Peter Lavelle is joined by...


Martin McCauley – Russia specialist at the University of London

On Skype from Kiev Oleksii Leshchenko – Vice President of the Gorshenin Institute, an independent, non-profit analytical and research centre aimed to research political and social processes in Ukraine and in the whole world

Mark Sleboda - international affairs and security analyst



MM: "The first reaction [to the elections’ outcome] is – we are very predictable, and five million of the thirty-six million who were expected to vote didn’t vote because of Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk oblast. So the turnout was only 51 per cent, which is quite disappointing, but the important thing is, the extreme right and extreme left did extremely badly. Apparently, there will be no communists in the new parliament, the extreme right did very poorly and therefore the Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk group plus, probably their allies will have the majority of the 450 seats in the Verkhovna Rada [Supreme Council of Ukraine], they will have a democratic mandate now as recognised by Moscow to proceed and form a government, draft a new constitution, and take Ukraine forward."

MS: "It is a mistake as it was a mistake earlier for Russia to recognise these elections, especially before they even happened. We saw, once again, numerous violations of any kind of real democratic process: we saw candidates physically assaulted, beaten while attempting to attend debates, we have seen parties prosecuted, being kicked out of the Rada or banned; their offices burned, looted – the Communist party, but also the Party of Regions, and several smaller socialist parties. So this election happened under conditions of extreme persecution of the opposition to the Maidan regime that violently seized power at the end of February, and I think the results show through with that…

“To the idea that the extreme right did not do well in this election – there has been spread of the extreme right through many of the other parties that make up the Maidan regime now. It’s a very strong showing of Yatsenyuk’s - the current prime minister’s - party, which in Ukraine is called the War party, and some of the top members on this list include the neo-Nazi founder of the social-nationalist party of the Ukraine Andriy Parubiy, the leader of the Azov battalion, which even the London Telegraph described as a neo-Nazi brigade that is fighting in the east of Ukraine. These are extreme right wing figures. They did extremely well, and I don’t think we can read they did badly at all."

OL: "First of all, just a small notion in response to the previous speakers. I would say that the extreme right was not expected to get into this parliament because the extreme right like the Svoboda party was a reaction to the authoritarian regime that was constructed during Yanukovich’s presidency. Now the task is complete and there is no authoritarian regime."

MS: "We’ve already talked about the persecution of the opposition parties. This government seized its power and did so violently by overthrowing a democratically elected government; they are persecuting the opposition parties, they are waging war on cities full of their own people – ballistic missiles and heavy artillery! They’ve arrested hundreds, if not thousands of people! They hold them as political prisoners, and we say that they are not authoritarian?"

OL: "I’ve travelled a lot in eastern Ukraine during this election period, and I can say that there was no persecution of the opposition. And even in eastern Ukraine people voted largely and heavily for Yatsenyuk’s party."

MS: "The turnout for the vote in eastern Ukraine was less than 30 per cent! How is that a heavy turnout? We saw the turnout in the east of the country, there is not a single area where the turnout was over 50 per cent, and much of it was less than 30 per cent, compared to 60 or 70 per cent in western Ukraine."

MM: "You can go back to Yushenko’s presidency and Timoshenko, when she was the prime minister, and call that pro-Western. Decidedly so, because Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko say that they are leaning towards the West, they are now hoping that they are going to get a lot of economic aid from there. Ukraine at present is economically a basket case, they ruined the country, and there’s still a war going on in Donetsk and Lugansk oblast, and the only hope for Ukraine is money from outside. If it does not come in, they are going to be in an even worse situation. Given this weak economic position, it is very-very difficult to progress democratically. How do you, in fact, develop a democratic state if you are economically very weak? You can’t do that. So what is going to happen is the oligarchs, who ruled Ukraine before, will continue to rule Ukraine, as it happened in 1991. The economy is dominated by a group of very few people and they will negotiate with Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, and they will have to try and develop Ukraine in the interest of the whole population, because if they don’t do that, they will have another revolution."

OL: “These elections are a reload of power that was promised by Poroshenko when he was leading his presidential campaign. I don’t think that the war in its real sense will continue, but the crisis will because it is not yet resolved – only frozen. But a war with shells and arms and deaths – I don’t believe in this.”

MS: “I don’t think that anyone can seriously expect some kind of reconciliation from people of the Donbas and this regime that has taken power in Kiev. They have waged a massive war with all the instruments of a heavy war: artillery, air strikes, ballistic missiles, portable rocket launch systems against the cities of the east. To expect them to come back in any political way under the same umbrella of the regime that’s been seeking to kill and subjugate them would be like asking the same, at least rhetorically, from Kosovo Albanians or the East Timorese of South Sudan. I think this is extremely unrealistic, but, at the same time, they won’t agree formally to give up the Donbas for domestic political reasons and many others.

“I would not be surprised at all if before the elections in Donbas take place on November 3rd we don’t see some kind of renewed attempt by the Kiev forces to settle this conflict with a military offence."