Why Was Russia in a Hurry to Reject Ukraine's Referendum Proposal?

Opinions |Author: Angel Petrov | May 1, 2014, Thursday // 21:07|  views

Ukraine's latest proposal is a reminder that pro-Russian protesters have placed scores of demands but have strangely accepted no concessions. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not hesitate to dismiss Kiev's proposal that a nation-wide poll on "decentralization of power" be held on May 25 alongside presidential elections.

Desperate - and, above all, vague - as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's "rejected" offer might have been, the criticism it met from Russia’s side raises a peculiar question.

Namely: Would rebels in eastern Ukraine have put an end to unrest if they had been granted more regional autonomy at the beginning? Was it not self-government they were craving after?

We do not know if Ukraine could have seriously taken such a step back in end-March.

What we know is that on May 1 Moscow could have at least (silently) agreed in theory to the referendum proposal to later "find out" that pro-Russian rebels disapproved of it themselves. It could have told Kiev then, "Your citizens are against, so we are helpless".

Why did it have to directly interfere in Ukraine's domestic affairs (and intervention is something it claims to be refraining from), instead of leaving its language minority representatives to speak for themselves?

Maybe Russia does need the opinion of its blood brothers. But it also feels an urge to point them the way.

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, East, rebels, Referendum, proposal, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Russian Foreign Ministry, Kiev, Moscow


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