Kiev Reneges on Donbas Self-Rule Status
by Stephen Lendman
On September 9, Ukraine’s parliament passed legislation granting Donbas self-rule special status.
At the time, state-controlled Ukrainian News Agency reported it as follows:
“The Verkhovna Rada has set special status for some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the period of three years…”
“Respective draft law No. 5081 was registered by President Petro Poroshenko at the Verkhovna Rada on September 16.”
“Under the document, bodies of local governments are allowed to create voluntary people’s militia units to protect order on the territory of the said regions.”
“…(L)ocal governments there are able to take measures on assistance in use of Russian and other languages in education, mass media organizations, judicial system, and other sectors of public life.”
“…(T)he law envisions provision of state assistance to socioeconomic development of some districts via the introduction of special economic regime for rendering economic and investment activity aimed at restoration of industry, infrastructure, housing stock and creation of new jobs.”
After enactment, Kiev’s oligarch president Petro Poroshenko said Donbas will remain part of Ukraine.
Federalization won’t happen. Ukraine’s territorial integrity won’t be compromised.
Self-rule status legislation isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Expect promises made to be broken.
On November 3, Itar Tass headlined “Poroshenko intends to submit issue to annul law on Donbas special status,” saying:
He’ll have Kiev’s National Security and Defence Council annul the law. He lied claiming it demonstrated “Ukraine’s sincere intentions to de-escalate the situation in Donbas and the world support for the Minsk peace agreements.”
“We will be ready to adopt a new law when all parties return to implementing the Minsk protocol if fire is ceased, the buffer zone is created and control is established.”
New legislation can be adopted if Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics “reverse” democratic November 2 elections, he said. What of course won’t happen. Nor should it.
“The new law will envision strict borders of the regions with the special procedure of local self-government in strict compliance with the Minsk agreements,” he continued.
“It will also envision budget decentralisation, which removes irritating problems – who feeds whom. It will allow the regions themselves to be responsible for their financing based on their own resources.”
He’ll ask “parliament to adopt a law on creating a free (Donbas) economic zone with the special trading regime with the EU and Russia.”
Monitors judged Sunday’s process open, free and fair. Model democracy by any standard. Polar opposite Kiev’s sham presidential and parliamentary elections.
Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics complied fully with Minsk protocol provisions. Stipulating elections could be held from October 19 – November 3.
Kiev signed the agreement. Doing so was meaningless. Its word isn’t its bond. Negotiating duplicitously.
Repeatedly violating agreements. With full US support and encouragement. On April 17, a joint four-party US/EU/Russia/Ukraine statement said the following:
“The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.”
“All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.”
“All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.”
“Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.”
“It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days.”
“The US, EU and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.”
“The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable.”
“It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.”
“The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.”
A White House statement said Obama “commended the government of Ukraine’s approach to today’s discussions in Geneva, where it put forward constructive proposals to expand local governance and ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected.”
“…Russia needs to take immediate, concrete actions to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, including by using its influence over the irregular forces in eastern Ukraine to get them to lay down their arms and leave the buildings they have seized.”
“(T)he United States and Europe are prepared to take further measures if this de-escalation does not occur in short order.”
Kiev violated agreed on terms straightaway. Conflict continues. It never stopped. Obama’s new friends are societal misfits.
Ruling lawlessly. Illegitimate by any standard. Tolerating no opposition. Agreeing to one thing . Doing another.
Spurning Donbas special status self-rule. For unacceptable reasons. After committing to support it.
Refusing to recognize Sunday’s democratic elections. Model ones. Scrupulously open, free and fair.
Violating no laws. Or past agreements. Poroshenko lied calling Sunday’s process a “farce at gunpoint. (A) terrible event that has nothing in common with the real expression of the people’s will.”
“(B)rutally violat(ing)” Minsk protocol terms. Disrupting peace efforts, he claimed.
Donetsk and Lugansk authorities reject his Big Lies. They’ll dialogue with Kiev provided its officials “act in a sensible way.”
Fascists don’t operate this way. They want unopposed hardline rule. Excluding democracy. Prohibiting it in any form.
Ahead of Sunday’s elections, Russia’s Foreign Ministry commented on lack of promised Kiev constitutional reform.
It called instituting it “so urgent that this issue is known to have been put on a list of priorities of the Ukrainian political agenda that figured in the key agreement of 21 February 2014, signed by the current ruling coalition and its foreign political mentors and sponsors, who evidently were not quite aware of how heavy the burden of responsibility for the fates of Ukrainians would prove to be for them.”
“In April 2014, Kiev assumed a commitment under the Geneva Statement approved by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU to immediately start an inclusive national dialogue on the implementation of a constitutional reform with the involvement of all regions and political forces in Ukraine.”
“We are alarmed by the fact that the work to reform the Constitution has been proceeding in secret, behind closed doors, and without the due media coverage and the absolutely essential broad-scale discussion in all regions of the country with the participation of independent experts and civic organisations.”
Broad public discussion is essential for legitimate constitutional reform, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
Kiev’s constitution “should be perceived by the multiethnic Ukrainian society as the reliable and long-term foundation of a law-based state guaranteeing the equality of regions and ethnic groups.”
“Lacking this, Ukraine will be unable to deal with the urgent tasks involved in resolving the current acute crisis.”
“…Kiev’s attempts to deal with the issues related to the country’s constitutional system in secret or behind the scenes will not bring the desired effect.”
