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Ukraine’s state power agencies, rank-and-file people in confrontation again

December 26, 2014, 17:45 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. A wave of public protests against the social policies of the Kiev government is rising in Ukraine. Like the previous Administration, the new one does not heed the voices of the people and disregards their demands although it was the rancor of protests that propelled the incumbent rulers to the top positions in the state, experts polled by TASS said.

On Tuesday, several thousand people picketed the session of the Verkhovna Rada that discussed the national budget. The protesters spoke out against the draft budget that envisioned slashing social benefits and an increase of taxes.

Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Ukrainian Choice public movement, wrote on this occasion in Facebook: “Protests against the authorities’ zeal to have the anti-social budget for 2015 adopted by the Rada have erupted in society. It looks like our authorities have failed to learn anything from the Maidan.”

“The government and the people are again on the opposite sides of the barricades,” he said.

Street actions did not subside on Thursday either. The workers of budget-receiving organizations demanded the repayment of their back wages.

“Ukraine has mired in a heavy crisis,” Sergey Markov, the director of the Moscow-based Institute for Social and Political Research, told TASS. “Ukrainian government says the country’s foreign debt may reach 68.3% of the GDP in 2015 alone. Its plans presupposed a freeze on wages, a reduction of pensions, removal of students’ grants and free medical aid, and introduction of tuition for fee at senior grades of the secondary school.”

“All of this causes popular protests,” Dr. Markov said.

“Still the authorities won’t allow these protests to take on a mass scale,” he said. “The Verkhovna Rada has passed a bill considerably expanding the powers of the Council for National Security and Defense in resolving the crisis situations. This expansion allows it to isolate trade union leaders and organizers of protests from society, while the protests will be suppressed toughly.”

“Ukraine is turning into a police state,” Dr. Markov said.

“State power in Ukraine was supplanted by an active minority of the population — by the students and businessmen who would like to enjoy visa-free travel to the EU and who are pleased to see foreigners in the government,” Alexey Makarkin, a deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, said.

“And if you take the majority of Ukrainians, it was not at all the European integration that was on their minds in February,” he said. “They were concerned with the hryvnia’s exchange rate and the rise of prices for foodstuffs and utility services.”

“The Kiev authorities are adopting a tough budget and cancelling discounts for various sections of the population and that’s why people are taking to the streets,” Dr. Makarkin said.

“On this background, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) didn’t allocate an installment of its loan, which the Ukrainians expected at the end of the year,” he indicated. “Criticism of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the People’s Front led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is getting more and more vocal in the Rada.”

He believes that the crisis in Ukraine will take on a protracted form but it will unlikely bring about a replacement of the powers that be in 2015, as this would be highly unrewarding for the IMF and the EU.

“The opponents of the Kiev regime have turned into emigrants — they have shifted to Crimea or to the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and there’s scarcely anyone to take the lead in the protest movement,” Dr. Makarkin said. “That’s why it’s the majority of the population, not the politicians, who will bear the burdens of the economic situation.”

ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors