'Whole of Ukraine held hostage by a small group of radicals'
A country of almost 15 million people is being held hostage by a very small radical group, namely 2 or 3 thousand very aggressive rioters, with some of them toting firearms and Molotov cocktails, Professor Mark Almond of Oxford University told RT.
RT: Extreme violence, 10 dead, and chaos in a major city. Russia and Ukraine accuse the EU and US of interference, but are they really to blame for this?
Mark Almond: Well, only time will tell when the archives open, but there is a great deal of prima facie evidence that Americans and Europeans wanted some kind of chaotic denouement to this crisis. Remember, if we go back to 2004, they pushed through a compromise solution to the crisis and there was a rerun of the elections. Now what is wanted is a clean sweep or a revolution... It means abolishing the constitution, it means outlawing the losing side, and what I think the West really wants to see is the pushing away from any position of power, any chance of coming back to power, of the president’s government and its supporters.
RT: Who would replace the president? We see extremists and nationalists taking power over the protesters on the streets…
MA: This is a great problem, I’m afraid. Just as we saw the same process taking place for instance in Syria, where we started out by supporting people who said they wanted constitutional change, they wanted general pre-elections, and then we ended up with radical jihadists planting car bombs and so on. So I’m afraid, on a smaller scale, we will probably see it in a European city. We have seen that the process of chaos is taking over.
And we have to say, after all, Mr. Klitchko and Yatsenyuk went to Berlin, they came back and then they made very radical statements. Quite often, particularly in the European media, we hear the moderate views. They said that today was the decisive day. And I think we have to ask ourselves are we really seeing a forked tongue approach? This is a very dangerous approach because it has a long history. When the Germans occupied Ukraine in 1919, the German commandment said “Let’s put these little boys in short trousers, and ministerial seats, and we'll create a government of an independent Ukraine.” And it’s a horrible pre-echo of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyat, the US State department people, talking about who should be prime minister, who should hold high office. I think this is the danger that we are seeing today. We see the geopolitical game played out over the bodies of ordinary Ukrainians.
RT: What is going to come out of this all? If what they really want is chaos and destruction that we are seeing now, but if it’s a bankrupt country already?
MA: I think what they hope and I’m not entirely wrong, President Yanukovich and the Ukrainian police forces will back off. After all they were repeatedly confronted by violence on a smaller scale. They backed off, they compromised, they released hundreds of people involved in very bad acts a few weeks ago, they released them only this week. That actually has helped to provide the hard core of people to take part, because the tragedy in this situation is really how few people are playing a part in this. We are talking about 2 or 3 thousand very aggressive rioters, just some of them provided with firearms, some with Molotov cocktails, but the country of almost 15 million people is held hostage by a very radical small group.
RT: Many people have seen this as the representation of the Ukrainian people, decent and angry about the corrupt government, and they like the idea of joining the EU because it’s a better life for them.
MA: Two things. First of all, coming to your second point, they have been sold by a very diligent propaganda campaign by the NATO countries, the EU countries that were they to join the EU, they'd have a better life. They have never told how many people have emigrated from Poland to Britain, because in fact joining the EU plunged the already poor country into economic crisis. So the tragedy of people in Ukraine is that they are very misinformed.
One of the problems of this crisis is that there isn't a constitutional way out because, in fact, about half of the country, the Western third of the country at least, is already controlled by these very radical groups who suppress any opposition. If you go to Lviv, if you go to Ivano-Frankovsk, people don’t agree with the paramilitary groups… it's rather like meeting dissidents in Ceaușescu's Romania 25 years ago. And so if you were to hold an election you would find a situation where a large part of the country has a completely bogus situation, for example inflated by large numbers of non-existent people - that happened already in 2004. So the claim, the argument “let’s have elections,” if you have an election with the paramilitaries in control at the polling stations, I’m afraid you are not going to get a genuine result.
RT: Will that still be a case if we wait till the 2015 scheduled elections?
MA: The problem now is, and this is why it’s difficult to see a compromise solution, that the Svoboda and the Right Section radical groups in Ukraine have in a sense played their card. They have shown they are prepared to use extreme violence and then they face the problem if they don’t succeed, if the West is not able to cajole the Ukrainian political elite into making concessions, these people do face a very grim future, they’ll go to prison. The problem now is that we have passed the situation where there is an obvious political solution. And as you said a lot of ordinary Ukrainians are very discontented with their economic law, they are probably also very discontented with the ways the government is handling this crisis. Whether they will be listened to, whether they will have a chance to have their votes counted fairly, I think is now very much an open question.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.