We, Ukrainians living worldwide and representatives of Ukrainian Fulbright community, are deeply concerned about the article of Nicolai N. Petro, professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, published in the National Interest, defending recent laws enacted by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the Ukrainian government. Here is the link to the article: http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/defending-ukraines-tough-new-protest-law-9751?page=1
We believe that as an American citizen who has the freedom to express himself, Mr.Petro is taking advantage of that freedom in expressing his views in his above mentioned article. By defending the unconstitutional laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada, however, Mr.Petro is denying this freedom to every Ukrainian citizen.
We believe that it is Mr.Petro, not the US government who seriously misreads the situation in Ukraine. Mr.Petro has provided no arguments to refute that the government of Ukraine is responsible for the escalation of violence there. If one has been following the protests closely, then he/she must have seen that the protests were peaceful until the events at Hrushevskoho street provoked a violent response to the government crackdown; accordingly, it could not be that such a response was the strategy of the opposition from the beginning, which Mr. Petro, quite mistakenly, claims to be the case. As a scholar, by making statements like that, Mr.Petro needs at least to cite sources, from which he derives his information.
Vitali Klitschko is not only a Western-media darling, but also a darling of many Ukrainian people. It would be quite correct to mention that.
When Mr.Petro claims that "they (the opposition) even insisted on (and got!) a blanket parliamentary amnesty for anyone who had engaged in acts of violence against civil authorities last December," one cannot deny that after the deaths of six civilians the authorities in Ukraine ceased to operate within the parameters of the constitution and law of Ukraine.
Mr.Petro is claiming that the parliament speaker's office was barricaded to prevent the passing of the budget, but he failed to mention that the draconian anti constitutional laws were supposed to be passed the same day, bypassing existing legal procedure.
Mr.Petro says,"only when the deputy speaker ruled that voting could continue by a show of hands, and the budget passed, did the opposition condemn what had taken place in parliament that day as 'illegal.' " Mr.Petro has overlooked the fact that the votes were actually counted in a few seconds, which makes the passing of the laws themselves illegal.
Mr.Petro claims, "existing Ukrainian legislation, written for more peaceful times, had failed to consider the possibility of organized violence against the state. The omission is now partially addressed." Why has Mr.Petro failed to consider the possibility of organized violence of the state against its people?
The current impasse is mainly the fault of the Ukrainian government and not of opposition, who have not been invited to the roundtables in the past, which until recently were organized by President Yanukovich exclusively with the former Presidents of Ukraine. Only now the opposition is invited to the roundtable.
Mr.Petro’s bold and completely absurd claim that "despite this turn of events, the Ukrainian opposition, with the noted exception of the communists (who seem to have learned something from history), cling to the view that Yanukovych must be removed at any cost. They are very much mistaken." Ukrainian scholars will testify that the communists are not in opposition in Ukraine, they cooperate with current government. What are the lessons that the Communists learned from history? These are weak claims and arguments that would not be acceptable in any serious publication.
And finally, Mr.Petro is currently working on a project called Blessed Is the Kingdom: The Orthodox Church and the Struggle for the Soul of Modern Russia, which is under contract to Stanford University Press. It might be better for Mr.Petro to concentrate his intellectual efforts in the research of Russian situation, in particular to “the Struggle for the Soul of Modern Russia,” and leave Ukraine for analysis to more respectable scholars.