MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS/. The script of a coup d’etat that occurred a year ago in Ukraine had not been written by oppositionists in Kiev but was in the US embassy, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said on the NTV television channel.
"The script was not written in Kiev. It was in the US embassy," Azarov said. "And the key puppet masters were not on Maidan [Independence Square in Kiev - the symbol of Ukrainian protests]. These dummies did not really manage anything and did not influence anything."
He said the West was discontented with the policy of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich because Ukraine announced during his presidency that it "will not join NATO."
"That policy did not suit the United States and some partners in the EU," the ex-premier said. "They were constantly lecturing us. Active preparation started, which I did not pay proper attention to."
Besides, Azarov said, the West did not like the doubts of the then-Ukrainian government regarding the expediency of signing an association agreement with the European Union.
"We were speaking much in the country, saying that if we thoughtlessly sign the deal we will face huge economic losses, and that happened," the former prime minister said. "Huge pressure started on the part of the EU leaders. The sense of the pressure was that we should put aside doubts and sign the agreement."
"They needed a pretext to depose our power," he said. "We were told: ‘if you don’t sign the deal, other authorities will.’"
The pretext, Azarov said, was when a rally of Euro-integration supporters was dispersed by force on Maidan. He said it was a provocation planned beforehand.
"The rally was sluggish. The organizers realized that the crowd could not be prompted to act without victims," he said. He said cameras were brought to the rally.
"Cameras professionally showed beaten faces. They started crying that children had been beaten. Signals were distributed via social networks and TV: let’s gather. This allowed organizers to say that the regime is bloody. It’s like what happened in Libya, Egypt," Azarov said.
Speaking about Yanukovich’s talks with the opposition, the ex-premier said "[current premier Arseny] Yatsenyuk went to get instructions to the American embassy every day: what to say and what demands to forward."
As a result, an agreement between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders was signed on peaceful resolution of the conflict, and a number of European countries posed as guarantors, but no one except for Yanukovich fulfilled it, he said.
The events that followed, Azarov said, can’t be described other than a coup. "He [Yanukovich] was the constitutional president. He did not say he renounced power. He was overthrown, and it should be admitted. A coup d’etat occurred, I am sure."
"The fact that Yanukovich did not let others kill him is very positive," he said.
Summing up the year since the coup in Ukraine, he said: "What has Ukraine got? Ruin, decline, loss of revenues of the population, war, killed citizens. What could be celebrated? We should go light a candle and pray for forgiveness."
Developments in Ukraine
Deep crisis embraced Ukraine at the end of 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014.
The coup that brought chaos to Ukraine prompted the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with a special status to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of coup-imposed authorities, hold a referendum and secede from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March 2014 after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
After that, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), have left thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.
Businessman and politician Pyotr Poroshenko won the May 25, 2014 early presidential election in Ukraine. Poroshenko had funded anti-government protests that led to the February 2014 coup. The association agreement with the EU was eventually signed on June 27, 2014 under the new Western-leaning billionaire president.
A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire has reportedly been numerously violated since.
On September 16, 2014, Ukraine’s parliament adopted the law on a special self-rule status for certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. The law took effect October 18, 2014 but was then repealed by Kiev.
The Trilateral Contact Group on settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.
The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.
The Contact Group held meetings in late December 2014 and on January 31, 2015. They did not bring major results.
Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group were held in Minsk on February 10-12. At that meeting of the Contact Group, a 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the Minsk agreements was adopted.
The package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including enforcement of the special self-rule status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
The document was signed by OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics' leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.
Talks of the Normandy Four leaders (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) on the Ukrainian issue also ended February 12 in Minsk.