Ukrainas president Viktor F. Jakunovitsj er syk og uteblir fra embetet på ubestemt tid. Det lyder som en abdisering. Men til hva? Opposisjonen eller en hardere fløy, som med støtte av Vladimir Putin, vil rydde opp før OL.
Putin har allerede innstilt pengestøtten som ble lovet. Da han var i Brussel denne uken sa han at støtten vil bli utbetalt, uavhengig av regjering. Dagen etter hadde pipen fått en annen lyd: Putin vil se hvem som vinner.
Mr. Yanukovych has faced pressure from Russia to take a harder line with protesters opposing his government rather than continue negotiations that could cede power to pro-Western members of the opposition.
Mr. Yanukovych went on sick leave before signing into law the repeal of harsh new rules against freedom of assembly and freedom of speech that was passed in Parliament with support from the pro-government party on Tuesday in a significant concession to the opposition but means little unless it is signed.
Also on Wednesday, Russia halted financial aid that has kept Ukraine from defaulting on sovereign debt until a new government is formed in a signal of displeasure with negotiations with the pro-Western opposition for a coalition arrangement to end the crisis.
The statement Thursday morning said Mr. Yanukovych, 63, “is going on sick leave because of acute respiratory illness accompanied by a high temperature.”
There was no immediate reaction from the opposition politicians associated with the protest who had led negotiations with Mr. Yanukovych.
One Ukrainian opposition journalist, Vitaly Portnikov, posted on Facebook a suggestion that the announcement of sick leave for fever indicated that Mr. Yanukovych had lost power to a hard-line faction in his government.
“I don’t remember official statements of Viktor Yanukovych having colds. But I remember well that on the 19th of August, 1991, the vice president of the U.S.S.R. Gennady Yanayev announced a serious illness of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev,” he posted, referring to a statement that had indicated that a coup d’état had occurred.
Putin kan ikke tillate at demonstrantene i Ukraina påfører ham et historisk nederlag. Han vil ta alle midler i bruk. Janukovitsj har ikke tålt trykket, nå kan det være hardere koster som overtar. Det kan bety borgerkrig.