Q&A on Ukraine’s Internal Political Situation
1.1. Are there grounds to blame the opposition for upsetting agreements on the settlement of the political crisis?
There are no grounds for that. On February 21, 2014, the Agreement on the Settlement of Political Crisis was signed between the then incumbent President of Ukraine V.Yanukovych and leaders of parliamentary opposition. The fact of signing was testified by official representatives of Germany, Poland and France. Russia refused to participate in the process of signing.
The representatives of the opposition kept to their end of the deal by ensuring the adoption of relevant law that restored the validity of 2004 Constitution of Ukraine. The next step was to be made by Mr. Yanukovych by signing the said law and ensuring its entry into force within the terms established by the Agreement.
Having failed to sign the approved law, Mr. Yanukovych violated the formalized agreements and made impossible their timely implementation by all parties. Therefore, opposition representatives cannot be blamed for upsetting the agreements.
1.2. Is the declaration of dissociation of V.Yanukovych from performance of constitutional authorities legitimate?
Ex-president Yanukovych left the country in the critical moment of the settlement of political crisis, having failed to fulfill his part of “agreements of February 21”, dissociated from performance of constitutional authorities and stopped the fulfillment of his duties, which created real threats to national governance, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In this regard, and acting under conditions of extreme necessity, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on February 22, 2014 approved its Resolution #757-VII on Dissociation of the President of Ukraine from Performance of Constitutional Authorities and Calling of the Early Elections of the President of Ukraine (May 25, 2014).
1.3. How legitimate was the return to 2004 Constitution of Ukraine and appointment of Acting President of Ukraine?
The restoration of 2004 Constitution of Ukraine was one of key demands of the opposition and Ukraine’s civic society, as well as the first step provided for by relevant agreements with ex-president Yanukovych.
In order to create relevant political and legal conditions for the development of Ukraine during the period before the elections of the President (May 25, 2014), the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved several political decisions, in particular, the Resolution recognizing the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine of 2004 in force in the territory of Ukraine, as well as the Resolution that appointed the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as Acting President of Ukraine.
1.4. Was the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of the new Government in line with Ukraine’s legislation in force?
On February 27, 2014 the European Choice coalition of deputy factions established in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; it included 250 people’s deputies of Ukraine. The coalition included deputies from Batkivschyna, UDAR V.Klychka, and Svoboda factions, as well as Economic Development and Sovereign European Ukraine groups and independent deputies.
This and following decisions were made absolutely openly, democratically and legitimately with adherence to all legal procedures and norms of legislation, and their broad support (in many cases by constitutional majority), including the support by representatives of former ruling party, demonstrated consensus among different political forces.
Following the creation of the coalition, the first steps of the Parliament of Ukraine were the appointment of A.Yatsenyuk as the Prime Minister of Ukraine, as well as the appointments of members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the approval of the Program of Activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Due to these decisions, the operation of all executive authorities was duly safeguarded, enabling the implementation of necessary steps to overcome the negative consequences of political and economic crisis in the country.
Are there grounds for accusation of Ukraine in numerous violations of rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens in its territory?
Presently there is no single confirmed case of violation of rights of citizens of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine, in particular, in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. On March 6, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors stated that during her visit to Crimea, she found no evidence of violations or threats to the rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
At the same time, the Ukrainian government and the High Commissioner are alarmed that inter-ethnic relations in the autonomy became considerably aggravated because of actions by the self-proclaimed government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, including illegitimate decisions to become a part of the Russian Federation and to conduct so-called “referendum”. The Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar groups are in particular danger.
How reasonable are fears expressed by the Russian side that Russian language will be persecuted because of repeal of the Law on Basics of the State Linguistic Policy?
The Russian language has never been persecuted in Ukraine. There are no persecutions now. It is enough to look at the ratio of printed media in Ukrainian and Russian in Ukraine, as well as TV programming by Ukrainian channels.
It is known that Acting President O.Turchynov did not sign the Law of Ukraine on Repeal of the Law of Ukraine on Basics of the State Linguistic Policy that was approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on February 23, 2014.
In order to search for optimum variant of development of the national language policy, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine established temporary special commission to draft the new law on development and use of languages in Ukraine; it already started its work.
Are Russia’s claims that the new Ukrainian government ignores legitimate interest of south-eastern regions and Crimea true to facts?
The Government of Ukraine intends to make several decisions aimed at decentralization of the government and expansion of authorities of local self-governments in the near future. The first steps in this regard will be maximum transfer of authorities to the local level, which includes financial resources, amendment of the Tax Code and cancellation of unnecessary administrative services.
How legitimate is the decision of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation regarding the support of the request of President of Russia V.Putin to use the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine based on appeals by ex-president V.Yanukovych and self-proclaimed “prime minister” of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea S.Aksyonov?
The decision is illegitimate. Crimea is an inalienable part of Ukraine, its territory is covered by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. According to paragraph 23 Article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the decision to admit units of armed forces of foreign states to the territory of Ukraine, in particular, Russian military to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, is made by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine only; it has never made such a decision.
