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Monday, 30 June 2014

A familiar Russian playbook — Opinion — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

A familiar Russian playbook — Opinion — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine:

Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony of receiving credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 27, 2014.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony of receiving credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 27, 2014.
Posted June 30, 2014, at 11:19 a.m.
In fall 1958, when Russian author Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Soviet regime unleashed a campaign of vilification against their native son so brutal that it drove the author, then 68, to contemplate suicide.
Pasternak’s crime was to have written a novel, “Dr. Zhivago,” that did not glorify the Bolshevik Revolution — and to allow the book to be published abroad when Communist authorities banned it at home.
These days, Americans who remember “Dr. Zhivago” likely associate it with the 1965 movie starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif and with the movie’s unforgettable theme song. But in its day the book was a sensation, a bestseller in the West, a scandal in the Soviet Union. The Politburo hated it not so much because it was anti-revolutionary as because it wasn’t preoccupied with ideology one way or the other. It celebrated the individual — human love and ambition, poetry and the quest for meaning — in ways the Communist Party couldn’t tolerate.
This is recalled in an immensely compelling new book, “The Zhivago Affair,” co-authored by my Post colleague Peter Finn and Petra Couvee. The book draws on previously unpublished documents, Russian and American, to richly portray the complex author (including his highly complex love life), as well as CIA efforts to get the Russian-language version of “Dr. Zhivago” into Russians’ hands.
At a moment when Kremlin authorities again are orchestrating a hate-filled propaganda campaign — this time against supposed “Nazis” and “fascists” in neighboring Ukraine — the book’s account of the smearing of Pasternak has particular resonance.
It must have taken enormous strength to spend more than a decade working on a 700-page novel — Pasternak’s first; until then, he had written only poetry — that swam against everything that was rewarded and permitted in his closed world.
“Nobody could have written it in a totalitarian state and turned it loose on the world,” the American critic Edmund Wilson wrote in the New Yorker, “who did not have the courage of genius.”
Yet when Nikita Khrushchev trained the party against him, Pasternak nearly broke. “I think it’s time to leave this life, it’s too much,” he told a friend.
Pravda and other official newspapers called him a traitor, a Judas, a Nazi collaborator who should be expelled from the country or, as one fellow writer said, shot. A speech partially dictated by Khrushchev compared him unfavorably to a pig, which at least “never makes a mess where it eats or sleeps.” Friends were summoned to denounce him. In a country where writers had been routinely executed or sent to the gulag for minor sins or no sin at all, few resisted, though one threw himself out a window to his death rather than comply.
“There would be no mercy, that was clear,” a friend wrote in his diary.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin, having ended Russia’s brief experiment with democracy and press freedom, is leading a similar campaign, this time to justify his aggression in Ukraine and undermine that country’s effort to chart an independent course. Russians cannot escape what a New York Times news article described as constant “bluster and hyperbole, . . . misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies” portraying Ukrainian officials and activists as anti-Russian Nazis and warmongers. The campaign worked, at least for a time, to stoke war fever and raise Putin’s popularity.
But Pasternak’s story is a warning against drawing historical lessons too soon. The author was forced to renounce the Nobel prize, but he rallied to embark on another ambitious work, a play, before dying, at age 70, in 1960.
“You are younger than I, and you will live to see a time when people take a different view of what has happened,” he wrote one of his critics. He was right.
“That I spoke against Pasternak is my shame,” one poet later said, and even Khrushchev — deposed by fellow Politburo members in 1964 — said he was “truly sorry for the way [he] behaved toward Pasternak.”
“The Zhivago Affair” also carries a useful reminder that public opinion can be difficult to assess in countries where the government, like the Politburo then and Putin today, rules through fear.
Virtually no one dared defend Pasternak when the Kremlin declared him an enemy. But when he died, uncelebrated in the official press, notes disclosing the date and time of his burial began appearing, handwritten and taped to the wall, in the Moscow station from which trains departed to Pasternak’s village.
“When they were torn down by the police, new ones took their place,” Finn and Couvee write. And when Pasternak’s friends and relatives emerged from his house, carrying his casket on the way to a nearby cemetery, thousands of Russians were waiting outside, ignoring the intimidating presence of KGB agents, determined to pay their respects.
Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor at The Washington Post.
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#Ukraine Crisis: American Exceptionalism Vs. Russian Eurasianism - Analysis | Eurasia Review - an Iranian view

