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MOSCOW, March 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Protecting the interests of Russian speakers in Ukraine is a "critical" red line for Russia, chairman of the non-governmental Council for Foreign and Defense Policy Fyodor Lukyanov told a Moscow round-table meeting on Thursday, assembled to discuss the future of Ukraine and expressing participants' shared opinion.
“Any country should protect its citizens and ensure their rights," essayist Yuri Boldyrev told the meeting. "Current Ukrainian authorities do not fulfill these fundamental tasks," he said. "Meanwhile, it is not Russia that violates Ukraine’s statehood. This takes place under the impact of interference by the United States and the EU states in Ukrainian domestic affairs.
"Russia adhered and adheres to observance of the power legitimacy principle. We, opposition representatives, are convinced that Russian authorities should know that civil society will support them in protection of the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine,” said Boldyrev, a founder of opposition party Yabloko.
“Today, Russia protects vital European values in Ukraine — the right of people to speak their mother tongue, the right of freedom of speech, assembly and creed, and the right to freedom of movement, " chairman of the International Russian Historical Society Pyotr Alexandrov-Derkachenko noted.
"These principles are guaranteed in the EU Charter on Human Rights. We urge the European Union to protect values declared by the EU in Ukraine,” the specialist said.
Director of the Institute of CIS States Konstantin Zatulin noted prosecution for people who disagreed with actions of the new authorities in Ukraine. “Many experts, sociologists and journalists had to leave the country under pressure from the radicals,” he said.
Delegates voiced concerns that gunmen of the far-right nationalistic Right Sector were among Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. “The law on national guards enacted by Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has legalized gunmen from Yarosh’s Right Sector,” Zatulin noted.
“A new ruling coalition became hostage to gunmen and does not know what to do with them: It was easy to let the genie out of the bottle and it is impossible to bring him back. Creation of Ukrainian national guards declared by Kiev authorities may bring together extremists prepared to move to eastern Ukraine for suppression of protest actions by the Russian-speaking population,” president of consulting company Neocon Mikhail Khazin warned.
As for Ukraine’s economic prospects, participants were skeptical over the ability of new powers to lead the country out of crisis.
“The European Union cannot influence cardinally the economic situation in Ukraine. The idea of making allocations to Ukraine does not find any support in the United States. Kiev lacks a clear-cut concept of economic reforms as well as a response to the question of who will pay pensions and social allowances to people,” Khazin said.
Zatulin did not rule out that “economic fever in Ukraine, higher gas and electricity bills on EU demand and lower pensions may provoke massive social protests in the autumn”. As for Crimean residents, where only 300,000 from two million people are employed, an employment programme should be developed for the peninsula, Zatulin said.
Personnel policy of the new Ukrainian authorities raised criticism among delegates. “Appointing Ukrainian oligarchs to the posts of governors, authorities can’t but assume that they are only waiting for the country’s bankruptcy to grab new assets, primarily ports and land,” editor-in-chief of Internet portal Odnako Semyon Uralov observed.
Speakers agreed that regardless of results from the March 16 referendum on Crimea’s status, Russia will give moral and material support to Russian speakers in Ukraine. “Continuity and mainly commonness of historical fates of the two countries require Russia’s special attention to the fate of Russian compatriots in Ukraine in current conditions,” director of the Institute of Globalization Problems Mikhail Delyagin added.
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