Protests against “Steinmeier’s formula” gather largest crowd since Euromaidan

"We are against war, but we are also against defeat," reads the placard held by a participant of the "Let's Stop Capitulation" rally in Kyiv on 6 October 2019. Photo: Dmytro Karpiy/Facebook

"We are against war, but we are also against defeat," reads the placard held by a participant of the "Let's Stop Capitulation" rally in Kyiv on 6 October 2019. Photo: Dmytro Karpiy/Facebook 

War in the Donbas

Protests titled “Let’s Stop Capitulation” took place in major cities of Ukraine on 6 October. Thousands of people rallied against the peace-making decisions of President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy such as the intention to impose the so-called Steinmeier formula, which, according to protesters, would lead to Ukraine’s defeat in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. In Kyiv, the rally gathered some 10,000 people, making it arguably the largest protest since the times of the Euromaidan Revolution of 2013-2014.
On October, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine accepts “Steinmeier’s formula” which stipulates that the occupied part of the Donbas should be granted a “temporary special status” on the day of local elections. If the OSCE recognizes the voting as democratic, then the Verkhovna Rada must enshrine this status as permanent in law. The formula insists on local elections, mentioned in the Minsk peace accords. However, it doesn’t mention important de-occupation steps listed in the Minsk accords such as the pullout of the Russian troops, mercenaries, and military equipment from Ukrainian territory before the hypothesized local elections.

Read more on Steinmeier’s formula and previous protests:

The protest was presented as a “Viche,” a public assembly whose name harkens back to the times of the Kyivan Rus and which was held each Sunday during the Euromaidan protests. The organizers of the Viche announced the rally in 33 cities, including every regional capital except those in the occupied provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea. The Czech capital Praha was also mentioned among the rally venues. With rare exceptions like in Kharkiv, the protesters didn’t carry any party flags. Among the colors at rallies, the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine dominated; less common were the red and black UPA colors and Crimean Tatar light blue banner.

Capital Kyiv

The rally in Kyiv was the strongest. According to police estimations as of 14:00, about 10,000 protesters gathered in the Ukrainian capital.

Various civil activists and representatives of different pro-Ukrainian political forces were among the participants of the rally.Donbas war veteran Pavlo Bilous read the final communiqué of the Viche from the stage in Kyiv, declaring the establishment of the non-partisan “Movement of the Resistance to Capitulation” and called on “everyone who cares” to join it. The statement also calls on the parliamentary minority factions Holos, Fatherland, and European Solidarity to create an interfactional association “Opposition platform – No to capitulation.”According to the communiqué, holding elections in the occupied parts of the Donbas region and granting them special status are not constitutional. It demands Russia leave Crimea and the Donbas unconditionally and the Ukrainian government makes no concessions.
MP Akhtem Chiygoz, Head of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar national assembly, posted a photo of himself with former political prisoner Ismail Ramazanov with a Crimean Tatar flag in the background at the rally, commenting, “Crimean Tatars don’t support the Steinmeier formula. More and more of us at the Maidan. Crimea is Ukraine!

Other cities

Rallies in other cities were much smaller than in the capital, with the number of participants ranging from just several activists up to around 1,000 people.Here are the photographs of the Viche protests in Odesa, Lviv, Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih, Kharkiv, Sumy, Poltava, Mykolayiv, and other cities across Ukraine.

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DonbasThe “Let’s stop Capitulation” rallies in the government-controlled part of the Donbas region deserve a special mention. The demonstrations took place in the cities and towns of Toretsk, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast and in Luhansk Oblasts’s Severodonetsk.The Donbas town of Toretsk and its front-line suburb Novhorodske face occupied Horlivka across the front-line. The area is one of the hottest spots of the half-decade long trench war, and it risks falling into the demilitarized “gray zone” and later be occupied without fighting as it occurred to the village of Kominternove in the south of Donetsk Oblast in 2015 after Ukrainian troops left the location according to the Minsk peace accords.New York was the name of Novhorodske since its foundation by the colonists of the German origin in 1892 until 1951 when the name became unfavorable for the Soviets amid the cold war, but the town’s old “American” name has occasionally been used by the local residents until now.This photograph features the protesters in the foreground of the front line, slag heaps of occupied Horlivka can be seen on the skyline. The activists are holding the sign reading, “Don’t pull out the Ukrainian troops from New York”:

“No to capitulation” in Novhorodske. Photo: Volodymyr Yelets/ Facebook

Government reaction

Andriy Bohdan, Head of the President’s Office, had attempted to dismiss the protest as ungenuine by publishing several screenshots of unknown origin ostensibly showing that “Let’s stop capitulation” protesters were offered ridiculous money of ¢40 and $4 for participatiing in the Kyiv rally. Bohdan’s comment was “Soon, some very scared person will give away everything stolen to the people.” It hinted at former President Petro Poroshenko, accusing whom of wrongdoings of various kinds was one of the cornerstones of Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign.Meanwhile, a video of a foiled provocation emerged during the rally in which a young man admits to an activist and a police officer that he was giving away souvenir 100 UAH banknotes ($4) to his friends in the crowd. Photographs and videos of this could be later used as fake evidence of Bohdan’s allegations in the press and on social media.


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