Ahead of Sunday’s elections, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied, saying:
“(W)e have grave concerns that separatists plan to go ahead with illegitimate and illegal elections in areas of eastern Ukraine on Sunday. The United States will not recognize the results.”
“These elections violate the letter and spirit of the September 5th Minsk ceasefire agreement, which calls for elections in the east in line with the Ukrainian law on special status.”
“Any moves to try to legitimize the results will undermine the Minsk agreement. We call on all nations to similarly reject the illegal effort and instead support the legal December 7th local elections.”
On November 3, White House National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan issued an outrageous statement. Featuring Big Lies, saying:
“The United States condemns the illegitimate, so-called ‘elections held on Sunday by Russia-backed separatists in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk.”
“These sham elections contravened Ukraine’s constitution, the law on special status,’ and the most basic electoral norms.”
“Both Russia and its separatist proxies had agreed to honor Ukraine’s special status electoral law when they signed the Minsk Protocol of September 5. They therefore violated the terms of that protocol with these so-called “elections” on November 2.”
“As we have said previously, the United States will not recognize the authority of any individuals claiming to represent parts of Donetsk and Luhansk on the basis of this illegal vote.”
“We are concerned by a Russian Foreign Ministry statement today that seeks to legitimizes these sham ‘elections.'”
“We also continue to be concerned by reports that Russia is once more moving its troops and military equipment to portions of the international border.”
“The Russia-Ukraine border remains unmonitored and outside of Ukrainian government control despite Russia’s commitment to facilitate the establishment of an effective international monitoring mission.”
“We are also concerned by OSCE reports that OSCE Special Monitoring Mission UAVs operating east of the control line have come under attack in recent days.”
“More broadly, Moscow’s continued failure to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements calls into question its commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine.”
“We call on Russia’s leaders to adhere to the commitments they made in Minsk to include the full withdrawal of foreign forces, the restoration of Ukrainian control of its sovereignty over the border with OSCE monitoring, and local elections in accordance with the special status law, which set these for December 7.”
“As we have said repeatedly, Russia has a choice. If it supports the peace process and adheres to its Minsk commitments, the costs for Russia’s destabilizing actions against Ukraine will lessen.”
“Should Moscow continue to ignore the commitments that it made in Minsk and continue its destabilizing and dangerous actions, the costs to Russia will rise.”
Fact: According to US rules, elections are valid only if Washington says so.
Fact: Minsk protocol terms affirmed holding Donbas elections from October 19 – November 3.
Fact: Observers judged them open, free and fair.
Fact: Model democratic ones. Violating no laws.
Fact: Polar opposite Kiev’s sham presidential and parliamentary elections. Illegitimate by any standard.
Fact: Russian recognition of Donbas electoral legitimacy another example of its moral, ethical and political leadership.
Fact: US rejection a clear example of its moral and political degradation. Imperial lawlessness. Out-of-control unaccountability. Societal dysfunctionality. A model of wrong over right.
Fact: Russia scrupulously observes the letter and spirit of international laws, as well as all agreements it commits to.
Fact: Washington is a serial scofflaw. Violating rule of law principles and agreements unaccountably.
Fact: Kiev operates the same way.
Fact: One fascist regime supports another.
Fact: Threatening world peace at the most perilous time in world history.
Fact: Russia goes all-out for peaceful conflict resolutions. Polar opposite Washington’s rage for war.
Russian lower house State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said “(s)uccesses of the (Donbas) Novorossia authorities have provoked anger from Kiev puppets and those manipulating them in the West.”
Mainly Washington. Reflecting imperial lawlessness writ large. A sham democracy. Duopoly rule. Controlled by Big Money. Illegitimate by any standard.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Moscow “respect(s) the will expression of the residents of (Ukraine’s) southeast.”
“The elected representatives have got the mandate for the practical efforts aimed at the restoration of normal life in these regions.”
They “have enough powers to develop a stable and wide-ranging dialogue with Kiev authorities.”
Russian, Ukrainian, Donetsk and Lugansk officials agreed to Minsk protocol provisions. Consisting of 12 points:
1. Ensuring an immediate bilateral ceasefire.
2. OSCE monitoring and verification to assure it.
3. Decentralizing power. Including by adopting Donbas special status self-rule.
4. Creating security zones in areas bordering Russia and Ukraine.
5. Immediately releasing all hostages and illegally detained persons.
6. Enacting legislation preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with ongoing Donbas area conflict.
7. Continuing inclusive national dialogue.
8. Instituting measures to improve Donbas humanitarian conditions.
9. Ensuring early local Donetsk and Lugansk elections in accordance with the law of Ukraine between October 19 and November 3.
10. Withdrawing illegally armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Donbas.
11. Adopting Donbas economic recovery and reconstruction measures.
12. Providing personal security for participants in consultation talks.
A follow-up September 19 memorandum stipulated:
1. Withdrawing heavy weaponry 15 km back on each line of contact. Creating a 30 km buffer zone.
2. Banning all offensive operations.
3. Prohibiting combat aircraft flights over security zone areas.
4. Withdrawing all foreign mercenaries from conflict areas.
5. Establishing an OSCE monitoring mission according to Minsk protocol terms.
Kiev straightaway violated their letter and spirit. With full US support and encouragement.
Irresponsibly disregarding democratic principles. Continuing conflict it promised to end.
Likely just a matter of time before again full-blown. Perhaps more lawlessly than before.
It bears repeating. Fascist regimes operate this way. Washington and Kiev partner in regional crimes. Much worse ahead is likely.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.