The Ukrainians should be left alone and allowed to make their own decision regarding the direction their nation wants to go to, says UC congressman Dana Rohrabacher. However, internally, a right to protest should be realized by ballot, not violence.
In the midst of all the fighting and political disagreement in Kiev and all across the country, foreign political interests are also at play in Ukraine.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is also the chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Panel on Europe, slammed his colleagues for
taking sides in the turmoil saying no one knows for sure who
started the violence in Ukraine and accused the protesters of using “brute
RT: I want to get your take on the protesters, because it is different from many of your other colleagues in Congress. Why are they being presented in your opinion as peaceful protesters in the mainstream media? Is that how you see them?
Dana Rohrabacher: [The protesters] represent a large segment of the Ukrainian population, but we have to remember, Ukraine is a very divided country. You have about half the country that really wants closer relations with Russia, and the other half of the country wants closer relations – more of a European tilt – to their country. These are two diametrically opposed positions and people feel very strongly about it.
Well, these types of issues should be settled at the ballot box and I’m just wondering, first of all, what is this idea about having foreign countries signing off to an agreement between Ukrainians themselves. That’s kind of odd that this government and that government signed off on the agreement. This should be left up to the people and it should be settled not on the streets but by balloting and if they didn’t like what their government was doing they should kick them out in the next election.
I’m just wondering that no matter who wins the next election what this precedent means now. That if you feel really strongly about it and you are willing to get out on the streets and risk losing your lives you could force any position onto the Ukrainian government. That would mean there will be a lot of turmoil in the future.
RT: We are seeing these diametrically
opposing opinions playing out on the streets with this violence.
Now Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy traveled to Kiev in
December. Senator Murphy said, “Ukraine’s future stands with
Europe and the US stands with Ukraine,” while Senator McCain
proclaimed, “America stands with you.” Do you think that this
sort of speech is appropriate?
DR: No, I don’t and I think that it’s up to the Ukrainian people to decide what is in their best interest. By the way, there are a lot of people in the Republican Party who are still treating Russia as if it were the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over!
Putin decided that he would like to have, and of course, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be representing the interests of Russia. He is the president of Russia. He offered the Ukrainians a deal if they wouldn’t go towards the European direction.
Okay, they have a right to accept or reject that, their government has a right to accept or reject it, without having us trying to say: ‘Well, if you accept any closer ties with Russia that must mean you’re a puppet and you’re corrupt and you’re a gangster.’ Well, for the United States, that’s really interfering locally with what the Ukrainians should be deciding for themselves.
RT: I understand that President Obama actually called President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine. Do you think that that call should have even taken place?
DR: I don’t know what he was talking about.
It would be nice if Mr. Putin and the United States were both dedicated to getting back to the democratic process and allowing elections to happen, and allowing people who were elected to make the decisions for that country.
In this case, I don’t see a dichotomy. I don’t see Mr. Putin opposing that, and that should be our position as Americans that we believe in the democratic process.
Mr. Putin is demonized by a lot of people here and whenever he’s watching out for Russia’s own self-interest we’re acting like this is the old Cold War days and it was a Communist overture to do something to dominate the world. Well, Putin has a right to watch out for the interests of the people there, just the way we do in the United States, and just as the Ukrainian government should be doing – watching out for the interests of the people of Ukraine.
RT: Let’s talk about this peace deal. You say that if Ukraine wants to have peace then they should go to the ballot boxes and do it there. Now with this new deal, they are calling for early presidential elections by December. Does this peace deal undermine the democratically elected government, since essentially it reverses the constitution and forces early elections? I mean, what kind of a message does it send to protesters? Does it say that if they go to the streets and riot that they will get what they want?
DR: We don’t know if they went to the streets and rioted or not. There’s a lot of evidence to indicate that people were being shot, that the authorities once the protesters were in the streets started brutalizing them. There’s that evidence.
But there is also evidence that there are hotheads among the people who were demonstrating, and they were not all as peaceful as it’s being portrayed, and victims as they are being portrayed.
The most important thing, however, is the rule of law. Yes, human rights have to be protected. People have a right to demonstrate and express their opposition to government policy.
But also we have the rule of law to think about. When a government is elected, that is the group of people who are elected to make decisions. The others should set the policy.
What we’ve learned in Ukraine, it looks like if you really disagree with what the elected government is doing, you should go to the streets and raise holy hell until those policies are reversed or until there’s some change made in the procedure. That’s not going to lead to peace in Ukraine in the future.
RT: What’s the appropriate response from government to movements that happen like this and taken out to the streets?
DR: The important thing is that all people in these countries, whether it’s the United States or elsewhere, these people have a right to demonstrate – they don’t have a right to blockade streets or occupy territory – but they have a right to protest and express themselves and their opposition to government policies as aggressively as they can without stepping on the rights of others.
In the United States, if you have an Occupy movement, the only thing wrong with that is that they were occupying territory and sitting down and saying, ‘Oh, we control this now.’ Well, as long as people are in parks and having protest meetings and things like that without actually taking possession of a given part of town, those rights need to be protected. But at the same time, the right of the majority to elect its government and set its policies shouldn’t be stepped on either.