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MOSCOW, February 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Violence in Kiev that killed 25 on Tuesday is a path to a civil war, to a stalemate, and it is the government's weakness and opposition's irresponsibility that may steer the country into the dead end, say all of the experts polled by Itar-Tass following last night's bloodshed in Kiev. Pundits predict several possible scenarios.
“Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s team should urgently find out whether the peaceful residents of Kiev approve of the riots, arsons and violence in the capital’s streets. If it turns out that most of those in Independence Square are militants, the government compound can be legally cleared of protesters by force,” believes the director of the Institute of Political Studies, member of Civic Chamber Sergei Markov.
“Tuesday’s excesses in Kiev by the radical-wing opposition stem from the position of the US, which is trying to put pressure on the European Union to make it introduce sanctions against Yanukovich and his team, thus making it easier for the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition to rise to power,” believes Markov.
The expert points to the threat of the country’s split along the East-West line: “While in central and eastern Ukraine the police are ready to defend the legitimate authorities, in the West the risk of arms depots being seized and weapons handed out to the supporters of European integration already looms on the horizon.”
“In the first years following World War II, the Soviet army had the hardest time fighting the "forest brothers" - guerilla groups in the west of Ukraine. It took less time to deal with them in the Baltic countries,” said director for international studies at the Institute of Contemporary Development Sergei Kulik. Like Markov, he does not discount the possibility of the country’s break-up.
Yet he does not expect a violent dispersal of protests will take place in central Kiev: “Yanukovich will hardly have the determination to order the use of force against protesters. The president will not dare infuriate the European Union. Besides, the memories of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's plight are still fresh. The International Criminal Court in the Hague surely looms in the mind of Ukraine’s leadership.”
“Ukraine is in a deadlock. Neither the incumbents, nor the self-appointed opposition politicians like Klitschko, Yatsenyuk and Tyagnibok are confident or know what is in store for them. Only the protesters in Independence Square are self-confident, and everybody has to bear them in mind,” said the director of the Institute of Strategical Assessments Sergei Oznobischev. If the government allows violence against protesters, it will lead to casualties and a split of Ukraine, he believes.
The experts polled by Itar-Tass do not see a constitutional reform as a possible way back to peace.
“Only the Constitutional Court is competent to change the country’s main law, not the Parliament,” said Markov. Meanwhile, Oznobischev doubts Ukraine would be happier with the 2004 Constitution restored and the status of a parliamentary republic.
“Under the present circumstances, the sole possible resolution to lead Ukraine out of the crisis is a consolidated position of Brussels, Moscow and Berlin, their mediation to settle the conflict in Kiev,” believes Kulik. “Despite the existing disagreements, foreign players should work out a common view on Ukraine and give both sides of the conflict a signal that the crisis should be resolved via negotiations. Russia and EU countries should put aside rivalry for influence on Ukraine and join efforts to extinguish fire in the region.”
“Since the European Union has to give out tranches to its poorer member states, and its budget is tight, Moscow and Brussels should provide Ukraine with financial aid as soon as possible in order to prevent Ukraine from sliding into default, which would highly aggravate the already explosive environment,” said Kulik.
ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors