KIEV, October 30. /TASS/. Yulia Timoshenko, the leader of Ukraine’s Batkivshchina (or Fatherland) party, who has announced plans to run for president, stands against providing special status to the Donbass region and believes that Ukraine’s federalization will only encourage separatists, as she herself said at a forum dubbed New Peace and Security Strategy in Kiev.
"An indiscriminate amnesty is impossible. Special status can be provided neither to the Donetsk Region nor the Lugansk Region. We need a new constitution that would protect the rights and freedoms of all the communities in Ukraine, while at the same time ensuring that Ukraine remains a unitary state. Federalism is unacceptable, for it will only pave the way for separatism," she said.
Timoshenko, who is Ukraine’s former prime minister, tops all the presidential candidate rankings. September polls show that as many as 17.8% of voters support her. Former Defense Minister and Head of the Civil Position party Anatoly Gritsenko comes second with a 8.4% rating, while Ukraine’s incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko is third (7.9%).
The presidential election in Ukraine is scheduled to take place on March 31, 2019.
Special status law
Ukraine adopted a law providing special status to certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in October 2014 for a three-year term. The document is crucial for finding a political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
On October 6, 2017, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) passed a bill, which extended the special status of Donbass for another year. However, Kiev amended the law to ensure that it will only come into force after Ukrainian authorities gain full control of the areas in question and "all the illegal armed units and military equipment" are withdrawn.
The move undermined the Contact Group’s negotiations on holding regional elections in Donbass and introducing self-government as part of a constitutional reform in Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk Accords and the Normandy Quartet’s agreement on the so-called "Steinmeier formula" (put forward by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier).
On October 4, 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has signed a law extending the special status of Donbass until December 31, 2019.