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Ukraine’s ex-president Leonid Kravchuk says Kiev’s developments are violations of all laws

January 23, 2014, 7:40 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, January 23, 7:35 /ITAR-TASS/. Leonid Kuchma, who was Ukraine’s President in 1991-1994, says the world community seems to have little understanding of what is really going on Ukraine. Western countries learn about the situation in Ukraine “from the mass media and some sort of outsider judgments,” he wrote in an article published on the Ukrainian web version of Forbes. 

Infographics A new wave of protests in Kiev A new wave of protests in Kiev
Map of Kiev locating clashes and protest rally sites. ITAR-TASS Infographics

“Having no idea of the psychology, of specific Ukrainian mentality, of the balance of political forces, well, knowing next to nothing about Ukraine, they look at what is going on here as though it were happening in the United States, France, or Great Britain,” he wrote.

What is now taking place on Kiev’s Independence Square, in his words, “is violation of all possible laws.” “I am grateful to guys from Berkut [riot police], who are staying there now,” he went on. “They are living though an awful trial: rioters are beating them, throwing stones and fire bombs at them but they are standing there, enduring all this. I don’t think there are many countries, where policemen were so tolerant in such a situation.” 

Ukrainians, according to Kravchuk, “are specific people” and this fact “should be reckoned with.” “Western diplomats and countries in general should understand and accept this fact and to adjust their analyses of Ukrainian development for this fact,” he wrote. “Everyone should look at Ukrainian processes critically, in a more serious manner - both Ukrainian politicians, citizens and our international partners.”

The former president calls on the Ukrainian opposition to undertake the responsibility for what is going on around the Grushevsky Street [where the government building is located]. What is taking place there, in his words, “is actual confrontation between the authorities and certain forces.” “It is real war, they throw Molotov cocktails, stones, there are victims on both sides,” he noted.

“If the opposition leaders consider the Grushevsky Street a kind of subsidiary of Maidan [Kiev’s central Independence Square, the venue of major protests], they must undertake responsibility for the developments,” Kravchuk stressed. “If they do not think that way, they must tell people: those who have come here from Maidan must go back there immediately. Then, those who remain in that street could be considered as provokers and instigators. So, the authorities would be sure that these people are not struggling for independence, for better living standards and would be able to use sanctions against them.”

In late December 2013, Kravchuk and two other Ukraine’s former presidents, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, initiated a national roundtable meeting in a bid to unite their country. Participants discussed ways to stabilize the political situation amid mass protests triggered by the government’s decision to postpone the signing of the association agreement with the European Union. He said he was ready to organize a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. “If people think that things would get settled by themselves, I see it only too well that it will not happen,” he stressed.

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