Viktor Yanukovych is not known for personal courage or taking sides. When the fascist forces overthrew his government in Ukraine in 2014, he did not stand and fight, let alone exercise his legal right to call in international allies to help him. He could well have set up his government in Kharkov or indeed in Donetsk and asked strong foreign allies to help to restore power.
But instead, he ran away in the middle of the night. To be fair to him, if no foreign power came to his aid, he ran the risk of ending up like Saddam or Gaddafi. But the fact remains, he put his own safety over that of peace in the country he was elected to govern.
Now, though, he has drafted a letter to Presidents Putin and Trump as well as to the leaders of Germany, France, and Poland. The letter says that unless the protocols of the Minsk II ceasefire agreement are implemented, something which would mean Kiev would have to cease its aggression against Donbass, there ought to be a referendum on the future of the two Donbass republics.
Mr. Yanukovych ought to remember that there have been referenda in Donbass. Two of them in fact. In 2014 the people of Donetsk and Lugansk declared their intention to form sovereign republics on the basis of international self-determination. The referenda were peaceful and democratic, the response from Kiev has been aggressive, violent and civilians continue to die, lose their limbs, homes and way of life as a result.
I personally have next to no faith that Kiev will ever implement Minsk II. The regime seems hell bent on total war, something which will inevitably lead to total defeat and total bankruptcy. Furthermore, with groups like Right Sector and other non-governmental neo-Nazi groups becoming ever more violent, there is a chance that there will be another coup in Kiev at any moment. In this sense, the republics of Donbass have more stable governments than the regime in Kiev.
I agree that there should be further referenda in Donbass, but not ones that force the republics to re-affirm their desire to be sovereign entities. The only further referenda needed for the Donbass republics will be asking the people if they would like to become members of the Russian Federation.
History dictates this will happen, in spite of political cowards like Yanukovych and others who still think there is some possibility to go back to the political realities of 2013.