07.10.2015 | Yevhen Zakharov

What is meant by amnesty for the separatists?


At the negotiations between the ‘Normandy Four’ leaders, the decision was taken that before elections according to Ukrainian legislation, that the militants must go through an amnesty procedure.

Full amnesty for people who have killed or tortured is simply impossible since leaving certain grave and particularly grave crimes without punishment would guarantee that these people would continue carrying out the same activities.

Judging by what President Poroshenko said in an interview after the summit, there is basically the same understanding there.  What is involved is that those who did not commit crimes, but simply took part in some separatist protests, stood guard at roadblocks, etc. should not face prosecution. This is indeed possible, whereas a full amnesty would be a total aberration.

Furthermore, the very use of the term ‘amnesty’ in the context of this agreement sounds rather strange since you only amnesty people convicted of a crime through court proceedings.  The very fact of an amnesty suggests that a punishment has been made less severe.  It is impossible to amnesty those whose guilt has not been proven by a court.  Presumption of innocence means that a person is not a criminal until a court sentence has entered into force. Amnesty for a person who has not been recognized as an offender is a nonsense.

Therefore all Paris agreements are, strictly speaking, beyond the realm of law.  This is solely a question of political expediency and therefore it is in principle incorrect to use the word ‘amnesty’.

There is no chance of implementing these agreements in the present circumstances.  This is not because Ukraine does not want to, but because Russia will not allow them to be implemented.

Of course the Paris summit has resulted in one more step towards peace. Tanks and weapons over 100 mm. calibre are being moved from the demarcation line and this is extremely important. However artillery weapons remain, together with mines which the separatists are planting and which our soldiers are constantly being blown up by. In addition, there are Russian military bases along the Ukrainian-Russian border and this means that it could flare up with new force at any moment that Russia wants, as we have observed on many occasions.

On that subject, up till now all agreements have been accompanied by intensified action at the front,   There was escalation after the first Minsk agreement, and the seizure of Debaltseve took place after the second lot of negotiations. I therefore have no confidence in the strength of the ceasefire since the main reason for what is happening is Russia and its leaders’ unwillingness to let go of Ukraine.

The main aim of all of this is to keep us in a state of tension, to stop us from living, to ensure that we spend over 100 million UAH per day on military needs, and not on the development of the country.  Hot spots of tension have been created by Russia in Donbas, with people having so fallen out with one another that it is difficult to imagine their future peaceful co-existence. How will those who left and returned live with those who remained?

This conflict will drag on for a long time, it will take decades to achieve full peace in the region. However the whole problem is that there are no signs of the Russian Federation’s leadership planning to change their current policy. I am therefore sceptical about the possibility of implementing their agreements.

It is nonetheless necessary to engage in this. It has long been said that a bad peace is better than a good conflict.  Furthermore any such steps mean that there will be less shooting, and therefore less killed and wounded and after all that is the most important thing.

6 October 2015

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