Ukraine Crisis: American Exceptionalism Vs. Russian Eurasianism - Analysis | Eurasia Review:

By Behzad Khoshandam
The current situation of hostility, conflict and lack of balance and equilibrium among political groups and forces in Ukraine in 2014 is simply an extension of the tension and lack of reconciliation that existed among the world’s major political players following the end of the Cold War. For this reason, the crisis in Ukraine is actually an acute international crisis in 2014, which has already drawn great attention from many global actors, including Iranian political elite and citizens.
The main question is this: “What is the principal reason behind Ukraine’s crisis within the international world system from an Iranian viewpoint?” To answer this question, however, we would need to first answer a more basic one. The basic question is “which geographical region will be the gravity center of the future world’s political developments?” In answer to this question, one may daresay that Eurasia will be the gravity center of political conflicts in the future world. As a result, the foreign policy approach adopted by the United States within framework of the international system at the beginning of the third millennium, especially in its confrontation with other big global powers, including Russia, can be considered as the main reason behind the ongoing crisis in Ukraine in 2014. Therefore, from an Iranian standpoint, 2014 crisis in Ukraine reflects the climax of the confrontation between the United States’ exceptionalism and Russia’s excessive Eurasianism.
To analyze the importance of this crisis for Iran’s national interests, first due attention should be paid to true nature and goals of Iran’s foreign policy approach toward neighboring regions, in particular with respect to the country’s relations with big powers. Of special significance in this regard are Iran’s relations with the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
When analyzing this crisis from an Iranian viewpoint, a major issue to be taken into account is the situation of driving forces behind the Ukraine crisis as well as the players and forces that affect its course. Such driving forces include Eurasianism, Americanism, soft revolution, Slavism, ethnicism, extremist nationalism, pivot strategy in the US foreign policy, Euroscepticism, globalization, the idea of a global NATO, Russophobia, and the issue of energy security. Another driving force to be reckoned with here is the possible conclusion of a new version of the Treaty of Rapallo at international level between Russia and Germany under present circumstances.
To discuss an Iranian viewpoint on this issue, it should be noted that the reason why Ukrainian crisis is important to global political equations in 2014 is the key role that it can potentially play for ushering in a new round of Cold War. This crisis is capable of giving birth to new coalitions and novel equations in Russia’s near abroad and the whole region of Eurasia.
As for the future outlook of the crisis, the Iranian viewpoint to this crisis can be offered in two optimistic and pessimistic versions. According to the optimistic viewpoint, the ongoing crisis will be finally resolved through diplomacy as well as bilateral and multilateral negotiations. The pessimists, on the opposite, believe that the crisis in Ukraine will gradually go deeper. As a result, the nature, course and consequences of this crisis will give rise to a new configuration of separatist and interventionist developments in the international arena.
At the first sight, it may seem that the crisis in Ukraine has nothing to do with Iran. However, a more profound and serious analysis will reveal that since the beginning of the crisis, Iran has condemned intervention in the country as well as extremist measures taken there. In line with the nature and goals of its foreign policy, Tehran has also slammed the use of violence in issues of global importance, separatism, and intervention of foreign forces in international crises like that of Ukraine. The Islamic Republic has also put considerable emphasis on the need to resolve the crisis in Ukraine by main groups involved in that crisis while underlining the need for those groups to avoid all kinds of violent acts.
The new Iranian administration, which came to office following elections in 2013, is profoundly committed to Iran’s neutrality in line with the “constructive interaction” approach it has taken in its foreign policy. Under present circumstances, while voicing its opposition to unilateralism, separatism, and any effort aimed at undermining convergence of countries on regional and international issues, Iran has frequently declared its firm support for regional problems to be managed by regional players in a fair manner and away from all forms of discrimination or application of double standards.
Today, Iran is a rational, proactive, and institutionalist player in the area of foreign policy. While being heavily involved in negotiations over its nuclear energy program with the P5+1 group of world powers, Iran takes most of its large-scale and basic decisions on the basis of bureaucratic processes and through collective decisions that have their roots in the exchange of viewpoints as well as profound, complicated and multifaceted consultations among experts. As put by the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, in his book, The Age of Deception, Iran is currently a democracy bound within a system of theocracy where the majority of decisions on foreign policy are taken through lengthy bureaucratic processes. As a result, the present-day Iran not only rejects bandwagoning policies that rely on a hegemonic power, but also puts the highest degree of emphasis on constructive and purposive interaction with international players. The past experience of Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 group up to the end of June 2014 proves that Iran considers diplomacy a key approach to the resolution of international problems. As a result, while rejecting such policies as separatism and interventionism as well as multilateral and bilateral sanctions, the Islamic Republic believes that even under the conditions of a new Cold War in international arena, resolution of such crises as that of Ukraine hinges on the use of diplomacy and political mechanisms that pave the way for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
From an Iranian viewpoint, the crisis of Ukraine in 2014 and intervention of transregional forces in political equations of Europe, Russia’s near abroad, and Caucasus will, sooner or later, reach its final stages. However, the strategic importance of Eurasia, Iran, and use of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy in strategic equations of the 21st century will continue to be among top priorities of international political agenda. The intervention by transregional forces at subregional levels, such as in Eastern Europe, will finally come to its end as all international crises do. However, geopolitical importance of major achievements of the contemporary world, one of which is the utility of diplomacy and negotiations, will be sustained in the course of the distribution of global and regional power through future developments of the world.
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#Ukraine's Poroshenko: bustle and brio, but is he a match for Putin? | Reuters @Programa_PP

