasovic has long been familiar with the Euroleague as a coach. He worked with Efes, Valencia and Basconia, went to the Final Four. This is an important experience that allows him to be more stable now, more calm. He is not afraid of Olympiacos, Real Madrid or anyone else.
- Who suggested this coach to you?
- In fact, there were not so many options on the market, and they were all in sight. We considered different candidates, but most of all I liked Perasovic. He played in elite teams, coached in the Euroleague. It is also important that he speaks English at a decent level. We studied its characteristics and were satisfied. I was told that he is a demanding and strict coach. But rigor and discipline in work is very necessary! Players need both a stick and a carrot.
- How is his severity manifested?
- In hard, even grueling training, especially during pre-season training. When the players come to the training camp, they, of course, all say that they kept themselves in shape. But this is a different type of training, this is not the same. So I understood why Perasovic gave such a load to the team. He himself is a former player and understood that although young people have strength, they need to be trained and open a second wind. I think our resounding victories are also the result of these efforts.
- Now UNICS is going uphill, but at the start of the season the situation was not the best. In the first five rounds of the Euroleague, the team won one victory, in the VTB League there were tough matches in Krasnoyarsk and Saratov. Have you had any doubts about Perasovic?
- Not. You know that we prefer not to change coaches during the season. I only had one case - Argiris Pedulakis. Good Greek coach, but did not know English. He did not find contact with the team, he had to terminate the contract in November. Generally speaking, I am convinced that those clubs that change coaches during the season, in the end, do not win anything. We studied the biography of Perasovic, saw his work and were satisfied.
He was very worried about the failures at the start of the season. After one of the defeats, I called him for tea and told an anecdote about three envelopes. Do you know it? On the first envelope  is written “Blame the predecessor”, on the second - “Carry out the modernization”, on the third - “Prepare three envelopes for the next one”. After one of the victories, he comes up to me and smiles: "Well, how about three envelopes?" I don't pat him on the head, but when we win, I emphasize both his contribution and the players. I always tell them that they should not only be patriots, but simply conscientious athletes. Guys, you need fame, not me! You are young! You have been given a springboard, so go up the hill. It seems to me that the guys understand me, and their eyes are burning.
- Maybe you should take Tatar basketball players then? They are more hardworking.
- When I was a minister, Tatars predominated among the directors. They are demanding and always fulfilled the plan. But what to do, finding a tall and experienced Tatar basketball player is problematic here. This season we found one - Valiev. So I say to John Brown with a smile:“You are loved in Tatarstan. We want everyone to be tall like you! Why are you bringing your wife here? Let her stay in America! " (Laughs.)"Our budget has not changed for the last five years."

- Last season UNICS won silver medals in all tournaments in which it took part. It would seem that the team should have been kept, but because of the Euroleague, you had to radically update it. Was it hard to find newcomers?
- In my memory, for the first time we shook the team so that there were literally four players left from last season. We had to go for it not only because of the high level of the Euroleague, but also because of the age factor. Take Jamar Smith, for example. An excellent player, he saved us in many matches, but it looks like he didn’t have enough strength for the final series with Monaco and CSKA.
The selection was extremely tense. First of all, the situation with the coach prevented us. Usually, in June, we are already finishing the recruitment of the roster, but here we had to wait because we were waiting for Priftis's decision. This slowed down the process of finding newcomers, because, first of all, the players are interested in who will be the head coach in the team.
When we had already decided on the candidacy of Perasovic, there were few options on the market that would suit us. As always, there were only Americans in abundance, but we tried to take those who had at least some experience in Europe. When they come straight from the NBA or the G-League, they need a lot of time for professional adaptation.
Hezonja. He has played 330 games in the NBA and is considered one of the main stars of the Euroleague.

- How did you manage to attract him to UNICS?
- The coach helped us. He worked with him in the Croatian national team and knew his father well. When we appointed Perasovic, I immediately instructed him to bring Croatian players to us. They are very strong. I say to him: "You won't find a single Croat?" So he found it. Many are worried that Hezonja is in a special position with Perasovic, but I can say that this is not so. The coach treats him the same as everyone else.
- Does Hezonja have a high salary?
- By the standards of our team, yes. But by the standards of the Euroleague - no. I can say that our budget has remained at the same level as last year. Globally, it has not changed for the last five years. We are grateful to sponsors for their support, but we need to take into account the financial factor when we talk about our prospects.
As you can understand from the data published by the VTB United League last year, we are in fifth place in terms of budget after CSKA, Khimki, Zenit and Lokomotiv. And in the Euroleague, the top clubs have a much larger budget. So to compete on an equal footing, we need to double the budget at least. But now we are able to show that money is not everything in basketball. How many giants have we won - Real Madrid, Basque Country, Milan, Bayern Munich, Maccabi in Tel Aviv!
- Who are your sponsors?
- We have two categories of sponsors. The first gives us money under an advertising agreement, the second makes a donation. Since in the latter case the money goes out of the net profit, and all companies regret it, most often we get funds the first way. That is, having received the money, we must give sponsors advertising on the boards, a logo on the uniform, a subscription to the box, and so on. The problem is that in this case, we have to pay 20 percent VAT to the budget from every penny. And for other clubs in Russia, everything goes mainly through donations ...
If you name the company, our main sponsor is Ak Bars Bank. We are also supported by almost all federal banks - Gazprombank, Rosbank, Alfa-Bank, VTB and others. We recently entered into a partnership with the Winline bookmaker. With the world on a string, as they say. In addition, the organizers of the competition - Euroleague and VTB United League - pay us bonuses for victories. This is also a tangible contribution.
- In other words, strategically you are supported by the leadership of the republic?
- Kazan is the sports capital of Russia. The republic's leadership also supports other sports clubs. We also make money from ticket sales, although during the pandemic, revenue for this item fell by renting out the premises of the Basket Hall and the base in Vasilyevo. Most clubs do not own this infrastructure. They paid the rent - that's all. And we contain such a colossus!
- We discussed Hezonja. What other players can you single out on the team?
- Despite all the difficulties, we have selected a strong Russian squad. During the last pause, the Russian national team called in four UNICS players at once - I don't remember that it ever happened. We have a very good point guard Lorenzo Brown. A great guy, he helped us a lot in the recent match against Maccabi, scored 26 points. We also recently brought in OJ Mayo, a famous American player. I would like to single out Andrey Vorontsevich, a three-time Euroleague champion with CSKA. I think John Brown is having a great season. Opened up and justifies the trust of Isaiah Kanaan.
- Our readers write that UNICS lacks a good center. Do you agree with them?
There is always something to strive for ... To get a really big and talented center, you need to pay him about 2 million euros a year. We don't have that kind of money. The selection of our team has now been completed. We can sign someone in the future only if someone falls out due to injuries. I would say that Tony Jekyri plays quite well, helps the team in defense and rebounds, this is important. We keep certain hopes about Artem Klimenko.
“How could we have imagined before the start of the season that we could beat Real Madrid ?!”
- What tasks have you set for the team this season?
- The main task is to get into the Euroleague playoffs. Only this guarantees participation in the tournament for the next season. We also strive to compete with dignity in the VTB United League championship.
- Are you sure about the guarantees from participation in the playoffs? The Euroleague rules are constantly changing. UNICS felt it for himself two years ago, when he was supposed to go to the Euroleague, and your place was eventually taken by Zenit.
- Yes, indeed, we became the third in the VTB United League championship, and they - the fourth. But they have a sponsor - Gazprom ... This is already history. I think that nothing will change and the playoffs will still guarantee participation for the next season.
It amazes me that in such a huge country as Russia, only one club - CSKA - qualifies for a constant quota. Is this the case? In this regard, we are like little Lithuania. From Spain, regardless of the results, three clubs pass, from Greece - two.
- UNICS is currently in fifth place in the Euroleague, so the plan is still being implemented. Why do you think the team managed to climb so high in the table?
- We beat all the elite teams at home. In November they hosted Milan, which was the first in the Euroleague. Many hands were trembling, and I also tried validol, and we smashed them to smithereens! Our team play and defense began to improve. How could we have imagined before the start of the season that we could beat Real Madrid ?! And the Maccabi-UNICS match? With the roar of 11,000 local fans, UNICS managed to take the victory away from Israel.
Teamwork, defense, coach - I would single out these reasons. Everywhere, 30 percent. It is also important that this year our squad is much younger. We used to take older players, they have cheaper contracts. This time they looked at those who have something to show and prove. And we have games in two or three days. Nightmare calendar, crazy loads. At times we manage to organize charters, but the club cannot buy them on a permanent basis. Thanks to the sponsors for supporting us in a difficult time for the republic.
- Everything is clear in the Euroleague, you need to get into the playoffs. What about VTB United League? Does UNICS have a chance to compete for the championship? We recently had an interview with Stanislav Eremin, and he honestly admitted that UNICS was supposed to become a champion twice, but was not given ...
- You can win against CSKA in one match, but it must be in a series ... There are difficulties, what can I say. You know this topic better than me. In the early 2000s, in Moscow, the judge Gorshkov "scored" 18 points against us, the whole press wrote about this. By the way, he is not judging now. But that was all a long time ago. Now the situation has become different, more just. VTB League management does not allow referees to make such serious mistakes. Everything depends on us. I am serious about winning the championship.
- Eremin said that you have "scars" in your heart after two defeats in the finals. Is it really so?
- Remained - and huge. This is not fair. Now is a completely different time, fortunately. Russian basketball has a more qualified management.
- Many readers ask when the local players will be at UNICS ...
- This year we have Evgeny Valiev. He has a father from Bogatye Saby. In the past there were Pavel Antipov, Vladislav Trushkin - both from Kazan.
In general, of course, there is such a problem. But we want to play the best basketball, right? This means that the best players should be taken. Look at the Spanish "Basconia": there is one Spaniard, and the rest are foreigners. The modern world is globalization. We wear clothes of foreign brands and do not ask ourselves why they are not produced in Tatarstan.
One story comes to mind. Once, when I was working at the National Bank, I invited the opera diva Anna Netrebko to perform. She performed amazingly, it's hard to describe in words. But after the concert one of my acquaintances, who held a high rank, approached me and asked: "Why does she not have a single song in Russian?"
We are a professional club. Our task is to give a product to viewers and win trophies!
- You have been at the helm of UNICS for 22 years. Didn't you and Tatarstan manage to educate your player during this time?
- Why didn't you bring up? Victor Keyru, Alexey Zozulin, Alexey Zhukanenko ... The list goes on. Today, 16 of our basketball players play in the Super League (Tukmakov, Zaretdinov, Salmin, Nezvankin, Stulenkov, Kratenkov, Nazmutdinov and Samoilenko - ed.)!
Every year we release players, but their level is not always enough to get into the first team, play in the European Cup or Euroleague. Therefore, they either disappear from the radar, or hire agents and move to other clubs. Ideally, there should be some intermediate stage between UNICS-2 and the main team.
We have big plans in this direction. This year I appointed Stanislav Eremin as my advisor for the development of youth basketball. With his suggestion, we have created a new team for players under 15 years old. We also appointed a Montenegrin specialist with experience in the Super League to UNICS-DUBL.
- Have you ever thought about creating a children's academy? How much money would such a project cost you?
- Lot. These are significant costs. It is not enough to assemble a team there and invite coaches - you also need to build a boarding school, create living conditions for the children.
- Can't the club handle such things?
- Can not. We help the Russian basketball federation, fully support the UNICS-DUBL teams (children under 18 play there) and UNICS-2 (they play there up to 21 years old).
“We cannot spend more than 50 percent of the budget on salaries”

 - Let's move on to other questions from readers. “There is practically no advertising of matches in Kazan, only on the very building of the Basket-Hall. At the same time, I often see empty huge billboards. Most likely, you can negotiate with the owners, they are from our city and, probably, love basketball! " - writes Sergei Gennadievich.
- Today we use more advertising on the Internet. Advertising in social networks is in demand and effective now. Shields are very expensive.
We send SMS and mail messages to those who once bought a ticket to the game from us. And the most important advertisement is publications in "BUSINESS Online". Tens of thousands of people read you every day! Thank you very much. I enjoy reading your basketball review articles.
In addition, we distribute our tickets online through BiletON, Kassir.ru. We have very developed youth. Even if we post posters to universities, the effect will not be the same. Actually, there are posters not only on the Basket-Hall: we place them at the airport, and in many other places. It is also important to understand that the cost of advertising should not exceed the income of the club.
- How many fans attend UNICS home games today?
- 4-5 thousand come to interesting matches. If not for the pandemic, there would have been 7 thousand for the games against Real Madrid or CSKA. But taking into account the restrictions, we can fill the arena only by 30 percent - that's about 2.5 thousand.
- "Do I need a QR code for home games?" (Andrey)
- Why, you can't live without it. These are modern realities.
- “This season, the cost of the season ticket has grown significantly. I propose to distribute programs for the match for them at the entrance to the hall for free. And for couples with children - club attributes for children (T-shirts / T-shirts, reflective stickers / bracelets, etc.). And those checking tickets will be less bored. " (Sergey Gennadievich)
- Good suggestion. We have two types of season tickets - to the red sector and the green one. An annual subscription to the red sector costs from 11 thousand to 20 thousand rubles, and to the green sector - 5.9 thousand. We give the holders of the red season ticket gift sets - pens, key rings, autographed photos of players, booklets with the schedule of matches, and so on. But on the green subscription, we practiced gifts less, but we will strengthen it. We will distribute! It is inexpensive, and the fans are pleased with the attention.
- “What's with the parking? Did you manage to come to an agreement with the new head of the traffic police not to take the cars away? " (Bikmullin Amir)
- “Basket-hall” is located in the center of the city. But places are limited. We cannot start up 3-4 thousand cars - this is a fact. There is no agreement, but season ticket holders and fans who arrive early will always find a place. I believe that the entertainment program in the lobby will not let you get bored while waiting for the match, as we strive to make going to basketball a truly good family tradition.
- “When will you remove the fence around the Basket Hall? By all appearances, this is not a structure provided for by the project. Firstly, it should not create inconvenience to people walking along the streets of Aydinov, Ostrovsky, Spartakovskaya. Secondly, this fence is by no means an adornment of this sports palace. " (Nur)
- And in Moscow there are fences around sports facilities. Maybe you just need to make it more beautiful. In 2022, a world volleyball championship was planned in Russia, including in the Basket Hall. And the authorities have compiled a list of what needs to be done to ensure safety. Including a new beautiful fence was provided. It was a demand. In addition, the object is protected and strategically important. But we are planning to make the fence more elegant.
- The Basket Hall was built 20 years ago. Does it need to be repaired?
- Last year the government allocated us about 80 million rubles. We carried out a major overhaul of the facade, installed new sound and light equipment, and put new parquet in the small hall. Also note that we were able to purchase with

