Ukrainian MP Hanna Hopko on the controversial decentralization vote

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2015/09/01 • Politics

Article by: Hanna Hopko

Monday, August 31 was marked with violent clashes in Kyiv over a key decentralization reform vote in the Ukrainian parliament. The reform has its proponents and critics, the main point of contention being provisions for special local governance in certain Donbas counties currently occupied by Russia’s hybrid troops. Hanna Hopko, Euromaidan activist, frontrunner of pro-Europe Samopomich [“Self-Help”] party during the 2014 parliamentary elections and winner of Foreign Policy’s 2014 Global Thinkers award, voted for the decentralization constitutional amendments along with 4 other members of the Samopomich faction and was expelled for going against Samopomich’s rejection of the law.

In a FB post, Hopko explained her reasons for supporting the decentralization bill and sharply criticized its critics, the instigators of the clashes and Samopomich’s slip into what she calls “Bolshevik authoritarianism”.

Today’s constitutional amendment vote is an important step towards comprehensive change in Ukraine. Decentralization, moving the power to the localities – communities, counties and regions – is one key demands of the Maidan revolution which is now implemented via constitutional amendments. This is why it was so important for me to vote for these changes. This is also the reason why those who don’t want to give away power and money from the capital to the localities feel it’s so important to disrupt those changes. Here’s the root of the lies that the law has provisions on “special status of Donbas” or “recognizing LNR and DNR”. The law’s draft has none of that. The very fact that the draft has no concessions to Russia but just a reference to a separate law regulating local governance in certain counties of Donbas does not give any privileges to these regions and also becomes Ukraine’s flexible tool for returning those territories, sets Moscow’s teeth on end.

Those who campaign against constitutional amendments are voluntarily or involuntarily supporting the aggressor in reaching several goals – provoking civic conflict, breaking the parliamentary coalition, disrupting decentralization reforms and removing Western support from Ukraine. This is a plan to weaken Ukraine and give Moscow a free hand in escalating the aggression, which could have grave consequences for our country.

The most cynical part is that the attack on the amendment draft is done under patriotic slogans. In truth, it defends the interests of several parties ahead of the local elections, the interests of the oligarchs and the aggressor country.

Is there any difference between those throwing grenades at the National Guard in front of the Rada and those who shoot at the same National Guardsmen on the frontlines?

The responsibility for the blood spilled and provoking the conflict lies with the politicians who promoted the lies on the constitutional amendment draft, instilled hatred based on those lies and keep towing that line, undermining the country from within.

The perpetrators of the bloody attack must be punished.

And those who followed the provocateurs unconsciously should reflect on where these games have brought the country and what could happen if this doesn’t stop.

Let us recall the lessons of history. Let us recall how many times the Ukrainian state fell due to chaos, ambitions of “true patriots” deftly manipulated by foreign enemies who turned them into a tool of destruction. Can’t we learn from our mistakes? Haven’t we learned anything from what we’ve experienced by ourselves during the past 1.5 – 2 years?

P.S. Concerning the expulsion of myself and four of my colleagues from the Samopomich faction (just for supporting the Constitutional amendments desperately needed by local communities) – I feel ashamed that a party which was supposed to be a modern, democtatic alternative, is sliding into populism and Bolshevik authoritatianism. We remain true to our goals and principles we went to the 2014 elections with, including promises of comprehensive decentralization and transferring power to local communities.

Translated by: Kirill Mikhailov

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  • Thomas Ferree

    Bravo Hanna Hopko! A sensible breath of fresh air that needs to be breathed by ALL the MP’s of the Rada!

  • Evelyn Myketa Livingston

    Well said Hanna Hopko and eternal shame on those with blood on their hands.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Troll alert!

  • Murf

    IF some can show me the exact provision on Special Status of Donbas I to would oppose the changes.
    So far not so much.
    That Putin, Lavarov and the militants oppose it should be a clue as to the true content of the bill.

  • Elmer Mack

    “The most cynical part is that the attack on the amendment draft is done
    under patriotic slogans. In truth, it defends the interests of several
    parties ahead of the local elections, the interests of the oligarchs and
    the aggressor country.”

    Hanna

    I agree that a huge source of corruption in Ukraine is the appointment of oblast governors rather than the election of oblast governors.

    The constitutional amendment, as I understand, does not provide for the election of oblast governors, but rather creates some kind of prefect or oversight position.

    But

    1) who are the several parties whose interests are being defended – names, please?

    2) who are the oligarchs – names, please?

    3) we all know who the aggressor country is – Putler Khuylo.

    Wouldn’t your argument be far more persuasive if you brought those names out into the light?

    For years, the practice in Ukraine has been to say “we all know who they are.”

    But the people need to know who they are.

  • Brent

    Those who attack Ukraine’s National Guard with grenades are no better than the thugs who have turned occupied Donbass into a mini Russian regime. They need to learn that it is better to negotiate and understand the process than it is to throw grenades.

    Future leaders are typically born out of crisis like these. Are we witnessing the birth of future leaders of Ukraine who recognize the need for decentralization FOR ALL OBLASTS of Ukraine, but decentralization that does not remove sovereign powers of the state of Ukraine as demanded by Russia?

    Politicians in Ukraine need to stop fighting each other and learn to compromise to build a better Ukraine FOR ALL UKRAINIANS.

  • Elmer Mack

    Hanna

    Yurij (George) Lutsenko specifically discussed the constitutional amendment here:

    http://svoboda.ictv.ua/ua/index/view-media/id/100637/current/4/total/1105

    At about 10 minutes into this video clip he specifically pointed out that the existing constitution already contains provisions for “special status” of cities. True, there don’t seem to be any provisions for prefects, as in the current proposal.

    He also makes the point that there is only one front in Ukraine, and that it is the one caused by Putler Khuylo’s terrorist invasion of Ukraine.

    So those who inflame and use demagoguery and incite killing on the streets indeed ought to be punished.

    It is true that one cannot trust Putler Khuylo, and that the passage of these amendments will not stop Putler Khuylo.

    But also at stake here is the extension and continuance of sanctions against Putler Khuylo.

    And the continued support, financial and otherwise, of Ukraine by Europe against the terrorism of Putler Khuylo.