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Special status for parts of Luhansk, Donetsk regions paves way for Ukrainian settlement

September 17, 2014, 15:41 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, September 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Law grating special status to militia-controlled districts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, passed by Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada parliament on Tuesday, is a success for all parties interested in settling the acute phase of the conflict, Russian experts say.

Districts in question will enjoy special self-government rights for three years. Law provides for early elections to local bodies of power there, for the new authorities’ right to appoint their own “people’s police force”, for the formation of prosecutors’ offices and courts anew and, last but not least, for special economic status.

Moscow has welcomed the law. Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said it was a very appropriate move, certainly helpful in enhancing the peace process.

In Ukraine, most political scientists are more skeptical. The way they see it, the law just puts the conflict on the back burner. “At a certain point, Palestine received special status, too. Now we may get an explosive region, a source of instability, and its zone may be expanding with time,” says political scientist Konstantin Bondarenko.

Russian pundits offer detailed explanations as to why in their eyes the special status act is good news. “The just-adopted law is a key element of the Minsk Accords and a success all parties interested in terminating the acute phase of the conflict take credit for,” Vasily Kashin, an expert at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told TASS. “True, there is no political plan for settling the crisis yet, there is no ceasefire decision, either, and there certainly remains the risk everything will be upset. But nevertheless it is good news.”

In his opinion, President Poroshenko had realized that all chances of handling the problem from the position of strength had been exhausted. “The balance of force as it is, he made the sole possible decision. But Ukraine is steering towards parliamentary elections and many forces in Ukraine will jump at the opportunity to shoot darts of criticism at this decision, to score political points for themselves,” he said.

“There are too many uncertainties to make certain forecasts," Kashin added. "First and foremost, it is utterly unclear what will happen to Ukraine as such, for its GDP is expected to slump nine percent by yearend, unemployment will surge and political radicalism will shift into high gear. Ukraine is a powder keg. The future of Donbass is just a tiny fragment of the overall picture,” he said.

“Districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have obtained special status will not become another Transdniestria or Abkhazia, but they do have certain chances to turn into Ukraine’s equivalent of West Berlin,” deputy chief of the world economy and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics Andrei Suzdaltsev said.

“Possibly, these regions will get through the winter season much easier than the rest of Ukraine: They won’t be left in the lurch with no outside support to rely on and they will certainly have no problems with gas, either,” he said. “Besides, if wages and pensions go up, the rest of Ukraine will be looking at them as the shop window of a different world. Which, in turn, will cause indirect influences on the unity of Ukraine.


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