27 May 2014, 18:04

Could Poroshenko halt bloodshed in Ukraine?

Police officers stand next to a body of an unidentified woman killed by shrapnel following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces, outside railway station in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday, May 26, 2014

Police officers stand next to a body of an unidentified woman killed by shrapnel following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces, outside railway station in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday, May 26, 2014

Police officers stand next to a body of an unidentified woman killed by shrapnel following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces, outside railway station in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday, May 26, 2014

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Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Tuesday for an immediate halt of the punitive military operation held by Kiev authorities in the southeast of the country. With the death toll in the southeast of Ukraine mounting, what needs to be done to stop the bloodshed and who is to be held responsible for the crimes against humanity there by Kiev authorities? Is the newly elected president Petr Poroshenko in a good position to steer the country out of the crisis? Radio VR is discussing it with Mateusz Piskorski, Head of the European Center for Geopolitical Analysis, based in Poland.

In a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Vladimir Putin stressed the need to immediately stop the punitive operation conducted by the army in the southeastern regions of Ukraine and establish peaceful dialogue between Kiev and representatives of the regions. In a separate comment Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that halting bloodshed was "the No. 1 task for the Kiev authorities and a test of their durability".

Mr Poroshenko in his turn stated that anti-terrorist operation should last hours, not days, nor weeks – and escalated military action in the breakaway regions. The Ukrainian army has once again used UN helicopter to bomb an airport, airplanes to hit “ground targets” and heavy artillery to shell residential compounds. This Monday alone over 100 people, civilians included, have been killed in Donetsk.So, is there any hope that a newly elected President would stop the bloodshed?

Mateusz Piskorski, Head of the Poland-based European Center for Geopolitical Analysis, just back from the Ukraine:

“Our European Center of Geopolitical Analysis had its observers in different parts of the country. And what we can say is that the elections were prepared on the very low professional level when it comes to the level of preparation at the polling stations, as well as of the electoral districts and of the electoral administration.

It seems that, of course, the elections were prepared ad hoc and that several of the people, who were in change of elections before and who have a sufficient experience in organizing elections in Ukraine, were not involved in the organizational process. So, we might say that the electoral process as such was far from being professional and far from being transparent too.

We had a lot of information collected about electoral manipulation, which means bribing the voters, throwing into the ballot boxes several voting documents at once. So, we can say that the level of transparency and the level of professionalism, when it comes to the electoral process, was very low, the lowest in Ukraine’s recent years.

Second, the group of our observers has visited Donetsk and the southeast of the country and we must tell that even those people who wanted to participate in the elections there did not have such a possibility. So, a large part of the voters were deprived of any possibility to participate in the elections.

And third, it concerns more the electoral campaign on the voting day itself. There were several very serious problems for those candidates who wanted to participate in the elections but were deprived of the possibility of organizing their electoral campaign. I mean here the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Pyotr Simonenko and also some other candidates, like Natalia Korolevska and Oleg Tsarev, which means that those candidates, who were trying to represent the interests of the electorate of the southeast of the country, were excluded from the electoral process.

So, on the whole, we can say that the elections do not express the will of the entire Ukrainian society. The elections cannot be perceived as an expression of the popular vote of the whole nation and of all voters and citizens of the country.

And of course, we are not speaking about the situation when it comes to such legal issues as the fact that the elections, from the point of view of the Ukrainian Constitution, were illegal ones, which means that there was no proper procedure of impeachment of the former President Victor Yanukovych after the coup d'état that happened in February this year. So, on the whole, the estimation is quite negative, far from being positive.

And curiously enough, the OSCE has been quick to recognize the outcome of the vote.

Well, from what I know, and I have a lot of friends – members of parliaments of the EU countries working for different OSCE missions – from what I know the draft project of the election observation report of such organizations like OSCE was ready far before the elections. So, this was just a political stance of several international organizations, like the OSCE.

I want to remind that just before the elections the representatives of the Russian delegation were excluded from the activities of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, as well as the observers from Russia were not participating in the elections monitoring on behalf of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which is also a body connected to the OSCE.

So, we might say that the reports of several international organizations were biased and they rather express the political stance and the political position of the so-called Western countries on the reality during the polling day.

And I was also rather amazed to read an account about Madeline Albright coming to Kiev. She said that now Ukraine is open for democracy. Does that imply that Americans are going to play the upper hand in Ukraine now?

