Europe

Ukrainian media criticise authorities, opposition leaders over clashes

  • 20 January 2014
  • From the section Europe
Protesters clash with riot police during an opposition rally in the centre of Kiev
Some writers criticised the lack of effective protest leaders

Both the Ukrainian authorities and opposition leaders have come under fire from media commentators after the weekend's violent clashes in the capital Kiev.

Some hold little hope that the government's offer of talks with the opposition will lead anywhere.

And others predict that now that protesters have become ''radicalised'' the authorities could resort to imposing a state of emergency.

Bound to happen

The popular Ukrainian daily Segodnya - which is owned by President Viktor Yanukovych's long-time ally, tycoon Rinat Akhmetov - says of the clashes: "This was bound to happen sooner or later.

''The deadlock lasting for over a month of protests, when both the authorities and protesters refrained from making any active moves, has contributed to the protesters' tiredness and irritation. And when the opposition failed to come up with an answer to the (tough anti-protest) laws passed on Thursday... some of them decided to end the peaceful protest and start a war," Segodnya added.

Commentator Vadym Karasyov says in the same paper that "both the authorities and the opposition bear responsibility for the radicalisation" of the protests. "This is the end of the peaceful phase of the protest," he adds.

'Nothing but slogans'

Another commentator, Mikhaylo Pohrebynskyy, does not rule out the possibility of a state of emergency but adds that "it is obvious, though, that the authorities are trying to avoid this scenario".

The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine says in its account of events that the protesters who came to the regular Sunday rally in the city centre heard nothing but "slogans and declarations" from the opposition leaders, which was why some of them decided to start a blockade of the parliament building, hoping to force MPs to repeal the laws passed on 16 January.

They were met by police cordons, and the paper says, "it was the police who were first to lose their nerve".

The daily Kommersant-Ukraina quoted a protester as saying: "We are sick and tired of all that talking. We will capture MPs at the parliament building and demand that the laws they passed [on 16 January] be repealed."

Serhiy Shebelist, in an opinion piece on zaxid.net, accuses President Yanukovych of provoking the protesters, saying: "A politician who could have gone down in history as the great European integrator has finally turned into yet another authoritarian ruler of the post-Soviet space, who not without reason is now being compared to the Belarusian and North Korean dictators."

Absence of leadership

However, journalist Tetyana Urbanska says that the inability of the opposition leaders to decide who was going to lead the protest movement triggered Sunday's clashes.

In her opinion piece on the news website unian.ua, she says: "The absence of a leader and a clear action plan for people who have been freezing in the streets for two months led to a sharp radicalisation of the Ukrainians' moods.

''The last straw was the boring reading of yet another resolution by an opposition Fatherland party leader, Oleksandr Turchynov. 'Shall we act?' Turchynov asked. 'Let's act!' the people began shouting. And so they did."

Political scientist Oleksiy Haran says on the Ukrainian website Censor.net that the offer of negotiations may be a ploy by President Yanukovych: "I fear that the authorities' readiness for dialogue may be a smokescreen and the scenario of the previous fictitious 'round table' may be repeated.''

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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