Also note that we managed to purchase a modern video cube, which we installed in the main hall.
In general, we do current repairs from our own budget. Since the building is 26 thousand square meters, its maintenance requires constant attention and repair work. We spend 30 million rubles for the Basket-Hall and 10 million for our base in Vasilyevo. But we earn this money, there is practically no loss. Renting premises, selling tickets - everything goes to the club's income. I heard that other teams are given subsidies from the budget ... But we are used to making money ourselves.
- “In your opinion, can the tightening of the quota for foreign players (say, the maximum number of foreign players in VTB League teams will be only one person) have a positive effect on the development of the level of Russian players and Russian basketball in general?” (Adele)
- I think it will be very boring basketball. About 50 people go to the UNICS-2 games. Let some of our Russian players learn from legionnaires how to play, work and earn money. Legionnaires are mostly African Americans. They are special. They earn money to feed their families and their relatives. One player told me that he feeds 10 people - brothers, sisters. I think the optimal quota is 6 legionnaires and 6 Russian players.
“Our basketball is in a vicious circle: in the VTB League there is a limit on foreign players, and in the Euroleague and other European cups our basketball players, to put it mildly, are not competitive even against the background of the second and third players from the NBA and Europe. As a result, UNICS can beat Real Madrid, and then lose to Enisey, and different basketball players will play. Again, the Russian national team suffers, in which there are many players from the lower leagues. How to break this vicious circle? " (Murad)
- This is a problem not only for basketball, but also for other sports. It is better to ask such a question to the President of the Russian Basketball Federation Andrei Kirilenko, because the national team is his concern. UNICS has added four players to the national team! Zaitcev, Komolov, Zhbanov, Valiev. They recently beat Italy and Iceland in qualifying matches. You can recruit for the national team, but you need to interest clubs and players. It remains a mystery to me why such basketball players as Shved, Kurbanov, Karasev and a number of others were not attracted.
- “You said that with the arrival of Andrei Kirilenko as president of the RBF it became calmer. But now several years have passed since then, and how is it today? " (Arslanov)
- It became even calmer. There was a division between the VTB league and the federation, and today the latter deals with the youth, the national team. The Children's and Youth Basketball League is subordinate to her. For the participation of our players in the DUBL competitions from UNICS they take money. Of course, I would like some funds from the federation, because they receive from the budget of the Russian Federation. For example, for many years we have been making basketball courts for amateurs around the “Basket-Hall”, we put a coach there. The queues are getting big! We wanted to cover the asphalt at these sites with a special coating, but this is expensive. The Federation promised to help in this matter, but did not allocate money. We wait…
- “Why do you think the draft system is not integrated into the ASB student basketball in the Russian Federation, as in the NBA? Indeed, in this case, a student playing basketball would be aware of the perspective of his actions. " (Adele)
- The drafting system is very interesting. But then it is necessary to unite the RBF, the United League and student basketball, establish a single regulation, tariff remuneration. In a word, lead to a unified structuring. For example, my son attended an American high school in Paris and played on the basketball team there. And they went to competitions all over the world! And this is a school, not a university. There sport is an important component, because it is human health. If a pupil or student goes in for sports, he will not go to nightclubs.
Let's raise the topic of student basketball together, raise questions for Kirilenko and Konovalov. And I will support it on my own scale.

