In light of the renewed gun debate in the US and around the world, KW journalist Yevhen Sylenko decided to review the matter from the Ukrainian perspective. It looks like although Ukrainians do not want to own weapons, they may be soon given such an opportunity.
Ukrainians believe they do not need such freedom to buy, keep and bear arms for their self-defense and to them it does not matter whether the weapons are lethal or not.
2007 and 2012 polls showed that 65 to 79% of people that adamantly objected to the free sale of weapons. But even the responses of one fifth of the people surveyed who approved of such an initiative were sufficient to understand their opinions on the actions of politicians. For example, the Svoboda party had a full paragraph in its campaign platform: “Allow all mentally stable citizens with no criminal records to buy and own firearms and cold weapons”.
Batkivshchyna party faction leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk jokes: “I would definitely vote for all Ukrainians to have weapons, but I am afraid people would immediately kill the government”. Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych “sees no threat of the aggravation of the criminal situation if people are allowed to buy traumatic weapons, but they should absolutely not be given the right to own combat weapons”.
Premier Mykola Azarov is one of the opponents. He was quoted as saying, “From global experience, it becomes evident that the possession of weapons does not increase the level of safety in society. On the contrary, it creates a serious threat”.
Meanwhile, in April 2010 the parliament passed the bill on the sale of commercial weapons suggested for Ukrainian citizens as a means of self-defense – “handguns and revolvers shooting rubber bullets and other non-lethal shells”. The bill was supported by 318 MPs, including 146 members of the Party of Regions and 115 members of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which means at one time there was a consensus in the parliament on this issue.
On a totally different note, on November 2, 2011 President Yanukovych surprised everyone at the Cabinet meeting saying: “Law enforcers informed me that someone is buying weapons to attack government authorities. Who is behind all that?”
The media did not receive an answer then from the SBU, nor the Interior Ministry, not to mention even a formal confirmation of the president’s statement.