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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

What did Russia want to tell us?

The Day’s experts on the statements made by the former president in Rostov-on-Don
13 March, 2014 - 11:22
Sketch by Anatolii KAZANSKY from The Day’s archives, 1997

Again in Russian Rostov-on-Don, in the same premises, with phrases prepared beforehand… On March 11 Viktor Yanukovych did not say anything new. Probably, the only difference was that it was a short statement rather than a press conference with irritating questions which enfevered him and made him break a pen. The former president repeated his old messages: I am alive; I am the incumbent president; I am the commander-in-chief of Ukrainian armed forces; I did not run away; there was a take-over in Kyiv; the government is illegitimate; the country is governed by an armed gang of ultranationalists and neo-fascists; everything was perpetrated by the evil forces of the West, and the early presidential elections will be illegitimate. We have heard the most of these cliches from top Russian leadership, their Crimean puppets, and Russian propaganda machine on the whole. But we should not view Yanukovych’s statement as something ordinary and unserious. Especially in the complicated situation which has developed in the Crimea.


Volodymyr HORBACH, political analyst at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation:

“Yanukovych’s words blend with the canvas of Russian propaganda, a stand taken by Russians within the country, and on the international arena. He was reading the text from a cheat note, written by Russians, and the target audience of this message was, first and foremost, the internal Russian one. This message was aimed at confirming the rightfulness of actions of Russian leadership for Russian voters. This briefing cannot have any impact on any other audience. Yanukovych’s words about the ‘evil forces of the West’ refer to the series of inadequate assessments, thoughts, and offers voiced by Yanukovych. His speech came down to constructing of a parallel reality, above all, by Russian government for Russians who can believe in this.”


Lilia SHEVTSOVA, leading research associate at Moscow-based Carnegie Center (facebook.com):

“So, the Yanukovych ‘jackstraw’ was presented for the world as Russian negotiation stand. Many people will think that this is the last gesture aimed at frightening with the B version – entering of the army that is ‘faithful’ to Yanukovych into the south-eastern region of Ukraine for its ‘liberation.’ But if the Kremlin has gone absolutely crazy…”


Andrzej SZEPTYCKI, analyst at the Institute of International Relations, Warsaw University, Poland:

“Yanukovych’s speech today is another attempt aimed at weakening the power in Kyiv. In my opinion, it is an instrument of Russian policy. In the context of Russian aggression in the Crimea and conflicts that are taking place in east-Ukrainian cities, he said that the new power is illegitimate, fascist, etc. But Yanukovych does not offer an alternative scenario. He thinks he is the only legitimate president, but he does not say how he is going to come back to power.


“Yanukovych is an element of Russia’s campaign against Ukraine. This conference should be viewed in the context of what Russian mass media are saying now.

“It seems to me, Yanukovych’s speech is not Russia’s message to the US. More likely, it is another attempt aimed at presenting the Ukrainian events, the Maidan, as a plan masterminded by the West, in particular, the US, to conquer Ukraine and weaken the Russian Federation. Lavrov recently stated that Russia has a plan concerning Ukraine, which should respect the interests of all Ukrainians. We know that this plan won’t recognize the legitimacy of the new government and will demand a return to the agreements of February 21. Apparently, this won’t lead to anything, because after the revolution a government emerged in Ukraine, which was supported by the EU and the US. Russian pressure, especially the situation in the Crimea, won’t produce any change in the stances of the Western countries.

“Taking into account the Russian policy, the scenario of Yanukovych’s return to power with the help of the Russian army cannot be discarded. But again, Yanukovych does not have a clear plan of return. He only talks about his intentions, which is proof of his weak position.

“As for the reaction of the West at Russian invasion of Ukraine. We can see certain reaction of the West. In particular, those include the proposal of sanctions. We know in detail what economic sanctions and restrictions of political and diplomatic contacts will be. Nothing else can be done, because Russia is a UN Security Council member and has the right of veto. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, therefore there will be no military actions of the West or war with Russia. Now everything is done to give broad economic support to Ukraine. Ukrainian problems are not limited to only the Crimean problem, but also the question of economic reforms and budget. The question of supplying of weapons and military equipment is also on the agenda. This is not considered a war with Russia, but Ukraine can be helped this way and it should be done.”


Mykhailo CHECHETOV, MP, Party of Regions:

“This statement is a commentary made by Viktor Yanukovych as a private person. At the moment Ukraine has legitimate power, represented by legitimate Verkhovna Rada, legitimate government, legitimate acting president, who are doing their best to defend territorial integrity, inviolability, and unity of borders and sovereignty of Ukraine with the help of consolidated decisions and development of a joint position.”

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day