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.