A Day and a Night of Viktor Yanukovych

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Sergii Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem, Ukrainska Pravda
Воскресенье, 8 декабря 2013, 06:51

A week ago, Yanukovych was positioned to make a decision that would have abruptly altered his fate. If on Friday morning he had signed the Association Agreement, he would have been able to return home triumphant, having made a far-reaching decision for his country, and in the process guaranteeing himself a place in the history books.

He would have buried all the negativity that has accumulated around the corrupt dealings of his family. He would have relaunched relations with the West, and would have guaranteed himself a quiet retirement in 2015 or even 2020. He would even have achieved some legitimization in the West regarding his imprisoning of political opponents, since the issue of freeing Yulia Tymoshenko would no longer have stood as an ultimatum.

Yet overnight, Viktor Yanukovych transformed himself from a capricious child, whom for two years the West had been trying to educate through negotiations, into an odious, blood-stained, mad despot.

Now former heads of the U.S. State Department and the most influential Ukrainian diasporas throughout the world are demanding that sanctions be introduced against him, and for five consecutive days European governments have been serving up demonstrative obstruction.

The center of the capital has transformed into a scene from an apocalyptic movie, with barricades and bonfires. Meanwhile, Yanukovych can peacefully reside within the sarcophagus of "Mezhyhirya" only because he has surrounded it with a few hundred pieces of cannon fodder, marked with "Berkut" chevrons on their sleeves.

"Ukrainska Pravda" was able to establish a chronology of events from November 30, the infamous bloody night on the Maidan, and to learn of the plans and scenarios which were developed in government offices during those days.

While there was shouting on the Maidan, Viktor Yanukovych was out hunting boars

Late Friday afternoon, Viktor Yanukovych arrived in Kyiv after the failed Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. He proceeded to Mezhyhirya without stopping at Bankova Street.

Yanukovych spent a few hours at his palace, which is spread over an area the size of the Principality of Monaco. Then he went on  a night hunt to Sukholuchchja - a state wildlife preserve which was privatized and brought under the control of offshore companies owned by Yanukovych.

In fact, according to sources, while the carnage at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) was taking place, Yanukovych was similarly reveling in the blood of animals just seventy kilometers north of the capital.

EuroMaidan, which was raging in Kyiv at the time, visibly irritated Yanukovych. There were signs of his complexes from 2004. In addition, from his point of view, even more out of control was the creation of a dangerous precedent for the next presidential election, during which Yanukovych was planning on being re-elected for a second term without the accompaniment of an opposition Maidan.

To this day, the extent and nature of Yanukovych’s order to clean out the Maidan remains a mystery. Were his orders those demonstrated by the witnessed ostentatious cruelty, when "Berkut" was not only tasked with beating people in their livers, but also beating out of them any desire to meet again? Or did Yanukovych order the removal of people who were irritating him, leaving it to the police to choose from the available means of doing so, and not thinking about the consequences of his anger.

Either way, Yanukovych went hunting and "Berkut" drowned EuroMaidan in blood.

According to information from a variety of independent sources, the management of this operation was assumed by Andrei Kliuev, the National Security Council Secretary, who did not respond to a request from "Ukrainska Pravda" to present his version of events. He already had experience using force to conspicuously disperse a peaceful assembly - it is sufficient to recall the bloodshed next to the Central Electoral Commission a week before the 2004 presidential elections.

Sources say that the preparations for cleaning out the Maidan began at the beginning of last week - Kliuev and his first deputy Volodymyr Sivkovych selected groups of Berkut that would be entrusted with the dirty work.

Ultimately, the decision was made to select out-of-town fighters from the oblasts of Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, and Cherkasy, and from Crimea. While the fighting was happening at Maidan, Volodymyr Sivkovych was based at the office of Kyiv police chief Valery Koryak.

The Kyiv municipal administration also had a hand in the preparations for the bloody dispersal of the Maidan. In order to justify the involvement of Berkut in the beating of peaceful protesters, Alexander Popov’s first deputy, Anatoly Holubchenko, signed an order demanding the urgent delivery of construction machinery to the Independence Monument.

A strange circumstance that arose during that night was the inability to reach the head of the presidential administration, Serhij Lovochkin. According to one version, Lovochkin was aware of the intention to disperse the Maidan but did not participate in the discussion of this scenario, and deliberately withdrew, allowing his eternal rival Kliuiev to definitively discredit himself in the eyes of the West.

According to another version, Lovochkin did not pick up the phone because... he wanted to relax after the nerve-wracking summit in Vilnius. His entourage adheres to this version, although the very idea that the head of the presidential administration may be out of reach seems strange.

Thus, whatever the case may have been, Lovochkin's phone was ringing off the hook thanks to Western diplomats and Ukrainian colleagues, but he first picked up the receiver after dawn, when the caller was U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. In fact, according to Lovochkin's entourage, he first learned of the fighting on the Maidan from the American.

Next, Lovochkin tried to contact Yanukovych, who was still hunting, but the latter did not pick up the phone. After this Lovochkin wrote a letter of resignation and handed Yanukovych a disc recounting world news regarding the bloody morning on the Maidan. In addition, the presidential administration prepared for Yanukovych a draft statement announcing the dismissal of Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, but he refused to consider it.

According to his entourage, during the first half of the day after the dispersal of the Maidan, Livochkin contacted Kluiev and warned him about his personal responsibility for the dispersal of the demonstrators. In response, the Security Council secretary said that television news sources will report that municipal workers were setting up a Christmas tree, and "Berkut" was protecting them from attacking protesters. Indeed, the next day Moscow TV news channels began reporting this version of the dispersal of the peaceful assembly in Kyiv.

It's no secret that Kliuev is a close friend of Victor Medvedchuk, who is the curator of Ukraine from the Kremlin. And when the Putin-controlled media became the mouthpieces for the version promoted by the shadowy Kliuiev, this served as yet another proof of his responsibility for the bloodshed. The same applies to the urgent briefing by the Kliuiev-controlled Hanna Herman, who suddenly decided to report his innocence concerning the fighting.

The dispersal of the Maidan showed that in contrast to 2004, the President has no control over TV broadcasting. Media magnates Dmytro Firtash, Victor Pinchuk, and even Rinat Akhmetov covered the events almost without self-censorship, and showed the most shocking videos of demonstrators being beaten on the night of November 30th and during the incident on Bankova Street on December 1st.

The definitive proof of Andrij Kliuiev`s responsibility for the dispersal of the Maidan was his speech at the morning session of the Party of Regions last Tuesday. "Berkut`s" cruel behavior on the night of 29-30 November was explained not by the head of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, but by the secretary of the Security Council.

According to witnesses, Kliuev so eloquently described the effectiveness and courage of law enforcement officials that those in the room even began to joke: "Yes, maybe we should reward Zaharchenko."

In response to the direct question of whether or not Kliuev personally instigated the plan to disperse the Maidan, he placed all responsibility on Valery Koryak, the head of the municipal police, forgetting to even mention the role of Vitaly Zakharchenko. This is very strange, given that any deployment of "Berkut", and especially the re-assignment of regional special forces units to the central command, is impossible without orders from the head of the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Just three days after the bloody events on the Maidan, Viktor Yanukovych departed for China without punishing any of the guilty. Instead, nine protesters found themselves in jail, with criminal proceedings having been launched against them and initiated in court within 24 hours.

What's Next? Scenarios

A week after the start of EuroMaidan, considering the new demand for the resignation of Viktor Yanukovych, it is clear that the blitz revolution has transformed into a prolonged positional standoff. Opponents of the regime keep arriving in Kyiv, and the government is summoning security forces for rotations in the capital.

People are barricading downtown streets and blocking government buildings. On Thursday dump trucks were used to block the entrance to the presidential administration at 20 Shovkovychna Street. This is the same `black entrance` used by officials under the current revolutionary conditions to access the building, whose main entrance is on Bank Street.

