Anti-Coup Donetsk Forces Refuse To Leave Until Right Sector Disarms and Coup Leaders Resign
April 19, 2014 • 12:59PM

The day after agreement was reached in Geneva between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and Ukraine to calm the escalating crisis in Ukraine, anti-coup forces in Southeastern Ukraine were quoted by Ria Novosti, Reuters, AP, and Russia Today, among other news media, saying they will only vacate the buildings they are occupying and surrender their arms when Kiev frees all hostages, stop persecutions, and when the neo-Nazi Right Sector lays down their arms and a referendum on Ukraine's political system is in the pipeline. Sergei Tsyplakov, a commander of Donetsk's self defense forces said that he did not believe the coup-imposed government in Kiev would live up to the agreement, adding that he also doubted the extremist Right Sector would lay down its arms.

The demonstrators told Reuters that they were not bound by by the agreement. Denis Pushilin, the leader of all the region's federalists, said he did not consider his men to be bound by the agreement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation."

First, he said, the prime minister and acting president who took power in February should quit their offices, because they took them over "illegally." He said his forces will only leave the occupied buildings if the interim government in Kiev resigns. He said the deal specifies that all illegally seized buildings should be vacated, and in his opinion the government in Kiev is also occupying public buildings illegally.

"This is a reasonable agreement, but everyone should vacate the buildings, and that includes Yatsenyuk and Turchynov," he said, referring to the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president.

Alexander Gnezdilov, another spokesman for the Donetsk People's Republic, said his group would evacuate the government building in the eastern city only when the "illegal" Kiev government vacated parliament and the presidential administration.

In the capital, Kiev, people on the Maidan said the barricades would not come down until after the May 25 presidential election.

"People will not leave the Maidan. The people gave their word to stay until the presidential elections so that nobody will be able to rig the result. Then, after the election we'll go of our own accord," said 56-year-old Viktor Palamaryuk from the western town of Chernivtsi. "Nobody will take down our tents and barricades," said 34-year-old Volodymyr Shevchenko from the southern Kherson region. "If the authorities try to do that by force, thousands and thousands of people will come on to the Maidan and stop them."

One Right Sector spokesman, Artem Skoropadsky, even said, "We don't have any illegal weapons, and so the call to disarm will not apply to us. We, the vanguard of the Ukrainian revolution, should not be compared to outright gangsters."

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement today, saying that the specific measures for "disarming all illegal armed groups ... means, above all, taking weapons away from Right Sector and other pro-fascist groups, which took part in the February coup in Kiev."

The Kiev Foreign Ministry on the other hand said that the Geneva statement does not apply to the Right Sector. Foreign Minister Deshchytsya stated: "If you read these agreements carefully, they concern releasing streets, roads and squares illegally occupied by protesters. As far as I know, the Maidan activists are there legally."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the U.S. rejects the comments of Denis Pushilin and the claim that the Ukrainian government took power in a coup. She said that Russia has a "responsibility" to call on the militants to evacuate buildings, and that there will be "consequences" if Russia does not take steps to implement the deal.

Later, Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, also demanded that Russia use its influence to get the demonstrators in Southeastern Ukraine to disarm and abandon public buildings.

In response, Lavrov issued a statement saying: "The evaluations heard from Washington concerning the April 17 meeting of Russian, U.S., Ukrainian, and European Union representatives is disappointing. The American side, once again, persists in whitewashing the actions of the current Kiev authorities, who have adopted a policy of suppressing the protests of the population in the southeastern regions.... Furthermore, Russia is being blamed, without foundation, for the Ukrainian crisis and its current escalation, despite the fact that the discussions in Geneva were businesslike and avoided propagandistic cliches."