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Experts: Ukrainians grow protest-weary, rallies are going to wane

January 21, 2014, 17:31 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

MOSCOW, January 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Official laws intended to restore order were released in the Golos Ukrainy (Voice of Ukraine) parliamentary paper and the Uryadovy Kurier governmental paper in Kiev on Tuesday. They are to come into force from Wednesday, even though their adoption on January 16 provoked another wave of protest rallies.

Infographics A new wave of protests in Kiev A new wave of protests in Kiev
Map of Kiev locating clashes and protest rally sites. ITAR-TASS Infographics
The opposition was most enraged about the law that enacts stricter responsibility for participation in protest rallies. Other laws to take effect concern trial in absentia, simpler revocation of parliamentary immunity, a special commission to look into the use of force during peace meetings, penal responsibility for desecration or destruction of monuments to Soviet soldiers, as well as punishment for denial or justification of Nazi crimes.

The new legislation may annul the deal about negotiations between President Yanukovich’s task group with the leaders of the parliamentary opposition fractions to map a way out of the political crisis, since one of the opposition’s preconditions for talks was a demand to prevent the mentioned laws from coming into force.

Opposition forces also demand early presidential elections, withdrawal of special crack units Berkut and other special forces from Kiev, repeal of the laws approved on January 16, and release of persecuted prisoners, including the former prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko.

The U.S. and EU strongly recommended that Ukraine abolished the January 16 laws, while the Swedish foreign minister went as far as to threaten Ukraine’s authorities with EU sanctions.

A matter of concern now is that the opposition’s leaders lost control over the situation and have no more influence on the protest rallies that grew into an aggressive overwhelming force.

“In this situation a gradual fading of the protest rallies aimed at European integration is the most likely scenario as they have no clear strategy except battle,” the director of the Institute of Political Studies, member of the Civic Chamber, Sergey Markov, told Itar-Tass.

“The protesters in Independence Square have no constitutional ways to defeat the incumbent authorities. Opposition parties are a minority in the Ukrainian parliament. The country has a properly functioning government and a legitimate president,” the expert said.

“The published laws are aimed to restore order in the country. They will help the police clear the governmental quarter of protesters and selectively detain the most aggressive of them. The government will take measures to lead Ukraine out of the economic crisis,” the political scientists forecasts. “The parliamentary majority will continue working and will attempt to prevent wrecking on the part of opposition fractions. The situation will gradually take its normal course.”

“The political crisis in Ukraine will persist but gradually fade away. The people have grown tired of disorders that have been going on since November. Public opinion has it that the authorities should take control of the situation. According to Ukrainian sources, Yanukovich’s rating has recently risen, whereas protesters’ rating is in decline,” Markov said.

Experts polled by the Itar-Tass Political analysis Centre have a similar view.

“The recent events in Kiev have both obvious and latent reasons. One of the obvious reasons is the adoption of the laws intended to restore order in Kiev and the country as a whole. This measure was impelled, as irrespective of the incumbent government, radical opposition forces are practically assailing the governmental buildings. Chaos is escalating,” says the deputy director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Tamara Guzenkova.

“Another and less obvious reason is sordid techniques and forms of protest. Opposition leaders are under a constant threat that the protests will wane. They want to keep attention, trying to fuel Western interest,” Guzenkova believes.

Editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian agency Ostkraft, Stanislav Stremidlovsky, believes the opposition leaders are no more in control of the situation in Independence Square: “Judging by the sides’ statements, neither the authorities, nor the opposition wanted January 20 clashes in Kiev. Primarily I mean the leader of the Batkivshchyna party Arseny Yatsenyuk, who asked people in the square to make no breakthrough to the government quarter. Similar attempts by the Udar party’s leader, Vitaly Klichko, were obviously helpless.”

According to Stremidlovsky, the Independence Sqaure’s protesters can now transform into uncontrollable chaotic groups typical of the Civil War in Ukraine of the early 20th century.

Political writer Nikolai Starikov believes disorders in Kiev opened another round of the battle for Ukraine. “The first move came from the government that initiated a package of laws. The U.S. response followed on Sunday, and it was an eloquent one,” he says.

The parties have claimed further participation but it is almost clear the orange revolution plan has failed, as it implied a prompt overthrow. “It by no means leaves room for month-after-month demonstrations in the square,” Starikov said.

The deputy director of the Institute of the CIS Countries, Vladimir Zharikhin, described the current events in Kiev as an act of the opposition’s despair. The so-called ‘people’s veche’, or assembly, attempted an insurrection offering a people’s parliament comprised of the opposition deputies.

As Zharikhin put it, “such sluggish attempts will continue, but sooner or later they will die down completely.

 

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