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Kiev envoy says federalization only way to avoid Ukraine’s disintegration

June 09, 2016, 17:38 UTC+3 KIEV

Kiev official believes de-centralization is the onle way to resolve the Donbass conflict

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Viktor Medvedchuk

Viktor Medvedchuk


KIEV, June 9. /TASS/. Federalization is the only way to keep Ukraine as a single country, Kiev’s envoy to the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup and leader of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice" Viktor Medvedchuk said on Thursday.

"I am confident that the only medicine from Ukraine’s disintegration is federalization, or, translating to the language of current authorities, de-centralization," Medvedchuk said in an interview with "Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine" newspaper. "Federalization is one the stages of de-centralization. If we do not implement the process of de-centralization, not even at the level of federalization but at the level of ‘special status’ envisaged in the Minsk Agreements, we will not resolve the conflict in Donbass," he added.

He also noted "not only Ukraine, but also the whole world - from Brussels to Washington - is now talking about de-centralization (and even federalization), about making amendments to the Constitution and providing a special status to Donbass."

"We want to believe that reasonable arguments will be heard in Kiev and ‘the party of war’ will change its rhetoric and listen to the position of people that want peace," Medvedchuk said.

However, the envoy said he should not be brought to criminal responsibility on charges of separatism. "As a lawyer, I affirm that there can be no liability for calls for a federal constitutional system. I have been a consistent supporter of Ukraine’s federalization from the 1990s. I expressed my point of view back in the day when I defended my doctoral thesis," he explained.

Medvedchuk also refuted "one of the latest reports" that claimed he can head the Donetsk Region. "Donbass should be headed by a person living there. If we are talking about the Minsk Agreements, local elections should be held there and people should be elected that are trusted by residents," he concluded.

Freeing around 1,700 people by both sides 

Participants in the Minsk talks on settlement of situation in Donbass discuss locating and freeing 1,700 people, Kiev’s envoy to the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup and leader of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice" Viktor Medvedchuk said on Thursday.

"A total of 113 people are currently held on territories not controlled by Kiev, while 647 people are reported as missing," Medvedchuk said in an interview with "Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine" newspaper. He added that the authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics (DPR and LPR) want to return 946 people, 602 of which were already located. The envoy explained that the main problem is that Donbass representatives want to return much more people than they can release.

Medvedchuk also noted that another problem is the implementation of the aw on amnesty. On 16 September 2014 the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law "on inadmissibility of persecution and punishment of participants in events in Donetsk and Lugansk regions" but it was not signed by the parliament speaker and was not handed to the Ukrainian president for signing.

At the same time, the envoy noted that there is a provision in the Minsk Agreements that envisages exchange on the "all for all" basis. The issue of how each side understands the essence and meaning of this principle is currently on the agenda for the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup. "We will express our official position on June 15, at the next meeting of the humanitarian subgroup," he said.

 Russia did not put forward any preconditions for releasing Savhcenko

Medvedchuk has refuted speculations about "secret agreements" during talks on releasing former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and Russian citizens Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Erofeyev.

"I can authoritatively say that Russia did not put forward any preconditions, apart from returning its two citizens," Medvedchuk said in an interview with "Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine" newspaper, commenting on media reports claiming that Russia put forward different preconditions for releasing Savchenko.

"To tell you the truth, I do not think such statements should be commented because they represent pure speculations and idle fantasies. Conspiracy theories and speculations represent fantasies of officials and politicians which have nothing to do with the negotiations process but instead actively use Savchenko’s name for PR purposes," he went on.

Medvedchuk noted that those politicians that disseminate such rumors did not take part in talks on releasing Savchenko. "The Ukrainian president was the one who dealt with issues of releasing her, and I took part in the negotiations process. The decision to pardon Savchenko was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin," the envoy reminded.

The Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern on March 22 found Savchenko guilty of directing the pro-Kiev forces’ artillery fire in south-east Ukraine that had killed Russian journalists. Savchenko was also found guilty of illegally crossing the Russian border and was sentenced to 22 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440).

On May 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to pardon Savchenko at the request of the relatives of the killed journalists. The former pilot, who had been in Russian custody for nearly two years, was taken to Kiev onboard the Ukrainian presidential plane on the same day.

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