Ukraine's Poroshenko: bustle and brio, but is he a match for Putin? | Reuters:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko takes part in a meeting of the Security Council in Kiev June 16, 2014.

(Reuters) - Three weeks into his job, Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko looks like a man in a hurry.
He's a bustling hive of activity. Judging by his website, he's rarely off the phone to one world leader or another.
He has defied Russia's President Vladimir Putin and nailed down an elusive landmark free trade deal that will shift his country into mainstream Europe.
He has won plaudits from the West's political elite for his tough but pragmatic decisions in handling the separatist crisis that threatens his country with break-up.
But now the 48-year-old confectionery tycoon needs to perform a perilous balancing act if he's to stabilise Ukraine in the face of potential new trade reprisals from Moscow after signing the European Union deal.
While he is articulate, resilient and energetic, his nemesis Putin is a political fox and a master tactician, who has annexed Crimea and seems to have it in his powers to decide, with a word, the outcome in Ukraine's rebellious east.
"Putin is a difficult and crafty opponent ... It's like a boxing match between different weights - if Russia is the super heavyweight, then Ukraine is in the middle-weight category," commented Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst.
However, political insiders say Poroshenko, the man they call the "Chocolate King", has a hard centre.
His performance before European Union leaders in Brussels was a slick tour de force, delivered in fluent English and exuding humour and self-confidence - a stark contrast with Viktor Yanukovich, his Moscow-backed predecessor known for a leaden style and cultural gaffes.
Showing a flash of humour that enlivened EU leaders immediately, he flourished a commemorative pen embossed with the November 2013 date of the EU's Vilnius summit - the occasion when Yanukovich balked at signing the same trade deal and sparked a people's revolt that ultimately chased him from power.
"What a great day!" Poroshenko declared.
That he can display such a light touch given his array of problems wins him respect and friends in high places.
Political insiders say his handling of the separatist crisis shows there steel behind the charm, after he warned of a "detailed Plan B" - a government offensive - if his ceasefire strategy is rejected by the rebels.
Speaking in the German parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel this past week praised the "very courageous step" he took by announcing a ceasefire on June 20.
But after the bout of high diplomacy with the Europeans, he is back to the hard part in Ukraine - where guns and mortar fire still sound across the badlands of the east and the bodies pile up despite ceasefires and the release of international monitors.
During the heady "Euro-maidan" revolution, he showed political canniness in quietly launching himself for the presidency while cleverly avoiding the unpopularity that doomed the bid of other members of the old political establishment.
He served as foreign minister and minister of trade in two different administrations while managing a business empire - including a TV news channel called Fifth Channel - which Forbes values at around $1.3 billion.
But he remains a relative novice alongside the veteran Putin who plays energy and big business cards ruthlessly to navigate his course on the global stage.
