The West should not be fooled by what looks as “concessions” by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to the opposition, writes Lesya Orobets.
Lesya Orobets is a Ukrainian politician and MP from the Batkivshchyna party of Yulia Tymoshenko. She published this text on her Facebook page. EurActiv republishes it without editing.
“At a present moment NO concessions were made by Yanukovich. These are tactical goals of steps undertaken ("voluntary resignation" of Azarov, "repeal of dictatorship laws"):
- to save foreign assets of Yanukovich's family, his circle and oligarchs from immediate sanctions by Western governments;
- to defeat the informational wave in Western media by making an illusion of "compromise" and "normalisation";
- to avoid harming Putin's Olympics with a background of poorly veiled intervention into internal affairs of Ukraine.
Yanukovich's strategic goal is as it ever was - brutal and complete repression of protests all over the country and affirming of Yanukovich's lifetime reign as by Russian-Belarussian model. There are no changes in authorities' actions whatsoever. Today again dozens of activists were convicted to detention; almost hundred people have gone missing; the police and interior forces keep kidnapping random pedestrians on the streets, raiding hospitals and driving away in unknown direction; hired thugs armed with metal pipes, batons, traumatic pistols are brought in the cities where demonstrations took place. "Berkut" is roaming in buses with no number plates, truck cranes with no plates have built a concrete barricade in the government quarter in Kyiv. Monday's government meeting decreed to increase "Berkut" numbers from 5,000 to 30,000. Moreover, government allowed itself to enact the state of emergency without consulting the parliament. The curfew and limitation of free movement are by all intents and purposes already in place in the centre of Kyiv for the last 1,5 months. Individual terror, intimidation, activists cars' arson are widely used tactics - especially in Eastern Ukraine - and were on the rise today, at a day of "repeal of dictatorship laws". Government's manipulative messages:
- Message 1: Azarov's resignation means reformatting of the government.
This is absolutely untrue in Ukrainian circumstances. According to the current Constitution any minister (except Prime Minister), deputy minister or key official is appointed by a Presidential decree. President can dismiss any of those at any moment too. Yanukovich could have dismiss Azarov, Zakhartchenko or anyone else at the very beginning of December 2013 events. Furthermore, current government can still continue working as "temporarily acting" for 60 days without any changes whatsoever. In current state of affairs, it can continue working as "temporarily acting" practically indefinitely.
- Message 2: Repeal of "January 16-th laws" is a significant concession.
The 16 January laws were deliberately impracticable, nothing but a trick made to exchange their repeal for real concessions from the opposition, and also to give the police officers, prosecutors and judges a free roam for pseudo-legality of mass beatings and kidnapping of opposition activists.
- Message 3: A coalition government including both Party of Regions and the opposition will be appointed, soothing the confrontation and allowing for political compromise.
This is a theoretical construction based on democratic Western practices, not taking into account
- the current Constitution of Ukraine (giving the president a power to dismiss any minister, say a week after appointment);
- the concentration of power in Yanukovich's hands (in Western society, for example, prosecutor's office isn't a big pawn in the political game, while in Ukraine control over the prosecution and courts grants 100% of political power);
- a total collapse of Ukrainian economy and state finances and a total corruption built by Yanukovich's inner circle.
- Message 4: A working group is needed to change the Constitution.
The Constitutional court is headed by the former municipal judge from Yenakiieve, Yanukovich's birth town. They are close acquaintances. It was the Constitutional court that "repealed" the previous Constitution (the fruit of a compromise during the Orange revolution, that managed to balance the power branches) and "brought back" the Constitution of Kuchma's times. No working group or parliament's act is needed to bring back the democratic balanced Constitution. The working group is meant to buy time - to quench activists countrywide with thugs, to grow "Berkut" troops' numbers and to weaken the protesters on Maidan, carrying on in the -10 to -25 centigrade cold (+14 to -13 Fahrenheit). Yanukovich can simply instruct his fellow countryman and protégé to annul his previous ruling, and this can be done within 24 hours. I urge western diplomats, media and public to avoid extrapolating democratic realities onto the modern Ukraine, and judge Yanukovichs by his real deeds, not tricks meant for the spectators.”