The calmness on the barricades, which has lasted for the past few days, may soon cease. The President and his party declare readiness to compromise, but in fact they are only giving themselves more time, since no serious steps towards resolving the conflict have been taken. After two months of completely ignoring the protest of one million people, the authorities achieved their goal of radicalising the Maidan. Now, due to their inaction, the pretence at negotiations and a cynical attitude towards the protesters and international community, the authorities risk provoking a new wave of violence.
The President intentionally lobbied the impracticable and unlawful amnesty law, referred to by human rights defenders as the ‘law on state hostages’. On the other hand, the authorities describe the partial suspension of ‘dictatorship laws’ as a ‘serious compromise’. However, those laws were passed with gross violations of procedures and were not legitimate in terms of public reaction. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who fled from Ukraine to Austria by private jet immediately after his resignation, was replaced by Sergei Arbuzov – a person close to the so-called ‘family’ of Yanukovych (which means he is connected with the family business of the President and his sons). Importantly, Azarov, an ardent supporter of the Customs Union for the Ukrainian People, himself chose the European Union, and moved his family and considerable capital of dubious origin to Austria.
At the same time, officials who may be responsible for the use of force against the protesters, continue to perform their duties. None of the police officers were punished for beating and torturing of the protesters, shooting at journalists and physicians, or illegal use of special equipment. The murders of the protesters were also not investigated. Numerous facts prove the coordination of actions of law enforcement agencies and criminals. The public sector of Euromaidan reports that in less than three months of the protest, 1739 people became victims of repression. As of 6 February, 2014, 31 people are considered missing. The protesters are still being kidnapped and tortured, and mass street arrests of activists (and even passers-by) are being reported in numerous regions. The government district is surrounded by special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and military equipment. The Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office do not divert their bellicose rhetoric against the protesters.
One might assume that the President is still not aware of the extent of social unrest and complications that the country may face. Yanukovych is ready to compromise only in ways that would serve his own interests and the interests of the Kremlin. Russia is developing Cold War rhetoric around Ukraine. Senior officials of the Russian Federation expressed the need for a violent crackdown of the protest in Ukraine.
The situation on the barricades is becoming more and more alarming. The protesters are tired of government inaction, of the unwillingness of the parliamentary majority to adopt decisions that would be unfavourable for the President, and of the ongoing pressure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs against the protesters. The opposition leaders do not control the Maidan. They are only trying to represent it in the negotiations and report back to the activists. More protesters are desperate due to fruitless negotiations, and are picketing near the government district.
The Open Dialog Foundation is continuing its long-term mission in Ukraine, aimed at helping the victims and monitoring the repression of the protesters, which can be considered a crime against humanity. Currently, the government is creating conditions necessary for escalation of the conflict. We urge the government and the protesters to avoid a new wave of violence in Ukraine.
Participation of the EU and USA in the investigation of the violence during the protests in Ukraine, directing international observation missions to monitor the trials of the detained activists and journalists in Kiev and all the regions, as well as targeted visa and financial sanctions against Ukrainian oligarchs and political elites responsible for the attempt to introduce dictatorship in Ukraine may help to peacefully resolve the political crisis in Ukraine. The will of the President to hold on to power at any cost may lead to a split, a loss of national sovereignty and geopolitical instability in the region.