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Political Expert: Ukraine’s Former President’s Speech Resembles Kremlin Rhetoric

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The residents of (now peaceful) Kyiv were surprised to learn that their city “remains engulfed in violent turmoil and [that] fascists usurped power in Ukraine’s capital”. Such was the statement made byousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who spoke March 11 of recent events unfolding in Kyiv and Ukraine in a press conference in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Interestingly, in his speech the former president made no mention of the escalating conflict and obvious confrontation in Ukrainian Crimea. His speech consisted of sound bites and propaganda currently being generated bythe Kremlin, some experts believe.

Throughout his speech, Viktor Yanukovych mentioned the fact that he remained the only legitimate president of Ukraine and will return to Kyiv “once conditions are favorable”. Additionally, he voiced a claim that the Parliament of Ukraine, or Rada, was violently usurped by extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis while the streets of Kyiv were patrolled by far right wing armed terrorists. Ukraine’s ex-President appeared to becompletely detached from events that have taken place in Kyiv since he left the country.

The key messages of his speech seem to be aimed at reaching Russian TV channels and Russia’s electorate, believes political expert Valery Chaly, Deputy Director of the Razumkov Centre, a Ukrainian think tank. “He [President Yanukovych – Ed.] only laid out the Kremlin’s main talking points and rhetoric,” said Valery Chaly.

The ousted president’s claims seemed intended to justify a military intervention in Crimea in response to supposed discrimination of Russian-speaking minorities in the region.

A special emphasis of the speech was foreign Western officials, towhom Yanukovych referred as “patrons of the evil forces.” The following questions were put forward to them in his speech: “Are you blind? Did you lose your memory? Did you forget what fascism is?” It appears that ex-president Yanukovych is strongly convinced that by embracing a Western style of governance, Ukraine will be ruled by“fascists” and will follow a path of instability and ethnic conflict.

Currently, Ukraine is preparing for presidential elections, which are scheduled for May 25, 2014. Victor Yanukovych called the upcoming elections illegal and unconstitutional because he did not agree to them himself. Notably, the Parliament of Ukraine possesses a legitimate power to schedule elections as well.

As a reminder, Russia’s Federation Council approved an appeal by President Putin on the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, until the situation in the country is “stabilized”. Interestingly, this important point was not deemed relevant enough to be mentioned in the speech of the former Ukrainian leader.


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