Poroshenko holds few trumps in the range of issues which divides Kiev from Kremlin policy including gas, the rights of Russian-speakers in Ukraine - and now trade.
"Poroshenko can sort out the situation in the country only with Putin's help and without fighting Putin," said Mykhilo Pohrebynsky, head of Kiev's Centre for Political and Conflict Studies.
"Putin is his strategic partner. If Putin continues to take the line of making Ukrainian problems worse, then Poroshenko will never manage to handle him."
Beyond the glow of the EU summit, Poroshenko's leverage appears limited for getting Moscow to end its support for the separatists - let alone winning back Crimea.
Rather than removing barricades and leaving occupied buildings, the rebels in some parts of the east are seizing new premises and setting up new checkpoints.
Poroshenko knows his "anti-terrorist operation" will have only limited success against the rebels as long as the 1,900-km (1,200-mile) border with Russia remains unsealed to volunteer fighters and incoming supplies of Russian weapons.
Soon after being elected by a landslide in May, he said he wanted a speedy end to the separatist rebellion and appeared to set store by a military crackdown - despite the army's patchy performance until then.
And though he won a mandate across the whole of the divided country, which was unusual for a Ukrainian president, he knows use of force risks rebounding and alienating the Russian-speaking people of the east he needs to reach out to.
His peace plan aims to cut the ground from under the separatists by pushing reforms that will bring greater autonomy and expand Russian language rights.
But this is a long-term project that can scarcely take root while battle rages in his divided country.
Putin, by turns, steadily ups the pressure, offering limited support for Poroshenko's peace plan - when it suits - but then suggesting the Ukrainians may have breached the ceasefire and pressing Kiev to engage rebel leaders in talks.
Despite his unease, Poroshenko has now given tacit backing to primary contacts with rebel leaders through former President Leonid Kuchma.
Only Western sanctions appear to be able to influence Kremlin policy. The EU warned last week it could impose more sanctions on Moscow unless rebels began to wind down their activities - but even then the effect on Kremlin policy is open to question.
Beyond the security crisis in the east, Poroshenko faces enormous challenges on other fronts.
He took over a near-bankrupt country whose coffers are being drained further now by the war effort in the east.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk pointedly told the International Monetary Fund it should take this into account when it considered disbursing further bailout aid.
Meanwhile, his ministers are locked again in a battle with Moscow over the price Kiev must pay for strategic supplies of Russian natural gas - an issue always linked to the prevailing state of bilateral relations.
Further back on the agenda is how to tackle rampant corruption and restore the sort of governance that will transform his country of 46 million into a modern European state and allow it one day to realistically aspire to EU membership.
"He has made a positive start on many fronts. There is a lot of goodwill out there for him," one Western diplomat and long-time observer of Ukraine said.
"But the reality is that Poroshenko is reliant on somebody else to solve every single issue confronting him - security, internal or economic. That is his problem."
'via Blog this'

Friday, 27 June 2014



He's a bil­lion­aire, an old pal of Putin's, and owner of Roshen, the world's 18th biggest con­fec­tionery busi­ness. But does Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's new pres­i­dent, have what it takes to smooth over con­flicts with Rus­sia and sweet-talk the EU?
Ukraine is going through a par­tic­u­larly rough patch. 2013 ended with protests and riots about for­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich's mis­man­age­ment of Ukraine's del­i­cate re­la­tion­ships with both Rus­sia and the Eu­ro­pean Union. Since then, Yanukovich has been ousted, and things have got­ten steadily worse, with eco­nomic ten­sions in­creas­ing, the an­nex­ing of Crimea and con­flict on an in­creas­ingly large scale. In a coun­try with an av­er­age salary of just £142 a month, fi­nan­cial ties with its neigh­bour­ing pow­er­houses of Rus­sia and the EU are of the ut­most im­por­tance. Petro Poroshenko, who pre­vi­ously served as the sec­ond min­is­ter of trade and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, was sworn in as pres­i­dent on the sev­enth of June, amid great hopes for the fu­ture of the coun­try. Hav­ing sworn to put an end to the fight­ing and mend ties with both zones, Poroshenko has found him­self at an im­passe – his cease­fire went up in smoke, and the sit­u­a­tion is be­gin­ning to look as if it's not as under con­trol as he would have liked.
June 27th will bring Poroshenko's sign­ing of an as­so­ci­a­tion agree­ment with the EU. But just how is this busi­ness­man-cum-politi­cian set to keep every­body sweet while mak­ing sure he has a fin­ger in all the pies?


De­mo­c­ra­t­i­cally elected, Poroshenko sur­prised the west by gain­ing clear-cut pop­u­lar­ity so soon after riots ousted an­other rich, well-con­nected politi­cian from gov­ern­ment. With the eco­nomic cli­mate pre­sent­ing prob­lems to your Ukrain­ian every­man, Poroshenko, with his$1.3 bil­lion em­pire and ver­i­ta­ble man­sion just out­side of Kiev, may not seem the ideal choice. How­ever, the elec­torate is not to be pre­dicted, and his land­slide vic­tory was seen as a true po­ten­tial cat­a­lyst for change.

His ties with Rus­sia are com­plex. Happy to ac­cept the con­tin­ued use of the Russ­ian lan­guage in the east, Poroshenko has al­ways re­mained clear in his re­fusal to en­gage with sep­a­ratists. How­ever, he made it clear back in 2009, when he was work­ing as for­eign min­is­ter, that he thought the way for­ward for Ukraine was as a part of NATO. Strangely, this was some­thing he left out of his pres­i­den­tial man­i­festo.
Is it ver­sa­til­ity that has led to so much of Poroshenko's suc­cess? In pol­i­tics, he has cer­tainly learnt how to jug­gle: in 2000, he founded the Party of Re­gions, through which Yanukovich rose to glory. After only a year, he was a lead­ing sup­porter of Yushchenko (the pres­i­dent of Ukraine from2005-2010)'s Our Ukraine party. Hav­ing also served as for­eign min­is­ter will surely also have paved the way for man­ag­ing the cat-and-mouse game Ukraine must play with the rest of the world.


His suc­cess can be at­trib­uted in part to his own­ing a TV sta­tion, to which he is reg­u­larly in­vited for in­ter­views. Not dis­sim­i­lar to the TV de­bates that have worked so suc­cess­fully in the UK to af­firm politi­cians' self-brand­ing, this may be part of the se­cret of Poroshenko's sur­pris­ing pop­u­lar­ity.
Ivan Lo­zowy, an in­de­pen­dent pol­icy an­a­lyst, stated be­fore the elec­tions: “There is noth­ing that he's re­ally done in the short or medium term that even sticks out a lit­tle bit.” Pay­ing to ar­ti­fi­cially boost rank­ings in polls is al­legedly com­mon prac­tice in Ukraine, and Lo­zowy thinks Poroshenko must have used this strat­egy, as he was so un­heard of be­fore the polls.
Per­haps it is only the res­i­dents of Vin­nyt­sia who un­der­stand Poroshenko's true ap­peal. His two con­fec­tionery fac­to­ries in this city have pro­vided over 5000 jobs for lo­cals, all paid at a higher rate than the norm. Add to this Poroshenko's gift to the city: the biggest danc­ing water show in Eu­rope, con­sid­ered one of the most im­pres­sive in the world and equipped with danc­ing lasers and in­built music. In a speech he de­liv­ered there, he claimed that under his pres­i­dency, "What we've man­aged in Vin­nyt­sia, we'll do in the en­tire coun­try.” An im­pres­sive claim, given the high-qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture and clean­li­ness for which the city is renowned.
But Poroshenko's pre­vi­ous suc­cess – both po­lit­i­cal and com­mer­cial – must surely be weigh­ing on his mind at this point. When 40% of his own in­come comes from Rus­sia, his po­si­tion is be­com­ing more pre­car­i­ous, fi­nan­cially. This has, how­ever, gar­nered him some pub­lic sym­pa­thy – when the trade war with Rus­sia forced an em­bargo on Roshen con­fec­tionery, Poroshenko's busi­ness suf­fered.
With his sights con­tin­u­ally low­er­ing since his elec­tion, it is in­creas­ingly un­clear as to where Ukraine's fu­ture lies. One thing is for sure, Ukraine's fu­ture is now in­trin­si­cally linked to this charis­matic enigma of a politi­cian'via Blog this'

