Hoodwinked: Ukraine’s regions are not really being allowed decentralization


June 20, 2016 – 

Svyatoslav Knyazev, PolitRussia – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski

A wave of joyful enthusiasm over a number of Ukrainian regional councils’ demands for decentralization and the granting of a special status has swept through Russian and anti-Maidan media. Unfortunately, those who have rejoiced apparently didn’t bother to open the very documents adopted by local government. There is in fact nothing to celebrate in them. On the contrary, Kiev and its overseas bosses are simply preparing a new trick.

For several months, decentralization has been requested from Kiev by the regional councils of five Ukrainian regions: Zhytomyr, Kirovograd, Odessa, Khmelnitsky, and Ivano-Frankivsk. Two more, Zaporozhye and Transcarpathia, have demanded a special status for themselves. Among the opponents and critics of the Kiev regime, especially those outside of Ukraine who do not under stand the local legal tricks, a real euphoria arose. Everyone claimed that the mutiny had begun and that federalization could not be stopped because Kiev is bankrupt. 

For some reason, neither completely calm Kiev nor the political parties demanding the decentralization of regions were embarrassed by this cheering. It’s worth thinking this through.

Look at those who have adopted such appeals. In the Odessa, Zaporozhye, and Kirovograd regional councils, where the “Opposition Bloc” won in elections, the Kiev government has powerful factions plus a whole host of technical “satellites” and small “patriotic Ukrainian parties,” and thereby in fact fully controls the organs of local government. In Zhytomyr region, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc possesses the largest faction and coalition parties form a comfortable majority. In Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnitsky, the situation is similar, only there the Ukrainian ultra-right has an even stronger presence. Even in Transcarpathia, where political forces of a local persuasion are strong, the regional council is still dominated by parties oriented towards the major oligarchs on the all-Ukraine level.

Why, then, did the Kiev bosses allow their local representatives to rebel? They haven’t! There is no rebellion. In order to confirm this, it’s enough to go on the websites of the Ukrainian regional councils and that of the Verkhovna Rada (the question of the status of the Zaporozhye region has already reached the parliamentary level) and see what is going on. 

Let’s start with Zaporozhye. The decision of the regional council on a special status was adopted in 2015, and then in the middle of 2016 the people’s deputy Evgeny Balitsky brought such legislation to the Rada. The bill itself does not concern federalization at all. It generally does not even affect the political rights of the region, and even the name of the bill speaks for itself. “On the territories with a special ecological status.” Zaporozhye region is mentioned as the region with the most acute ecological problems in the country, and part of locally collected taxes are proposed to be redirected towards solving such environmental problems. That’s the whole “federalization.”

The other appeals of other regional councils are even more straightforward.

For example, the resolutions of the Odessa and Ivano-Frankivsk regional councils are quite similar to each other. In some places, they are completely identical. Even the naked eye can say that the documents were clearly written using the same template, while the final texts were not even deeply reviewed. 

How could this have happened? It’s quite obvious. This was a top-down assignment. Technically speaking, this was done either by the team of the local “Poroshenko Bloc” faction or via messages sent to governors from the Administration of President Poroshenko.

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On this note, the appeals themselves of the deputies contain nothing new. All of the decentralization mentioned in them is the division of budget authorities which Poroshenko already promised to partially transfer to the regions. The oligarch president has nothing to lose in this – the majority of regional councils are under his control via the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko factions.

Thus, the regional council appeals are a banal PR-move, albeit it one far from stupid. With Kiev’s OK, local deputies are pretending that a couple additional taxes staying on the local level is all that is needed for happiness, and Poroshenko is pretending that he’s meeting with the regions. Kiev is acting in front of the whole world in “fulfilling” all of the requests of the regions. But nothing is fundamentally changing.

In all of the most crucial spheres, Kiev is under the full control of the US, i.e., in external and information policies, international economics, defense, national security, and education. The latter is the most importan

The other day, for example, in the context of the full transition to teaching the Ukrainian language in the part of Donbass controlled by Kiev, the city hall of Ivano-Frankivsk provided new textbooks to students of the city of Volnovakha, which is now behind the demarcation line and which supported the DPR in spring 2014 only to be captured in the summer by UAF forces. In these new textbooks, it is written that the parents of students who support the DPR are bandits and separatists, that the Maidan was the triumph of freedom and justice, that Russians are enemies, that there was no Great Patriotic War, and that the real heroes were the Hitlerite Polizei like Shukhevich. To make it clear, the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, who sent off the books, is a member of the ultra-right party Svoboda (whose activities were recently condemned by the UN)  and the head of the local paramilitary nationalist organization Plast. 

In general, what such regional councils are favoring and what Poroshenko has proposed is not decentralization, and especially not federalization. On the contrary, this is an even greater concentration of power over all fundamental questions in the hands of the West with a temporary lulling of the vigilance of the population of the South-East. This is also a step towards fooling foreign partners and imitating a fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements. Poroshenko will just shrug and act like he wonders why the evil separatists of Donbass just do not want to return to Ukraine despite having been granted such freedom. 

The only real way out of the unfolding situation is a direct exposure at the Minsk negotiations of Kiev’s representatives’ lies and the inconsistency of the changes proposed by Poroshenko in the spirit of decentralization.

The required elements of a real decentralization which Kiev has not consented to and which it will refuse at any negotiations could be: 

  1. The election of all high officials of a region
  2. The transfer of the greater part of power structures, such as the police, the counterparts of the national guard, the prosecutor’s office, and territorial defense forces under the exclusive leadership of local authorities 
  3. Each region’s formation of its own educational programs and complete independence from the center in educational matters
  4. The transfer of the language question to the exclusive jurisdiction of local authorities
  5. The right of regional authorities to conduct their own foreign policy
  6. The right of regions to block the adoption of strategic foreign policy decisions at the national level (in particular accession to military blocs and economic unions)
  7. The region of regions to independently evaluate historical events

And it is only natural that the right to independently dispose of the greater part of collected taxes and associated requirements for registering economic activities be transferred to the local level in order to avoid taxation in the center.

Such a decentralization could remove almost all conflicts and would reflect the real aspirations of people. The fake which Kiev and its puppet deputies on the local level are pushing today is a pure fiction which will only drive the situation further into a dead-end. 

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