Does Moscow have a Plan to Return Yanukovych to Power in Kyiv?

October 24, 2014
A man waves an EU flag in front of deposed President Yanukovych's home | AP

Staunton, October 21 – A Russian Internet site has published today what it says is a confidential plan by what is says are “structures close” to Viktor Yanukovych to restore him to power, a document that it says it cannot confirm as genuine, but one that is certainly intended as part of an effort to destabilize Ukraine in advance of elections there five days from now. posted a scan
of the document which includes a time line of specific actions Yanukovich and his pro-Moscow backers supposedly plan to take in the coming weeks to restore him to the presidency, steps that combine working within the electoral process and using the pro-Moscow military forces in the southeast.

Entitled “Project ‘Return’” and marked as “confidential,” the document says that the Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk regime “has led [Ukraine] to the edge of economic catastrophe and the population to complete impoverishment.” It says that the key moment for those who want to restore Yanukovych is “this winter.”

The document says that the supporters of Yanukovych must work in two directions: first, they must form “a powerful opposition” in the Verkhovna Rada, and second, they must work for “the organization of normal life” in “Novorossiya,” thus using the Russian rather than the Ukrainian label for the southeastern portion of Ukraine.

And it contains a calendar specifying what actions are to be taken by which officials and politicians at what date in the coming months, from preparing public opinion to the eventual redrafting of the Ukrainian constitution and the return of Yanukovych as “the legitimate president of Ukraine.”

Whether this document is genuine and whether it reflects just the hopes of some Yanukovych supporters remain unclear, but regardless of that, it is likely to further exacerbate tensions in Ukraine in this last week before the parliamentary elections, especially since there is mounting evidence that Moscow is working to disrupt or at least discredit them.

Those activities, including some that are simply the dirty tricks characteristic of many elections and others that are a direct attack on the stability and integrity of Ukraine, have received much attention from Ukrainian news outlets, although in many cases it is difficult to be certain which ones are of domestic origin and which from Russia.

For a useful and non-tendentious discussion of these various activities and threats, see Unian.