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Speech of President of #Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the PACE session | Ukraine Crisis Media Center | UACRISIS.ORG

Speech of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the PACE session | Ukraine Crisis Media Center | UACRISIS.ORG:

Madam President!
Dear Secretary General!
Dear members of the Assembly!
Dear participants!
Thank you for the invitation to speak before the Assembly.
I am grateful for the opportunity to convey to this respected forum the voice of the Ukrainian people from different parts of Ukraine – eastern and western, northern and southern, free and occupied.
Only a month has passed since the completion of the presidential campaign in the course of which I have travelled all over Ukraine.
I saw it as a peace-loving, hospitable to everyone and European state – not only by location, but also by vocation.
Ukraine has always been a hospitable home for all who came in peace.
Unfortunately, today this home is in danger.
There is a force that came to Ukraine not in peace.
Words like “annexation”, “separatism”, “mercenaries” emerged in our everyday vocabulary again.
What can we do to stop violence and prevent its transformation into a full-scale war?
Unfortunately, today, this issue concerns not only Ukraine. It concerns the whole Europe.
Dear members of the Assembly!
It all started last November when the previous government deprived Ukrainians of their dream refusing the European integration, not asking Ukrainians and not giving anything except corruption and disregard for human dignity. Ukraine got up and the Revolution of Dignity began. The people gained victory. This victory was gained with blood and numerous victims.
Russia, which twenty years ago in exchange for nuclear weapons promised to take care of the sovereignty of Ukraine, contrary to the Great Agreement between Ukraine and Russia, contrary to the Budapest Memorandum which promised peace in exchange for the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, became the aggressor and destroyed the stability of this region.
And alongside it destroyed the system of “checks and balances” in the modern world.
In this place, I would like to express gratitude on behalf of all Ukrainians to the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly in particular for the immediate response to military aggression. Ukraine certainly needs it.
The decisions of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly create a legal basis for further restoration of justice and protection of rights of all people who live on the occupied territories.
We must stop the funding and armament of terrorist groups in Donetsk and Luhansk regions by Russia. In fact, it is the second phase of aggression.
We saw this in Georgia in 2008.
Unfortunately, in 2014, it is taking place at the cost of the sovereignty of Ukraine.
And the question “who is next?” is still open. That’s why Europe should demonstrate unity and solidarity today.
For the problem of Europe today is the absence of a real mechanism to maintain peace, protect territorial integrity and democracy.
For the post-war model has been destroyed and it is our responsibility to create a new model today.
Without a sense of reality it is easy to create public ground for aggression.
Unfortunately, Russian society is full of aggression today. It is the basis of both policy and public attitude to Ukraine of the Russian Federation.
But Ukraine counters it with confidence and moral power.
It is apparent, that normalization of our relations is impossible without the return of the Crimea.
But we are the men of peace. That’s why the government of Ukraine and I, as President, came forward with an initiative of peace plan. For there should be dialogue and willingness to reach an agreement to save people’s lives.
Dear members of the Assembly!
Conflicts cause the biggest losses for ordinary citizens. We can definitely see this in the occupied Crimea. We see the violation of political, language and cultural rights of citizens.
As always, national minorities suffer the most. Crimean Tatars and ethnical Ukrainians are objects for discrimination today.
Every day we receive new complaints on the violation of freedom of speech and media, rights to education, religion, citizenship, residence, labor, land ownership, access to healthcare and education.
In problematic regions in the East of Ukraine the situation is even worse. Illegal armed groups are trying to establish the dictatorship of violence. Kidnapping, illegal detainment, murders, tortures, disappearances and persecutions became part of life of the affected areas.
With the assistance of the international organizations – the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the OSCE, we are documenting all these violations.
They must receive an adequate response from the international community. A thorough analysis is essential here, particularly in the context of future court appeals by which Ukraine will protect itself.
