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Ukraine Unveils Reform Roadmap
Apr 25, 2014

Ukraine’s pro-Western leaders have vowed to devolve power to the regions and to guarantee language rights to Russian speakers under a broad constitutional reform.

Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk laid out their plans for implementing the agreements to defuse the Ukraine crisis reached in recently in Geneva by the Foreign Ministers of Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government is ready for full-fledged constitutional reform, which will secure powers of the regions, abolish regional and district state administrations and allow people to elect instead respective councils and executive committees. The amended Constitution will also accord special status to the Russian language in Russian-speaking regions.

The Ukrainian government had submitted a draft to the Ukrainian Parliament that would grant immunity from criminal and administrative prosecution to protesters provided they surrender their weapons.

The Ukrainian leaders gave no timeframe for the proposed reforms. 

Ukraine’s views on constitutional reforms are broadly in line with what has been agreed upon in Geneva. However, its interpretation of another key demand—for all illegal armed groups to lay down their arms and clear all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places—is glaringly different from Russia’s point of the Geneva accord. 

Far right groups who clashed with police in Kiev in February have refused to surrender their weapons and still occupy some government buildings in the capital. Russia takes the stand that disarming the nationalist radicals must be a top priority for Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “It is clear that when we talk about disarmament, we mean first of all confiscating weapons from the militants of the Right Sector and other pro-fascist groups.” 

Russia promised to give the widest possible support to efforts by Ukrainians in interaction with European monitors to resolve the crisis. But the protesters in eastern Ukraine have flatly refused to back down till Ukraine withdraws its military and vowed to hold a referendum on their regions’ status on May 11. 

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