Russia ready to talk to new Ukrainian leader

by our European Affairs correspondent

RUSSIA is ready to talk to Ukraine’s newly- elected president while warning Kiev that military operations against pro-Moscow protesters in the country’s eastern regions was a “colossal mistake.”

But the poll was boycotted by many from the Russian-Ukrainian community whose self-defence forces control large parts of eastern Ukraine. Two breakaway provinces have now united to form the Novorossiya Union and fighting continues with the Kiev regime claiming it has driven the anti-fascist militias out of Donetsk airport after two days of fierce fighting.

Billionaire Pyotr “Chocolate King” Poroshenko won last week’s presidential election in Ukraine, gaining outright victory over his nearest rival. Poroshenko won nearly 58 per cent of the vote in the first round easily beating former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads a rival reactionary bloc and was jailed for embezzlement and abuse of power in 2011.

The president-elect has said that he plans to meet Russian leaders next month. He has also promised to restore ties with Moscow in a bid to bring back stability to crisis-stricken Ukraine.

The pro-western Ukrainian oligarch has said that he will keep the current Ukrainian interim government and its acting premier, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He is also considering appointing discredited former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and another former Georgian minister as presidential advisers.

Poroshenko runs the Roshen group, the largest confectionery manufacturer in Ukraine, as well as car and bus plants and a number of other enterprises. He is believed to be the sixth richest man in Ukraine.

Poroshenko has pledged to put an end to the fighting in south-eastern Ukraine. But the chocolate tycoon has also ruled out negotiations with pro-Russian activists, vowing to continue military operations against the anti-fascist resistance to the Kiev regime.

Last week representatives from eight south-eastern regions voting including the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared the creation of the Novorossiya union.

People’s representatives from eight Ukrainian regions gathered for a congress in Donetsk on Saturday, a day ahead of the Ukrainian presidential elections.

Following the congress, the south-eastern regions announced the creation of a pro-federalisation Popular Front coalition. The movement accepted a manifesto vowing self-determination and protection of people from “Nazi gangs’ terror”.

The coalition involves Odessa, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Kherson, Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

At the congress all 145 delegates accepted the manifesto, which stresses that: “The Popular Front will consist of everybody, who is ready to resist self-appointed Kiev authority, which started war against the people.”

The coalition vowed to protect innocent civilians from the “terror of Nazi gangs, financed by oligarchs and foreign security services.” It pledges “a joint fight for people’s rights to a decent life”. And it has launched an investigative commission that will probe “crimes of Nazi-terrorists and their Kiev patrons”.

The coalition called for a boycott of the presidential election because “all the major candidates” are “oligarchs, whom we have already seen in top positions, hence, robbery and terror would continue”.

But the Popular Front of Novorossiya is not calling for a democratic, federal constitution rather than outright independence and the partition of the country.

The Popular Front wants a new national constitution that guarantees “neutrality” and non-participation in military blocks as well as “political independence” and “mechanisms to stop corruption and massive poverty”.

The coalition also wants a new constitution that recognises Ukrainian and Russian as the official languages of the country and right of regions to autonomy and independent foreign-economic activity.

In addition regional governments must be given a right to declare its territory “de-militarised zones” as well as the right to “ban political, social and religious organisations considered to be a “threat” to the people.