KIEV, November 30, 19:24 /ITAR-TASS/. The government of Ukraine is not interested in provoking an escalation of tensions and remains committed to stability in the country, the prime minister’s spokesperson Vitaly Lukyanenko said on Saturday, November 30.
“One thing is clear: the authorities are not interested in provocations. On the contrary, they are interested in stability and calm in the country,” he told the news agency UNIAN.
“The position of the prime minister is that it is necessary to conduct a thorough and objective investigation within the shortest time possible. A special task group has been set up for this purpose. It will conduct such an investigation, no matter what,” he said.
“The prime minister has stressed once again that those who express their protest peacefully and legally are not opponents, they are our citizens whose rights must be protected,” the spokesperson said. “By supporting European integration, they support the course the president and the government have steered and will steer.”
The statement followed an overnight police raid to drive protesters out of Kiev’s central Independence Square where they had been rallying against the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend the preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the European Union.
In the morning, at least 35 people requested medical attention, Kiev’s emergency aid station Head Anatoly Vershigora said.
He said seven people had received medical attention and left but 21 had to be taken to hospitals.
Ambulances were called nine times to Kiev’s Shevchenkovsky district police station, where the protesters had been brought from the square, seven people were taken to hospitals and two checked in for medical treatment.
The spokesperson for the Interior Ministry’s Department for Kiev, Olga Bilyk, said all complaints from people who had received bodily injuries would be studied.
“All complaints will be thoroughly studied and an investigation will be conducted,” she said, adding that police were questioning those who had been taken to hospitals with injuries after the police action.
Bilyak told Channel 5 earlier that the police had to act after the protesters had refused to let city services to prepare the square for New Year holidays. Instead the protesters “started throwing cans, burning sticks and other objects at them. It was decided then to use the Berkut special unit that stopped the disorders using special means,” she said.
The Interior Ministry said later that the Berkut members acted forcefully after the protesters had put up resistance to police and started throwing litter, glasses, bottles of water and burning sticks at them. As a result, 35 people were detained. After administrative protocols had been executed, they were let go.
After that some 200 protesters headed to the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. Later several groups of them were reported standing at the entrance to the monastery, holding Ukrainian and EU flags, with about ten opposition MPs among them.
In the wake of the incident, three opposition parties - Batkivshchina headed by former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, UDAR headed by world renowned boxer Vitali Klitschko, and Svoboda headed by MP Oleg Tyagnibok - made a joint decision to “form a national resistance headquarters.”
“We have begun preparing for an all-Ukraine national strike,” former parliament speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk, who is one of the Batkivshchina leaders, said. “Our political demands have not changed and they call for the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.”
He said a draft resolution on the vote of no-confidence in the government had already been submitted to the parliament.
It says, in part, that the Law “On the Basic Principles of Domestic and Foreign Policy” proclaims Ukraine’s integration into the European Union a priority. Therefore, the government acted contrary to the law when making the decision to suspend the preparation of the signature of the association agreement with the EU.
The draft resolution urges the parliament to pass a vote of no-confidence in the government. The Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, is due to convene for its next plenary session on December 3.
On November 21, Ukraine suspended preparations for signing the association agreement with the European Union because it had not received a clear signal indicating Europe’s readiness to compensate it for losses from worsening relations with CIS countries, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Boiko said.
“The preparations for the signature of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU have been suspended because Ukraine did not receive a clear signal from Europe regarding compensation for the losses Ukraine had sustained from the complication of relations with the CIS,” Boiko said.
“Over the last four months we saw a decline in industrial production and our analysis showed that this was caused by dwindling trade and economic relations with CIS countries. This caused several enterprises to halt their operation, budget revenue decreased and the number of jobs shrank,” the deputy prime minister said.
Since August 2013, Ukraine has lost 15,000-20,000 jobs and 30-40 billion hryvnia (3.85-5 billion U.S. dollars) worth of trade turnover. Boiko said this had jeopardised the implementation of the president’s initiatives and generally “put the socioeconomic situation in the country at risk.”
Andrei Miselyuk, Director of the Ukrainian Institute for Social and Economic Forecasting, said Ukraine’s decision to suspend integration into the EU signified “a geopolitical U-turn.”
“This situation was quite predictable after the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] had failed to pass draft laws on the medical treatment of Yulia Timoshenko abroad. The government just responded likewise and did so quite promptly,” the expert said.
In his opinion, “some European tactical actions and the talks with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] will continue.” As for relations with Russia, he thinks that “some trade problems that caused tensions in bilateral relations may be removed from the agenda now.”
Andrei Goncharuk, head of the main department in the presidential administration, said the decision to suspend integration with the EU was connected with its potential risks for the domestic market.
He noted, however, that the government resolution did not put an end to European integration as such. “This is not the end yet. This is just the statement of the position. Now consultations have to be held,” Goncharuk said.
The government of Ukraine has made the decision to stop preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the European Union and to resume active dialogue with Russia and other Customs Union and CIS countries.
An order signed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov on November 21 said the purpose was to “invigorate economic ties in order to jointly preserve and strengthen the economic potential of the state.”
The decision triggered mass protests in Kiev and other cities and caused strong disappointment among European leaders, who said however that the door to the EU remained open for Ukraine.