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Kiev needs to sift out radicals from Euro-integration supporters

January 24, 2014, 18:24 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, file

MOSCOW, January 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Participants in anti-government protests stormed on Thursday regional administrative facilities in the Western and Central Ukraine, namely in the cities of Lvov, Zhitomir, Ternopol and Ivano-Frankovsk. Protesters in the country’s capital of Kiev stormed and seized the building of the Agriculture Ministry on central Kreschatik Street in the early hours of Friday. They also earlier seized the City Hall and the building of Trade Union.

Russian political experts express two opposite opinions on the current events in Ukraine. One of the opinions is that the government should protect itself, the other that the authorities should listen to society.

“A typical attempt of coup takes place in Ukraine,” Mikhail Delyagin, the director of the Institute for Globalization, said in an interview with Trud newspaper.

“The process is no longer under control. Any normal government protects itself when shooting against police starts. But it seems there is no government in Ukraine. Militants are obviously being spared. While they will spare no one,” he said.

Valery Semenenko, a co-chairman of the Russian Union of Ukrainians, said: “It is also part of the government’s fault that ongoing developments drew first blood.”

“For three years people were constantly subjected to ideas of the European integration. They were warmed up and promised everything under the sun and then all of a sudden the authorities make the U-turn. As a result there is a deadlock and Yanukovich lacks determination to resort to harsher measures and disperse the protesters. However, opposition’s demands for early presidential election are unattainable,” Semenenko said.

Izvestia daily draws parallels with the events in Ukraine with May 6, 2012 events on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, where thousands of hot-headed young protesters used force against law enforcers. On Thursday, prosecutors of the Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow demanded that suspects in the so-called “Bolotnaya Case” get prison sentences of five to six years.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a State Duma lawmaker from Russia’s ruling United Russia political party, did not agree with the comparison of the Moscow 2012 protests with the current unrest in Ukraine.

“Russian public opinion polls, both state-run and independent, showed that the authorities in Russia enjoy the support of people. Opposition demonstrations in May of 2012 were a spontaneous post-election protest on behalf of Moscow intelligentsia. Unlike in Russia, Ukraine’s public opinion polls indicate that the Western and Central Ukraine do not trust President Viktor Yanukovich. Kiev is in solid opposition with the ruling authorities,” Nikonov said in an interview with Itar-Tass.

“According to polls, 26 percent of protesters are from the Western Ukraine, 15 percent from the Central Ukraine, while the figure among Kiev’s residents stands at 39 percent. Protesters from the southern parts of Ukraine amount to 5.5 percent and from the eastern parts make up three percent,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported citing data from Irina Bekeshkina, the director of the Ukrainian foundation Democratic Initiatives.

A political scientist from the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk, whose name is withheld on conditions of anonymity, describes the atmosphere of the European integration supporters as follows:

“As for the atmosphere I can say that the majority of people here maintain close contacts with Poland. Their either have relatives there or they work and study in Poland. Prices in Poland are lower in general comparing to Ukraine and that is why they put up a strong competitiveness. I believe the youth hopes that with Ukraine’s integration with the European Union will give them an opportunity to freely leave the country for Europe. This is what important for them and not the changes in Ukraine. Opposition’s influence is very strong in our country and many statements of oppositionists are accepted and repeated without any apprehension basing on the principle ‘here is our opinion and there is a wrong one.’ Such one-sided democracy we have in our country.”

Vyacheslav Nikonov continued saying that “Viktor Yanukovich and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov know better than Russian State Duma lawmakers, how to act under the current circumstances. But if laws are breached, any country suppresses such attempts.”

He said the authorities in Kiev may act further in accordance with several types of scenario.

“Yanukovich may accept the demands of the opposition leaders and then the protests will disappear naturally. However, by doing so, the president will only underestimate his positions, which are already unfavourable,” he said.

“If Yanukovich attempts to suppress protests of the European integration supporters with force, he will only force the opposition to underground positions and it will subsequently lead to the escalation of violence in the country,” Nikonov said.

“The most important for Yanukovich now is to prevent the breakup of the country. But the president continues using his favourite technique, which is to hold a pause,” the political scientist said.

Nikonov reminded that “it was Yanukovich, who initiated the myth about the European integration of Ukraine. The matter although was about not the integration, but about the association with the European Union, which are two completely different things. When Yanukovich declined to sign an agreement with the European Union, he took away people’s hopes and this is the worst that could happen,” the expert said.

“To return hope with the use of force against supporters of the European integration will be inadequate and silly,” Nikonov said.

“It would be more civilized to stop radical groups of nationalists from seizing administrative buildings. But the Ukrainian authorities will have to talk and come to agreements with the society,” he said.


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