OstroV continues a cycle of materials on the upcoming election. We will analyze and describe how presidential candidates have expressed about resolution of the conflict in Donbass, return of the Crimea and reintegration process of the occupied territories in the last 5 years.
In our previous articles, we told how presidential candidates Volodymyr Zelensky, Anatoliy Hrytsenko and Yulia Tymoshenko see the resolution of conflict in the Donbas and return of the Crimea.
This time we will tell about former Minister of Energy and Coal Mining, former Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine, member of the Opposition Platform - For Life party Yuriy Boyko.
Minsk agreements and direct negotiations with militants
Yuriy Boyko is a consistent and vocal advocate of the Minsk agreements. This is despite the fact that he is one of the main critics of current president Petro Poroshenko, who has concluded and "promoted" these agreements. Moreover, Poroshenko calls them his plan for peaceful settlement of the conflict…
"Wide national dialogue and full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Not to flex muscles, but to find sustainable compromise at the negotiating table. To create the Donbas Public Council. To stop the policy of alienation of Ukrainian territories and ensure the Donbass reintegration. To remove the blockade, to help the refugees return home. To hold the elections throughout the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. To ensure the country's territorial integrity and to prevent separatism on the basis of partnership between the state and territorial communities. To carry out a full-fledged reform of the Constitution in order to expand the rights and powers of local self-government. To restore the "perimeter of sovereignty". To achieve firm guarantees of the inviolability of the borders of Ukraine via diplomatic means", - the program of the Opposition Bloc says.
Back in February 2015, Boyko actively supported the policy of Petro Poroshenko in relation to the occupied Donbass.
"We received a real chance to complete the military conflict via diplomatic means. Who will benefit from this – in our opinion, the answer is unequivocal – if the plan signed in Minsk is implemented, Ukraine will win, because the tragedies and deaths will stop in our territory. We understand that the President of Ukraine has assumed colossal political responsibility for the implementation of the peace plan, and we will support it", – Boyko stated, speaking in the Verkhovna Rada in February 2015.
But after some time, Yuriy Boyko began to criticize the government for not doing anything to implement the Minsk agreements.
"The coalition does nothing to fulfill the Minsk agreements. It seems that the authorities have no desire to return our territories and citizens… Today there is neither war nor peace in the Donbass. This is a frozen conflict and practically rejection of the territories. But there are Minsk agreements which were supported by the entire international community, including the UN. Therefore, we offer to immediately begin to legislatively ensure this process and avoid freezing conflict in the Donbass", - he stated.
Yuriy Boyko is one of the few candidates for the main post in the country who suggests starting direct negotiations "with all parties to the conflict". At the same time, he means the "DNR" and "LNR" militant leaders and Russia as mediator, and not as party to the conflict.
"We are in favor of holding direct talks between Ukraine, Russia and self-proclaimed republics. We need to stop hiding and finally do something. It is impossible to pay off this conflict with the help of intermediaries. International experience confirms that it can only be repaid by direct negotiations and availability of guarantors – this can be the USA for Ukraine and the Russian Federation for the unrecognized republics", - Boyko stated in November 2018.
According to him, successful agreements can be reached only in the quadrilateral Kyiv - Donetsk - Luhansk - Moscow and "only they are capable of returning peace to Ukraine".
"At the time when the current regime splits society and country, we do not divide people by language, faith or place of residence. Our main task for the near future: first of all, we will do everything to stop the bloody confrontation in the east of Ukraine, we will immediately go on direct negotiations to achieve peace in the state. This is the first thing we will do after the victory", - Yuriy Boyko promised in January 2019 during the congress of the Opposition Platform - For Life party.
Yuriy Boyko is positive about the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the law on the special status of Donbass. He calls extension of this law just about the only achievement of the parliament over 2018.
"The only bill that somehow gives a chance for peaceful settlement is continuation of the law on the special status of Donbass, which was voted on, and our group supported it. This is the only example of the effective work of the parliament", - politician believes.
At the same time, the opposition politician criticized the law on the reintegration of Donbass (the law on the peculiarities of state policy to ensure the state sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), which refers to the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, and the uncontrolled territories of Donbass are considered to be occupied.
"People want to end the war and return territories and people to Ukraine. Does this law solve this problem? No, because there is not a single mechanism in it of how to return territories, people, how to stop shooting. There is everything: who commands the troops, who collaborators are, by the way, now, according to this law, even teachers, doctors and firefighters, who are state employees today, who found themselves on that territory by a twist of fate and fulfill their professional duties, fall under the category of collaborators. It contradicts all international agreements and treaties that our country has on the way to resolving the diplomatic conflict in the east. First of all, this is the Resolution of the UN Security Council of February 17, 2015, Minsk Protocol and Normandy format", - he believes.
Yuriy Boyko has not yet voiced any specific plan for the Donbass. Mostly good wishes sounded, without clear mechanisms for their implementation.
His party member Viktor Medvedchuk, who had made Boyko's nomination for the presidency, spoke out more specifically on this subject at the party congress. Moreover, speaking of the plan for the Donbass, Medvedchuk speaks of "our" plan, that is, he presents it not as his personal initiative, but as a plan of the party, respectively, Yuriy Boyko's as well.
Viktor Medvedchuk, godfather of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin's child, was in the shadow of Ukrainian politics for a long time. He was a member of the trilateral contact group in Minsk, where he dealt with the issue of exchanges of prisoners of war. His "strength" was that he could communicate directly with the Russian president.
At the end of 2018, Viktor Medvedchuk returned to the active political life of Ukraine. He joined the For Life party, which later transformed into the Opposition Platform - For Life and put forward Yuriy Boyko as a presidential candidate.