"The main thing is that SIBUR pays taxes to the local budget"

- Let's move away from basketball questions. In which banks do you keep your personal savings today?
- At Sberbank, although they pay little attention to their clients. At Ak Bars Bank, because he is government-owned and I trust him. I think it will work in any setting. There is some money in Rosbank and VTB.
- How do you feel about the fact that TAIF sold two of its factories to SIBUR? How unexpected was it for you?
- Very unexpected. But time does not stand still. Someone always sells, someone buys. If a good offer comes in, then why not sell it. This is always dictated by the market.
- Will it positively or negatively affect the economy of the republic? After all, we used to have a powerful republican banking system, but today the federal ones dominate. After all, your own banks are always better. So it is with factories. Of course, SIBUR will develop them, but it would be better if they remained their own. What do you think?
- Time will tell. If such a recognizable brand as SIBUR enters the region, of course, it will be good for the economy. The main thing is that they pay taxes to the local budget.
As the former chairman of the National Bank, I am sorry that local banks have been reduced to a minimum. This was a powerful economic structure for the support and development of medium and small businesses. Unfortunately, in Russia about 500 banks were closed, and after all, behind each of them - an enterprise, a team, a person ...

- Now they are adopting a law prohibiting a regional leader from being called president. How do you feel about this decision?

- I believe that this should not be done. First, Tatarstan is a special experimental region, where all new technologies in the socio-economic field and sports are being tested. And this is a great responsibility. Secondly, our current President Minnikhanov is a recognizable leader not only in the Russian, but also in the world community in all areas.

- Some hotheads say that the presidency in Tatarstan is separatism. Do you think there have been such tendencies or are there potential in our republic?

- We cannot have separatism at all, because we do not border on some Western country. We are inside Russia! And second, if there was a prejudiced attitude towards Russians in the republic, would I be able to achieve high positions? I came to Tatarstan from Ukraine, here I worked as a mechanic and repaired radio equipment, and then became a director, a minister, and chairman of the National Bank. But I did not have any support from above. I just worked, and for the work I was promoted.
I believe that the word “president” is more authoritative than “head of the region”. Some of our deputies wavered and in the Duma voted for the adoption of this law. Why?! Vladimir Vladimirovich has a special, respectful attitude towards our republic and its leadership. And I think the title of the position in Tatarstan will remain.

- You worked with Shaimiev and Minnikhanov for many years. What are their strengths?

- Both leaders are equal for me. Everyone has their own time, tasks and goals. Shaimiev is an international politician. It was with him that the advancement of Tatarstan in the international arena began, with him a federal agreement on the delineation of powers between Moscow and Tatarstan was concluded. He was both a practitioner and an engineer, and a manager of regional agricultural machinery, and a minister of land reclamation.
Minnikhanov also came a long way: he headed the consumer cooperation, Vysokogorsky district, was the minister of finance, headed the cabinet of ministers. He also strengthens the position of Tatarstan in the international arena, adopts the leading foreign experience. Both have a great school of practical work! This is what unites them. These are also tough times. Despite this, Minnikhanov always finds funds to solve all the pressing problems of the republic.
His enormous capacity for work is also striking. Cabinet meetings often begin at 7 am. Imagine, he congratulated me on my birthday at 6:30! He was already at work.  Thanks to them, Kazan today does not differ from Europe, and the republic as a whole: roads, junctions, gasification, construction, sports.

- How do you assess the state of the economy in Tatarstan and Russia? Where are we going?

- Today the economic indicators in Russia and the Republic of Tatarstan have exceeded the pre-pandemic level. In the republic, in particular, housing commissioning has grown significantly. GDP growth is also observed. True, the weather crippled agriculture in Tatarstan a little, but in general across Russia there is a sufficient grain harvest. The economy has clear prospects and I hope for progress. Oil, gas, construction, the defense industry, aircraft construction, in particular, we assemble the Tu-160 aircraft from scratch. This is such a fortress! Everything inspires optimism, moreover, these are additional jobs.
I believe that for a further rise in industry and other sectors, there should be more practitioners from the regions in power. I am glad that such a trend has emerged. In particular, our former Minister of Construction Marat Khusnullin is now Deputy Prime Minister in the Russian government, his successor Irek Fayzullin is the Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation. First Deputy Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Azat Kadyrov is a native of Tatarstan. I respect theorists, but theory without practice is dead. I believe in success! Both Tatarstan and Russia have every reason for this. But the pandemic slows down everyone. Let's hope that the economy will pick up.

- What are your wishes for our newspaper?

- Wish - that your readers take an example from me. I wake up at three o'clock in the morning and think: "What's new in" BUSINESS Online? " And at 8 in the morning I always read, sometimes I am even late for work because of this. I think your newspaper does not need to change anything, continue in the same spirit. I find out all the news from you, you publish them before everyone else. And thank you for supporting the sport. Yes, sports are expensive, but people need spectacles. And young people should be distracted and instructed on good deeds. You are great, but you can also add some pepper to make everything work better.

- You have published a whole book of anecdotes. Tell us which of them is the most pressing now.

- I'll tell you a military joke about Ukraine. It was occupied by the Germans for three years, and before the war there were always a lot of Jews there. A Ukrainian neighbor rescues a Jew in his cellar. Every day he lowers a pot of food, and he gets a gold coin for it. When the Jew ran out of money, he asks: "You will probably hand me over to the Germans now?" He replies: "So there are no Germans for a year already" ...
My mother was Ukrainian, my father was Russian from the Kursk region. I support Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin that Ukrainians and Russians are one people.