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Tough civil confrontation threatening Ukraine

January 21, 2014, 12:33 UTC+3 World Service) ¶ 21/1 Tass ¶ ¶ Tough civil confrontation threatening Ukraine ¶ ¶ After two months of mainly peaceful rallies
After two months of mainly peaceful rallies, Ukraine sees a large standoff between the authorities and protesters, with Kiev being the epicenter
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MOSCOW, January 21. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. After two months of mainly peaceful rallies, Ukraine sees a large standoff between the authorities and protesters, with Kiev being the epicenter. The Right Sector, a new ultra-nationalist organization which is out of control of the opposition, called for "national revolution," as its activists clashed with police. The protests have entered the phase of tough confrontation.

That Kiev's Maidan (Independence Square) has ceased to be peaceful and split into the moderates and the radicals is seen by the actions by Right Sector activists who ignored the calls by the opposition leaders and clashed with law-enforcement bodies, the newspaper Kommersant writes. The newspaper found out that the Right Sector brought together representatives of the nationalist movements Trizub, UNA-UNSO, Ukraine's Patriot and the Svoboda party. The Right Sector's "baptism of fire" happened on December 11, when the Berkut special task force police attempted to break up the Maidan rally. Before the latest protest, the ultra-nationalists addressed the Ukrainian people making it clear that the Right Sector and the moderate opposition were walking different ways.

The escalation of protests to the phase of tough confrontation, unexpected (at least by its appearance) both to the authorities and the Opposition leaders forced President Yanukovich and his opponents to urgently resume contacts, the newspaper notes. The rapid radicalization of protests seems to have forced the Ukrainian president into announcing the establishment of a working group to negotiate with the opposition, which was headed by Secretary of the Security Council Andrei Klyuyev. However, Vitaly Klichko, one of the opposition leaders, rejected the format proposed by the authorities making it clear that the opposition would only agree to direct talks with the president.

The Kommersant believes that despite the fact that the dialogue between the country's leadership and the moderate opposition seems to be the last change for keeping civic peace in Ukraine, none of the parties has any intention as yet to agree to major compromises.

Experts in Kiev doubt that Yanukovich is set to compromise, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes, or that such negotiations can yield a result that would suit the society. "The main problem is that the politicians do not understand what is really happening," director of the Situations Modeling Agency Vitaly Bala explained to the newspaper. "Maidan and barricades in central Kiev are just a symbol of the public protest movement which spread all over the country just two months ago and is continuing to gain momentum. The movement will not disappear until the cause behind the protest has been eliminated."

In Bala's opinion, the protest erupted because of the overall systemic crisis in the country and public resentment of the incumbent system of governance. "It is a conflict of the vertical — between the people and the authorities — which is not controlled by the opposition leaders. They are trying to resolve this conflict horizontally, i.e. through talks between politicians."

The protest forces amassed on Maidan did not succeed in winning any concessions from the authorities, except symbolic ones, the Vedomosti newspaper underlines. The authorities who initially lost the initiatives are now beginning to reclaim their trump cards. The adoption of repressive laws, according to Yanukovich's plan, should reverse the situation. The government demonstrated to Maidan that the time of joking had passed. Instead of the exhausting siege of the protesters' camp, Yanukovich staked on blitzkrieg.

Unsurprisingly, the leaders of the opposition troika — Vitaly Klichko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnibok — were absolutely unprepared for Yanukovich's strike. They were unable to hammer out, in three days, a coherent joint position for which they would not feel embarrassed when addressing the Maidan rally.

By Monday evening, a fragile equilibrium established in Ukraine, the Vedomosti notes. It will not last long, the newspaper predicts. "History teachers that there can be two ways out of this situation. The first is reaching an accord on early election and setting up a technical government. The second is the introduction of the state of emergency and further escalation of the conflict," the newspaper says.

Director General of the Agency for Political and Economic Communication Dmitry Orlov, cited by the RBC Daily, thinks that the most probable scenario is that the Ukrainian authorities will take the situation under control; police will not allow the escalation of street confrontation, with Kiev facing several more protest actions which will gradually become smaller in terms of participants involved. Also, he believes that Ukraine will keep its orientation toward the Customs Union.


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

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