Are there legal grounds to Russia’s claims that it acts in accordance with 1997 Treaty of Friendship between Ukraine and Russia and basic accords on temporary presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine?
Unilateral voluntary acts of the Russian Federation that started on February 21, 2014 violated several Ukrainian-Russian accords laid down in the basic agreements on the conditions of presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine.
In particular, several Articles of the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Status and Conditions of Presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine dated May 28, 1997, intergovernmental Agreement on the Use of Airspace of Ukraine and of Airspace Over the Black Sea dated July 16, 1999 and Articles 3 and 6 of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation were violated.
Was the appointment of S.Aksyonov as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea legitimate?
The said decision is illegitimate. The appointment of S.Aksyonov as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was made in violation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine.
In accordance with the decision of Kyiv Administrative Court, all actions and decisions by S.Aksyonov as the head of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and on behalf of that body are illegitimate and considered void.
Under Ukrainian laws in force, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, as the supreme legislative body, recommended the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to revoke its decision to appoint S.Aksyonov.
How legitimate are the decisions of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea regarding accession to the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation, conduct of “all-Crimean referendum” on March 16, 2014 and declaration of independence of Crimea?
Ukraine does not recognize the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea regarding accession to the Russian Federation and considers it illegitimate, as it does not comply with the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s laws in force, changes of its territory are decided by all-Ukrainian referendum only.
According to the granted constitutional authorities, Acting President, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine O.Turchynov suspended the validity of the decision.
Anti-constitutional decisions of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and local authorities of Sevastopol to conduct “all-Crimean referendum” were suspended by orders of District Administrative Court of Kyiv on March 7, 2014.
Ukraine also does not recognize the illegitimate declaration of independence by the Crimean parliament.
How legal is simplified granting of citizenship by Russia to Russian-speaking foreign citizens following their renunciation of previous citizenship?
Ukraine’s citizenship laws in force do not provide for the procedure of renunciation of Ukraine’s citizenship, therefore obtaining of foreign citizenship by a citizen of Ukraine on the grounds of his renunciation of Ukraine’s citizenship cannot be considered a legal ground for termination of the citizenship of Ukraine.
Single citizenship is Ukraine’s constitutional norm. If a citizen of Ukraine obtained a citizenship of another state(s), he is recognized as a Ukrainian citizen only in his legal relations with Ukraine. Ukraine’s citizenship is terminated only due to expatriation or loss of citizenship of Ukraine, as well as due to grounds provided for by international agreements of Ukraine. Expatriation is initiated by the citizen of Ukraine while the loss of citizenship of Ukraine is initiated only by the state represented by legally authorized bodies (Law of Ukraine on Citizenship).
Presently there are no agreements on citizenship between Ukraine and Russia.
10.1. How grounded are fears that, in the context of violation by the Russian Federation of provisions of the so-called Budapest Memorandum and illegal expansion of military presence in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine would restore the production of nuclear weapons?
Such concerns are absolutely ungrounded. Ukraine has always fulfilled and continues to fulfil all the obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in good faith; it acceded to the Treaty 20 years ago as a non-nuclear state subject to security guarantees by 5 nuclear states of the Treaty. On December 5, 1994 United Kingdom, Russian Federation and USA signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
Ukraine does not consider the possibility of restoring the production of nuclear weapons. The new government of Ukraine declared its readiness to ensure bona fide compliance with international treaties by Ukraine.
10.2. Are integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space and NATO accession topical for Ukraine?
NATO accession course was established by Ukrainian laws until 2010. According to the current Law of Ukraine on Basics of Domestic and Foreign Policy dated July 1, 2010, the intention of Ukraine to develop its constructive partnership with the Alliance as a European non-block state is established.
Presently Ukraine’s accession to NATO is not considered. However, subject to considerable worsening of security environment and non-adherence to security guarantees provided to our state, Ukraine will be forced to use all opportunities to provide for its security.
Presently draft Law #4354 dated March 4, 2014 on Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine (Regarding Ensuring and Guaranteeing the National Security of Ukraine) was registered at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and submitted for consideration by relevant parliamentary committees. The authors argue that the draft Law was brought to life by the need for adjusting certain laws of Ukraine to establish the course of Euro-Atlantic integration and Ukraine’s accession to NATO because of threats to the national security and defense of Ukraine.
10.3. What is the present day probability of deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine?
According to Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine, no foreign military bases may be located in the territory of Ukraine. At the same time, under the transitional provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine, the use of the existing military bases in the territory of Ukraine for the temporary stationing of foreign military units is possible on the terms of lease, in compliance with a procedure determined by the international treaties of Ukraine ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The decision on access and conditions of presence of foreign military units (including those from NATO member states) in the territory of Ukraine (e.g. to conduct annual military exercises in the territory of Ukraine with participation of foreign military units) is made by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the basis of relevant submission by the President of Ukraine.
What is Ukraine’s assessment of the situation related to denial of admission to the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to OSCE military experts?
The denial of admission of military experts is viewed as unwillingness of Russia and Russia-controlled armed formations in Crimea to search for ways of resolving the crisis.