Presidential elections became an important step towards restoration of peace and order.
We hosted a record number of international observers.
Having received the support of voters, I presented the primary agenda of my presidency – unity, restoration of peace and security.
Peace and security is what Ukrainians in the Donbas are striving for. They dream to return to normal life without people dying and hostages being tortured.
Today, there are 174 hostages, almost 150 killed and more than 300 wounded. In less than a week of ceasefire, 18 Ukrainian servicemen were killed, 27 were wounded. Two days ago, a 10 month-old baby was killed by the grenade explosion.
But we strive for peace and this simple non-political desire contains the essence of my peace plan.
It comes down to the termination of violence, amnesty for those who didn’t commit serious crimes, stabilization of the situation and after that – the implementation of aspirations of residents of the affected regions.
We must return the internal processes to a civilized framework. If we do this, we will restore not only peace, but also trust.
Then, we will first of all take care of the economy and infrastructure because every day we receive new information on the tasks to be fulfilled and the objects destroyed.
Nobody wants people to be killed. The plan provides for the framework of political settlement on the basis of de-escalation, stabilization and dialogue. Its implementation is being discussed in the framework of Trilateral contact group with participation of representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the EU.
The necessary precondition is ceasefire. Before my plan was made public, it was discussed with representatives of all local legitimate governmental bodies of the Donbas and business elite representing the biggest industrial production of Donetsk region. They all supported it unanimously.
The unilateral cease-fire became effective as of 10 p.m. on 20 June and will last until 10 p.m. tomorrow.
Our task has been to switch from military defence of the border to control by peaceful means. Once that is sustainable, we will look to the OSCE to step up its efforts in establishing strict, unbiased monitoring on the ground and at every check point to stop the in-flow of insurgents, tanks and armoured vehicles.
We are ready to call officially on the Russian representatives to get involved in monitoring the Ukraine border to ensure that the obligations that we have undertaken are strictly observed.
The peace plan was supported by all major countries of the world and Ukraine is extremely grateful to them for that.
At the same time, it is clear that the peace plan will work only if Russia plays along.
Sadly, so far Moscow’s support has been insufficient.
It is good news that the Russian Federation Council is not going to declare war on Ukraine.
But, while Russia has not declared war, war is being waged at this very minute because it has not pulled back its mercenaries, so well equipped and highly motivated militants are coming in.
During our phone conversation with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, President Putin pledged his support for the peace plan. We now hope that real progress will be made.
From this podium I urge Russia once again to contribute to resolving the situation.
Please support the peace plan with deeds and not just words. With deeds, we can stop the deaths of military and civilian people who uphold and defend the territorial integrity and unity of the country, so we await those actions.
Strengthen the border control. Stop the illegal infiltration of military vehicles into Ukraine. Stop recruiting mercenaries and, finally, pull back military forces from the border.
The people of Ukraine do not want war or anarchy.
We will not permit the ideas of separatism, which have been planted in Ukraine unofficially from outside.
Ukraine is solid and unified. It is vital to stop the lies and hatred being spread by Russian media, which do not contribute to the restoration of peace.
The regions and local communities strive for more authority at the local level and more autonomy in decision making. They also want the right to speak and sing songs in the languages they choose and to lay wreaths of flowers on monuments as they see fit.
All of that will be provided to them by the decentralisation of power programme in my proposed constitutional amendment. The Parliament today registered those draft amendments to the Constitution.
Never before in Ukraine has a president who won the election and therefore had the authority to nominate the heads of local districts and regions called to devolve power to the regions.
I believe that that idea will be supported by the Ukrainian Parliament now.
The early local elections are to be held in Ukraine in connection with the amendments to the Constitution so that the elected leaders of the territorial councils will receive new powers and responsibilities. The elected representatives will establish local councils, which in turn will form executive committees.
