Oleg Tsarev on Kiev’s Draft Law on the Reintegration of Donbass

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard




More information about the draft law on the reintegration of Donbass, where Russia is officially named as the occupier, can be found here

The fact that Ukraine is preparing to recognize Russia as the occupier of Donbass at the legislative level is mainly an internal political game. The party of war “People’s Front” works on the lifting of its rating, which is unenviable for today. While Petro Poroshenko with “People’s Front” are actually on one political field, and in order not to be forced out from it, the President is obliged to somehow cope with initiatives that “People’s Front” expresses. It turns out that Poroshenko sits on a twine. If he will not be a bigger radical than the Ukrainian radicals of the party of war, then he will lose their support. He also can’t adopt this law — then he will fall under the criticism of foreign “partners”, i.e. masters. For this reason Petro Poroshenko thought up a rather non-standard move. He said that he will discuss this bill with the representatives of the Normandy Four: Germany and France. And in the event they approve it, he will adopt it.

It is clear that Ukraine doesn’t intend to discuss the bill on the reintegration of Donbass with Russia, who is also a member of the “four”. Kiev refers to laws of the UN that in the event of aggression, the country that carries out the aggression can’t be the negotiator. Do they want to throw out in such a way the Russian Federation from the process of the settlement, and to transform the Normandy Four into the Normandy Three — or back into a four, but with the US instead of Russia? This is a constant Ukrainian argument, which has sounded already for two years. That’s why there is nothing new here.

What is new here is the way in which Petro Poroshenko tries to negate the threat for himself, and to get up from the twine onto his feet. I want to remind that before this he was put in the same pose by the team of Tymoshenko and Kolomoisky concerning the blockade of Donbass. If he at the time guessed to make such a step – that concerning the blockade there is a need to consult foreign partners – it is quite possible that he wouldn’t bring the matter to such a deplorable state in which the number of industrial branches of Ukraine found themselves.

If Poroshenko pushes this law through the Rada, it will be contrary to the Minsk Agreements. That’s why he doesn’t want to adopt it. But he can’t say that it is precisely him who doesn’t want to do it. And he says that entirely supports and welcomes the legislative initiative, but there is a need to discuss the text of this law with western leaders.

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The party of war tried, without waiting for this, to adopt the bill. Parubiy on July 13th three times put to the vote the question about the extension of parliamentary session. He didn’t manage to do it. Because of this reason until the autumn nobody will vote for this law, Deputies will go on vacation.

A question arises: Maybe the official announcement of the Russian Federation as the occupier of Donbass somehow gives a free hand to the Russian Federation? It is for this reason that earlier Russian leaders said all the time that we are not a side in the conflict, that we don’t participate in Donbass in any way at all, that this is an intra-Ukrainian problem. And maybe it is now worth agreeing with Ukraine, and to say: yes, we exercise control over Donetsk and Lugansk. And then to exercise this control openly, seriously. And also to seriously defend the inhabitants of Novorossiya.

Of course, if such law will be adopted, it is the leadership of the Russian Federation that will make decisions — I can only reflect on it. Really, there still isn’t any court decision or document that at the All-Ukrainian level would declare Russia as the occupier in Donbass. But if such a thing will be officially declared, then in principle it would be logical for Russia to also declare: if it is said about us that our troops are already there, then let them really enter there, starting from the time when the law will be adopted, and let them be there legally, if indeed such a situation developed. But I think that Russia pursues a weighed policy, and it is unlikely that it will make some sudden decisions without having being in agreement about them in the format of the Normandy Four, without having coordinated with the representative of the US, who will now be engaged in Ukraine.

The text of the document that we discuss was approved and published after the arrival to Ukraine of Tillerson. Were the formulations of the bill and the most important formulation – that Russia occupies Donbass – agreed with him? I think not. “People’s Front” holds its own game. Poroshenko has his own game. Petro Poroshenko repeatedly suggested to “People’s Front” to unite, then they would play in one electoral niche and wouldn’t compete with each other, as they do now. The last discussion about the party’s “reintegration” was on June 6th. And “People’s Front” finally didn’t make a decision on association. Petro Poroshenko’s power remains today only because a coalition exists. Even through it doesn’t exist on paper — there aren’t enough deputies there. But, all the same, they claim that a coalition exists, and for this reason re-elections aren’t appointed. If Poroshenko loses control over parliament, then it is obvious that he will be forced to appoint re-elections, in which he has every chance of losing.

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What is today’s minefield of Ukrainian policy? According to the constitution the government in Ukraine is chosen by the coalition. The coalition is most of the Deputies in the Verkhovna Rada. The coalition today is “People’s Front” plus the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko”. It is these two political forces, which generally distribute among themselves the portfolios of ministers, that form the government of Ukraine. Both “People’s Front” and the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” have extremely low ratings, on the verge of a statistical error — probably because such are the results of the work of the Ukrainian authorities. And elections are extremely unprofitable to these two organizations, because they, most likely, won’t get into the next parliament. For this reason now all remaining political forces are for carrying out re-elections because they will grow their factions in the Verkhovna Rada. And it is precisely they who will then form government. And it isn’t excluded that someone from the leaders of the other factions, for example Yulia Tymoshenko or the mayor of Lvov Sadovoy, will win these elections.

That’s why today there is a visible standoff in the Verkhovna Rada – when there are two factions that oppose re-elections, and there are all others that support re-elections, for the reset of the Ukrainian authorities. It is precisely for this reason the President now so insistently suggests to merge into one party, into one political force – “People’s Front” and “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko“. Because he understands that if, for example, Yulia Tymoshenko will offer from her political force mandates to the acting deputies of “People’s Front”, then they will simply pass under her wing, the coalition will break up, there will be re-elections, and Petro Poroshenko will lose everything. It can’t be excluded that he will lose not only his post, but also money, and even life. “People’s Front” refuses to unite with Poroshenko. “People’s Front” fruitfully holds negotiations with Tymoshenko, using Turchynov, who earlier was actually her right hand in carrying out the scheme of the coalition with “the woman with a braid”. Besides this, Yatsenyuk holds negotiations practically with all — with Groisman, with Lutsenko — in order to loosen Poroshenko’s position.

And thus, the document on the reintegration of Donbass that we discuss  is a certain nod, a concession towards “hawks” from “People’s Front”: I am exactly the same as you, I don’t close my eyes to Russia being the occupier! Poroshenko in such cases does everything to prove that he is more radical than the most greased radicals. Let’s block Donbass — he is offered. Yes, let’s block it completely and definitively — answers Petro Poroshenko. Or let’s adopt such a law about the “occupied” territory where there, Russia will be recognized as the greatest villain of the world. This is the point of view of rhetoric. From the point of view of actions he will try to torpedo this law.

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There is one more statement in this law: “The reintegration of Donbass assumes the possibility to introduce martial law in the region on the orders of the President. The head of State can make the decision on the use of the UAF, and other – provided by the law of Ukraine – military formations in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, for the deterrence and repulsion of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation”. What can it mean in practice? Another empty talking shop or the strengthening of genocide of the inhabitants of Novorossiya with the use of aircraft and heavy arms?

What now happens in Ukraine, and what the devil Turchynov started and Poroshenko now continues is a war crime; this is a violation of the constitution. And for this, in the event of a change in the political situation, the President of nazis will be put in prison. He carries out military operations with the involvement of the army without the introduction of a state of emergency. The introduction of a state of emergency, of course, won’t save him, because the number of crimes committed is already sufficient, but to some extent, maybe he hopes that this at least somehow will rehabilitate him, will return what is happening in Donbass to the course of legality. But, of course, this is not the main reason. The main reason is that everything is unsteady under him, the coalition is falling apart, he is criticized by his foreign owners from the US and Europe. If these processes amplify, in that case he can introduce a state of emergency. But in a regime of a state of emergency, generally early elections can’t be held. Poroshenko can remain in power infinitely. So that’s why he now thinks about how to adopt the bill in such a way so that for export it’s like it wasn’t adopted; and how not to adopt it so that in the opinion of Ukrainians it would look like it was adopted.

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