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A Federal Model for Ukraine

Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)


As Russia consolidates its hold over Crimea, the worlds attention has now turned to the drama beginning to play out in eastern Ukraine. In the last three weeks, demonstrations by pro-Russian groups have taken place in major cities across eastern Ukraine, and many observers believe Putin has infiltrated provocateurs from Russias special forces and Federal Security Service to promote pro-Russian sentiment in the region.

While eastern Ukraine has historically maintained close historical, economic and cultural ties with Russia, support for secession there is not as overwhelming as in Crimea. The key for Kiev to maintain peace, security and stability in eastern Ukraine is moving toward a more decentralized, or federal, political structure is to draft a new constitution.

There is no single best distribution of powers between centralized and decentralized federal models, but here are some guidelines:

1. Above all, Kiev should allow for the direct election of governors rather than having them appointed by Kiev, which is the current practice. At the suggestion of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is running for president in the May election, the new government appointed two Ukrainian oligarchs to govern the regions of Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk. This only alienates people from their local government and exacerbates the political conflict between Ukrainians and Russians in the region.

2. Some economic decision-making, such as taxing and spending, could be granted to the regions.

3. Establish Russian as the second state language. The language divide between east and west Ukraine is sharp, and it could be an explosive political factor if Kiev does not handle the issue properly. The decision of Ukraines parliament to pass an anti-Russian language law immediately after Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev in late February demonstrated a stunning lack of judgment. Any new constitution must reassure Ukraines Russian-speaking citizens that this attempt to execute another language revanche will not happen again.

There are other countries that serve as good models of a decentralized political system for Ukraine. Although some commentators have suggested Bosnia, this is a terrible idea. Mandated by the Dayton accords of 1995, Bosnias constitution established a very loose confederation between a Bosnia-Croat entity and a Serbian one.

Although Bosnias political model has prevented another outbreak of sectarian warfare there, it has resulted in political paralysis, multiple overlapping government responsibilities and the creation of a country that is unified in name only. Implementing a similar structure in Ukraine would be an open invitation to further Russian meddling in the east.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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