A separate problem is the restoration of the economy in the Donetsk region. I am pleased that, with our partners from the European Union and the United States of America, we have drawn up a job creation programme that will attract investment and a draft programme on economic reconstruction for the region that will settle the distribution of funds between the centre and the regions.
Decentralisation reform will be implemented fully in line with the principles of the European charter of local self-government through my amendments to the Constitution.
I support the Council of Europe investigation panel’s view that we should have a discussion with the Secretary General to investigate the use of force at Maidan on 18, 19 and 20 February as well as the tragic events in Odessa on 2 May. We are ready to co-operate so that the world can see that those guilty of those tragedies will be prosecuted.
Dear members of the Assembly!
Ukraine is going through a time of challenge, but also a time of hope.
Our choice is to build a strong democracy that will have a respected place in the family of European nations. Our way is towards the European Union. That is why tomorrow, 27 June, I, as President of Ukraine, will sign the association agreement with the European Union.
The European Union is a success story for us – a state model and time-tested sequence of reforms. When I was asked about the reforms I would make as President, it was very easy for me to answer. Everything is included in the association agreement and we will start implementing it immediately after signing it.
The last aspect is especially important as Ukraine embarks on the path of economic integration and political association with the European Union.
We will surely seize this historic chance. The reforms are long overdue.
Ukraine needs a new social contract. It must give Ukraine a viable system of governance that will protect the citizens from external threats and create the necessary basis for social, economic and cultural development.
At the same time, I want to make it clear that we do not need change at any cost. Some elements are not subject to discussion – the parliamentary-presidential model, the unitary system, European integration, and the existing language system, with one official language plus multiple regional languages, with a comprehensive guarantee of the development and use of every minority language.
Everything else can be subject to wide public debate, and I can assure you that such debates are already under way.
I am confident about the parliamentary elections. The lack of a relevant level of representation is felt especially in the East of Ukraine.
I am confident that the new Parliament will be elected on a new proportional basis with open lists. Voters need to know each candidate personally.
The Government will be formed primarily by the Prime Minister and approved by Parliament. The President should maintain the function of control.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has reiterated many times the need for reform of the judicial and legal systems. The last couple of months have shown how critical such reforms are.
We need more public control over the appointment and work of the judges. We need practical guarantees of the independence of the judiciary from other branches of power.
We have to change the role and functions of the Prosecutor General’s office to transform it from an instrument of persecution to the means of upholding the law and the protection of human rights.
The new basis of the judicial system needs to be duly reflected in the amendments to the Constitution. The fight against corruption, the nomination of judges and the overall modernisation of public service will complete the picture of a new judiciary in Ukraine.
Ladies and gentlemen!
The last couple of months have had a formative effect on our common future. The events in Ukraine are shaping the new Europe, and whether it will be united or split, stable or fragile.
The future and spirit of Europe depend on how the situation in Ukraine is settled – based on international law or on the law of power.
It is a choice that each and every one of us must make on our own.
The turmoil in Ukraine started because the people of our country did not want to say no to democracy and the European approach. It continued because someone decided to punish Ukraine for that choice. It will stop when common sense and European values prevail over aggression.
Help us in that struggle, and tomorrow’s Europe will be united, stable and morally strong.
Thank you very much for the solidarity with Ukraine that you have demonstrated, because we badly need it. Glory to Ukraine!
26.06.2014 18:31
Press office of President

Speech of President of Ukraine at the PACE session

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