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MOSCOW, July 17. / TASS/. In comments on approval by Verkhovna Rada [parliament] under the first reading of draft amendments to the Constitution concerning a special status of Donbas, Russian political analysts note that in essence the Kiev authorities seek to cut themselves off from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, but Americans demand that they at least pretend to be adhering to the agreements in order to raise counterclaims to the republics and Russia.
On Thursday, deputies of Verkhovna Rada passed under the first reading the draft of presidential amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine concerning decentralization of power and the order of local self-government.
They fix in the Constitution a reference to the law On the Special Order of Local Self-Government in Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. President Poroshenko himself said in Rada that the amendments would not affect the unitary status of Ukraine and were not giving a special status to Donbas, but just admitted the possibility of "a specific order of local self-rule in its certain areas" which, as he maintained, was in full compliance with the Minsk agreements.
The approved amendments don’t envisage a paragraph on a special status of Donbas included in the Constitution itself — it will just mention the special law on a special order of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the head of the PENTA Centre for Applied Political Studies Vladimir Fesenko explained to the Kommersant daily. In addition, this special law can be changed by a simple majority of deputy votes. "Poroshenko cannot say directly that the Minsk agreements won’t be implemented, that is why he makes diplomatic moves," he said.
However, president’s critics in Ukraine have accused him of concessions to the self-proclaimed republics under the pressure of United States Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland arriving in Ukraine. The authorities of the DPR and LPR have also rejected the initiative of Kiev, labelling it "imitation" and demanding to include into the Constitution an explicit wording of their special status, previously coordinating it with Donetsk and Luhansk.
Political analyst Alexey Chesnakov, quoted by the Vedomisti daily, believes that Kiev has decided to use a trick without changing anything in essence. This is not what can suit the parties signing the Minsk protocol. "Donbass needs a material and long-term status fixed in the Constitution," he said.
"The Ukrainian authorities are yet to cover a certain path to understand that they will have to respect the interests of Donbas in the long run," the president of the Center of System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko is quoted by the Free Press news portal. "Otherwise, we can get a lukewarm civil war that will be exhausting both Donbas and Ukraine, and also Russia to a certain extent".
The deputy director of the CIS States Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, echoes by saying this means an imitation of adherence to the Minsk agreements. "In my opinion, it is an ideal option for Americans, and thus for Ukrainians," he told Tass. "At the same time, they will shift the whole blame on Russia, saying ‘Look, Kiev complies with the agreements, while Moscow does not’. In essence, they are squeezing the DPR and LPR from the political and economic space of Ukraine, making them unrecognized republics, a sort of Transdniestria. Their aim is to make the rest of Ukraine anti-Russian and pro-American, because if the DPR and LPR joined the political and economic space of Ukraine, the country would be neither purely pro-American nor purely anti-Russian".
The approved amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine came under criticism from both sides, the vice -president of the Centre for Political Technologies, Alexey Makarkin, told Tass. "The Ukrainian politicians speak about too big concessions to the DPR and LPR, and even direct participation of Americans, the arrival of Victoria Nuland, was needed to convince the deputies to vote for them. Meanwhile, these amendments are absolutely insufficient for the DPR and LPP. But what is most important is a general context: amendments were passed in conditions when nobody trusts anybody, and a wide compromise of some kind looks unlikely. Most of the population on both sides would like to see this end as soon as possible, but both sides have active groups that were engaged in a war, and for them this compromise looks absolutely unacceptable".
Kiev is not interested at all in having the DPR and LPR part of Ukraine, preferring in essence to cut itself off from them, the expert believes. "Under these circumstances, the option of making the self-proclaimed republics a kind of Transdniestria looks most probable," he said.
Americans would want to see Kiev take steps that the world would recognize as implementation of the agreements. "After amendments had been approved, Americans said they were quite satisfied with this, and thus Ukraine had fulfilled its part of the commitments, and now they would demand from the DPR and LPR as well as Russia return moves," the expert said.
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