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Opinion

Opinion: Confidence in Ukraine is not unlimited

The Council of Europe has accused Kyiv of failing to probe last year's protest violence properly. The government certainly had enough time to get started, says DW's Bernd Johann.

Who is responsible for the deaths in Kyiv? More than a year has passed since the bloodbath on the Maidan, when violence escalated in the Ukrainian capital, killing more than 100 people. To this very day, the crimes haven't been solved. The report by a Council of Europe group of experts is highly critical, and rightly so: Ukrainian authorities, they say, positively blocked the investigation; they meant to prevent the clarification of events, apparently also because members of the security forces that participated in the violence in Kyiv are needed for the war in the east, and thus must be protected.

Ukraine must stand for European values

This devastating assessment overshadowed Arseniy Yatsenyuk's visit to Berlin. The Ukrainian prime minister promised to look into the matter. But his ministers have had months to do just that, so it comes as no surprise that Kyiv now faces criticism. Clearing up the crimes on Maidan is not only about justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators - it's also about the question whether Ukraine is enforcing European values, including constitutional legality.

Bernd Johann

Bernd Johann heads DW's Ukrainian service

It's certainly no easy task for a country that's in the midst of a war and must fundamentally reform a state that has been corrupt for years. Europe is still prepared to help Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Yatsenyuk that Germany will continue its economic and financial aid.

She knows the country is teetering on the brink more than ever before because of the war and because the power of the oligarchs and the old boy networks and are still unbroken in Ukraine.

No truce, no stability

In addition, Russia not only took Crimea from Ukraine, it also forced Ukraine into a war that has cost thousands of lives and destroyed part of the country. Reconstruction can only succeed with an enormous show of strength. And only if the truce agreed in Minsk holds.

During his Berlin visit, Ukraine's prime minister voiced apprehension at the accord's prospects and Germany shares his concerns. Russian tanks and missiles are still deployed in Ukraine. Rebels backed by Moscow still threaten to take the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. The ceasefire has repeatedly been broken.

Moscow blocks information on Maidan events

Annexing Crimea and the war in Donbas was the Kremlin's answer to the Ukrainian people's desire for a better life. To that end, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets in peaceful marches. But in the end, people died, most of them shot by snipers firing at the crowds.

This crime must be cleared up. Many of those responsible, including former President Viktor Yanukovich, his interior minister and members of the special forces that turned on protesters back then, have fled to Russia. Yatsenyuk is right to question Russia's role, too: key witnesses and perhaps even suspected offenders have gone into hiding in Russia. To this very day, Moscow, too, has prevented clearing up the crimes. However, Kyiv must also play its part, or risk losing the trust of its partners in the West.

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