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Articles / 13 December 2013 | 16:10
The circle is shrinking: When and how will they dismantle barricades?

The circle is shrinking: When and how will they dismantle barricades?


For about a month now Ukraine has been overwhelmed by the wave of mass street protests, but solution has not been found and people are not planning on leaving the capital. Moreover, rumors say even more people are coming this weekend to Kyiv to support both the EuroMaidan and authorities. So, what should Ukraine expect further?

Negotiations and negotiators


Something must happen soon... And the latest statements of various officials prove that. Thus, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told journalists after meeting President Yanukvych that the president of Ukraine "intends to sign" a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU after all. The President himself also confirmed he would take part in the nationwide roundtable, involving representatives of all political forces, clerics and public organizations. 

Even the "Council of Elders", namely former Presidents of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko" declared its readiness to assist with negotiations among the authorities, opposition and civil activists.

The meeting was announced open twice, but both times none of the opposition showed up. Excuses varied. Thus, Arseniy Yatseniuk declared he was waiting for Maidan's permit order. Oleh Tyagnykov said first they had to clear the capital of all divisions of "Berkut" special forces, and Vitaly Klichko insisted on re-elections of the President and parliament. 

Split of the country is inevitable?

While high officials try to agree on something, some experts warn that in case of failure the country faces a split, including hatred, separatism, clashes and bloodshed.

"Unless they settle the conflict at the roundtable through peaceful talks, Ukraine faces destabilization or even a split. People cannot stay in Maidan forever. There must be some results to show to people and make a pause in rallies. Otherwise, the events may go in the opposite direction, when activists will call upon storming, police will drive off protesters, provocateurs might organize bombing or shooting," political scientist Ihor Popov told ForUm.

The authorities, in turn, assure that solution will be find by peaceful means. Thus, head of the main department of the constitutional and legal modernization of the President’s Administration Maryna Stavniychuk told ForUm that the parties must do everything possible to create conditions for a dialogue. "We are Ukrainians, we are a wise nation, and every citizen, including politicians and activists, must do everything in his power to prevent any violent conflicts or even talks about such conflicts."

Waiting for an attack


Meantime, people in Maidan live regular lives: reinforce barricades, restore tents, clean territory, sing the hymn and ... prepare to resist "Berkut" attacks. People are waiting and hoping for better. And this '"better" means the same simple things for everyone, regardless of political views - confidence in the future, well-being, feeling of safety.

But will the crowd disperse by itself or will be forced into it?

Police expert in public order policing Oleh Martynenko told ForUm that to clear Maidan, remove tents and drive off protesters is the work of a moment for special forces of the Interior Ministry. Relevant order is the only thing they need.

"They could have made it many times. Everyone has seen the manifestation of professionalism, when internal troops quietly drove off protesters from the government quarter. No buzz no fuss. They can do the same in Maidan, following special tactics they learn during trainings. Then communal service can clean the area and remove barricades, after which people will be let back in the empty place to enjoy peaceful protest," he explained. 

In turn, Police Colonel-General Mykhailo Korniyenko, acting interior minister in 2007, told ForUm that law enforcements find themselves in rather complicated situation.

"What police forces have to do now is to observe and prevent escalations, but they have been demoralized recently and do not know what to do. I do not envy those officers standing in Maidan. Of course, the events of November 30 must be analyzed, and responsible for violence must be found, but the majority of officers performed and keep performing their duties on maintenance of public order through legal means," he underlined.

How to bury the hatchet?

Sociologist Yevhen Kopatko believes that the conflict must be settled without involvement of law enforcement forces, but the parties must stop talking in terms of ultimatum and start listening to each other.

"We have reached the point when manifestation of force from one or another side may cause grave consequences for the country. Maidan is a signal for the authorities and opposition that they must agree on something at any cost. A poor peace is always better than a good war," he told ForUm.

And according to social psychologist Olek Pokalchuk, there may be three variants of the payoff.

The first variant includes application of force. "The only flaw of such scenario is that it must be of mass scale, but police officers are not robots, they are human beings and have conscience. Thus this scenario is a nuclear option, when certain provocations may happen, including murder of a rally's leader or a state official. Even extremism cannot be ruled out," he told ForUm. 

The second variant includes dismissal of the President and Cabinet, but such option is chimeric and delusive, according to Pokalchuk.

The third, and the most probable, variant includes a roundtable. "Well, it is a long and slow process, but at least all participants will start talking and listening. What we need is to find Ukraine's place in the world, to build new Ukraine and new civil society brick after brick."

End of the conflict

Even if not everybody admits, everybody wants to remove barricades, as people understand it cannot last forever and something must be done in this respect. Considering the statements of both parties, heavy-handed approach is not an option, as it is a losing game for all. However, the conflict might be solved with the help of negotiators, and not just good speakers, but true strategists and advocates of a strong state.

Yulia Artamoshchenko

ForUm
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