Press Digest: Investigative Committee accuses Ukrainian forces of genocide

People react after a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by pro-Ukraine supporters in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkiv September 28, 2014. Source: Reuters

People react after a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by pro-Ukraine supporters in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkiv September 28, 2014. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on the latest developments in Ukraine, featuring a report on Russia’s Investigative Committee’s decision to qualify events in the Donbass as genocide, as well as analysis of “stalling” by Kiev on key issues, including the gas dispute and the association agreement with the EU.

Kommersant

The Kommersant newspaper writes that Russia’s Investigative Committee is now qualifying the events in the Donbass region of south-eastern Ukraine as a genocide of the Russian-speaking population of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, reports the publication.

The investigation had earlier charged Kiev with employing “outlawed methods of waging war,” as a part of which murders and other severe crimes had been committed, reports Kommersant. Quoting from a statement made by the official representative of the Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin, the newspaper reports that it has been established that in the period from 12 April 2014 to the present a whole range of international laws have been violated.

“Unidentified persons from the ranks of the political and military administration of Ukraine, the country’s armed forces, the National Guard and [nationalist organization] Right Sector issued orders aimed at the extermination of Russian-speaking citizens living on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics,” the newspaper quotes Markin as saying.

According to the investigation, no fewer than 2,500 peaceful citizens have fallen victim to these policies. The spur for the committee’s reclassification of the actions by the Ukrainian security forces as genocide was the discovery of mass graves containing “peaceful citizens” in south-eastern Ukraine, explains the newspaper.

Gazeta.ru

“Who will rebuild the regions destroyed by war?” asks Gazeta.ru. The lull in fighting that has followed the signing of the Minsk peace agreement has brought the question of the financing of repair work in the Donbass to the fore, writes the publication. Commentators do not exclude the possibility that the provision of aid to the ruined regions may become a bargaining chip in negotiations over the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia.

An important question, according to Gazeta.ru, is the issue of with whom talks on lifting the restrictions on the Russian economy will be held. “In any case it will not be possible to alleviate the American sanctions, since they are less connected to the Donbass. Europe has more of an interest in stabilizing the situation,” writes one of the publication’s journalists. However, he notes that it is unlikely that Ukraine itself will become a mediator in talks on lifting anti-Russian sanctions: “If it leaks into the press that Kiev is negotiating with the West on the abolition of the restrictions, it will be suicide for the Ukrainian authorities.”

Another of Gazeta.ru’s writers is convinced that in any case Moscow will be obligated to reach an answer to the tricky question of what is more affordable for Russia, to remain under sanctions or to contribute toward rebuilding eastern Ukraine. Referring to a source close to the leadership of the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine, the publication outlines a scenario for rebuilding the Donbass along the lines of Abkhazia and Transnistria (breakaway regions of Georgia and Moldova) at Moscow’s expense. Estimates of the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure of the Donbass differ, notes Gazeta.ru. The European Union is expected to carry out an accurate inventory of the damage sustained in the near future. 

Expert

Expert magazine notes in an article that the Ukrainian authorities are currently conducting themselves in a rather shortsighted fashion. “By stalling and altering the agreements reached, Kiev is not only putting Moscow in an awkward position, but is also discrediting Brussels,” writes the publication. Expert explains that the issue concerns the failure of the Ukrainian side in its mediation with the EU on two fronts — the gas issue and the implementation of the association agreement Kiev has signed with Brussels.

The situation with gas supplies to Ukraine, writes Expert, has already reached a critical point. “Kiev has simply been trying to hold out to the end on principle, freeze its citizens and subject the economy to colossal stress, but not to yield to Moscow even a dollar on the price,” summarizes the publication. Meanwhile, Kiev has not managed to replace supplies of Russian gas either by turning to its reserves or by using alternative sources, writes Expert.

The second issue on which Moscow and Brussels have tried to convince Kiev to act rationally is the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned, writes the publication, that once the agreement enters force, Russia will automatically transfer Ukraine to the status of a standard trading partner. This will mean a rise in customs duties, and analysts have warned that this will be catastrophic for Ukraine’s weakened industry.

“Since evidently, the fate of its domestic economy does not seem to worry Kiev, Europe’s bureaucrats, who do not want to see an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, have stepped in,” writes Expert. The Council of the EU has deferred the implementation of the part of the agreement on the creation of a free trade zone until 1 January 2016.

Kiev’s policies may have unpleasant consequences for Ukraine, according to the publication. “If Kiev continues to disobey Brussels and act against its interests, then a number of European politicians may come out in favor of resetting relations with Russia – at the expense of Ukraine,” writes Expert.  

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Rossiyskaya Gazeta tells its readers that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is “bargaining with Europe against its will.” The publication reports that in a TV interview, the Ukrainian president said that there was no question of the postponement of the agreement on a free trade zone with the European Union until 2015, and that the document would enter force in a month.

This statement has somewhat puzzled the Europeans, writes Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The publication reminds its readers that back on Sept. 12, after talks between Ukraine, Russia and the EU, a decision was taken to postpone the implementation of the trade section of the agreement. By making these comments, Poroshenko, writes the newspaper, has virtually canceled an agreement already made at the highest levels.

However, Brussels was quick to deny the Ukrainian president’s statement. An official statement by the European Union, released several hours after Poroshenko’s statement, underlines the newspaper, said that the “postponement of the temporary implementation of the agreement on a free trade zone with Ukraine has been adopted without debate.”

In other words, the question of establishing a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU is closed until Dec. 31. “It can only be supposed that Poroshenko was prompted to make a loud statement for his election campaign and it was directed exclusively at Ukrainian viewers,” writes Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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