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Ousted Ukrainian president vows to do his utmost to unite Ukraine, help Donbass residents

Ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovich emphasized that by adopting the Donbass reintegration law, the authorities in Kiev have, in fact, displayed their utter inability to negotiate and conclude agreements

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovish has said he is ready to make every possible effort to unite the country and provide assistance to Donbass residents.

"Today, the most important thing is to stop the war, ensure a ceasefire, bring the two sides to the table and find a way to come to an agreement and resolve the military conflict peacefully in order to reunite Donbass with Ukraine and preserve the country’s territorial integrity," Yanukovich said at a TASS press conference on Friday.

The former Ukrainian president pointed out that providing assistance to Donbass residents currently was his top priority. "One of the most important tasks is to provide assistance to the affected people who live on those territories, help them return to their homes. I will do everything in my power," he stressed.

Donbass reintegration law

By adopting the law on Donbass reintegration the authorities in Ukraine have in fact displayed utter inability to negotiate and conclude agreements, he went on. 

"The law on Donbass reintegration spells war. The authorities have manifested their utter inability to negotiate and come to terms once again. There is no wish to follow the road of peace. The opinion of Donbass residents is utterly ignored. This emphasizes once again that war is the essence of the current authorities. The establishment of peace is lethal for it," he said.

Yanukovich believes that the so-called law on reintegration "utterly rules out the implementation of the Minsk Accords."

"Kiev keeps reading the text of the agreement in the fashion it finds convenient, but this by no means promotes the establishment of peace," Ukraine’s former leader said.

He sees a way out only in Kiev’s direct talks with Donetsk and Lugansk.

"I am certain that the sole way to peace is through peace talks - direct talks with Donbass representatives with assistance and under the observance of monitors from the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations," Yanukovich said.

Events that have been taking place in Donbass since the spring of 2014 will tarnish Ukraine’s history, he said.

He pointed out that in late February and early March of 2014, radicals formed illegal armed units and went to Donbass, "which caused locals to stand up to defend themselves, their families, children, elders, as well as to counter persecution and protect their traditional way of life."

According to Yanukovich, there was a short period in "March 2014, when it was possible to launch talks with representatives of the southeastern regions that had refused to recognize the coup government." The former president said that "it was yet possible to employ all parliamentary and international tools" to stop looting and violence. "Unfortunately, those who had illegally seized power did not do it," he added.

Yanukovich went on to say that at the time, the Ukrainian parliament also remained dormant. "There appeared to be no domestic political force that would warn against the use of armed units and military equipment against civilians in the southeast. It means, the authorities started a war against their own people, declaring their criminal activities to be an ‘anti-terrorist operation’," he said.

Yanukovich noted that for the previous four years, Ukraine’s authorities had been routinely destroying the country. "More than 10,000 people have been killed, millions became refugees, the Ukrainian people have become impoverished, while the country’s territorial integrity has been lost and corruption has flourished in high places," he noted.

Under such circumstances, in Yanukovich’s words, the current authorities seek to shift the blame for their crimes to him. "They will fail at that. I would like to warn judges, investigators and prosecutors involved in this political process - you will be punished by law for all you illegal actions," the former Ukrainian president concluded.

"I often meet with Donbass representatives. I have been maintaining contact with the region but I won’t tell what ways and methods I use," he said.

According to Yanukovich, he was "100%" informed about the situation in the region. "I don’t agree with everything that is taking place there, but people have been facing the toughest predicament, they need help. If we succeed in doing that, then it will take a long time to normalize the situation," he added.

The former president declined to voice his view of possible future developments in in Donbass, saying that "it is an ungracious task to make up scenarios one risks facing immediate opposition."

However, in Yanukovich’s words, the only appropriate scenario should include efforts "to stop the war and launch peace talks involving Donbass and international observers.".

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko on February 20 signed into law a parliament-approved act entitled The Law on Special Aspects of State Policy to Ensure Ukraine's State Sovereignty in Temporarily Occupied Areas in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. The law took effect on February 24.

In that document the areas beyond Kiev’s control are called "temporarily occupied territories," Russia’s policies are interpreted as "aggression against Ukraine" and the president is empowered to use the army inside the country without the parliament’s consent for various purposes, including re-establishment of control of territories in the east. For this a special command center was created to keep under control all forces and military-civilian administrations in the zone of the conflict. After the introduction of amendments all mentions of the Minsk Accords were removed from the text of the document.