It is a kind of paradox that several representatives of the political life of the US and some other Western countries are trying to convince all of us that there is a transparent democratic procedure in Ukraine. And again, it seems that the US is trying to use all their informational and PR resources to convince the Western public opinion about the stability of the Ukrainian state.

But it is quite easy to notice…I mean, even the observers from different European countries who visited Ukraine during the elections, came to a conclusion, of course only in private discussions, that Ukraine is a failed state which is not only unable to organize any kind of electoral procedures, but even to secure the basic rights and liberties of its own citizens.

So, again, I guess that the visit of Madeline Albright is just another evidence of how the American authorities are trying to legitimize the new authorities in Kiev, which are, of course, just puppets in the hands of the White House and the Department of State.

Yes, in fact, if you remember Mr. Poroshenko’s name first surfaced in that tapped conversation between Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine. Now, the election has been closely followed by the upsurge in the so-called antiterrorist operation in the southeast of the country. Does that imply that Mr. Poroshenko is now going to intensify military operation there?

First and foremost, it is not Mr. Poroshenko who decides something in Ukraine. I guess that the real decision makers, when it comes to the military operations are in the US and not in Ukraine at the moment. And second, we have to acknowledge that Mr. Poroshenko and his status as the President of the country is not strong enough to control anything there.

So, regardless of his announcements of continuation or discontinuance of the so-called antiterrorist operation, the operation will continue because it is the decision made by the American supporters and – let’s say – the American patrons of the acting Ukrainian authorities. And I think that the role of Mr. Poroshenko is definitely smaller than the role of Mr. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who is the chief of the security services of Ukraine and who is in charge of the whole operation.

And also, we have to acknowledge the fact that Mr. Poroshenko will now have his own hard times now in the Ukrainian politics, because after the elections he has to face the reality. His main opponent, Yulia Timoshenko is controlling the majority in the Parliament, as well as the Government together with the Internal Affairs Ministry, which is headed by Mr. Avakov.

So, we will be witnessing several internal conflicts between those people who are trying to establish their authority and exercise their power over the Ukrainian territory. But, of course, the final decision maker in all those conflicts will be Washington, as all those politicians are closely connected to the American decision makers.

And you were telling me that you have travelled to Donetsk region. What are your impressions? Is there a full-fledged war going on there?

Not me personally, but the experts of our center have been there yesterday. They told me and showed the evidence that there were, for instance, the attacks made by the helicopters and military forces at the train station, the main railway station in Donetsk, which means that the operation is actually directed and targeted not only against the military forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, but also against the civilian population.

Yesterday our people have witnessed deaths and injuries of several civilians there in the center of the city of Donetsk. So, we can only say that probably the whole operation is organized not very professionally and that a lot of civilian casualties could appear in the coming days, if the operation continues. And we can also say that probably the tactics of the Ukrainian authorities is to frighten the people and to deprive them of any will resistance there, in the southeastern part of the country. And maybe that’s why the operation is so violent and brutal.

If we talk about the tactics, this is a proper terrorist tactics to create fear among the population. But what is more important, I guess, is that you are telling me that those people are targeting the civilians. And this is actually a crime against humanity.

This is an issue for the ICC in the Hague, definitely, yes. And I hope that the human rights organizations will take care of that and will appeal to the court in the Hague to start a procedure of investigation when it comes to the crimes committed by the pro-Government militias, mostly the neo-Nazi and right-wing extremists, which are operating in the southeast of Ukraine and which are targeting the civilians there.

So, definitely, it is a kind of state-sponsored terrorism or even state terrorism, because some of the crimes are presumably committed by the military units controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.

And in those circumstances the West seems to be absolutely ignoring this tragedy of those people.

From what I know, after the new election to the European Parliament we have a possibility to work with several new political parties which are not – let’s say – mainstream or pro-establishment political parties in the European Parliament. And, hopefully, they will be ready to present more unbiased point of view, more balanced point of view. That’s what we can hope for.

But, unfortunately, for Europe, for the moment it is the US which sets the dominant narrative about the whole conflict in Ukraine. So, it is not a European interpretation of the events which is prevailing, but rather the American one which is dominating in Europe and which is, unfortunately, also dominating in the political circles establishment of Europe”.

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