Ukrainian Opposition Reacts To Reported Deal
Friday, February 21, 2014
Opposition leaders agree to a deal with Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych. But it's not yet clear how the demonstrators in the street will respond.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Now as Soraya just mentioned, we'll have to wait to see if Ukrainians who are part of this protest movement side with the opposition leaders and agree to this deal. It is worth remembering that Ukraine, in terms of history and language, is really split in two - the eastern Russian-speaking half looks to Russia. The western Ukrainian-speaking region, which is once part of Poland, feels much closer to Europe. And people in the west are more often opposed to President Yanukovych.
Let's hear one voice now from the city of Lviv, which Soraya mentioned. It's in Western Ukraine. Volodymyr Valkov is a project manager at a human rights organization in Lviv, and he joins us on the line. Volodymyr, good morning.
VOLODYMYR VALKOV: Good morning, David.
GREENE: You have told us before, that you consider yourself part of this opposition movement. You were in Kiev back in December. Are you satisfied with this deal that was signed today?
VALKOV: Well, I'm happy, definitely happy to see some progress with the deal, I'm happy that the parliament started working. But, of course, I am not entirely satisfied with the outcome, you know, because people are really saddened and they are extremely upset about the high death toll that has occurred that exists - 77 people were killed. There is lots of new footage coming to social and media social networks showing the work of snipers. And so, I don't think it's enough of a compensation for the emotional, you know, loss and tragedy that the people have experienced.
GREENE: You're saying that you want to see something from President Yanukovych and his government. What are we talking about, in terms of an apology or recognition from some of the violence that you've seen?
VALKOV: Yes, definitely, I mean, there was a moment on TV in November when there was the first crackdown on protesters in Kiev, and then there was a debate between the four presidents of Ukraine, and Yanukovych was smiling when he was talking about, you know, this crackdown. And I think that's still very much embedded in the memory of the people, and there has never been, you know, a direct apology in saying that I'm sorry for what has happened and I take the responsibility. So there definitely needs to be like a verbal statement of apology and also his resignation.
GREENE: This is an important point. You're saying that unless Yanukovych resigns, you are not satisfied, and this protest movement, in your mind, goes on.
VALKOV: Yes. I think the protest movement will go on until he quits, until he relinquishes his powers because even if he stays in power and there will be no date set, let's say an October re-election, there will not be trust, enough trust in the elections.
GREENE: Can I just ask you briefly, Volodymyr, are you ready to hit the streets and head to the capital and be part of this protest movement if it rages on?
VALKOV: I have already been to Kiev once. I have participated in the neighborhood watch here in Lviv with about other thousand people trying to make sure that the city stays calm and orderly. And definitely, you know, I am prepared. I have a lot of - a lot to lose. I have a family and I am really wishing for the peaceful resolution to this crisis. But if the worse comes to worse, it will be no choice because it will be another Belarus, another dictatorship, and will have no freedom.
GREENE: We've been speaking to Volodymyr Valkov. He's a project manager for the Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union. That's a human rights organization in the city of Lviv in Ukraine. Volodymyr, thank you so much for your time.
VALKOV: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.
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