Ukrainian Opposition Party Demands Zelensky Resign for Failure to Return Donbass to Kiev’s Control
© Sputnik / СтрингерUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference on the first anniversary of his presidency, May 20, 2020.
© Sputnik / Стрингер/
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he recognized the independence of the two Donbass republics the day prior because the Minsk Protocol for peace in the region had been “killed” by Kiev’s inaction.
On Tuesday, the party Opposition Platform - For Life issued a statement calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to resign. The centrist opposition party has 44 seats in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, and opposes the decommunization and Ukrainization policies of the post-2014 nationalist coup government.
“The situation that is now developing around the Donbass is a terrible result of the inactivity and lack of will of the authorities. In the elections, two-thirds of Ukrainian voters voted for peace, the return of Ukraine to Donbass and Donbass to Ukraine. But the government, which had a huge credit of public trust, failed to cope with this task of national importance,” the statement reads.
“For two and a half years, despite the calls of Ukraine's foreign partners, the Ukrainian opposition, the demands of citizens, and Ukraine's international obligations, not a single step has been taken towards the implementation of the political part of the Minsk agreements, peace and unity,” the statement continues.
“On the contrary, the representatives of the authorities repeatedly declared that they were unprofitable, demanded that they be revised and simply refused to comply. In the end, the followers of [former Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko's policy ignored the international contractual framework for the return of Donbass and led the country to a serious escalation of the conflict.”
“Opposition Platform - For Life believes that the government, which failed the task of restoring peace and returning Donbass, should leave. The country and its citizens should not pay for the cowardice, ambitions and irresponsibility of politicians. The defeat of Zelensky’s government should not be a defeat for the country.”
A former television actor and comedian, Zelensky hails from the Russophone Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih and is a native Russian-speaker. He won an unlikely bid for the presidency in April 2019 running on a platform of peace in the Donbass, winning a landslide against Poroshenko, the incumbent leader who had been president since May 2014.
"I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case, we will continue in the direction of the Minsk [peace] talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire," Zelensky said at the time.
The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the Donbass region declared independence from Ukraine in April 2014, following a US-backed coup by nationalists in Kiev, who set about attempting to remove the status of Russian as a national language of Ukraine. About one-third of Ukrainians speak Russian as a first language and most Ukrainians speak Russian in their daily lives; however, two predominantly Russophone regions - Crimea and the Donbass - took up arms and declared independence from Kiev. Crimea then voted to join the Russian Federation, but the Donbass republics fought Kiev for autonomy in a war that has claimed at least 14,000 lives.
The Minsk Protocol, agreed to by Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was supposed to pave the way for peace in the region.
On Monday, following a severe decline in the situation in the Donbass, Putin honored the requests of the two Donbass republics and of the Russian State Duma to recognize the republics as independent states. He said the following day that the Minsk agreement was dead and had been for a long time.
On Tuesday, a draft resolution was introduced to the Rada to declare martial law in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and to close all transport links with the Russian Federation and Belarus.