Borys Potapenko (League of Ukrainian Canadians)
Sept 20, 2019
Kyiv, September 19, 2019 – Over a thousand prominent civic activists gathered at the Office of the President of Ukraine, demanding President Volodymyr Zelensky not make any concessions that would lead to defeat in Russia’s war against Ukraine. They called for the President to embrace the Ukrainian Victory Formula.
Initially, the activists were prevented from entering the grounds, on the absurd pretext that land mines were placed in the area. However, after a brief tense standoff the protesters were able to enter the grounds.
The rally was organized by an informal coalition of united civic organizations (in particular, socio-democratic patriotic movements “Mezha”, “Veidsych”, MNK, Vilni Liudy, “Zakhysty Ukrainu!”, etc.), as well as many academics, policy analysts, former diplomats, military veterans and their support volunteers, and other concerned citizens from various walks of life. The broad spectrum of participants at the rally is also reflected in the signatories of the appeal to the President entitled “We will not allow capitulation!”
The principal message of the rally is to call on the President to reject “Donbas settlement formulas” promoted by Russia, in particular, the “Steinmeyer formula”, which provides for the territories currently under Russian military occupation: autonomy, elections under the auspices of local terrorists and Russian occupation forces, and amnesty for war criminals from the so-called LNR and DNR.
Instead, the activists called for the only acceptable format – the Ukrainian Victory Formula – that should be the cornerstone for the Ukrainian government in all international negotiations. The Victory Formula includes 10 points from the appeal to the President “We will not allow capitulation!”, that was circulated on September 17 and that immediately gained support by more than 1,000 prominent and respected public figures, including Vladimir Balukh, Mikhail Basarab, Volodymyr Vasylenko, Ihor Mazur, Miroslav Gai, Volodymyr Ogryzko, Mikhail Ilyenko and others.
According to the activists, the Ukrainian Victory Formula includes:
1. Russia launched and continues armed aggression against Ukraine, occupying the Crimean peninsula and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine suffers not from an “internal Ukrainian conflict” but from Russia’s armed aggression and its aftermath.
2. The liberation of occupied segments of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is inseparable from the occupation of Crimea. In Crimea and the Donbas, the aggressor is but one, the nature of aggression is identical, the violations of international law and human rights and freedoms are the same. All territories occupied by Russia must be returned to Ukraine together and simultaneously.
3. The Kremlin must release all Ukrainians who are illegally held in Russia and the territories it occupies.
4. Elections for local municipalities or to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine may not be held in the occupied territories.
5. All Russian occupation forces should unconditionally withdraw from Ukrainian territory.
6. Ukraine should regain full control of the entire internationally recognized Ukrainian-Russian State Border.
7. The Ukrainian territories liberated from Russian occupation cannot have any special status that would call into question the unitary structure of Ukraine.
8. Russia is responsible for aggression against Ukraine and the occupation of Ukrainian territories.
9. Ukraine must demand full reparation for the damage caused by aggression and occupation and the punishment of perpetrators of international criminal offenses.
10. Peace cannot be achieved at the cost of Ukraine’s commitment to its Euro-Atlantic civilizational choice including membership in NATO and the European Union.
The Victory Formula was displayed at the rally on a large canvas billboard easily seen from the President’s office. Moreover, a participant in the Russo-Ukrainian war, and spokesman for many veterans, Pavlo Belous, warned the authorities that acquiescence to the “Steinmeier formula” would constitute state treason in accordance with Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The rally was a peaceful and dignified expression of Ukrainians’ commitment to endure and prevail the hardships of military and hybrid aggression in Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, whatever the cost. “For Ukrainians this is an existential struggle; we cannot, we will not ever return to Russian bondage,” said Andriy Levus, one of the rally organizers.
All major news media reported the event including: