26. Juni 2014

Delo
Lubljana/Slowenien

Presidential elections in the Ukraine


Questions: Branko Soban

What was the atmosphere in Ukraine on elections day?

The atmosphere was great. Extraordinary participation Ė in my small village between Kiev and Chernobyl on the lakeside 82 %! -, in many Polling Stations citizens had to wait many hours, they did this calm, patient, in a very dignified way. It was as if many citizens want to contribute to the democratic legitimation of the revolution and the creation of a strong legitimacy for a new democracy.

Any provocations? From Russian side?

I heard via the OSCE from some molotowcoctails in Odessa, and some people elsewhere who wanted to disturb the process. But besides the well known sabotage of the elections and the intimidation of many citizens in the south of Luhansk/Lugansk and around Donetsk the election was remarkable calm and very serein.

Can we have elections in war situation? Are they legitimate?

I would not speak like this. Also in the east you donít have a war and I do hope that also the transitional government will not develop a real war until the new president starts his mandate. In some areas armed people sabotaged the elections. They prevented the delivery of the voting material, harassed citizens who wanted to vote, made them afraid and fear for their lives. Others also have shot on people from whom they thought to be enemies. But itís not a war, not even a civil war. -- When you exclude these sabotaged areas and the Crimean peninsula annexed illegally by the Russian Federation you can count an extraordinary participation of over 70 percent. This and the way the electoral process developed created an enormous political legitimacy the post-revolutionary Ukraine needed. The new president got it in the first round and he has now all he needs to realise the different reforms to recreate trust and confidence and to keep together what belongs together. The unity of all Ukrainians will be realised by respecting the diversity and giving autonomy to those who are different to the government but never want to go out of the state.

Can the new president change situation in Ukraine?

Absolutely. And he is aware of this and knows how to do it. We need social reforms in order that the working class people get a better share of the richness they create. We need anticorruption measures and a tax-reform, so that less money is stolen and the state getís what he needs to develop the infrastructure and the education system the society needs in order to develop. The state needs also structural reforms to overcome the centralisation which alienates citizens and regions and do not allow them to recognize their interests in the centre. The regions need autonomy and self-government in order to keep the unity by respecting the diversity. And Ukraine needs a new constitution which strengthens the democracy and allows the society to overcome the oligarchy.

What's your opinion about Russian occupation of Crimea and provocations on the East of the country?

Itís illegal, wrong, stupide, contra-productive and puts into question many post-war achievements we thought will sustain. Itís inacceptable to change borders with violence. For this there is no excuse. And Russia will face many negative consequences for it out of this state-criminal act which undermined also the agreements they signed. -- There are citizens in the eastern provinces that are against the central government in Kiev, but they donít feel supported by those who use violence with Russian or stolen weapons. They donít want to get out of Ukraine and join Russia, but they want to overcome the much too centralistic, oligarchic, unsocial and ignorant (old) state of Kiev. Many citizens in Kiev understand this, and also the new President does. Thatís why he knows that the main priority is not to start military actions but a dialogue and mutual understanding on the mentioned reforms. And the new President intents to realise these reforms.

Any contacts with Russian deputies after April PACE Session? Now they have no voting rights?

I addressed the three Russian colleagues in my group and got a very kind, constructive and motivating answer from them. They do not belong to those Russian new elites who think joying the CoE in 1996 was a sign of weakness and a mistake and would like to get rid of the CoE. This would neither be in the interest of most Russian citizens nor in the interest of Europe who will never be able to find peace against Russia. This is the reason I am working on and the perspective I orientate my actions. Unfortunately until now a new base of mutual understanding could not be found and so the official delegation is boycotting all the meetings of the PACE although the invitation to take part and to share its views with us and discuss them was never cancelled or put into doubt.


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