The three steps taken by President Viktor Yanukovych and his ruling Party of Regions this week are not enough: the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov; the repeal of the anti-democratic laws curbing free speech and free assembly; and legislation providing for conditional amnesty for non-serious crimes committed during the EuroMaidan demonstrations that started on Nov. 21.
Azarov, a technocrat whose biggest achievement since 2010 was keeping the economy relatively stable, is not a leader for the future. As prime minister since Yanukovych took power, he never enjoyed much public trust. He more recently destroyed his credibility by insisting that police were not armed, therefore could not have possibly shot the three demonstrators killed on Jan. 22. However, Azarov’s biggest handicap is that his thinking remains stuck in the Soviet era. Replacing him on an interim basis with Serhiy Arbuzov, a member of Yanukovych’s close circle of advisers known as “the family,” is not a step in the right direction.
Yanukovych needs to offer the opposition real power-sharing in government, not just through ministerial posts, but through joint control of state security and law enforcement organs, including police, prosecutors and courts.