Optimism mingles with black despair in assessing the situation in Ukraine. The forecast of the upcoming events depends on which feeling takes over. In order to cope with the task we must outline the starting points on which possible options for the conflicting parties depend. Maidan has survived and expanded its territories to the European square and part of Hrushevskoho street, where the clashes with ‘Berkut’ persist since last Sunday. Before the negotiations with Viktor Yanukovych started, Vitaliy Klitschko asked ‘Berkut’ to refrain from provoking the demonstrators. He approached the latter with a similar request. As a result, ceasefire was maintained for the time of the negotiations. This is a proof for those who doubt the opposition’s ability to restrain the radicals: once there is hope Yanukovych at least partially relies on common sense and is earnest in negotiations, the protests immediately become peaceful.
At the same time, the protesters’ camp has adopted a more radical stance and the opposition leaders find it harder to moderate it. «The Right Sector», composed of the ultra nationalists, captured the Ministry for the Agrarian Policy. They say that even if Vitaliy Klychko «betrays» the people they will stand their ground for as long as needed.
The radicalization of the opposition activity has borne its fruit – a People’s Council (comprising the opposition deputies) was created. The opposition has proved that they can bear responsibility for the situation in the country.
The protesters have captured the region state administration buildings in Lviv and Rivne (it was also attempted in Zhytomyr (and other cities – Espreso TV)). However, these captures did not turn into anarchic destabilization acts. Quite the contrary, they served for pressing Viktor Yanukovych so that he knows that in the case of emergency both the police and the investigating authorities will side with the opposition. The opposition leaders claim that this what Yanukovych fears most.
The opposition has proved that it is ready for the revolutionary scenario and is supported by Kyiv, driven to the edge. This is priceless: history tells us that those revolutions which are supported by the capitals win. Apart from that, the opposition has put forward a realistic list of tasks: putting an end to the bloodshed and the persecution of the protesters; abolition of the laws adopted on January 16 which restrict the civic rights and freedoms dramatically; resignation of Mykola Azarov’s government; amnesty for the detained protesters; punishment of those responsible for the recent deaths of protesters; return to the Constitution of 2004 which restricts the presidentials powers; early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Yanukovych has agreed to call an extraordinary parliamentary session and offered truce. The protesters refused it, since they don’t trust the promises of the authorities after the tragic murders of their sworn brothers last Wednesday. They don’t accept the fact that Yanukovych wouldn’t put forward the smallest concessions like withdrawing the minister of internal affairs who had compromised himself with the actions of his subordinates resembling that of the army on the enemy’s territory. The people were driven to the edge by the information about the upcoming arrests: dozens today and thousands in the coming days. The authorities wanted to show their strength and only achieved the opposite aim, with thousands of people realizing there’s no way back.
Will the authorities act wisely now? The presence of the European diplomats in Kyiv – the European Commissioner Stefan Fule and Polish Deputy Minister of foreign affairs Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz gives a minimal hope for this. The solution must be found within hours.
The positive scenario lies in the agreement between the opposition and the president which would be based on the conditions of the former. The key goal is the introduction of the balance of powers in Ukraine (thanks to the return to the old Constitution) and preparation for the new elections. Thus a new government with a respected Prime Minister should be formed. In addition, one of the opposition leaders must become a speaker of the Parliament, in case Putin wages a new trade war against Ukraine (de fact announced by Kremlin).
Putin is greatly unnerved by the situation in Ukraine. In responce to the possible compromise between the opposition and Yanukovych he stated that the change of power in Kyiv would entail an immediate payment of the loan (3 bn USD) and cancellation of the gas discount. This is only the beginning of the sanctions list out of Moscow’s arsenal, made known in August last year. It was then that Putin realised that signing the Association Agreement could somehow, completely uncomprehensibly for him, become a reality. Even the German media observed that Kremlin consistently ignites the Ukrainian crisis lest it is resolved in any way.
The fatal scenario (Russian, in other words) means using force on a mass scale with further murders and powerful repressions. Russian propaganda has been long stating that Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war. This is their biggest dream. In case they lose their puppet – lord of all Ukraine in Kyiv, they will strive for the separation of the South-Eastern part and the Crimea, like the separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. In this situation any diminished Ukraine-West rapprochement can be forgotten.
Preventing this scenario is the task of «the powerful» – the EU and the US. Russia has made so many claims about the «Western intrusions» in the situation in Ukraine, it’s time for a rebuff.
Angela Merkel announced that Germany does not see grounds for sanctions against Kyiv authorities for the time being. The Polish politicians share this idea. After the Council of National Security meeting last Wednesday they said that Poland would not initiate such measures. This is a right strategy provided Yanukovych is capable of compromising and keeping his word. And this is like making love to a tiger – both funny and scary, as they say in Russia.
The real partner in Ukraine is the awakened civil society as well as the opposition, united in the People’s Council. As of today, it is urgent to call an international conference regarding support for Ukraine.
To cut a long story short, it’s high time the West started working hard on the realization of a positive scenario in Ukraine. Its achievement is real given the will and the ability to assess partners and friends right. As they chant on Maidan now, «Together we are power!»
Mirosław Czech, “Gazeta Wyborcza”, 25 January 2014, 11:27 am (Source in Ukrainian)
Translated by Kateryna Zarembo