The resignation of Yanukovych remains the ultimate goal of the EuroMaidan, while the opposition is actively discussing more realistic ways out of the crisis, which include keeping the current president in office until 2015.

Serhij Arbuzov, the first deputy prime minister and a candidate of the "family clan", is attempting to position himself as the negotiator for the government side. In recent days he has launched unprecedented activity - an official, who staunchly avoided interviews for the last three and a half years, is now rarely absent from the TV screens, advancing his thesis about the negotiations. He even appeared on "Channel 5" , despite his long-running conflict with its owner, Peter Poroshenko.

A precondition for talks is the "zero option" in which the regime withdraws the "Berkut" from the center of Kyiv and frees detained activists, while the opposition removes its blockade of government buildings.

The first of the possible compromise scenarios is a "technical government". This situation envisions  Azarov's resignation and the formation of a "government of technocrats" without tainted individuals, which would serve until the next presidential elections.

Obviously, Arbuzov would assign himself the role of prime minister in this Cabinet. Part of the opposition considers the scenario of a "technical government" as acceptable, but opposes having Arbuzov at the helm. Moreover, the condition for the creation of such a body should be the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU.

US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland advocated in support of such a scenario during a meeting with the opposition in Kyiv.

The second scenario would be a "return to a parliamentary –presidential republic" which existed after the Orange Revolution. Moreover, the restoration of the old constitution would be achieved via a strange "politico-legal decision." According to the logic of those who support this approach, parliament should vote to not recognize the judgments of the Constitutional Court according to which Viktor Yanukovych, in 2010, received the level of power wielded by Leonid Kuchma.

The explanation of the supporters of this approach, among whom the first was member of parliament David Zhvania, was that since Yanukovych acquired these powers in a dubious manner, he could lose them the same way.

The third scenario is the most radical. It calls for continued pressure on Yanukovych, exacerbating the situation in the streets and provoking a "guarantor" for renewed abuses by the organs of power. Simultaneously, it would call upon the West to begin applying sanctions without wasting time on the adoption of special laws modeled on the "Magnitskyj Act", but simply blocking the accounts of the most discredited officials and placing them on a list of people blocked from entry.

Pressure on Yanukovych in particular would be applied by blocking him in at Mezhyhirya, launching a nationwide strike, causing the collapse of the organs of governance, and forming an alternative government. A financial disaster would also play its role, as Azarov's government has already led Ukraine to the brink.

In reality, it is possible that a hybridization of these scenarios will occur, with elements being drawn from each. For example, an element of the radical scenario - blocking Yanukovich at Mezhyhirya - could force him to negotiate with the street protesters and the opposition concerning the re-establishment of a parliamentary-presidential republic.

In addition, one increasingly hears of proposals to invite international mediators to guarantee compliance with agreements between Yanukovych and his opponents. These could be the already familiar ex-presidents Pat Cox and Alexander Kwasniewski, and the current foreign ministers Carl Bildt of Sweden and Radek Sikorski of Poland.

Despite the political limitations imposed by the limited amount of available time, Viktor Yanukovych continues to play on two fronts, not abandoning his hope for a second term while looking for sources of money to close the budget gap. On the eve of his visit to China, he almost simultaneously dispatched two delegations. One - to Moscow to prepare a draft for a new strategic agreement with the Kremlin. The second - to Brussels, to preserve the possibility of renewed talks with the European Commission in case talks in Moscow failed.

The mission to Moscow was headed by Yuriy Boyko, accompanied by finance minister Yurij Kolobov. In Brussels is deputy foreign minister Andrij Olefirov and vice chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine Mykola Udovychenko, who were supposed to meet with Stefan Fule.

Viktor Yanukovych himself places all his hopes on signals from the Russian mission. According to sources, the text of a new strategic agreement is almost ready; what remains is to finalize appendices and protocols, which will actually spell out the financial parameters of the agreements between Kyiv and Moscow.

Depending on how convincing the Russian offer will be, Yanukovych's plane may make a refueling stop en route from China. That depends on where Vladimir Putin will be at that moment, since he is the last possible ally of the current president of Ukraine .

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