Ukraine: what role for opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk amid the political turmoil?

Ukraine: what role for opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk amid the political turmoil?
By Euronews
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The daily sight of huge crowds in Independence Square in Kyiv and the mass rallies have led to much talk of the Orange revolution. That was nine years ago and led to a third presidential election in which Viktor Yuschenko was declared the winner over Viktor Yanokvych after allegations of vote rigging in favour of Yanokvych.

Comparisons can be odious, it is said and in this case, crowds aside, there are few similarities.

Take the opposition for instance, a loose alliance of factions with three main parties including a former economy minister. But in their attempts to unseat the current government it is argued the group lacks a galvanising figure like Yulia Tymoshenko in 2004.

And where is the common ground between the three men who lead the main opposition parties? What is the shared ideology of former economy minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party, Oleh Tyahnibok an ultra nationalist and former boxing champion Viataly Klitschko?

“We will do everything, and we are calling on everybody, to put pressure on the current authorities so they take certain steps so that the government is sacked,” said Klitschko addressing a crowd of protesters.

Turning the reservoir of anti-government feeling on the streets into new political movements, appears to be a huge task.

On Tuesday they failed to pass a vote of no confidence in parliament, coming 40 short of the 226 required. But they did later force parliament to suspend a session by blockading the speaker’s rostrum.

How then can the opposition sustain momentum and keep the people on the streets as winter sets in?

Who will emerge to lead a united front? Arseny Yatsenyuk has operated at government level and has the experience if not the charismatic appeal, say some.

But many analysts believe Vitaly Klitscheko is emerging as the likely candidate. He is well versed in the arts needed to topple opponents in the boxing ring, but in the heat of the political stage he is untested.

A lack of leadership experience is also seen as a failing of Oleh Tyahnibok who is the leader of the Svoboda party.

As for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, he has been speaking to euronews about his party’s outlook, amidst Ukraine’s political turmoil.

Our reporters Sergio Cantone asked: “The opposition in this country is traditionally divided, are you discussing about finding a common program platform and may be a common future candidate?

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “We act in concert as Ukrainian opposition despite the fact that we have different factions, different parties, sometime different programmes, but the key agenda for us is the same one, the European course, European integration, European values and a new country.”

euronews: “Is the channel with the EU is still open – and for you it is very important – but do you think that this government really believes that they can do something with the EU?”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “It’s a bluff, and it was a bluff from the start. There was no incentive and any reason for this president to sign an association agreement with the EU. What’s the key goal of president Yanukovich to get the second term in the office of the president, right? Right. In order to reach this goal he needs, desperately needs cash, because the country is in a desperate financial plight, the only chance to get this cash, I mean in the western world is the IMF. But the IMF set a very clear and strong benchmark, you are to reform the country, you are to stop corruption and the key factor, you are to balance the budget and increase [energy] tariffs for households and this will have negative repercussions for presidential approval rate, that’s how it works in our country. So it means that he needs another source of financial support, and the only source is Russia.”

euronews: “Mr Yatsenyuk, do you think that there is the possibility to call snap election in the country?”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “This is the ultimate goal of the opposition, to call snap presidential and parliamentary elections, but we are very realistic; it is not an easy job to topple this president. President Yanukovich will never step down, but in case the Ukrainian people do what they are doing for a quite extensive period of time, they are fighting for their civil rights and liberty, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians run a peaceful rally against this government, this president and for the EU integration we can reach our goal.”


euronews: “Who gave the order for the intervention of riot police in Maidan last Saturday and to carry out violence against journalists?”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “Someone gave an order to do that, someone in the department of home security, someone in the national security council.”

euronews: “Did those orders came from above, from the president basically?”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “I do believe that his close aids, like national security adviser Kluyev, like other guys who are responsible for the control of law enforcement office, were engaged in this and are responsible for this.

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