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Oligarchs influence Ukraine's choice between EU and Customs Union

November 27, 2013, 12:30 UTC+3 Oligarchs influence Ukraine's choice between EU and Customs Union. ¶ ¶ Moscow believes Kiev's decision to postpone the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union is halfhearted

ome experts in Kiev admit that the government decision has reflected the struggle between two powerful groups

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MOSCOW. November 27./ITAR-TASS/. Moscow believes Kiev's decision to postpone the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union is halfhearted, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The head of the Institute of Ukrainian Politics, Konstantin Bondarenko, paid attention to the statement of Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov who denied the Ukrainian premier's words about alleged preparation to revise the gas contracts. The political analyst believes Russia is not satisfied with the decision of the Ukrainian authorities just to suspend European integration. "There will be nothing until Kiev states that it gives up the idea to sign the agreement with the EU and takes the course to become a member of the Customs Union. Russia will not promise anything and will not give anything in exchange for the announced pause," he said.

The newspaper notes difficult bargaining is underway between Kiev and Brussels. "In question are not only timing and terms to sign the agreement with the EU. Membership in the Customs Union has not been even raised yet. Kiev is not aimed at the Customs Union. It is certain."

Some experts in Kiev admit that the government decision has reflected the struggle between two groups of oligarchs. The first was formed under Leonid Kuchma's rule. The "old" oligarchs have long aimed at being closer to the EU, wishing to finally legalize their capitals or come onto European markets. The young generation of oligarchs began forming after Viktor Yanukovich came into power. They allegedly have not completed the period of formation -- redistribution and accumulation of property, and so, are not interested in EU integration.

Commenting on the issue, the head of the International Institute of Democracies, Sergei Taran, said that both groups of oligarchs were united first of all by fear of Russia. Those who at their time initiated the process of EU integration and the young who are not strong enough yet in the role of oligarchs, they all realize that their right of ownership will be always in jeopardy within the Customs Union. Perhaps, some of the young people would like to "frolic" longer, postponing EU integration. But if the question is raised, all of them will sooner support the decision to be closer to the EU, than joining to the Customs Union, the expert believes.

Taran noted that it meant for the Ukrainian authorities that influential financial and industrial groups could situationally or behind the scenes join the hundreds of thousands of people, who went or were ready to go to streets for protests, and opposition leaders seeking to lead the people's movement. The policy of EU integration is the only issue that for many years has already united the west and the east of Ukraine, the authorities and the opposition, workers and oligarchs. Each had an own idea of the way to Europe and advantages of the way, but the choice in favor of the EU was undoubted. To cancel this way, it is necessary not only to overcome the society's resistance, but also to start a fight with oligarchs. There is no need to explain what it means in the context of presidential elections due in 2015, the expert said.

Kiev notes that before the summer Ukrainians supporting EU integration voted for maintaining good neighborly and partnership relations with Russia and CIS countries. But after the trade and customs wars and threats to impose migration and customs barriers on the borders, Ukrainians became accustomed to the idea of choice inevitability. In some months, the number of EU integration supporters increased ten percent to account for 60 percent of the citizens.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes that protests against the postponement of the association agreement with the EU have been continuing in Ukraine for a week already and whole institutions and universities have joined them.


Itar-Tass is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews.

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