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MOSCOW, April 08. /ITAR-TASS/. The emergence of two self-proclaimed republics in the territories of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Kharkiv regions is the local people’s response to dictating from Kiev. Ukraine’s new authorities have encroached upon the right of people to elect governors, use the Russian language, and campaign for the country’s non-aligned status and for a constitutional reform that would turn the country into a federation. This is the gist of what Russia’s leading experts have told ITAR-TASS in response to a request for their opinion on the current situation.
“In a situation where the national interests have been betrayed by the oligarchic elites and local legislators, Russia looks like the sole safeguard of Ukrainian citizens’ rights. It is Moscow that has addressed Kiev with its plan for preserving an integral state as a federation. It is Moscow that keeps pressing for this solution on the international scene,” says the director of the CIS Countries Institute Konstantin Zatulin.
He recalled that Ukraine’s former ruling political force - the Party of Regions - campaigned for federalization back in 2005.
“These days both new and old branches of Ukraine’s political elite are firm in their intention to preserve the unitarian state. Both politicians and tycoons fear that the process of federalization, when it begins, will bring to the forefront a new generation of leaders - genuinely popular governors elected by the people. They are scared of political competition mostly because they have nothing to care for but their own selfish interests,” Zatulin said. “The situation as it is, federalization will be the sole way of relieving Ukraine of its fate of a conflict-ravaged country."
“The authorities in Kiev see the Southeast as a second-rate region, the Russian language is being discriminated against, and a distorted history of the country is being imposed on school students. Kiev has repeatedly warned the country’s East it may isolate the region from Russia, which many local residents rightly see as another mother country. Economic reasons are no less important. Industries have come to a halt, unemployment is soaring and budget-financed employees are denied due wages and salaries. Kiev as a source of financing has run dry, the hryvnia is plummeting, and prices are steady on the ascent,” the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Civic Chamber member Sergei Markov has said.
Depending on Kiev’s reaction to the latest events in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Nikolayev, the situation may follow several scenarios.
“Under the first scenario, popular unrest in the east of Ukraine may be neutralized with intimidation or cash infusions by the law enforcement and local business tycoons. In that case, Russia would confine itself to harsh diplomatic gestures addressed to the authorities in Kiev,” the analyst said.
“The second scenario is police and military may back the protesters. In that case, the population of Ukraine’s eastern regions may prevent the junta in Kiev from establishing control on its territory and to press for self-government within the framework of the constitutional reform,” Markov said.
He warns that the use of force against demonstrators may cause civilian casualties.
“If Kiev decides to suppress the uprising in the east of Ukraine, a third scenario should not be ruled out. Russia would have to send its peacekeepers to protect the civilian population. In the east of the country, the people are confronted with the Ukrainian security service SBU, troops, police and special units. Nor should one forget Right Sector militants and foreign mercenaries. Moscow cannot afford to let repression grow, because the people are demonstrating under Russian flags,” Markov said.
“It is to be hoped that the people of Ukraine’s eastern areas succeed in their demands for holding a referendum on the status of their regions. But if Kiev resorts to punitive operations against popular protests, Russia will have to protect the lives and rights of citizens,” says the director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, Mikhail Delyagin.
All of the experts polled by ITAR-TASS agree that only a constitutional reform paving the way for the country’s federalization will be able to end the crisis in Ukraine and put the country on the peace track.
ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors