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Expert praises process launched in Geneva to de-escalate Ukraine tensions

April 18, 2014, 9:37 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, April 17 /ITAR-TASS/. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a deputy of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, called today’s four-party meeting in Geneva involving the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine an undoubted success.

“This is a success of Russia’s diplomacy also because only a short while ago our Western partners believed that there is no need to discuss the situation in Ukraine with Russia,” the international affairs expert told ITAR-TASS in an interview.

The Geneva statement notes that steps that need to be taken in Ukraine should include disarmament of all illegal armed formations, unblocking of all administrative buildings and an amnesty of all protesters except for those who committed serious crimes.

“The measures we mentioned concern all Ukrainian regions and all problem issues without exceptions,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Geneva.

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement that participants of the four-party meeting in Geneva have adopted a document on de-escalation of the situation in Ukraine means that Kiev takes responsibility to speak to Ukraine’s Southeast,” the expert said.

“This circumstance can finally launch the process of a constitutional reform in Ukraine with participation of citizens of all regions of the country and with observance of the conditions that the minister mentioned - inclusiveness, transparency and accountability,” he said.

At the same time, Nikonov believes that it will be hard to disarm all illegal units in Ukraine even under the supervision of a special monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“Besides, the Ukrainian army also acts against the people nowadays,” the lawmaker said.

“Even if the conflict is de-escalated, this does not promise a bright future for Ukraine. It’s not the end of the story, and confrontation between Ukraine’s West and Southeast, in my opinion, will continue,” Nikonov said.

Asked whether his assessment was out of line with reserved optimism expressed after the Geneva talks by the Russian foreign minister, the deputy said: “Sergei Lavrov is a diplomat and I am a doctor of historical sciences. The conflict between different regions of Ukraine has been smoldering for more than one century, which was recalled today by [President] Vladimir Putin during a live televised call-in with Russian nationals.”

“In turn, I will recall that soon it will be 1,000 years since Kiev was occupied by Poles in 1018,” he said.

Despite certain doubts about the prompt de-escalation in Ukraine, Nikonov said that “the process launched in Geneva today is a step in the right direction”.


A coup rocked Ukraine in February after months of anti-government protests, often violent, dubbed “Euromaidan”, which were triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to suspend the signing of an association agreement with the EU in November 2013 in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Amid deadly riots that involved radicals in February 2014, new people were brought to power in Kiev. Yanukovych had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns the same month. Moscow does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, who appear unable to restrain radicals and ultranationalists.

The crisis deepened when the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the de facto Ukrainian leaders. Crimea and Sevastopol reunified with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which they overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

After Crimea’s accession to Russia, which Kiev refuses to recognize despite Moscow’s repeated statements proving that it was legal, protests against the new Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories, in particular the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkov regions, with demonstrators taking control of some government buildings and demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.

Ukrainian parliament-appointed Western-leaning interim head of state Alexander Turchynov on Tuesday announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in the eastern Donetsk Region in an apparent effort to crack down on protests of federalization supporters.

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