17:16 25.06.2021

Referendum on Donbas may pose threat to Ukraine's statehood – political scientists

3 min read

KYIV. June 25 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadym Karasiov believes the idea of ​​Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to hold a national referendum on Donbas issue in case of non-compliance with Minsk agreements may entail a threat to the country's statehood.

"Politicians must make decisions, take responsibility, popularize their decisions, justify them and then hold referendums. If the decision is made by the people, why do we need such politicians? Such referendums are very dangerous, since people are not always expert on state-building matters," Karasiov said at a roundtable talk entitled "How socio-economic decline affects current politics – actions of authorities and opposition," held at Interfax-Ukraine.

He said that "not a single Eastern European country that held referendums on accession to the EU or NATO held them as a decision of the people." "This is always the ratification of a political decision of political elites," he said.

"If the referendum on the 'wall' in Donbas takes place, it will be a popular ratification of the decision that will be made by the ruling class, taking into account the geopolitical situation and the recommendations of Ukraine's key partners," the political scientist said.

According to Expert of Hardarika Strategic Consulting Corporation Kostiantyn Matviyenko, "in the event of such a referendum, Russia may initiate an even wider referendum – on secession not only of temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but the entire territory of these regions, as well as Kharkiv."

Director of the Ukrainian Barometer sociological service Viktor Nebozhenko does not support the idea of ​​the need for a referendum on Donbas.

"It is too early to talk about the wall, after all, Donbas is not a cut-off piece. There is no need to prepare people in such a way that if we do not resolve the conflict through the Minsk agreements, then through the wall we will introduce a distance between Ukraine and Donbas. I think this is very wrong," he said.

Nebozhenko said that "Zelensky's theme of holding such a referendum is a way to "bring down people's attention to holding a referendum on land."

According to Head of the Ukrainian Politics Foundation, historian, political analyst Kost Bondarenko, "the option that Ukraine will abandon the temporarily occupied territories of ORDLO in case of non-fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements has been discussed for a long time and unofficially."

"I would not be surprised if on Independence Day the president really comes up with a proposal for a referendum on Donbas. However, what the issue will be will depend on Zelensky's meeting with [Joe] Biden or Victoria Nuland. It could be a referendum on the special status of Donbas or the rejection of ORDLO," he said.