23 January 2014, 07:41

Ukraine: Yanukovych seeking compromise, opposition not interested - expert

Ukraine: Yanukovych seeking compromise, opposition not interested - expert

Ukraine's government and opposition are continuing negotiations in seeking an end to their current conflict and are tentatively planning the next round of talks for Thursday. Ukrainian opposition leaders said that they are goint to take offensive if President Viktor Yanukovych would not accept concessions. Professor Nicolai Petro from the Department of Political Science at University of Rhode Island commented on the issue in an interview with the VoR.

Is restricting protests an effective way of preventing unnecessary violence, in your opinion?

I have my doubts that it is going to work as a strategy because I am not convinced that the political leaders of the opposition are actually in control of the processes on the streets right now. It seems to me that they have been taken over by more radical elements who are determined to push a confrontation that they believe they can win with the government.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych talked with the opposition today. Do you think the talks are indeed aimed at reaching a compromise?

I believe that president Yanukovych and the government is seeking a compromise which will allow the political conflict to enter a constitutional framework. But I do not believe that the leaders of the parliamentary opposition are interested in that outcome and I believe even less that they have control over the more radical elements on the streets. I believe those two constituencies in the opposition are not interested in a political compromise and the political solution to this crisis.

What are the protests really about? Do they still have to do with Ukraine siding with the EU or Russia, or is it just an internal dissatisfaction of Ukraine’s citizens with their government reaching a critical point?

I believe it is very unfocused right now. If you speak to any individual in Maidan or to any Ukrainian anywhere, they will have a long list of grievances and some of them believe that those are sufficient to bring down the government and demand early parliamentary elections and resignation of the president and others believe that they should wait another year for the constitutional process and new elections to be called. But there is no clear agenda at this point for those protesting in the streets. There is simply a very assorted group of people who more than anything else resemble a mob.

The EU, the US, and Russia have all warned that the situation in Ukraine is getting out of hand. Should we expect the situation to worsen in the coming days?

I believe that the only solution out of this current impasse is for the government to impose long order. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that I don’t see how the restoration of long order can be undertaken without significant blood shed. Part of the blame for is must unfortunately lie on the current government which did not act in time. However, I believe that that is perhaps the only solution at this point to this tragedy. The consequences of this will be that Yanukovych is declared persona non grata in the west. But I think it is still a viable option for the current government because I do assume that Russia will essentially support this decision and proper aid to Yanukovych and support that he will need to at least get through this term to the next elections.

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