Crisis deepens in Ukraine

THE STANDOFF in Ukraine has taken a new twist with the opposition declining to accept President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer to join the government.

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Published: Mon 27 Jan 2014, 11:20 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:32 PM

This refusal seems to have ended a series of confidence building measures that Kiev was interested in striking with an agitating opposition for the last several weeks. The president recently had invited the opposition’s rank and file for a dialogue over the future prospects, and the only condition attached to it was to bring an end to protest campaign in the capital and elsewhere. And now it is official that Viktor had offered the post of prime minister to the leader of the opposition, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and deputy’s role to Vitali Klitschko. But their refusal has only deepened the crisis, which would ultimately lead to more protests and bloodshed.

Dozens of people are already dead in the ensuing confrontation outside the government offices in the chilling winter of Kiev, and the new deadlock is likely to take a new toll on national life. The bone of contention initially was the economic and customs accord that Viktor signed with Moscow after putting to backburner an agreed treaty with the European Union. But now the major demand of the opposition is fresh elections, and the resignation of President Yanukovych.

It seems the opposition has played to the gallery in responding to the power sharing deal of Yanukovych, and it could have been a more mature response if they had dilated over its pros and cons in a simmering political environment. The major grievance of the opposition is to see that Ukraine goes the Western way in rebuilding its socio-economic credentials, and becomes part of an extended European Union and Nato in the long run. That objective could have better been served if they had become part of the cabinet for the time being and nurtured their vision and policies in a democratic manner.

Yatsenyuk’s tweet that, “we’re finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you…” were too political and apparently meant for public consumption. The confrontation is set to grow as the demand will be debated in a special session of the parliament tomorrow (Tuesday), forcing the pro-Russia administration of Yanukovych to take a more radical stand on domestic and foreign issues. Another unfortunate aspect of the brewing crisis is that the mediation launched by the United States and the 28-member European bloc has withered way, and the crisis is now on its own. With protests spreading to cities further east, including Vinnytsya, west of Kiev, the strife-torn state could further slide into Kremlin’s domain — inadvertently hurting the democratic credentials of several political parties who had struggled to make Ukraine a pluralistic society. The opposition could do a great service by exploring a middle ground for defusing the crisis.

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