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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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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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