The voting of the Verkhovna Rada for amendments to the Constitution, providing "special status" to Donbass, has been postponed. Some say because of the fact that Poroshenko could not find the necessary 300 votes, others that he deliberately delayed this moment to win more concessions from weakening Russia. In any case, a delay is not a full stop but playing for time. Moreover, the turning point, under pressure from the West and Russia, may come at any moment. Therefore, OstroV met with famous Ukrainian politician Inna Bogoslovskaya to try to predict possible consequences for Ukraine of the adoption or failure to amend the Constitution, dictated by the so-called "Minsk agreements".
Inna, what will happen to the "Minsk agreements", in your opinion, if the amendments to the Constitution with the "special status" of Donbass are not adopted?
- I believe that these agreements cannot pass. Firstly, because it is a surrender to the conditions of the aggressor. We faced exactly the same demands for autonomy and special status two years ago - we as a sovereign state did not agree. And two years later we are not just offered to agree with them but make them a constitutional provision. It means to surrender. We must ask the people whether they are ready to surrender. I think the answer is obvious. Secondly, these agreements cannot be signed because they are unconstitutional. In fact, no such things as the "Minsk agreements", from the point of view of international law, exist. Poroshenko as a man who worked for a long time in the business, including criminal schemes, realizes that he cannot sign anything. He does that. We know that any businessman always creates a framework in which he cannot be brought to justice, if there is no his signature. Now Poroshenko does that at the state level.
That is, he shifts the responsibility on the Verkhovna Rada?
- He shifts the responsibility, first of all, on negotiating group, in general, and, as well as on parliament, in which he tries to blur the responsibilities among the deputies who voted for the amendments. There are still no 300 votes needed. Today, there is a preparation to ensure that voting is held with several cards. Or, as it was done in the history of the Ukrainian parliament, when the deputy goes with the card abroad, a duplicate is made and then without the deputy his vote is given. Now this option is also being considered. I'm sure it will be the first time in Ukrainian history when everyone, who votes for the amendments to the Constitution, will personally bear real criminal responsibility. Or they will have to escape from Ukraine, as "regionals" did.
Let's try to simulate the situation: there are 300 votes, the amendments are adopted. What awaits Donbass and whole Ukraine?
- As soon as this happens, we will have a separation on the periphery. In the western regions the decision of city and regional councils is likely to take place, they will begin the process of non-recognition and may prepare to separate from Ukraine. They will demand a special status. Such a status will be initiated by the South and East of the country - there is no doubt, taking into account the composition of the regional councils in Kharkov, Odessa, Zaporozhye, Nikolayev regions. Kherson is, probably, afraid – it is afraid, because of its location on the border. Perhaps, pro-Ukrainian Kirovograd will also require a separate status, taking into consideration the nonsense that's going on right now with the renaming of the city. When a town or region offers three names and the Verkhovna Rada the fourth one, which has no relation to the people. All this escalates the confrontation. We are opening a "Pandora's box" and it triggers the process of disintegration of Ukraine. That’s what Putin counts on. Generally speaking, he plays two games today. On the one hand, he needs fulfillment of the Minsk agreements through Constitution to prove that he is the only one who can deal with Ukraine and show the world: if you give it to the protectorate, you will sleep peacefully.
On the other hand, he understands that if this happens, the process of explosion will start inside the country and Ukraine will never be united. Moreover, the process of implementation of the agreement in the parliament will be the trigger to the "demolition" of President Poroshenko. Many people do not believe that the people will protest. I'm sure they will. Similarly as on the eve of the refusal from Vilnius on November 29th, 2013 (Viktor Yanukovych did not sign the Association Agreement with the European Union at the summit in Vilnius, - OstroV) I saw sociology, according to which, only 4% of Ukrainians were ready to protest. But if these are the most active of 4%, then that's enough. And if 18% of people are willing to go to the protests with force component - which today can be seen in sociology - it is very dangerous.
We talked about what could be in Ukraine if these amendments to the Constitution were adopted by the Verkhovna Rada. Let us think how it will be perceived in Donbass.
- Separatists in Donbass will perceive it as a complete victory. They will have fireworks and so on. If people do not want to celebrate, the "authorities" will arrange a holiday themselves. That is, St. George stripes will be of the street size. And for the patriots, who are there as hostages, of course, it will be a serious shock.
But formally, then there must be elections held according to the laws of Ukraine. Ukrainian flags should appear then ...
- No, there will be no elections according to the laws of Ukraine and no Ukrainian flags. It's fake.
There will be enormous consequences for Donbass. Firstly, if the amendments are adopted, then this area will have a special status. Frauds are being carried out. The law is called "On peculiarities of local self-government ...", but the essence of the law does not apply to local government. It provides that prosecutors, judges and police are appointed in coordination with the local authorities. That is, the public authorities which are not connected to the local government.
In addition, control over the border with Russia is issue of №1 for us. While 500 km of border with Russia are open, we cannot talk about any sovereignty of the state. This "special status" provides a separate procedure for trade and cultural relations with neighboring countries. They can make a decision on "free border". And these open veins, from which the blood flows and any contagion can get in, remain. That is, the Minsk agreements do not solve any of the problems that caused the conflict.
What problems can Ukraine have, if the amendments to the Constitution are not be accepted?
- There will be no problems. Putin is currently in a weak position in almost all directions. From a military point of view, he unleashed two wars that are difficult to overcome. From an economic one, the price of oil and sanctions affect. In addition, at the time when the country was rich, no institutional reforms were made that would launch the economy. Russia has remained a commodity-dependent country. In the war it has to spend huge money on military component and the additional value of the economy is not made. Putin has nothing to count on now. The process has already started in Russia, when the country "overturns an idol". Recall Mussolini, who was a god and king, and then he was hung upside down and was spit on for a week. Putin is close to that. By September-October he could be "overturned" in public opinion. Now you can see in the Russian media glimpses of the fact that Putin is to be blamed. He became the last point of hope and this is a harbinger in authoritarian regimes of that this idol has two options: either to find a successor and to hand over power or he should declare a big war. This is not the Ukrainian side.
With whom a big war? With us?
- No. It is a war in the third point. He will not win the war against us, because he understands that he is trapped. He can hope to reach the Dnieper in Ukraine. What does he receive? - Nothing. If the war, then it is a small nuclear bomb in the Arctic region, which is now a very high stress point. There are already warships of superpower countries who are at short distance from each other. This is the most likely scenario, in my opinion. The second is the Middle East. Putin will take a major war away from his border. It will be a battle of frightening small nuclear explosions - the last trump card. Therefore, not only we should be afraid but the whole world.
Moreover, if we implement the Minsk agreements in the Constitution - it will not remove the challenges he faces. Putin will not get any advantages or disadvantages, in terms of domestic support. Well, they will talk about winning achieved in Ukraine for a month in Russia. What's next? Will it influence the economy? The issue of lifting the sanctions cannot be solved so quickly ...
But, at least, Russia will not spend money on Donbass. We'll have to do it ourselves ...
- We will have nothing to spend. Donbass will not get any surplus. Those who started the war in Donbass, namely Akhmetov and the company – are waiting for the flow of money that they will use. They hope thereby to cover their actual bankruptcy. It will not happen. No money will be poured there. There will be elections in the autumn in the USA. There will be no more financial support, as no one does that in the pre-election period in the United States. After the elections there will be almost half a year of transition. That is, if we are talking about the possibility of financial support from the US, it will be delayed somewhere to the spring of 2017.
If there is a "Russian victory", it must be quickly converted into something. It can cause only aggravation, because if we make amendments to the Constitution, we must give loose control over the demarcation line, we have to call off the ATO regime. But the problem of the armed people who hate Ukraine will not disappear ... I, as a resident of Kharkov border region, I can say that it will be dozens of corpses a day: in a cafe, in transport, at bus stops, gas stations. Because there will be people who remember how they collected their friends in "boilers". When the wound is bleeding and everything is hurting, and you are forced to meet the culprit of all this - and on both sides of the conflict they offer to pretend that none of this happened because some guys decided to surrender and negotiate ...
We have less danger and less losses in the case if we don’t sign the amendments to the Constitution.
We need to resolve the issue of the voluntary mobilization. We must honestly say that recruitment of the army was carried out so that "meat" was mobilized but not the responsible men - patriots who are ready to defend the country. I totally agree with the military, who say that if we mobilize in a right way, then we will get 40-50 thousand of quite conscious defenders of the country, who have war experience. They will be ready to become the basis for a new army model.
In addition, we need to stop talking about any infringement of unitary Ukraine. Since the beginning of the independence of Ukraine I have been talking that the best option for Ukraine is the confederal structure, like in Switzerland. But the realities of life and the fact that Russia resumed its imperial policy forbid us to talk about it at least for 40 years.
We should stop talking about all the enclaves with special status. We should really carry out real profound decentralization, leave 5-6 of powers at the central government level and control properly. Local government must deal with all the rest.
The challenge for the country is to finish the post-Soviet way of life - huge. And it was only intensified because of this conflict with Russia. We need to be calm. If you have a neighbor, who is an alcoholic and fights - behave in such a way, so that you don’t deal with him. This should be our strategy and tactics.
Interviewed by Konstantin Abazov, OstroV