"Our plan-concept involves three sections: legislative, administrative, and section that deals with the order and procedure for introducing peace. It is planned to create the Donbass autonomous region as part of Ukraine. It assumes organization through government bodies such as parliament, government and other bodies that will carry out their livelihoods in the Donbass. The third principle, which is the basic one, is that our plan is based on the Minsk agreements approved by the UN Security Council resolution, meets the Normandy format declaration and current legislation of Ukraine. We propose amendments to the Constitution that will determine the status of the Donbass autonomous region", - Medvedchuk said at the congress of the Opposition Platform - For Life party, which supported Yuriy Boyko's nomination.
"Our plan is a reality, it is based on the basic Law of Ukraine. The reproaches that we often hear from the government: no federations, no special status… This is evidence that they have no political will to establish peace. And we have. We are not talking about a federal structure, because there is a difference between a unitary and a federal state… Mr. Poroshenko says that the key to peace is in the Kremlin. This is true, but unlike him and others who strive for power, we do not just know where this key is, we know where the door with the keyhole is. Moreover, we know how to open the door to peace, which is the result of many consultations and discussions, and make peace in Ukraine a reality", - he concluded.
For these proposals, on February 5, the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine opened criminal proceedings against Medvedchuk on suspicion of high treason and separatism. The case was initiated by the appeal of Andriy Teteruk, people's deputy from the People's Front.
"Considering that according to Article 1 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Ukraine is a unitary state, the territorial structure is enshrined in Article 133 of this Law, as well as the fact that by providing the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DNR, LNR) with manpower, weapons and other materials, the Russian Federation conducts aggressive actions against Ukraine, the proclamation of the concept of formation of the Donbass autonomous region contributes to the legislative consolidation of the temporarily occupied territory in violation of the Basic Law and provides a foreign state with assistance in carrying out subversive activities against Ukraine, including informational support. Under the circumstances, the actions of V.Medvedchuk show signs of crimes stipulated in Part 1 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Violation of foreign territorial supremacy and inviolability of Ukraine) and Part 1 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (High treason)", - spokesperson for the Prosecutor General Larysa Sarhan reported.
"In this case, the calls have been proclaimed to change the borders of Ukraine's territory and at the same time, assistance to the Russian Federation in carrying out subversive activities against Ukraine is being provided, aggressive activities and separatist sentiments are being supported", - she noted.
Later on the same day Yuriy Boyko spoke in support of his party colleague, having stated that Medvedchuk's statements about the autonomy of Donbass do not contradict the Minsk agreements.
"I have not heard a single statement by Viktor Medvedchuk, which would contradict the Minsk agreements, signed by all countries - participants of the Normandy process. Therefore, I believe that this is typical pressure on a different opinion, on the fact that someone wants peace. And if hostile rhetoric flourishes in the parliament, this is a dead-end road", - he stated.
As for the position of Viktor Medvedchuk regarding the annexation of the Crimea, he is more cautious in his statements. According to him, it is unproductive to speak with Russia about the Crimea from the position of insult and revenge.
"I can tell you that according to the current legislation and Constitution, the Crimea is Ukraine. De jure Ukraine, but de facto, unfortunately, Russia. Whether we want to reckon with this or not, but this is so in fact. Yes, we have what to say towards Russia, but we should understand that if we assume that much depends on Russia, then we must take the path to realize this in the interests of Ukraine. This is all about the economy, social sphere, and most importantly – political sphere when it comes to the Donbass and return of people and territories. If we speak from the position of insult, from the position of revenge, from the position of opposition, we will advance in nothing: neither in Donbass issues, nor in economic development, or in protection of our citizens, who, unfortunately, are forced to look for work on the territory of Russia and continue to do it due to the fault of the current Kyiv authorities. Therefore, a consensus is needed here to come to something that would be acceptable for Ukraine as well", - Medvedchuk considers.
"It was the Crimean sentiments, most of whom are ethnic Russians, and seeing these processes, they decided to support the referendum", - Yuriy Boyko stated in 2014, explaining the annexation of Crimea.
A little later, he rather ambiguously speak out that Ukraine needed to defend the Crimea with more force and pressure.
"When I saw shots how the state-owned company was attacked by armed militiamen, I had the feeling that if the Crimea or the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea were defended with such force and pressure, we would have a lot of success. Because scaring people of a state-owned company is one thing, and fighting for our own state is another thing. There was just a shameful situation yesterday when armed people broke into a state-owned company and no one maintained any resistance there, everyone was at the workplace and issued all the documents that were needed", - Boyko said in 2014, commenting on the illegal, in his opinion, detention of head of the NAK Naftogaz of Ukraine company Yevheniy Bakulin.
At the same time, the politician tries not to answer the question about the strategy of returning Crimea directly. According to him, it is necessary to resolve the issue with Donbass at first.
"You will not find a politician in Ukraine who will say that Crimea is Russia. You will not find a politician in Russia who will say that Crimea is Ukraine. First of all, we must resolve the issue of Donbass. There is no recipe for Crimea now, but what the current government does when it cuts off the Crimea further, it is a movement not to bring the Crimea closer, but on the contrary, to finally cut it off", - he says.
Boyko also opposes the energy and food blockade of the peninsula.
"It (the Ukrainian government - OstroV) is doing everything to reject the Crimea. Because if the state wants to return the territory, it should at least ensure that there are close ties between these parts and that people feel that they are not outcasts And when the blockades began: energy and water, people in the Crimea were even more offended and view these facts as unfriendly", - Yuriy Boyko believes.
"The return of territories that were lost is a long way. But this is a process that needs to be done every day, move forward and not cut off the last threads that connect us with these territories", - he stresses without saying a word about Russian aggression in the Crimea in 2014.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV