The decision of President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych to take time to analyze the proposed Association Agreement with the EU on the EU conditions and not to sign it right away, because it would dramatically worsen the socioeconomic situation in Ukraine and affect Ukrainians, provoked public unrest that eventually culminated in an unconstitutional coup.
A rapid growth of nationalist sentiments, threats by the ‘new authorities’ to invalidate some of the ethnic minorities’ rights, including the rights of the Russian minority made people in the eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine be worried about their future and the future of their children.
Instead of starting a dialogue with these people, Kiev appointed new governors – oligarchs and billionaires – to these regions. This only added to the public discontent. People chose their own leaders, but the new government threw them into prison. Meanwhile, nationalist groups did not surrender their weapons, but threatened to use force in the eastern regions.
In response, people in the east started arming themselves. Refusing to see that something was badly wrong in the Ukrainian state and to start a dialogue, the government threatened to use military force and even sent tanks and aircraft against civilians.
The statements coming from both Kiev and the West about Russia being behind the protests in eastern Ukraine, allegedly staged and financed by “Moscow’s hand” are groundless. There are no Russian units in eastern Ukraine – no special services, no tactical advisors.
People in the eastern regions are talking about federalisation, and Kiev has at long last started talking about decentralisation. In order to come to a mutual understanding they should sit down at the negotiating table and search for an acceptable solution. Order in the country can only be restored through dialogue and democratic procedures. This should not be a sham dialogue between the representatives of the authorities, but a dialogue with the people to find the compromise.
What is happening now with the presidential candidates and the presidential race in Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable. Candidates from the east are being assaulted, spattered with ink and kept from meeting with voters.
Without changes to the constitution, the new election cannot be held because Mr Yanukovych remains the incumbent president. According to the constitution, a new president cannot be elected if there is a living incumbent and legitimate president. So if the election is to be legitimate, the constitution must be changed. Only then can there be talk about federalisation and decentralisation.